Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

Path To The 2018 Farm Bill: Legislative Campaign Update

The coming of spring has more than just the bees buzzing; activity on Capitol Hill is also shifting into high gear as the deadline for the 2018 Farm Bill approaches. This week represents perhaps one of the few quiet periods left in the capital as Congress takes a two-week recess back in their districts – a perfect time for farmers and “ag-vocates” to connect with their representatives and discuss their priorities and concerns. Once legislators return to the Hill, farm bill conversations are likely to heat up significantly and things could begin to move quite quickly.

The current farm bill expires in just six months. While farmers have spent the last several months planning for the next growing season, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has been actively working with our members across the country to elevate sustainable agriculture in the national debate around the farm bill.

As of the publication of this post, NSAC’s advocacy has led to over a dozen farm bill “marker bills” (pieces of legislation intended to signal the importance of certain topics) endorsed by the Coalition. These bills focus on a range of sustainable agriculture subjects, including: beginning farmers, conservation, local food systems, seed breeding, and crop insurance reform.

Continue here.

Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, March 30, 2018

Dirt Matters: Healthy Soils for a Productive and Sustainable California



Join the UC Center Sacramento on Wednesday, April 11th at 12noon for a lecture by Timothy Bowles, Assistant Professor of Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture in the Department of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. Professor Bowles will speak on “Dirt Matters: Healthy Soils for a Productive and Sustainable California”. Professor Bowles will highlight how soil health and maintenance can not only improve the productivity of California agriculture but also address key environmental challenges facing the state. Event co-sponsored with the Berkeley Food Institute. For more information, please go to the UC Center Sacramento website. To register for this event, click here. The UC Center Sacramento Speaker Series takes place at 1130 K Street, Room LL3.  Lunch will be served.

Organic milk market sours for Sonoma County dairy farmers



With gray skies drizzling upon him, Doug Beretta rode his all-terrain vehicle back to the milking barn after doctoring a downed cow.

The brown-faced Jersey had calved the day before and looked healthy that same night when Beretta checked on his animals. But the next morning the cow wouldn’t stand and showed signs of milk fever, a potentially fatal malady caused by low calcium levels in the blood. So Beretta, whose green overalls quickly became streaked with manure, slowly injected a solution of calcium and phosphorous into one of the cow’s veins. About an hour later the animal was back on its feet.

If only the third-generation farmer could find such effective medicine to turn around a struggling organic dairy industry.

Over the last 12 years, North Bay dairy farmers like Beretta have switched in droves from conventional milk production to certified organic operations. The conversions allowed them to earn a premium price for their milk and to gain more stability for their businesses as the market for conventional milk weakened.

Continue here.

Source:  Robert Digitale, The Press Democrat, March 25, 2018.

Living with Fire in California’s Coast Ranges

  Photo credits from left to right 1. Coffee Park, Tubbs fire - John Burgess 2. Nuns fire - Kent Porter 3. Pocket fire - Kent Porter

Promoting Fire-Resilient Communities and Landscapes in an Era of Global Change

May 7-9, 2018

Sonoma State University Student Center, Rohnert Park

More information here:

About this Event:

In October, 2017, wildfires devastated communities in the wine country of Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties. Large, destructive wildfires are not novel in California’s Coast Ranges – remember the Berkeley Hills and Marin County fires in 1923, the North Bay fires in 1964, the Oakland Hills fire in 1991, Lake County in 2015; the Monterey Coast/Big Sur fires in 1977, 2008, and 2016 – but their episodic occurrence and the short memory of humans lead to surprise at the ferocity of nature, and tragedies ensue that education, foresight, and planning might have forestalled. Large, destructive fires will occur again in the future, and their probability may be increasing with the warming climate and expanding human footprint. Preparedness requires that we understand the causes and the nature of wildfire in the region, and how human communities and infrastructure might better interact with the ecology of fire.

The Living with Fire symposium will bring together experts in fire ecology and management, community planning, fire safety and preparedness, and global change. The intended audience includes property owners, the general public, policy makers, planners, managers, scientists, educators, and any others who are interested in the intersection of human communities and fire. The event is sponsored by a coalition of educational, fire and resource management, and extension organizations.

May 7-8 will be devoted to presentations by subject experts, with question-and-answer sessions and ample opportunity for audience participation during structured discussions.

May 9 will feature a series of field trips to fire-affected communities and landscapes in Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

Healthy Habitat


The bad news is that the drought is back and that’s not good for spawning fish. The good news better habitat awaits coho salmon and steelhead in two North Bay creeks.

In Sonoma County, the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District worked with the Thomas Creek Ranch Homeowners Association to restore lower Green Valley and Thomas creeks in Forestville as a winter coho salmon wetland habitat several years ago. Only recently, in the aftermath of the last drought, have those efforts borne fruit. In Marin County, meanwhile, officials are cheering the performance of newly restored floodplains on Lagunitas Creek, one of the most productive salmon creeks in the state.

The Forestville project began in 2014 when the conservation district constructed a 220-foot side channel and wetland along Green Valley Creek, and realigned a section of Thomas Creek to create a deep backwater “alcove” for fish. The drought made it difficult to tell if the construction was making a difference in the coho salmon population, due to the sluggish winter flow.

Continue here.

Source:  Alex T. Randolph and Tom Gogola, The Bohemian, March 6, 2018

How dedicated Sonoma County volunteers are re-sprouting oak trees burned in the fires


Image result for north bay oak tree

Consider the acorn. By kindergarten, most children know that the smooth, brown shell hides a secret: it’s a ‘baby oak with a lunch box,’ recalls Brent Reed, now Ecological Program Manager with Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation. Inside its weather and insect-resistant coat, every acorn is a live packet of waiting pre-programed cells, primed for growth, surrounded by a dense store of energy-rich carbohydrates and minerals. When conditions finally trigger its cells to begin growing, there’s enough food in the acorn’s pantry to build and drive a tap root as much as four feet down into the soil, create and unfurl a set of sugar-making leaves, and hoist them on a rigid mast into the sunlight.

Scattered among the wine country’s hillsides, mountains and valleys, the oaks that produce these acorns are part of the unique defining character of Sonoma County. But to naturalists, they’re also something more. Essential to the health of the local environment, mature oak trees are a combination of high-rise condominium, supermarket, water management and superhighway systems. In short, they are teeming centers of life.

The towering and ancient oaks are also part of the human community. Once a primary food source for native people, today they provide shade for homes, backyards and parks. They line neighborhood streets, bridge urban and rural boundaries, clean the air, sequester carbon and shelter wildlife.

Continue here.

Source:  Stephen Nett, The Press Democrat, March 7, 2018