VOM Rotary: Saving Our Landscape

  • Jack Monahan
Ann Johnson guest speaker 181102

As fortunate we are to live in the scenic Valley of the Moon, we seldom consider just who is actively concerned and working to retain the beautiful landscape around us. Our recent guest speakers, Ann Johnson, Land Acquisition Program Manager for the Russian River Watershed and fund raiser Ali Records are two of those people. Ann is responsible for the creation of a land and water conservation strategy that protects natural resources while meeting social and economic needs, and a commissioner for the National Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Sonoma Land Trust is a local, non-governmental, non-profit organization funded largely by membership contributions.

Our club editor, Star Power, described the Land Trust’s efforts in our weekly Bulletin. Since 1976, the Land Trust has accumulated over 50,000 acres of beautiful, productive and environmentally significant land in and around Sonoma County. The Land Trust works closely with private landowners, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District non-profit partners and foundations. The Land Trust’s goal is to share the love of this land with our diverse community. Recent acquisitions include Jenner Headlands & Pole Mountain, San Pablo Bay and Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor.

Currently under review for acquisition is the McCormick Ranch, which includes five streams draining into the Russian River. The McCormick family has owned the land since

1830, originally with 3,000 acres, now 650 acres. A very philanthropic family, the McCormicks wish to sell some of this protected property on Sugarloaf Mountain to the Land Management at the appraised value. Once completed this will complete a protected area of 10,000 acres of land.

Fund raiser Ali Records spoke to us about ways to get involved with community programs for youth and adults. Her programs introduce them to conservation work such as hikes and community outings. Volunteer opportunities include helping care for native plants, pulling invasive plants and the Citizens Science Program for birdwatchers. There is also a Membership Program for individual and community support for people who care about the preservation of open land. And, they have a Partnership Program to involve businesses who recognize the value of giving back to the land.

Ann returned to remind us of the importance of developing land management programs, especially since our October 2017 fires. In a question and answer period, Ann and Ali fielded several insightful inquiries from our members. For example, we learned their budget is $6,000,000, of which 75% comes from state and federal agencies. It was a pleasure to have Ann and Ali as our guests.

Finally, do you like crab? Our ever popular 18th anniversary Crab Feed is scheduled for Saturday, February 16, 2019. As always, it will include all the crab you can eat, live and silent auctions and raffles. Cost will be $60 per person. All net proceeds will be distributed to local charitable, youth and international organizations that our club supports. For information and tickets ask any Rotarian or e-mail valerie.hulsey@yahoo.com. It’s always a sell out, so don’t hesitate!

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