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Sonoma Valley Fund grant will speed reopening of Sugarloaf trails

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The Sonoma Valley Fund has made a $49,000 grant to the Sonoma Ecology Center to support the trail restoration project at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

The funding was approved by the Sonoma Valley Fund’s grant committee, using Todd Trust funds. The Todd Trust was a bequest to Community Foundation Sonoma County from Hazel and Roland Todd to support charitable activities primarily in Sonoma Valley, especially in the areas of health, human services and open space.

“We are thrilled to make this grant to the SEC so that these trails will be restored and available for the public as soon as possible,” said Grant Committee Chair Judy Young.

“This proposal not only points out the many enriching opportunities presented to the public by park access, but the educational benefits regarding fires that can be learned as our community lives through the man-made and natural restoration of this beautiful park,” said Young.

“Restoring these trails will be an integral part of our community’s post-fire healing process,” added committee member Kimberly Blattner.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park was severely impacted by fires in October, with over 75 percent of the park burned, according to Richard Dale, director of the Ecology Center.

He has said that the land is expected to fully recover, but the trail infrastructure was permanently damaged, and a danger from landslides remains.

The park reopened in early February, but many trails remain closed until they can be repaired and stabilized. State Parks, the park landowner, does not maintain insurance, and SEC insurance does not cover repair of facilities the center doesn’t own.

Dale estimates that 2,500 feet of trails are affected and need to be rebuilt in the park. Some trails also need retaining walls and steps re-installed because wooden infrastructure burned out.

To cover the estimated $90,000 in project costs, SEC have also applied for funding from California State Parks Foundation, PG&E Climate Resilience Fund, Oakmont Rotary Club and Landmark Vineyards.

SEC is also conducting a public donations campaign on social media, and at the park as visitors arrive and leave.

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