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 opportunities and to protect sensitive habitats and cultural resources. 

Three phases of the Master Plan:

  1. Discovery - Conduct surveys and community workshop to solicit stakeholder and community input on future activities in the park.  Discovery was completed July 2013.
  2. Plan Development - Evaluate park uses for consistency with existing Regional Parks policies, impacts on health and safety, and federal, state and local environmental laws. Conduct public workshops to solicit feedback on alternative conceptual plans and a final draft Master Plan. Plan Development is scheduled for completion in spring 2015.
  3. Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - Conduct detailed analysis of the Master Plan's potential impacts on the environment. For example, the Master Plan will be evaluated for potential effects on air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, soils, and traffic and circulation. The EIR will also identify all steps required to implement the actions in the Master Plan, steps such as obtaining environmental permits and public access easements. Upon completion of the master plan, the EIR process will begin in the summer of 2015. 

Next Steps

Regional Parks is compiling, evaluating, and editing the Draft Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan to incorporate and respond to comments received at the April 22, 2015 workshop (Workshop #3.)  When this process is finished, Regional Parks will prepare a comprehensive Draft Master Plan.

When the Draft Master Plan is completed, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review process will begin and will include the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This process starts with a Notice of Preparation (NOP), scheduled for early summer 2015. An EIR scoping meeting will be held during the 30-day Notice of Preparation comment period, providing opportunity for public input on the scope of the environmental analysis. Public review of the Draft EIR is anticipated for late 2015/early 2016. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the Draft EIR during a 45-day comment period. The Final EIR will be completed and meetings for final approvals of the Tolay Lake EIR and Master Plan are anticipated in spring of 2016.

Our Progress

Public Workshop #3 was held on April 22, 2015. Public input was compiled and 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 park is complete, and trail alignments are being evaluated for interesting user experiences, avoidance of sensitive resources, and minimizing costly infrastructure.  
The development of a draft restoration plan for Tolay Lake is technically complex, with the goal of balancing biological habitat needs with hydrological systems. The primary restoration goal is to improve habitat for native species without causing additional flooding in the park or neighboring properties. With the help of biological and hydrological consultants, three lake restoration alternatives were chosen for further study. The water supply needed to support these alternatives was modeled and evaluated to refine the preferred draft lake restoration plan.
Attempts to find a reliable water source for park visitors and developments have been unsuccessful. Additional funding was secured for well testing and development, and we hope to have a water source identified by summer 2015.  

A preliminary wastewater system plan for the park was completed in July 2014. The plan includes three alternative designs, all designed as biological treatment systems. Each alternative is design to produce highly treated wastewater that can be filtered, disinfected and reused for park irrigation.
A draft interpretive plan is also being refined and is near completion. Interpreting the park and providing easily accessible information to visitors is of vital importance. The parkland and lake have unique prehistoric, historic, ecological, and geological stories to tell.
A summary of all this work was presented at Workshop #3 as part of development of the Tolay Lake Master Plan. We look forward to hearing from the public at the EIR scoping meeting being scheduled for summer 2015. To receive meeting notices and project updates, please join the project contact list by emailing . You also can subscribe to our Park Planning Updates to receive periodic updates posted to this webpage. 

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 orientation and obtained a permit. Regional Parks is offering these mandatory orientations, free of charge, which cover permit procedures, and rules & regulations online as of August 1, 2015. After the orientation, participants receive Tolay IP Day-Use Permits in the mail. 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

Notice of Preparation of the Environmental Impact Report Scoping Meeting

Date:   Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Time:   6 - 8 p.m.
Location:   Petaluma Community Center, Lucchesi Park 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94954

Sonoma County Regional Parks is preparing an Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan Project.

Regional Parks is requesting comments regarding the scope and content of the PDF fileEnvironmental Impact Report (EIR) (3.07 MB). At this Public Scoping Meeting, staff will present an overview of the preliminary Master Plan for the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan Project and the environmental review process for the project. Public comment can be provided at the meeting via verbal or written comment cards. The public is also welcome to submit comments in writing during the 30-day public review period. Comments can be mailed to Sonoma County Regional Parks at 2300 County Center Drive, Suite 120A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

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 to solicit stakeholder and community input on 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 Regional Park's website in October 2012.

Community workshops were held on the master planning process on June 15, 2013, January 16, 2014 and April 22, 2015. Over 50 stakeholders and members of the public attended each of the workshops. The majority were Sonoma County residents, although a number of attendees were 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)

Community Workshop #3
Community Workshop #3, held April 22, 2015, was the final development workshop for the Master Plan. The preferred elements of the Master Plan were presented, based on additional studies and public input from Workshop #2.  Participants were invited to review the plans at three stations. Station One presented the North Park Core Area final preferred draft. Station Two presented the lake restoration alternatives, including the preferred alternative. Station Three presented the park interior and trails. At each station, project experts and parks staff  answered questions and public comments were recorded by meeting facilitators.  Comments on the preferred alternative Draft Master Plan from Workshop #3 will be accepted throug May 21, 2015. Workshop materials and instructions for providing comments can be viewed below:


  1. PDF fileTolay Lake Workshop 3 Meeting Agenda (171 kB)
  2. PDF fileTolay Master Plan Progress Workshop 3 (906 kB)
  3. PDF fileTolay Lake Workshop Factsheet (168 kB)
  4. PDF fileTolay Site Options Framework (121 kB)

Park Interior:

  1. PDF fileTolay Draft Preferred Trails Plan (507 kB)
  2. PDF fileTolay Full Site Conceptual Interpretative Plan Map Workshop 3 (1.02 MB)
  3. PDF fileTolay Restoration Areas and Biological Communities (1 MB)
  4. PDF fileTolay Emergency Access Plan Map (502 kB)
  5. PDF fileTolay Test Borehole Location Plan Map (237 kB)

Northern Park Core:

  1. PDF fileTolay Northern Core Draft Preferred Conceptual Site Plan (342 kB)
  2. PDF fileTolay Northern Core Wastewater Plan Map (233 kB)
  3. PDF fileTolay Cannon Lane Road Improvements (259 kB)
  4. PDF fileTolay Northern Core Emergency Access Plan Map (323 kB)
  5. PDF fileTolay Potential new Features (351 kB)

Lake Restoration:

  1. PDF fileTolay Lake Restoration Goals and Photos (558 kB)
  2. PDF fileTolay Lake Alternatives Pros and Cons (325 kB)
  3. PDF fileTolay Lake Restoration Water Budget Board (340 kB)
  4. PDF fileTolay Lake Preferred Lake Alternative (1.38 MB)

Comment Sheet:

  1. PDF fileTolay Workshop 3 Comment Sheet (22kB)

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