Jan 112017
 

Pat Eliot, one of the founders of Sonoma Mountain Preservation, died at 87 in December 2016. She was surrounded by her husband, children, and grandchildren at home on the Sonoma Mountain she loved so well.

A memorial is scheduled for April 2, 2017.

Those wishing to make a contribution in her memory to Sonoma Mountain Preservation can send it to SMP, PO Box 1772, Glen Ellen, CA. 95442-9321.

Pat (far right) leading a hike on what later became the East Slope Trail on Sonoma Mountain

Pat was born In Portland Oregon on August 2, 1929, lived there and in Seattle, WA. At age seven she moved with her family to Marin County where she attended first Dominican and then the Katherine Branson School.

In the summers when she was 14,15, and 16, she worked on the Jack London Dude Ranch, now a State Historic Park, and fell in love with that countryside.

Pat was married over 65 years to Theodore Eliot, a career Foreign Service Officer, and accompanied him to his posts in Sri Lanka (where they were married), Germany, the Soviet Union, Iran, and Afghanistan (where he was the U.S. Ambassador) and Washington DC. Their four children Sally, Ted, Wendy and Peter, were born in four different countries.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees concurrently in 1969 from the University of Maryland. The latter was in early childhood education, and she subsequently taught in a charter primary school and a special school for emotionally disturbed children in the District of Columbia.

While her husband was Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the 1970s and’80s, she was Executive Director of the Association of (non-profit) Homes for the Aging in Massachusetts and appointed by then Governor Michael Dukakis to two related statewide commissions.

The Eliots moved into a new home in Sonoma in 1988, and she concentrated her time and energies on conservation issues. Along with the late George Ellman, she founded Sonoma Mountain Preservation. It led the effort to transfer 600 acres of the Sonoma Developmental Center to the Jack London Park, and to persuade the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance strictly protecting the scenic vistas of Sonoma Mountain.

She and her husband donated to Sonoma County a conservation easement on their property and a loop at the southern terminus of the East Slope Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail.

Pat served on the Board of LandPaths, a countywide organization focused primarily on acquainting youths with open spaces. She was an avid reader, mostly of fiction, and belonged to two book groups, one in Santa Rosa and one in San Francisco. She also belonged to a Sonoma women’s organization that entertained monthly expert speakers on important subjects. She thoroughly enjoyed the friendships she made in all of her activities. Pat had many close friends all over the world, some of whom she had known since nursery school.

Pat was an athlete. She was a passionate horseback rider, a member of the State Parks’ Mounted Assistance Unit and of the Sonoma Development Center’s Posse. She was elected to the Sonoma Horse Council’s Hall of Fame. She has ridden across Scotland and on the Iranian Steppe. She was a passionate backpacker and climbed both Whitney and Shasta Mountains. She was also an excellent tennis player and fly fisherwoman.

In addition to her husband Ted and four children, Pat leaves nine grandchildren, Eric, Anna, Caroline, Emily, Victoria, Sam, Margaret, Tom and Katherine, and two great grandchildren Grayson and Alasdair. The family is spread from Turkey to Australia and in California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

Other stories about Pat: http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/cms/pages/sonoma-county-news-article-6149.html

Big Birder, Bigger Heart

www.sonomanews.com/news/6397811-181/sonoma-mountain-protector-pateliot

Jul 242016
 

 The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors decided to approve the community separator ballot measure and proposed additions of lands with the changes below, which will be finalized at the August 2 2016 supervisors meeting on the Consent Calendar (public hearing closed, no more public comment unless more changes are made).

Thanks to Teri Shore of Greenbelt alliance for this summary. Results:
 
Ballot Measure Sunset Date – 20 years (instead of 30)
 
Shorter term of voter protections supported by all five supervisors.
 
No other significant changes to the ballot measure language or general plan provisions!
 
Community Separator Lands
 
1st District – All Sonoma Valley Lands Included as Proposed – thanks to Sup. Gorin!
 
