Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan

Visit Tolay Lake Regional Park

Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan logo(1)The Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan is being prepared to provide a spectrum of outdoor recreation and environmental education benefits to Sonoma County residents and other visitors, and to protect sensitive habitats and cultural resources. 

There are three phases of the Master Plan:

  1. Discovery - conducting surveys and community workshop to solicit stakeholder and community input regarding desired future activities in the park.  Discovery was completed July 2013.
  2. Plan Development – park uses will be evaluated on the basis of consistency with existing Regional Parks policies, impacts on health and safety, and consistency with federal, state and local environmental laws.  Public workshops are conducted to solicit feedback on alternative conceptual plans and the final draft Master Plan.  Plan Development is scheduled to be completed early 2015
  3. Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - a more detailed evaluation of the plan will occur during this process.  For example potential impacts of the Master Plan will be evaluated on: air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, soils, and traffic and circulation.  The EIR will also identify all the necessary steps required to implement actions in the Master Plan, such as obtaining environmental permits and public access easements. The EIR process will begin upon completion of the Master Plan, and is scheduled for Spring 2015. 

Next Community Workshop - is Coming Fall/Winter 2014

Here’s what we’ve been doing:

Public input from Workshop #2, in January, has been compiled and has resulted in a final working draft layout for Tolay Lake Regional Park.   The layout of the northern park core (the portion of the Park accessible from Cannon Lane) is being evaluated for cost effectiveness, facility size determinations, and compliance with the State Historic Preservation Office.  Site reconnaissance and mapping of trails, throughout the entire Park is nearly complete and alignments are being evaluated for interesting user experiences, avoidance of sensitive resources, and minimizing costly infrastructure.  

The restoration component of the Lake is technically quite complex; working to balance the biological habitat development needs with the hydrological systems.  The vying primary lake restoration goals are to maximize quality habitat for native species that does not  result in additional flooding on, or otherwise impact Tolay Lake Regional Park neighboring properties.   With the help of our biological and hydrological consultant professionals two final lake alternatives were chosen for more intense study.  The water supply needed to support each of these alternatives is being modeled and evaluated to refine a preferred, draft lake restoration plan.

Additional well testing will commence in October.  First attempts to locate a reliable water source for park users and future developments were unsuccessful.  Additional funding has been made available for further testing and well development, and we hope to have a reliable water source by year’s end. 

A Preliminary Wastewater System Plan was completed in July and is in the process of being reviewed.  The plan includes three alternative designs; all designed as biological treatment systems.   Each alternative system is design to produce highly treated wastewater that can be filtered, disinfected and reused for pasture irrigation, or landscape irrigation for restoration projects in the Park.

The Interpretive Plan Draft is also being refined and near completion.   Interpreting the Park and providing easily accessible information to Park users is of vital importance to fully appreciate all that is Tolay.   The land and lake have a unique prehistoric, historical, ecological, and geological story to tell, that in part may only be understood through interpretation. 

The outcome of all this work will be available for review at the next Workshop (#3) as part of development of the Tolay Lake Master Plan.  We look forward to presenting to the public our further refinement of the Master Plan.  Please continue to look for specific Workshop #3 date and time so we can hear from you in this continuing process.

For more information or to join the project email list, please email You also can subscribe to the Park Planning Updates which will automatically notify you when this webpage changes. Please continue to check this webpage for periodic updates and new documents.

Sonoma County Regional Parks Department has initiated a master planning process for Tolay Lake Regional Park. The Master Plan will identify appropriate uses, actions to protect natural and cultural resources, and to ways to maintain the Park’s agricultural heritage. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Sonoma Land Trust are critical partners in the master planning process. There will be many opportunities for public input throughout the master planning process.


The acquisition of Tolay Lake Ranch establishes a long-awaited regional park in the southern portion of Sonoma County, easily accessible to northern Marin, southern Napa, and Solano Counties. There are opportunities to establish multi-use trails for cycling, hiking and equestrian use. The site also offers opportunities for bird-watching, picnicking, and interpretation of natural and cultural resources. There are several high points on the site that provide spectacular views of the Petaluma River basin, Mt. Tamalpais, San Francisco, Oakland, Mt. Diablo, and Mt. St. Helena, as well as other landmarks in the six adjacent counties.

