eNewsletter| June Edition
In this month's edition:

  • On farm field trips inspire a love of the land
  • North Bay RCDs funding for Forest Health Watershed Coordinator
  • June Team Spotlight: Jason Wells
  • Wildfire preparedness reminders
  • Trout Unlimited publishes digestible water rights manual
  • National Pollinator week is coming!
  • Attention Sonoma Creek dairies and rangeland operators: conservation $$$ available!
  • June 19th last call: Tillage Management Alternatives workshop in Kenwood!
Featured Story
On farm field trips inspire a love of the land
In May, we wrapped up the 2019 program year which served 220 elementary and high school students with cumulative hours of direct on the land education equaling 118 hours .

Our three distinct agricultural and conservation education programs meet our community's needs on a number of platforms. Program success comes from fostering a connection to the lands that support our local food system and economy, building a land ethic that envisions a place where our working lands are valued for not just what they produce but how they are part of a larger ecosystem, and creating informed citizens and future conservation leaders.
After 21 years of operation , the Sonoma County FARMS Leadership program saw its largest class yet!

36 high school students in 10-12th grade
from seven local high schools explored the diversity of agriculture, learned about the importance of natural resource conservation, built relationships and strengthened leadership skills, and tasted locally grown nutritious products, through a series of eight field day experiences across our county.
180 4th and 5th graders from local elementary schools participated in TEAM on working lands protected by the Ag + Open Space District.
We piloted our first youth mentor program - FARMS Advanced - for our continuing FARMS Leadership year one students. Our staff worked alongside four high school seniors , 14 agricultural industry and watershed partners , and led seven unique field trips throughout the county.




 Special thank you to the following for investing and supporting these impactful programs: two generous major anonymous donors, Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District, RaboBank, Clover Sonoma, CamelBak, and World Centric. If you are interested in participating or donating to these programs please contact Education and Communications Manager Christine Kuehn at ckuehn@sonomarcd.org . We look forward to working with you in fall!

What's New at Your RCD
North Bay RCDs funding for Forest Health Watershed Coordinator
Seven of the eleven North Bay RCDs who recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration ( click here for more info ) have also received funding for a Forest Health Watershed Coordinator. The coordinator will work to maximize collaboration among the North Bay RCDs and other relevant agencies and organizations to successfully facilitate the development and implementation of watershed improvement plans from the Eel River Watershed to the San Pablo Bay. This grant is being managed by the Humboldt County RCD.

The aim of this position is to expand and improve forest management in order to enhance forest health and resilience in the North Coast Region. Specifically, the coordinator’s work will be focused on developing projects and initiatives that increase the rate of carbon sequestration in our forests and watersheds, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve watershed health in the North Coast Region. The coordinator will achieve this by developing funding for this work in a thoughtful, prioritized and coordinated fashion. The coordinator will build closer relationships between regional RCDs, agencies and local groups, develop joint programs, and provide a more unified voice in decision-making around natural resource management concerns and public funding. The coordinator's work will strive to be consistent with the priorities laid out in the California Forest Carbon Plan
Team spotlight
Meet Jason Wells, Forester.

Jason has been with the RCD for one year this month! As Forester, he manages the forestry program for the RCDs in Sonoma County. His job is to provide technical assistance to landowners and forest stakeholders in the county; primarily through indirect actions, such as participating in community meetings, and through direct actions like creating forest management plans.

His favorite part about the job is doing field work: hiking around and measuring trees, while being outside in the fresh air getting exercise. Jason said that he had no idea forestry was a discipline growing up in Sonoma County, and now says, "my single largest career goal is to educate others about forest management."

Something that you might not know about Jason is that in his free time he likes to explore trails around the county, disc golf, and noodle around on the guitar. Side note: he also likes to brew beer, but hasn't had much of a chance to get brewing since moving back to the county.