2nd District – Removal of parcels on Frates Road and large priority greenbelt wetlands south of Petaluma along Lakeville Highway– by Sup. Rabbitt
 
3rd District – No changes by Sup. Zane
 
4th District – Significant reduction in the Cloverdale-Healdsburg Community Separator by about 75 percent – by Sup. Gore
 
5th District – All Santa Rosa-Sebastopol area additions supported as proposed by Sup. Carrillo!
 
Other issues and polices
 
No affordable housing exemption proposed or added!
 
The old policy that allows commercial projects in community separators in exchange for open space protection or “public benefit” was finally removed for good! (Policy ORSC 1 c).
 
As already allowed, farmworker housing in community separators must follow current county code. No change here but clarification added due to last minute request by wine industry.
 
While we didn’t get everything that was proposed by the excellent staff at PRMD and approved by the Planning Commission, we are close to a significant win for our green spaces. We could not have done it without you!
Dec 292015
 

Five of the “community separators” set to expire at the end of 2016 surround Sonoma Mountain. Some of them are linked directly to wildlife corridors that allow travel from the Mayacamas to the mountain and beyond.

Twenty years ago, voters countywide adopted an initiative to preserve these sorts of green places between Sonoma’s towns and cities. The County Board of Supervisors is now developing a ballot measure to renew voter protections.

The community separators have prevented housing tracts and shopping malls from sprawling into these open space buffers, ensuring that significant stretches of natural and working lands between our communities continue to thrive and grow. See Maps of Sonoma County Community Separators.

Sonoma County’s community separator policy prevents county leaders from approving major housing, commercial, and industrial development in designated lands between towns and cities. These popular voter-backed protections passed with more than 70% of the vote. Greenbelt Alliance is leading the way to renew and strengthen the voter mandate that protects community separators from Petaluma and Sonoma to Windsor and Healdsburg.

The purpose of community separators is three-fold—they serve as green buffers between cities and towns, contain urban development, and preserve the rural charm of Sonoma County’s landscape. The county’s eight community separators cover 17,000 acres of natural and farm lands. These policies complement the cities’ urban growth boundaries, which designate where a city can and cannot develop, by safeguarding adjacent unincorporated lands.

In addition to protecting green zones between communities from sprawl, community separators preserve farmlands, waterways, drinking water, groundwater recharge areas, wildlife corridors, water quality, hillsides, woodlands, and much more.

Greenbelt Alliance and other conservation organizations are advocating for enhancement and strengthening of our community separators, reminding us that. urgent needs for housing can be met within the footprint of our towns and cities.

Thanks to Greenbelt Alliance’s blog for sharing this article! If you’d like to get involved in the campaign, contact Teri Shore at tshore@greenbelt.org

May 312015
 

Under the great dome of time

From deep in the slow moving earth

A mountain lifts its crest into the heavens

Sun and frost

Wind and rain

Soil makers

Working their ways

For trees, flowers grass and seeds

Feeder of birds and beasts

Day and night

Watcher of countless seasons

That arise and pass away

And the silent mountain stands

 

Nestled in soft soil

An acorn’s root goes deep

Slowly ever slowly

The promise that was held

Perfectly in the seed

Becomes a mighty oak

A home and pantry for the birds, for insects

And a multitude of tiny lives

A hopping place for squirrels

A place of shade for deer and fox and mice

And the great oak grows

And the beauty mountain stands in silencesonoma mountain oak tree

 

Then came the hunters, acorn gatherers

Sacred Mountain worshipers

For ten thousand years they came

And they were happy

The workers of the land, they came

The cattlemen

The orchard men

The tenders of the vine

Fathers, mothers, children, pioneers

They came in waves

And flourished

And the Valley of the Moon held and fed them all

And the mighty oak was witness

And the mountain called Sonoma

Stood beside them in its beauty

Then came a man called Jack

With Charmain his beloved wife

A Beauty Ranch was born

Their place of happiness, hope and friendships

A cottage built

Books written

Vines planted heavy with fruit

A Big House rose amidst the redwoods

But alas, a great flame took the house away

One day Jack spoke to Charmain

And this is what he said

He said

“If I would beat you to it,

I wouldn’t mined if you laid my ashes on the knoll

where the children of the pioneers are buried.

