Signs of Spring

Spring is definitely in full swing. Wildflowers such as lupine and California poppies are in profusion, as are the butterflies that frequent the also prevalent Blue dicks (like the Swallowtail pictured).

The trail is mostly no longer muddy (until the next rain, at least), so now is a great time to get out and enjoy the warmth and the wildlife. Just keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, as they have already been sighted on the trail. Other wildlife to look for include squirrels, deer, lizards, and wide variety of birds, from Red-Tailed Hawks to Red-Shafted Flickers to Great Horned Owls (all of which have been sighted from the trails).

Another sign of spring is, well, a sign. We just replaced the sign at the top of the trail that describes a little of the history of the area and names some of the surrounding sights viewable from the upper meadow. On the Overlook Trail, costs such as these are borne by the volunteer Stewards of the Overlook Trail group, which
collaborates with the Sonoma Ecology Center that serves as our fiscal agent. But anything that costs money to maintain or upgrade the trail and property requires us to raise money through events, donations, etc. If you feel so moved, please click on our “Donate Now!” link in the righthand column. Or, come to our next event at the Sonoma Raceway.

In any case, enjoy all of the sights of spring and stay safe out there!

Hikes, Lunch, and Wine at Sonoma Raceway…150mph Hike?

Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards will host hikes and a picnic lunch at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. to help raise money for our trail Rehabilitation Project.

Participants can choose a three- or five-mile guided hike through the splendid hills and grasslands of the raceway’s extensive open space to the west of the main facility. Hikes will be guided by docents and Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway’s president and general manager. This property, offering 360-degree views and bayland vistas, is not usually accessible to the public.

The walking is easy and suitable for all ages. An exceptionally wet winter is producing a  spectacular wildflower season, and it’s also an opportunity to see the “woolly weeders” and their spring lambs in action.

Registration is limited and cost is $50 per person, non-refundable and tax-deductible. The cost covers docent-led hikes, a picnic lunch catered by Levy Restaurants, Bedrock wines and non-alcoholic beverages.

Proceeds will go to the Rehabilitation Project that is being undertaken by Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards, an all-volunteer group that monitors and performs maintenance on the Overlook Trail.

Early registration is advised as a similar event sold out last year. For more information, contact Jeni Nichols, jeninichols@icloud.com, 707-738-3791.

Click Here To Register

Help Eradicate Invasive Plants in Montini Preserve

Friday, July 22 9:00am-11:30am

Field of Dreams/Police Station Parking Lot

What are Invasive Plants?Centaurea melitensis

Invasive species are, generally, non-native species that cause ecological harm to the biodiversity of an area. After human development, invasive species are the second greatest cause of habitat loss in the world.  In addition to displacing native plants and animals, invasives can increase fire risk and harbor pests.

Thanks to the work of our volunteers across Montini and Overlook Trail, we’ve made huge strides in suppressing the spread of many of the common invasive plants on our park land. However, it takes a community to constantly be vigilant and aggressive in maintaining outbreaks of yellow and purple thistles, harding grass and the other non-natives that threaten the ecological health of our lands.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6f/C._calcitrapa1.jpg/220px-C._calcitrapa1.jpg Come out on Friday, July 22nd and work alongside our restoration technicians to help keep our parks clean and free of the spread of invasive plants. Learn about native flora and the impacts of non-natives on our landscape and enjoy a nice day of hiking. We will be starting at the parking lot next to the police station and Field of Dreams off of 1st Street East.

Also in attendance will be Sonoma Ecology Center’s high school crew of  summer Enviroleaders. These students have been working through their vacation months, becoming young stewards of the land and leaders of their community.

Preparation

Volunteers should bring layered comfortable clothing, sunscreen, and a a water bottle.   We will provide gloves and trash bags if needed. Efforts to use reusable items are guided by a desire to reduce the overall event footprint. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

For any questions, please call Volunteer Manager, Tony Passantino at  at 707-996-0712 x124 or email Tony@sonomaecologycenter.org.

 
 

A Great Way to Celebrate National Arbor Day

mistletoeTo celebrate National Arbor Day, volunteer Steward Rich Gibson, a retired biologist, will lead a 3-mile hike of moderate difficulty on the Sonoma Overlook Trail while telling hikers about the trees and shrubs along the trail. This is not to be missed, as you will emerge from the experience with a much greater appreciation of the trees and shrubs you see not just beside the trail, but everywhere in Sonoma Valley.

There are two times to choose from:

  • Friday, April 29th at 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, April 30th at 9:00 am

For either day meet at the main Overlook Trail trailhead next to entrance of Mountain Cemetery. Be sure to bring water, sturdy shoes, and sun protection.

For more information leave a message for Rich at 707-939-0280.

 

Tissues are Trash

P1000925Far and away I pick up more facial tissues on the trail than any other type of litter. Just the other day I picked up four in one day. The photo to the right depicts one of them. So I feel compelled to insist that tissues are trash. I simply don’t understand what people are thinking. Do they imagine that tissues decompose within a few days of hitting the ground? Well, they don’t. Do they simply not care? Probably.

But if you toss your tissue you’re making me pick it up. And I pick them up, despite potentially exposing myself to disease. After spending the first five years of my childhood on an Indiana farm ingesting all kinds of microbes, I now have an immune system made of iron and antibodies. But that doesn’t make it OK for you to toss your tissues.

Tissues are trash. Carry out whatever you carry in.

Poison Oak Mitigation

poisonoakWe are once again in the season when poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobumattempts to run rampant on the trail, threatening hikers with itchy rashes that can spread over one’s entire body (believe me, I’ve been there). So now is also the time when we stewards work to mitigate this threat. In the past, we have sprayed the edge of the tray to kill it off, but recently we have been taking a more ecologically friendly approach by simply clipping it back.

This is potentially dangerous work, but with appropriate precautions one can do it without harm. Last year I got one small spot of itchy irritation that I was able to manage until it subsided. This year (knock on wood) so far I’ve been itch-free.

As I’ve been doing this over the last week I’ve received a lot of complimentary feedback from grateful hikers who know how annoying such a rash can be. This helps make the labor worthwhile, as you know from even just several hours of work you can make a real difference.

150 MPH Hike?

Sonoma Raceway Overhead Best New ColorWell, not quite, but don’t miss your chance to be part of the first organized hike on the pristine 1,600-acre Sonoma Raceway property on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. All proceeds from the three-mile hike benefit the Sonoma Overlook Trail.

Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway, will delight us over lunch with some history as to how the raceway property was acquired and what the raceway is doing to protect this environmentally sensitive land.

Email us now to reserve your spot for this signature event! Your $50 contribution includes your participation in the hike, followed by a lovely picnic by Levy Restaurants with sweeping views of the Sonoma Valley. Friedeman Wines has donated their highly acclaimed Lancel Creek Wines to be served with lunch. Come meet the winemaker! Hikers can also participate in a raffle to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Sonoma Raceway event.

Reservations are required. To reserve your spot or for more information, email LaurieSOT@gmail.com.