“Golden hour”, a figurative term for the period just before sunset, is a great time to explore the blooming vernal pools of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. Vernal pools, or temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals, are a unique feature of the Santa Rosa plain. Every year is different for vernal pool flora, which depends on many factors such as timing of rainfall, total amount of rainfall and daytime temperatures, to name a few. This botanical field trip will begin in Heron Hall with a brief overview of Santa Rosa Plain vernal pool ecology and the Laguna Foundation vernal pool conservation program, followed by a tour of one to two vernal pool sites where we will identify plants and talk about vernal pool conservation goals and challenges. We aim to find many different native vernal pool flowers and grasses, and possibly the rare Burke’s goldfields. The site(s) will be identified just prior to the field trip, but may include both natural and created vernal pools.
Vernal pools may be dry or holding water in early May, depending on rainfall for the season, hiking boots or waterproof boots will be required, depending on the amount of spring rainfall. Walking will be over short distances but on uneven and possible very wet ground. Because parking is often limited, we will carpool from Heron Hall to the field sites. Please arrive to the Laguna Environmental Center ready to begin promptly at 5:30pm to allow for plenty of time exploring the pools before dark. Rain will cancel. A field guide to Vernal Pool Plants of the Santa Rosa Plain ($15) will be available for purchase.
Sarah Gordon joined the Laguna Foundation staff in February of 2017 as Conservation Science Program Manager to expand and develop a Santa Rosa Plain vernal pool conservation program. Sarah is a plant ecologist with experience in seasonal wetland plant ecology and rare plant conservation. She completed her M.S. degree at Sonoma State University and has worked as a lecturer, researcher and ecological consultant, specializing in botany, rare plants and vernal pool ecosystems, primarily in Sonoma County.