eNewsletter| October Edition
In this month's edition:

  • Post-fire vegetation management starts in Tubbs Fire footprint
  • We're hiring a Project Manager!
  • SWEEP announced: informational workshop on October 30
  • Team Spotlight: Aaron Fairbrook, Program Manager
  • Free Dairy Compliance Assistance Workshops
  • Save the Date: GivingTuesday!
What's New at Your RCD
Post-fire vegetation management starts in Tubbs Fire footprint
On October 7th, the RCD and partners launched a long-awaited project that will remove standing dead fuel on two large properties in the heart of the Tubbs fire footprint. This project, funded by the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife's Watershed Restoration Grant Program with cost share from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and managed by the RCD, will improve forest and watershed health while reducing fuel loads and future fire risk. By implementing forest management prescriptions on over 160 acres, and subsequently conducting erosion reduction treatments on over 3 miles of hydrologically connected roads, the project will improve summer streamflows and prevent an estimated 3,225 cubic yards of sediment from entering Mark West Creek, home to endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout.

The participating landowners, neighbors Lynn Garric and Karen Arroyo, have long been active and dedicated stewards of their land, conserving water, preventing erosion, and fighting invasive weeds in their forest and grasslands. Prior to the Tubbs fire, they had each been working with the RCD to develop projects that would capture rainwater off of their roofs, to use in place of creek water or groundwater during dry summer months. The fires changed these plans, burning to the ground the roofs on which rainwater would have been captured. But the owners’ commitment to land stewardship didn’t change. If anything, it became stronger. “While we are still surrounded by vestiges of the Tubbs Fire wherever we look, the extent to which this land is reclaiming itself is nothing short of miraculous,” says Karen Arroyo. “Regeneration is powerful, dramatic and somewhat magical. And while the scope of the work is enormous, it is also exciting. We have the opportunity to assess and amend, to encourage and support and to work in concert with the land itself towards its recovery.”

While the October 2017 fires were still burning, one of the first things RCD staff did was to take stock of our existing landowner partners. How badly had their properties been impacted? What could we do to help them recover the land that they love? The Garric and Arroyo properties were among those where the RCD found opportunities to assist. At the Arroyo property, the RCD helped with the emergency replacement of burned culverts, in order to maintain property access and prevent erosion into the creek. Meanwhile, Lynn Garric opened her property to her neighbors and community to learn from a Forester brought in by the RCD to who provided insight on how to read the landscape and what concerns to look out for in the months following the burn.

Prior to the fire, the landowners had also worked with a Registered Professional Forester to develop forest management plans that would guide the stewardship of their properties. After the fire, the RCD worked with them to update these plans to reflect the new realities on the ground, and went to work finding grant funding to help implement the plans’ prescriptions. “The prospect of getting this grant was the boost I needed to renew my commitment to this land after the fire,” reflects Lynn Garric. “I’ve lived here for 35 years, but I’ve never felt more supported or motivated to do the work. This RCD partnership has taught me how I can maintain this property for the future, and I’m thrilled to get started.”

This work is part of the LandSmart Planning and On-the-Ground programs, through which the RCD helps landowners plan for and conduct voluntary conservation best practices. As much as the RCD’s work is about conservation of natural resources, it is ultimately about our community and the people we serve. Since the October 2017 fires, the RCD has provided information and advice to hundreds of rural and agricultural landowners, and conducted fire recovery projects on over 20 properties. The RCD is currently in the process of ranking potential projects for another round of grant funding, which will fund projects that mitigate post-fire water quality impacts at 9 or more sites within the Tubbs and Nuns fire footprints. The RCD continues to seek additional grant funding to assist fire-impacted landowners with watershed recovery efforts on their land. 
We're hiring a Project Manager!
The Project Manager position offers an exciting opportunity for a conservation professional to apply his or her skills in a mission-driven and team-oriented atmosphere. The successful candidate will work with agricultural landowners to develop LandSmart conservation plans and carbon farm plans to address multiple resource goals such as water quality, soil heath, and climate-beneficial farming. The individual may participate in watershed-scale planning as well, working with stakeholders to prioritize conservation opportunities at a larger scale. This individual will also develop and oversee on-the-ground projects stemming from the planning process, sometimes in the form of field trials or demonstration projects. The initial focus of this position will be work in the vineyard landscape, though the position will also work with other agricultural land uses.

Team spotlight
Aaron Fairbrook, Program Manager.

