And So it Begins…

IMG-1011Today I realized that the invasive species removal season had started — earlier than it ever has during my tenure. The earliest I had started removing Italian thistle from the Sonoma Overlook and Montini Preserve properties had been in December. But now, with our early rains this season, the thistle has already started coming in (see pic).  This essentially cuts my “down time” from four months to three, meaning the thistle removal season is going to be nine months long this year. Ouch!

One nice thing, though, is that I will have a three-week “vacation” in May, when I put in on the Colorado River rowing an 18-foot raft for 17 days. Since I just recently got off a 19-day trip doing the same thing, call me one lucky guy!

But mostly I’ll be out there, day in and day out, pulling these plants so that we can eventually eradicate them, as we almost have with the Yellow starthistle.

Congratulations Roy Tennant

During a packed outdoor event at Hanna Boys Center on Oct. 10, the Sonoma Valley Fund recognized dozens of volunteers for their contributions to local charities. Sonoma Overlook Trail Steward Roy Tennant was honored as A Star Volunteer.

For over 10 years, Roy Tennant has spent thousands of hours fervently tending the Overlook Trail, the Montini Open Space Preserve, and Sugarloaf Ridge Regional Park. He regularly posts blogs and keeps us all current on the seasonal changes on the Overlook trail and other goings on.

To read more go to

https://www.sonomanews.com/article/lifestyle/honoring-the-star-volunteers-of-the-valley/

The Sonoma Valley Stars for 2021, at Hanna Boys Center on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Photo: Melania Mahoney)

Dia de los Muertos ~ Day of the Dead

Walk Sonoma History through Sonoma Mountain Cemetery

Saturday, October 30
Times: 10:00 OR 12:30
Suggested Donation: $35.00

dayofdeadTHIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT!
Please join us next year….

The Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards are thrilled to invite you once again to a lively, informative tour through our historic cemetery with our own amateur historian Fred Allebach!

Each year (except 2020) Fred has led this walking tour where we meet cowboys and Indians, ranchers and real estate tycoons, farmers and farriers, carpenters and stone masons, quarry-men, grocers, butchers, bakers, maybe a candlestick maker, and many more!

Fred will host 2 walking tours, one at 10:00am and another at 12:30. Both will be limited to 25 guests. We will be observing current Covid-19 protocols so please bring your mask.

Rock Patrol

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The crew, minus Greg Taylor, who had to leave early to open his shop. From left to right: Roy Tennant, Michael Studebaker, Priscilla Miles, Dan Noreen, and SOT Chair “Secret Ranger.”

Today six volunteer stewards gathered at the Sonoma Overlook Trail kiosk/trailhead to do the very first group “Rock Patrol.” Rock Patrol as it has been developed consists of the following:

  1. Filling in holes with dirt for rocks that have already come out of the trail;
  2. Removing loose rocks;
  3. Removing particularly problematic rocks (rocks likely to trip hikers and runners);
  4. Backfilling all of those spaces with soil, following this protocol:
    • Wet the hole with a watering can (preferred) or a spray bottle;
    • Lay down a thin layer of soil and compact it by stomping on it; and,
    • Spray lightly again, lay down another thin layer of soil, compact it, and repeat until the hole is completely flush, or even slightly higher than, the trail.

P1030369This first time out we were able to complete the beginning section of the trail from the kiosk to the junction with the Rattlesnake Cutoff Trail. Next time (Our Chair proposed doing this once a month for a while), we will tackle the section of Rattlesnake Cutoff from Norrbom Road past the junction with the Overlook Trail.

We were quite pleased with the many nuisance rocks (or worse) that we were able to remove (see picture of three large rocks and the smooth spot where they had been removed — it’s darker since it’s wet).

So if you happen to see a group out there with shovels, buckets, watering cans, spray bottles, and an assortment of other tools, that’s Rock Patrol. If any of the three readers of this blog want to participate, just shoot me an email.

The Art and Science of Stewardship

Being a volunteer Sonoma Overlook Trail steward is potentially a very diverse job. It may include arranging and managing fundraising events, organizing weekly hikes, developing, producing, and installing signs and interpretational materials, cutting water bars (ruts to direct water off the trail), writing grants to get funds to re-route and rebuild the trail, pulling invasive species, cutting branches intruding on the trail, or who knows what else. Let’s just say it’s a diverse set of potential responsibilities, and no single steward does them all. We tend to specialize.

Secret Ranger cutting branches with our newly-acquired pole saw.

Thankfully, we have quite a large group of stewards of the Sonoma Overlook Trail, so we have people who bring all of these skills and more to our local trail system. We don’t all swing into action at the same moment; it may be quiet for a while and then a steward or three might step up when their particular skills and talents are needed. We all have something to give.

On this particular day, a steward who calls herself “Secret Ranger,” and who is our current Chair, brought out our recently purchased pole saw to cut some limbs off a low-hanging tree branch to make sure people can safely pass underneath it. On this same trip, we also visited the Montini Preserve to perform the same kind of operation—cutting branches to lessen the weight on an overhanging branch. In the case of the branch on Montini, we saw an immediate result of the branch lifting 4-6 inches right away, and likely more to come as the branch continues to adjust. This is enough to allow those who are 6 feet or under to pass without trouble, and likely some even taller folk. It made a clear difference, without removing the rather large branch entirely (it is easily 14-15 inches in diameter).

These are just some of the jobs volunteer trail stewards do, almost every day.