Nearly 20,000 acres of remote forest once targeted for vineyard development in remote northwest Sonoma County will be set aside as timberland and wildlife habitat under a landmark conservation deal that closed Friday.
A little known state agency that has poured $68 million into Sonoma County conservation projects is running low on cash and planning to scale back its mission of protecting and enhancing vast forests and coastal lands.
A national conservation group has reached an agreement to buy nearly 20,000 acres of timberland in northwestern Sonoma County, a move that derails the long-disputed, forest-to-vineyards conversion project pushed by CalPERS, the giant state workers pension fund.
Jenner Headlands, 5,600 acres set aside in 2009 in the largest conservation purchase in Sonoma County history, could have been developed into ranchettes, but $36 million in public and private funds prevented that. Now, managers are shaping the property’s future, trying to balance public access and the protection of natural resources.
Two pieces of private property, one large and one small, were added to the rolls of protected lands in Sonoma County this week. Separately, the property owners donated most of their development rights, in the form of conservation easements, to the Sonoma Land Trust, the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit.
The Sierra Club and other North Bay green groups are embracing digital media to help bolster their causes. Through Web pages, online video and networking sites, organizers are changing the way they raise awareness about issues, solicit money and recruit members.