Restoration of historic Tolay Lake will occur in coordination with interested resource agencies and local partners and neighbors. The development of the site into a Regional Park, including the restoration of Tolay Lake and any restoration of existing structures, requires preparation of a Park Master Plan and environmental document pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A disabled-accessible interpretive center, featuring the rich cultural, agricultural and natural history of this site and region will be a likely feature of the park. Restoration of Tolay Lake will occur to ensure natural and cultural resource protection with compatible public access, consistent with the conservation easements. Tolay Lake will not be restored to its full historic size due to the impacts on adjacent properties.

Supporting Documents

  1. PDF fileBiological Resources Study – Tolay Lake Regional Park (5.94 MB)
    Prepared by LSA Associates, Inc., April 2009
  2. PDF fileBiological Resources Study – Tolay Creek Ranch (5.95 MB)
    Prepared by LSA Associates, Inc., May 20, 2009
  3. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Rangeland Resources Study (6.08 MB)
    Prepared by LSA Associates, Inc., March 13, 2009
  4. PDF fileBaseline Geomorphic Assessment of Tolay Creek (1.22 MB)
    Prepared by Joan Florsheim, Geology Department, University of California, Davis, June 2009
  5. PDF fileHydrologic Feasibility Analysis for the Tolay Lake Ranch Property (8.78 MB)
    Prepared by Kamman Hydrology & Engineering, Inc., December 2003
  6. PDF fileDeed and Agreement by and between County of Sonoma and The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District – Tolay Lake Ranch Conservation Easement (1.78 MB)
    Executed September 27, 2005
  7. PDF fileConservation Easement Deed – Wildlife Conservation Board (1.33 MB)
    Executed September 23, 2005
  8. PDF fileReport of Investigation – Tolay Lake Ranch(11.81 MB)
    Prepared by EBA Engineering, September 8, 2004
  9. PDF fileFeasibility Analysis for the Restoration of Tolay Lake – Final Report (6.16 MB)
    Prepared by Ducks Unlimited, Inc., March 2005
  10. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Interim Access & Resource Management Plan – Initial Study (40.91 MB)
    Prepared by Sonoma County Regional Parks, August 2008
  11. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Initial Study – Conceptual Master Plan & Water-Right Application (34.42 MB)
    Prepared by Sonoma County Regional Parks, September 05, 2006
  12. PDF fileTolay Creek Riparian Enhancement Plan (60.18 MB)
    Developed by West Coast Watershed with assistance from Rob Evans & Associates, November 2009
  13. PDF fileBuilding Inspection Report - 5869 Cannon Lane, Petaluma, California 94954 (643 kB)
    Prepared by American Home Inspection, May 24, 2004 Inspection Date
  14. PDF fileRoche Ranch Conservation Easement Baseline Documentation (19.85 MB)
    Prepared by Circuit Rider Productions, Inc., December 2007
    1. PDF fileExhibits 1-7 (13 MB)
    2. PDF fileAttachments (19.85 MB)
  15. PDF filePetition to Amend Water Right Application – September 21, 2006 (2.47 MB)
  16. PDF fileNotice of Petition for Change in Points of Diversion, Points of Rediversion, Purpose of Use and Place of Use (86 kB)
    Petition Filed September 25, 2006
  17. PDF fileWater Availability Analysis Appropriative Application 30558) (7.58 MB)
    Prepared by Napa Valley Vineyard Engineering, April 1, 2008; Revised February 18, 2009
  18. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Baseline Documentation (46.37 MB)
    Prepared by Circuit Rider Productions, Inc., June 2006
  19. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Grazing Plan (96 kB)
    Prepared by Stephanie Larson, Ph.D., UC Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
  20. PDF fileGuidelines for Traffic Studies (1.02 MB)
    Prepared by the County of Sonoma, Permit and Resource Management Department and the Department of Transportation and Public Works

Interim Access with the Day Use Permit Program

Sonoma County Regional Parks is pleased to offer expanded public access at Tolay Lake Regional Park with the Interim Plan (IP) Day-Use Permit Program.

The IP Day-Use Permit Program allows the public to visit the park during posted hours once they’ve completed an hour-long orientation and obtained a permit. Regional Parks is offering these mandatory one-hour orientations, free of charge, which cover permit procedures, and rules & regulations. After the orientation, participants receive Tolay IP Day-Use Permits, along with maps, park rules & regulations, and gate access cards. Permit holders may use the park for a variety of activities, including hiking, bicycling, picnicking, or horseback riding. April through September permit holders may access the park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to sunset. October through March, permit holders may access the park from 8am to sunset on Saturday and Sunday. Regular day-use parking fees apply.


