How to save a mountain
MEMBERS OF SONOMA MOUNTAIN PRESERVATION include, front row, from left: Mickey Cooke, Michael Bates, Pat Eliot, John Barinaga; Back row, from left: Margaret Spaulding, Helen Bates, Bill Kortum with 1st District Supervisor Valerie Brown.How to save a mountainIn 1993, a group of Sonoma Valley residents joined together to save a mountain. They called themselves Sonoma Mountain Preservation.
In 1993, a group of Sonoma Valley residents joined together to save a mountain. They called themselves Sonoma Mountain Preservation.
In March of that year, in response to growing developer pressure, the group committed to meet on a regular basis with the goal of preserving the agricultural land and open space on Sonoma Mountain. Their first step was to define the geographical extent of Sonoma Mountain as lying within Arnold Drive, Warm Springs Road, Sonoma Mountain Road, Pressley Road, Roberts Road, Petaluma Hill Road, Adobe Road and Stage Gulch Road.
Next, they created a map with assistance from the Open Space District but with no benefit from the not-yet-available GPS technology.
They then created a working group; filed for a nonprofit, tax-exempt status in 2000; and began an annual newsletter they mailed to more than 1600 citizens .
The next step involved organizing the community to prevent development on critical mountain parcels, including the Freiberg, Schlumberger and Sonoma Developmental Center upper parcels, which ultimately led to 600 acres of Sonoma Mountain land being transferred to Jack London State Historical Park. Other acquisitions included the Galvin Ranch and a conservation easement over the McCrea property, allowing for a public loop trail, after lengthy litigation.
Along the way SMP proposed to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors that an ordinance be approved to protect the visual integrity of Taylor and Sonoma Mountains. The ordinance was approved in August l998 and SMP created and found funding for a brochure informing the public of the new guidelines.
In May, 2011 guidelines for the Mayacamas as seen from Sonoma Valley were passed by the Board of Supervisors at the instigation of SMP, merging all three areas into one ordinance with added restrictions.
SMP continues to update maps and a data base of Sonoma Mountain parcels with acreage, ownership, APN numbers and addresses, with an eye to continued land conservation.
As a result of their unflagging commitment and dedicated achievements, on Aug. 9 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors awarded Sonoma Mountain Preservation with a Gold Resolution.