Aaron has been with the RCD for six years. As Program Manager, he does a bit of everything - writing grants, managing implementation projects, developing projects, and supervises a team of project managers. Aaron is a team player, problem solver, and offers comic relief to all.

He was concise about why he loves his work, "my favorite part of my job: implementation projects. I like to see things get built and completed - especially instream enhancement projects. I like the win/win - a project that benefits a landowner and wildlife."

When we asked Aaron if he had a personal story about how he got into this line of work, he shared, "As a young boy, I became the self-proclaimed 'Protector of Nature.' I would roll down hills, make forts out of dead branches, explore the forest around my house, and play with critters in streams." He continued, "One day, a raccoon had become trapped between some rocks and had a hurt paw. I helped free it and bandaged its injured paw. The raccoon looked at me square in the eye and told me 'thanks,' and ever since then I knew I wanted to help our natural resources.... (with a straight face). I totally just made the whole raccoon story up, but I thought it was more interesting than me saying that I have always enjoyed backpacking, camping and talking to trees and mountains."

Something that you might not know about Aaron is that last year he faced his fear of swimming in the ocean with big fish.... seals... sharks, and swam with huge whale sharks. "It changed my life and made me fearless of the ocean and its animals."

Community Engagement
The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Program is administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The primary goal of SWEEP is to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural irrigation sources. The secondary benefit of the program is to increase Water Use Efficiency (WUE) by funding system infrastructure and monitoring upgrades that reduce GHGs.

The application period for SWEEP opens on October 21st, 2019.
Go to  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep/   for information on the grant program.

Anticipated Program Timeline
Application Period Opens *October 21, 2019
Grant Applications Due *December 2019
Review Process *December – February 2020
Announce and Award Funding *Spring 2020
* Subject to change.


The Sonoma RCD, California Association of RCD's and California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance are working to host two

Wednesday, October 30 from 5:00 - 6:30 PM
Sonoma RCD Office, 1221 Farmers Lane, Suite F, Santa Rosa 95405

Wednesday, November 20 from 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Webinar information provided to registrants only. RSVP link coming soon!

Video: How to Apply to the California State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program ( English ) ( Hmong ) ( Spanish )
Video: How to Get Cash to Pay for On Farm Irrigation and Energy Efficiency Improvements in California ( English ) ( Hmong ) ( Spanish )
Video: On Farm Water Use Efficiency: Irrigation Management Practices That Save Water and Save Energy ( English ) ( Hmong ) ( Spanish )
Flier: Water Use Efficiency   (English)  ( Hmong)   (Spanish )
Flier: Application Assistance  (English)   (Hmong)   (Spanish)

For more information or questions please contact: Keith Abeles, Soil and Water Specialist at kabeles@sonomarcd.org or call (707)569-1448 ext. 112.
Events & Workshops
Healthy soils for small coastal dairies workshop: October 29
Tuesday, October 29
10:00 am – 2:00 pm, lunch included
Address provided to registrants only

This workshop hosted by Gold Ridge RCD, is intended for dairy producers, ranchers, agency partners, technical service providers and land stewards who are interested in learning more about the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Healthy Soils Program.

Gold Ridge RCD received grant funding for a CDFA Healthy Soils Program Demonstration Project at the Ocean Breeze Dairy. The project is in the second year and we will provide updates on the two carbon beneficial conservation practices being implemented - applying compost on 30.0 acres of grassland and installing two acres of riparian forest buffer.

Before lunch, we will focus on soil sampling and how to interpret the results with Gregg Young, Certified Professional Agronomist. After lunch, Chris Potter from CASA Systems 2100 will tell us about his work which uses satellite imagery to forecast and monitor crop production.

The workshop will take place at the dairy. Directions will be provided upon registration. We will provide lunch to all participants - please let me know if you have any dietary restrictions. Workshop questions?  Contact project manager, William Hart at william@goldridgercd.org or call (707) 823-5244

The 2017 Healthy Soils Demonstration Project is funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds and is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment.

Save the Date: GivingTuesday!
This year, the RCD will once again be participating in GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. We'll participate in the movement by encouraging conservation awareness and actions in our community, and by raising funds to support our programs. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about our GivingTuesday plans, and to join in the fun!
Attend a technical workshop to receive the latest science-based information on how to best manage your soil, water and wildlife on
your property.
With a tax deducible donation you can support conservation projects that protects water resources, improves soil health + restores habitat for endangered species.
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