As Tolay Creek pools and spills on its journey to San Pablo Bay, it passes several recent acquisitions by the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT), an organization that is piecing together a wide swath of land stretching across the shoreline of San Pablo Bay. The newest additions include the 648-acre Dickson Ranch and the 1,679-acre North Point Joint Venture property, called the Sears Point Restoration Project. At Sears Point, Cougar Mountain rises over hay fields, but 100 years ago—before the Bay was diked for agriculture—Tolay Creek and the Petaluma River snaked around this mountain, forming a peninsula that reached into the Bay.
On January 15, the Sonoma Land Trust expects to close the $12.8 million deal on the North Point Property, which will become part of 21,000 total acres slated for restoration along the shoreline of San Pablo Bay. Last fall, the trust completed the purchase on the adjacent Dickson Ranch property and began planning the restoration of the entire 2,327 acres with a $7.9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
While former farmland dominates the landscape, the properties contain valuable tidal marsh, grassland, and upland habitats of willow groves and riparian ravines. These habitats are home to several rare plants and wildlife, including the Callippe silverspot butterfly, western burrowing owl, California and black clapper rail, and Suisun shrew. “It’s a remarkable property; in the heart of it you can’t see any of the infrastructure around you,” says Wendy Eliot, SLT’s project director.
Once habitat restoration and trail building are complete, the land will be transferred to one or more government agencies and opened to the public. The Bay Trail will extend from Point Sonoma to Tolay Creek and will have linkages to the uplands, where only two private properties separate the new bayland acquisitions from the Tolay Lake Ranch, says Eliot. For more information, visit www.sonomalandtrust.org.