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Natural Resources

Cattle grazing at Wright Hill Ranch Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

Sonoma County is a globally significant “hotspot” for biodiversity, with its Mediterranean climate supporting an array of ecosystems and species. Redwood forests, coastal prairies, oak savannas, rivers, estuaries, and beaches provide habitat and refuge for birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, and more.

Goals

Regional Parks works to protect, restore, and steward these world-class resources. Our goals are to:

  1. Ensure the parks contribute to the ecological function of natural systems throughout the county. 
  2. Use the parks to inform and inspire visitors about nature and the link between environmental health and personal wellness.

Activities

Regional Parks has an ongoing program to manage Sonoma County's natural resources.  Initiatives include:

Waves crashing on the beach at Gualala Point Regional Park

Climate Change

Parks are a key line of defense against climate change. Our more urban parks cool and clean the air, improve and modify wind circulations, regulate precipitation, and mitigate the impact of urban heat islands.

Prescribed burn at Sonoma Valley Regional Park

Wildfire Resilience

Sonoma County’s forests and grasslands have enjoyed thousands of years of regular burning. The challenge in today’s environment is to manage increasingly dense vegetation due to the exclusion of fire.

Prescribed fire being applied at Sonoma Valley Regional Park

Prescribed Fire

Our goal is to use prescribed fire as one of the many management tools in our toolbox to transform our existing young and dense, forests and woodlands into mature, self-sustaining, healthy ecosystems that are reminiscent of the past and resilient to the ecological conditions of tomorrow.

Cattle grazing at Crane Creek Regional Park

Grazing

Because Sonoma County’s grasslands are adapted to disturbance from fire and large herds of animals, they quickly lose their vitality without active burning or grazing.

Planting oak trees at Sonoma Valley Regional Park

Restoration

Sonoma County Regional Parks works to enhance the function of our ecosystems through active restoration. We endeavor to “keep our common species common” by planting oaks and other native species iconic to the Sonoma County landscape.

Ferns and moss

Biodiversity

Sonoma County Regional Parks stewards several populations of threatened and endangered species. We monitor species such as the California red-legged frog and adapt our management to protect and recover the species.

Invasive species removal in the grasslands at Mark West Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

Invasive Species

There are 195 invasive plant species in Sonoma County, making up 8 percent of the total vegetative cover. We engage our staff and volunteers in efforts to control the most problematic weeds.