Scientists sometimes refer to biodiversity as “nature’s immune system.” Sonoma County lies at the core of one of 34 biodiversity ‘hotspots’ on the planet, meaning we have some of the world’s richest ecosystems, but also some of the most threatened. Because no species exists in isolation, we are all interdependent and interconnected, and the loss of a native species or the introduction of a nonnative species can have a cascading effect on the entire ecosystem leading to eventual collapse.
The loss of healthy habitats and space for animals to breed, feed and establish territories puts our irreplaceable biodiversity at great risk. Along with climate changes, habitat fragmentation due to land development and human encroachment into wild areas are threatening native plants and animals — in some cases, entire species.
The health of our biodiversity is tied to conserving and restoring space for plants and animals to range throughout Sonoma County. We are conserving lands threatened by development and preserving large, intact landscapes and wildlife corridors that support vulnerable populations of species that need room to thrive.
“My siblings and I are happy to be working with Sonoma Land Trust; we want our land to remain open space.”
Fitzsimmons Ranch landowner
Protected landscapes are key to survival as climate change pushes plant and animal species out of their traditional territories. We have been working on four land protection projects within the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor. Fitzsimmons Ranch closed in April, 2021 and McCormick Ranch is expected to close in 2022. Both will be transferred to Sonoma County Regional Parks for long-term restoration, management and public access.
We are working closely with the state and county parks groups to develop a public recreation plan on the site of the former Sonoma Developmental Center, which will be added to Jack London State Historic Park and Sonoma Valley Regional Park. We are also developing trail maps for this 1,000-acre property that will be ready when Sonoma County completes its reuse plan in 2022.
Based on scientific analysis, we are identifying new areas that serve as critical wildlife corridor linkages for the Bay Area. Wildlife corridors give animals space to breed, feed and raise their young, and can also serve as escape routes for them during wildfires. As we’ve done in the Sonoma Valley, we plan to work in other key areas across the county to add acreage, remove unnecessary fencing, reduce nighttime lighting, and install native plants and clear invasive ones to provide safer passage across the landscape for mountain lions, bears and other wild animals.