Community Engagement
Wildfire Preparedness
Here in Sonoma County, we’ve all been made well-aware of the dangers of wildfire. We know the damage wildfire can do to our communities. We also know that to live in California is to live with wildfire. So, how can we be more prepared? Individually and collectively we need to be more aware of our vulnerabilities and we need to work together to make some changes.

What are our vulnerabilities? Throughout our district, neighborhoods face numerous challenges to achieving wildfire safety. Many homes lack the essential structural hardening  that they need to survive a wildfire; they need proper defensible space , and they are located in areas where challenging terrain and narrow, heavily vegetated roads make it difficult for firefighters to get in and evacuating residents get out. Has your neighborhood done an assessment of their wildfire risks with the help of their local fire agency? Have you prepared an evacuation plan or emergency kit ?

Here are a few ways we work together to make a change:
  • Connect with your neighbors to express your desire to address your neighborhood’s wildfire safety. Organize a group of residents who are interested in working more on wildfire preparedness.
  • Let your local fire department know you are interested in preparing for wildfire, and ask them what recommendations they have for your neighborhood.
  • Contact our county fire safe council, Fire Safe Sonoma, to see what actions they recommend for your area, learn to create a Fire Safe Council for your community, and ask if they can visit your neighborhood to present on any preparedness topics.
  • Learn more about Preparedness from our neighboring counties – See this guidance from Fire Safe Marin.
  • Learn more about low-cost project ideas to implement in the near term.
  • Get familiar with our Sonoma County Community Wildfire Prevention Plan (CWPP) 

Campaigns from CALFIRE can help provide important information and resources:

Ready, Set, Go!
With fire activity already above average, Californians should remember “ Ready, Set, Go! ”. Being  Ready  for a wildfire starts by maintaining 100 feet of Defensible Space and hardening homes with fire resistant building materials. Being  Set  by having an evacuation plan and Wildfire Action Plan. Lastly, when a wildfire strikes put your evacuation plan in effect and  Go! ; evacuate early. Learn more by  clicking here .

One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire
Approximately 95 percent of all wildfires are sparked by the activity of people, which means that almost all wildfires are preventable. One of the leading causes of wildfires is outdoor powered equipment. Use powered equipment before 10 a.m. and never on hot and windy days. When clearing dead or dying grass don’t use a lawn mower or weed trimmer with a metal blade. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained with nothing dragging on the ground like trailer chains. All residents and vacationers need to be extra cautious outdoors because one less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more by  clicking here .

Tree Mortality–Prepare for Bark Beetle
Over 29 million trees have died in the past year in California due to the drought and infestation of bark beetles, prompting Governor Brown to commence a Tree Mortality Task Force. Be sure to remove dead trees from your property to reduce the spread of bark beetles. Learn more by   clicking here .
 
Trout Unlimited releases digestible Water Rights manual
New water rights guide helps California landowners, streams
Excerpt below taken from the Trout Unlimited Blog
May 31, 2019

There are many things rural California landowners can do to leave more water in streams for fish and wildlife. Most involve changes to water use practices that will also increase the security of the landowner’s water supply. So why don’t more landowners do this? 

One answer is California’s complex system of water rights. It can be difficult to figure out what kind of water rights a water user has, let alone whether those rights would allow him or her to change their existing practices. 

A new guide produced by Trout Unlimited aims to help fix this problem and improve public awareness of how water can legally be taken from streams in California – or left instream to provide more water for fish, wildlife, and recreation.  A Guide to California Water Rights for Small Water Users  is a first-of-its-kind handbook that helps small water users answer a basic question: Do I have a water right covering my existing or proposed water use, and if not, do I need to obtain one from the Water Board?