The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District provided more than half of the $18 million needed for the acquisition of Tolay Lake. These funds are from the ¼ cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990. The remaining $6.8 million for the purchase included grants from the Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Conservation Board, State Coastal Conservancy, Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State Proposition 12 Funds, and private foundations, businesses, and individual donors. 

Partner Agencies and Organizations

Bay Joint Venture  California State Parks
California Department of Fish and Wildlife CA Wildlife Conservation Board
City of Petaluma Save the Bay
City of Sonoma State Coastal Conservancy
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District
Friends of Tolay Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation
Gold Foundation The Bay Institute

Land and Water Conservation Fund

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Opportunities to Become Involved

Public Input Obtained to Date

Between October 2012 and February 2014, the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan project team conducted a variety of public engagement activities designed to solicit stakeholder and community input regarding desired future activities in the park. Surveys about the Master Plan were distributed during the Fall Festival in 2012, and an online survey was posted on the Regional Park’s website in October 2012.

On June 15, 2013 and January 16, 2014 community workshops were held on the master planning process. Over 50 stakeholders and members of the public were in attendance at each of the workshops. The majority were Sonoma County residents, although there were also a number of attendees from the greater Bay Area. A variety of stakeholder groups were represented, including residents, local land owners, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR), various public agencies, and representatives of specific user groups.

Community Workshop #1
The June 15th workshop encouraged public participation by presenting an overview of the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan, planning process.  Participants were encourage to participate in “walking workshops” and comments were compiled and evaluated by the Master Plan project team to help develop the Conceptual Plans for public review and comment in Workshop #2. Meeting materials for the first Community Master Plan meeting can be viewed below:

  1. PDF fileWorkshop #1 Summary (289 kB)
  2. PDF fileCommunity Meeting #1 Agenda (432 kB)
  3. PDF fileCommunity Meeting #1 Agenda - Large Print (449 kB)
  4. PDF fileTolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan Presentation (808 kB)
  5. PDF fileComment Card (37 kB)
  6. PDF fileStation #1 - Park Vision: Ideas We've Heard (346 kB)
  7. PDF fileStation #2 - Natural and Cultural Resources, and Agricultural Practices (396 kB)
  8. PDF fileStation #3 - Recreation and Trails (608 kB)
  9. PDF fileStation #4 - Education and Helping People Visit Tolay Lake Regional Park (549 kB)
  10. PDF filePlan Maestro del Parque Regional de Tolay Lake  - Puestos 1, 2, 3 y 4 (134 kB)

Community Workshop #2
Community Workshop #2 on January 16, 2014 presented the Master Plan Team's purpose, goals and graphic layouts of Conceptual Alternatives.  Public participation was elicited through two work stations.  Station One participants reviewed and commented on the North Park Core Area - three Conceptual Design Alternatives. Station Two participants reviewed and comments were recorded on the three Conceptual Design Alternatives for the entire Tolay Lake Regional Park.  At each station Regional Park Staff answered questions and facilitators recorded public comments.  Comments to the Conceptual Alternatives from Workshop #2 are being accepted until March 3, 2014.  Community Workshop materials, the Conceptual Plan Alternatives, and how to provide comments can be viewed below:

  1. PDF fileWorkshop #2 Summary (290 kB)
  2. PDF fileWorkshop #2 Meeting Agenda (181 kB)
  3. PDF fileTolay Master Plan Progress (1 MB)
  4. PDF fileExisting Condition Maps (3.5 MB)
  5. PDF fileAlternatives Framework (137 kB)
  6. PDF fileFull Site Conceptual Interpretive Plan Map (6.7 MB)
  7. PDF fileFull Site Conceptual Plan Map - Option A (25 MB)
  8. PDF fileFull Site Conceptual Plan Map - Option B (25 MB)
  9. PDF fileFull Site Conceptual Plan Map - Option C (34 MB)
  10.  PDF fileTolay Plan Alternatives Table (110 kB)
  11. PDF fileConceptual Plan North Core Maps - Option A (13 MB)
  12. PDF fileConceptual Plan North Core Maps - Option B (13 MB)
  13. PDF fileConceptual Plan North Core Maps - Option C (13 MB)
  14. PDF fileTolay Workshop #2 Comment Sheet (133 kB)

How to Stay Involved

Regional Parks and its consultant are evaluating public input for the next public meeting workshop planned for fall/winter 2014.

  • Learn about the Master Plan
  • Consider draft park design and provide comment

Questions or Comments?

Contact Project Manager:

Karen Davis-Brown
Call:  (707) 565-1359
Email:  Karen Davis-Brown

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