Dedicated to protecting working and natural lands forever, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space began work last year on the Vital Lands Initiative – a long-term strategic plan that will guide the work of district for the next 15 years.

The agency will be holding nine public meetings around the county on the initiative, including one at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial building on Monday, March 19.

The Vital Lands Initiative uses the best available science, data and technical information to identify strategies for prioritizing conservation of the county’s agricultural and natural lands, scenic views and greenbelt areas, as well as protecting land for recreation, education, and urban open space within communities. The draft plan is available for download at sonomaopenspace.org/vital-lands.

The district hosted a series of public scoping meetings in March 2017 and is now asking the community to weigh in on the plan’s draft goals, objectives, and strategies before taking a full draft plan to its board of directors later this spring.

“Over the past year, we have engaged with hundreds of community members and groups through public meetings, workshops, and discussions with local leaders, partners, and technical experts,” said open space General Manager, Bill Keene. “Now we’re ready to share what we heard. We look forward to hearing from the community about whether the Vital Lands Initiative reflects their vision for land conservation in Sonoma County.”

The draft goals, objectives, and strategies of the Vital Lands Initiative were created using the best available science, data, and technical information, and rely heavily upon community input and involvement gathered through community meetings, technical workshops, stakeholder interviews, polling, community event outreach, and online engagement.

Using the input from partners, technical experts, stakeholders, and the public, the Initiative identifies clear strategies for conserving important open space lands that preserve our agricultural heritage, provide critical habitat for plants and wildlife, offer beautiful places for people to enjoy and explore, and create buffers around our cities so that our communities retain their character and sense of place. The Initiative also proposes to enhance partnerships with community groups and organizations to achieve common goals.

For more information, visit sonomaopenspace.org/vital-lands.