and roll over me a red boulder

from the ruins of the Big House”

Then he too was taken

And the great oak saw it all

And the mountain called Sonoma stood in silence

 

Three hundred years

Maybe four

The old oak nears its passage

A child of some distant parent

The parent of a child

It now becomes

Passing an ancient linage

On into the future

So be our lives

We dwellers of the Valley

A chain of love and hope

From hand to hand be given

Recalling now and then

To offer up our gratitude

To these, the watchers of our lives

Our sacred guardians

This mighty oak

And this

The silent beauty mountain called Sonoma

 

by Michael Sheffield

copyright 2015

www.mountainandpine.com

Thanks to poet Michael Sheffield for sharing this poem, read by him at both the Jack London State Park oak tree planting and Sonoma Arbor Day, 2015.

Mar 162015
 

East Slope Ridge Trail open, thanks to Pat and Ted Eliot and many others who worked on it for 20 years! Thanks to Paul martin, ©Vineyard Productions 2015 for photos…

View east to Mt. Diablo

East Slope Trail View south to San FranciscoEast Slope Trail - JLSHP-7 copyCutting ribbon to open trail on 3/14/15East Slope Trail Happy hikers and ribbon-cutters!East Slope Trail - JLSHP-330

Sep 302014
 

“No summit within miles carries the cachet of the mountain I live on” writes Tracy Salcedo-Chourre, author of this post.

Seems I’ve always called a mountain home. I used to live on a mountaintop—at least by California standards. This was in Colorado; our home on Circle Drive was perched on a nameless summit at 8,500 feet. That qualifies, even if neighboring Bergen Peak, at nearly 10,000 feet, got all the glory.

Now I live at the foot of Sonoma Mountain, which by Colorado standards is a hummock. Never mind that, though: It’s as steep and imposing, in its context, as any Rocky Mountain. And it’s the iconic one—no summit within miles carries the cachet of the mountain I live on.

Nearing the summit o Sonoma Mountain

Nearing the summit of Sonoma Mountain

It’s odd, though. I am a walker, by both nature and profession–Tracy of the Trails. But I have never been to the top of Sonoma Mountain. It’s been off-limits, private property. I’ve been as close as the trails permit, gazing upward in mild frustration at the grassy apex, contemplating trespass but turning around instead because I am not, by nature, a trespasser. Especially in parks and preserves. I know how much work goes into setting parkland apart, and I would never violate the trust that exists between parkland and neighboring private property.

So I am elated at news that Sonoma Mountain’s summit will soon be accessible to walkers like me, by dint of private/public negotiations that have yielded new deposits into the Sonoma County Open Space land bank and a new stretch of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Hikers will now be able to explore the top as well as the bottom of the mountain.

But were the top never to open—or were I never to reach it—wouldn’t matter to me in the long run. It doesn’t make me love the mountain more. Just to be clear: The paths on the lower reaches of Sonoma Mountain have imprinted themselves forever on the soles of my wandering shoes. I know pockets of the eastern flanks intimately; Jack London State Historic Park and the open spaces above the Sonoma Developmental Center are my backyard. I return again and again to the old familiar, where the vistas never fail, the woodlands are always fragrant, the flowers and grasses demonstrate the seasons in a parade of blooms that mature to seeds and begin again.

SDC wildlands

SDC wildlands

Yes, I’ll be able to get to the top soon, but I’ll be found on the paths I’ve walked for years, around my home at the base.

