For Immediate Release
County, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria sign co-management agreement of Tolay Lake Regional Park
SANTA ROSA, CA | October 04, 2022
The County of Sonoma and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have entered into a long-term agreement to co-manage Tolay Lake Regional Park, a partnership believed to be the first of its kind in California between a local government and a federally recognized tribe.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Tribe recently approved a 20-year agreement to co-manage the 3,400-acre park southeast of Petaluma. The parkland is within the Tribe’s ancestral territory and holds significant cultural history.
Co-management efforts will include protection and preservation of cultural resources, use of traditional ecological knowledge to ensure the Tribe’s views are part of co-management, collaboration on park operations and administration, land use activities, interpretive and educational programming, and access to park resources for cultural practices.
“The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria are pleased with the adoption by Sonoma County of the Tolay Regional Park co-management agreement,” said Greg Sarris, Tribal Chairman, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. “This agreement ensures the restoration and enhancement, and most importantly -- protection -- of Indian sacred land. This agreement becomes a model for how tribes in Sonoma County and throughout the United States can work together to protect the land we share.”
“With this partnership, the public will have the unique opportunity to experience a county park managed as a cultural landscape,” said Supervisor James Gore, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Co-management provides a more complete understanding of place and lets visitors see practices that reflect the full history of the land. This collaboration can serve as a model for us as well as for other local governments.”
“There’s no doubt that management of this park – the county’s largest – should be carried out in partnership with those people who have such a spiritual and cultural connection to the land,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose district includes Tolay. “We are in a good place. The park is beautiful, and I look forward to this cooperation and collaboration going forward.
Government-to-government park agreements have been established among tribes and federal and state agencies nationwide. In fact, in 2021 the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service entered into a general agreement for a government-to-government partnership for the management of Point Reyes National Seashore. However, park co-management agreements between tribes and municipal governments are less common.
The Tolay co-management agreement solidifies and builds upon nearly two decades of collaborative efforts between Sonoma County Regional Parks and the Tribe. These include the development of the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2018 and an interim co-management agreement for the park approved in 2019.
During the interim co-management period, Regional Parks and the Tribe have enhanced the cultural relevance of park field trips, expanded the use of sheep grazing and prescribed fire for landscape management, initiated development of a community gathering area and an audio tour of cultural history, and improved procedures to protect park and tribal resources.