More specifically, the  Guide   provides a straightforward, easy-to-read introduction for small water users—typically rural residents or farmers who get their water from nearby wells, springs, or streams rather than a municipal system or irrigation district. While small-scale water use by such entities is common in California, the legal rights and obligations surrounding these uses can be complex. Read the full blog post here.
June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week!
Whether you’re a ranch owner, dairy producer, winegrape grower or have a small scale orchard or row crop farm, property edges are everywhere. Boundaries between crops or property lines should not be undervalued or underutilized, but rather seen as an opportunity to support pollination, increase biodiversity, sequester carbon, or increase soil health. Bringing these edges back to life can greatly benefit your operation from a natural resource perspective as well as increase beneficial habitat. If you are interested in hearing more about hedgerows or other natural resource best management practices for your farm or ranch please contact your local RCD.

Read the full story in this month's Sonoma-Marin Farm News!
Attention Sonoma Creek watershed dairies and rangeland operators: conservation funding available!
Grant funds are currently available to help implement conservation practices that reduce potential pathogen loading into the Sonoma Creek Watershed.

Potentially fundable USDA NRCS conservation practices:
Heavy Use Area Protection                     Roof and Covers
Composting Facility                                   Roof Runoff Structure
Waste Transfer                                           Waste Separation Facility
Animal Crossings                                        Waste Storage Facility
Riparian Fencing                                         Water Development

Who is eligible?
Dairies, equine facilities, and rangeland with dairy or beef cows within the Sonoma Creek watershed.

What projects qualify?
Projects that implement conservation practices to reduce potential pathogen loading into the Sonoma Creek watershed. Projects could be made up one or more of the practices listed above.

How do I apply for funding?
Call or email Erica Mikesh, Partner Engineer at (707) 569-1448 or email emikesh@sonomarcd.org. She’ll set up a site visit in June 2019 to review your project idea and then help you fill out a funding request application.
 
How do I get selected for funding?
Project applications will be prioritized, and the highest priority projects will received funding. A technical advisory committee reviews all applications and then ranks them using a gra nt-specific selection criteria. The committee will make appointments with landowners to visit proposed projects late July - early August. Deadline to submit is June 27, 2019. Application requires a site visit with Sonoma RCD staff to discuss and develop your project, so please plan ahead!
Events & Workshops
Tillage Management Alternatives: impacts on soil moisture/health
Wednesday, June 19
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
MacLeod Family Vineyard in Kenwood
Please sign up in advance as space is limited to 45 people.

The RCD has been working with the MacLeod Family Vineyard to look at the impact of different types of tillage management on soil health and relative moisture availability. Field trials were established in fall 2017 to investigate differences in no till, alternate row till and full till management on soil health properties and soil moisture. We will meet to discuss the project, tillage alternatives, and opportunities to maximize retention and conservation of water in the soil and at the ranch. Josh Beniston, soil scientist and program coordinator for the sustainable agriculture program at the Santa Rosa Junior College, will present on findings to date. Grower John MacLeod will discuss his perspective and interest in the project, and growers will be invited to discuss their experiences and perspectives on how to best manage the soil and water, and ask questions. This workshop is made possible by USDA - NRCS.
Do you have a Love of the Land?
Thursday, July 11
The Pavilion at Richard’s Grove

Love of the Land is a mid-summer celebration presented by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and honoring agricultural award winners who are leading the way to preserve Sonoma County’s rich farming heritage. The event begins with a tasting of Sonoma County wine and food. A dinner buffet featuring an array of Sonoma County-grown products follows the reception. The main event is a special program where members of the agriculture community are honored. Special awards include: Farm Bureau Hall of Fame, Farm Family of the Year, Luther Burbank Conservation Award, and Friend of Farm Bureau. Funds raised from this event furthers the organization’s goal of preserving agriculture lands, providing agriculture education for youth of all ages and protecting clean water for the future.

This year's Luther Burbank Conservation Award winners are the Beretta Family of Beretta Family Dairy, close partners of the Sonoma RCD and innovative conservationists in the Laguna de Santa Rosa.
Read more about the Beretta Family here! RCD partner and water warrior Tito Sasaki will also be inducted into the Farm Bureau Hall of Fame ( read more here ). Congratulations to all of the award recipients!
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