By Tracy Salcedo-Chourre

 

Sep 062014
 

From the Sonoma County Regional Parks…

“Our favorite thing to do is announce a new park, so we’re thrilled to let you know about Sonoma Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve, a 738-acre gem we’re working to open by the end of the year. The parkland is located on Sonoma Mountain Road near Pressley Road, southeast of Santa Rosa between Rohnert Park and the Sonoma Valley. Sonoma Mountain’s special features include forests of oaks and redwoods, numerous creeks, sweeping views of Sonoma Valley and the Santa Rosa Plain, and a 4.25-mile trail connection to Jack London State Historic Park. The park will comprise six properties on the north slope of the mountain, five of them purchased over the years by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District with revenue from a voter-approved sales tax. The Board of Supervisors last month OK’d the properties’ transfer from the District to Regional Parks. We’re now repairing a bridge at the main entrance to the site, and once that’s completed this fall, we’ll open the park for hiking, horseback riding, and limited mountain biking.”

One view from the top: Mt. St. Helena

 

Jul 312014
 

California_Vole_(Microtus_californicus)“There, before he reached his hole,
We saw a California vole…
On lush green meadow there were we
Our party now enlarged to three.
Amidst the grass he paused with us,
A small M. Californicus.
The furry fellow spied his goal
Then said good-bye, went down his hole.
A touching moment, we would say,
Which made complete a lovely day.”

This post, by Robin Pennell, is one of a series of guest posts from local residents on “Why I Love The Mountain” on SonomaMountain.org. Thank you, Robin for your inspiration at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve, one of the privately protected open spaces on the mountain. Photo by Jerry Kirkhart, Flickr.

Jul 312014
 

Like most newcomers to Petaluma, I was struck by the mountain dominating the skyline to the northeast, with its checkerboard of grassland and oak woodlands reminiscent of the beloved hills of my youth.  I learned it was Sonoma County’s dominant landform and namesake, and of its foundational role in the region’s culture and history.

And then came the question every outdoor-oriented newcomer to Petaluma asks: where can we hike up there?

Sadly, the answer in the early 1980’s was: nowhere.  Of the more than 10,000 acres of Sonoma Mountain that can be seen from Petaluma, there was not a single acre of parkland, nor a single public trail.

LafFrmTurnBas

Petaluma view: Sonoma Mountain and Lafferty Ranch

Taken at the Petaluma River’s Turning Basin near downtown by Scott Hess. Lafferty Ranch, owned by the City of Petaluma, includes the large wooded canyon in the center of the frame.

Marin to Petaluma

I was fortunate to grow up in a southern Marin adjacent to natural open space.  Many of my most formative experiences took place in those hills, in the company of parents, friends, and my own thoughts and observations.  I credit that immediacy of nature with much of what I have become since, including a lifelong environmentalist.

In the early 1980s my wife and I had moved to Petaluma, because it was midway between my work in San Rafael and hers in Santa Rosa, and because it seemed a good place to raise a family. But, as we discovered, the west side of the mountain itself was wholly privately owned, with no public access.

Open Space Hope

Much has changed since the 1980s. The Sonoma County Ag Preservation & Open Space District, twice funded by voters and aided by the Sonoma Land Trust, LandPaths, and Sonoma Mountain Preservation, have permanently protected vast swaths of agricultural and open space, and opened many thousands of acres of scenic natural lands to responsible public enjoyment throughout the county.

Throughout the county, that is, except on the Petaluma side of Sonoma Mountain.  What was true in the 1980s remains true today: not a single trail nor a single public acre can be found on the southeast slope overlooking Petaluma.

Yet a ray of hope began to emerge in the early 1990s. Petaluma began to implement its longstanding plan to open Lafferty Ranch, a scenic, 270-acre, city-owned property comprising the headwaters of historic Adobe Creek and reaching to the Sonoma Mountain ridgeline of Sonoma Mountain, as a public park.

That plan ran into resistance from some neighboring property owners, and has developed into quite an ongoing saga. You can learn about it on other SMP blogs, and in detail at www.laffertyranch.org

Where to Hike?

Today, when outdoor enthusiasts in Petaluma ask where they can hike on our side of our beautiful mountain, the answer, lamentably, is still “nowhere.”

But many of us, with the continued support of Sonoma Mountain Preservation and others, are determined to change that.

Before too long, I am certain, Lafferty Ranch will be opened to the public, as long planned.  And one day too, I hope it will become part of the existing and growing network of public lands and trails on Sonoma Mountain, so that our children and grandchildren can once again hike over the mountain from valley to valley, in the footsteps of the Coast Miwok, Mariano Vallejo, and Jack London.

This post, by Larry Modell, is one of a series of guest posts from local  residents on “Why I Love The Mountain” on SonomaMountain.org. Thank you Larry for your contribution, and we encourage readers to find out how they can help Lafferty open to the public.

Jun 112014
 

two moon family farm raised beds sonoma mountain preservationIn 2009 we moved our family of 5 from suburban San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles County) to rural Glen Ellen. This was not ‘flight from the city’ but a home-coming; a chance to move back onto the property where my husband grew up, bordering the SDC and Asbury Creek, in the shadow of Sonoma Mountain. Our property has been in the Lee family closing-in on 40 years, but the history is rich here, and previous owners included Vallejo, Chauvet, and Pagani. As I sit watching the clouds lick at the ridge of the Sonoma Mountain to our west or look up from our orchard to see how the sun is playing off Mt. Hood to the north, I think about the other folks who have occupied this flank of the mountain, looking up from their work to those exact same views.

Our 5 acre parcel was once covered in vineyard, one of the oldest in the valley. If you ride on our mower you can still feel the undulating ghost of the grape rows under the blade. The vines are gone, but we are continuing the ag tradition from those early days of Chauvet and Pagani’s viticulture, morphing into vegetable gardening and animal husbandry passed down through my in-laws, and then expanded by our little family. What started as our ‘quaint’ desire to ‘get back to the land and grow our own food’, has blossomed over the past several years into a small family farm business. As Two Moon Family Farm, we sell eggs and produce to several local restaurants and at the farmer’s market (Kenwood Community Farmers Market). In addition we raise goats and the occasional turkeys and lamb for our own family. Our children understand where food comes from and we are carrying on the tradition of having a small homestead farm on the side of Sonoma Mountain.

It is amazing to live on an interface between the wilds of the mountain and the village of Glen Ellen. Our farm is surrounded by open, natural habitat. The wildlife we see every day is always a great form of entertainment for our long-time city friends when they come to visit ‘Camp Lee’. Out our window we’ve seen bobcats, jackrabbits, raccoons, quail, deer, skunk, ground squirrels, woodpeckers, turkey vultures, hawks, snakes, coyotes, etc… Currently we have three ‘families’ of wild turkeys wandering about- three hens with at least 10 chicks in tow. Steve has distinct memories of wild pig encounters while growing up here, although they have since been actively removed from the mountain. And, of course, there are mountain lions. Although we haven’t seen a cat directly, we know that they share this mountain with us, and we’ve seen the evidence of their behavior. Hikers on treks just up beyond our fence have reported them and we had a young goat taken by a lion early in our adventures, when we hadn’t yet fully secured our night-time penning situation. We love overlapping with the nature of this mountain even when predators ‘visit’ the farm.

It sometimes feels like a dream when I look up from my work in the garden to see the changing light on the hills and valleys on our side of the mountain. There is a sort of magic here. Just slightly up the hill to our north west is the ruin of Jack London’s Wolf House. I know he was drawn here by that same pulse. My husband knows almost every foot of this mountain, that he often refers to as ‘his backyard’. And it is…. but it is yours too…. with all of it’s history, wildlife, and magic.

Shannon and Steven Lee are trained marine scientists who have more recently taken on farming. They have numerous ‘jobs’ but are primarily science educators and researchers, respectively. They share the property with their three children, Steven’s parents, 10 goats, 20 hens, several roosters, and 2 barn cats.

[portfolio_slideshow id=495]

Photography by Shannon Lee

This post is the first installment of the “Why I Love The Mountain” series of guest posts from local Sonoma residents on SonomaMountain.org – Thank you Shannon & Steven for your contribution and we encourage readers to like Two Moon Family Farm on Facebook and follow them on twitter at @TwoMoonFF