The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
Subscribe
| more

Photo Gallery

Tolay Lake Regional Park Environmental Review Available for Public Comment

thumb_2_Tolay Lake EIR -600.jpg

Tolay Lake Regional Park Environmental Review Available for Public Comment

Draft Document Analyzes Impacts of Proposed Master Plan

The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Tolay Lake Regional Park master plan is available for public review and comment from Jan. 10, through Feb. 23, 2017.  

The report evaluates potential impacts of implementing the master plan and recommends ways to reduce or avoid those impacts.  The master plan provides a blueprint for the future of the 3,400-acre park southeast of Petaluma. It consists of conceptual plans for trails and recreational activities, management of natural and cultural resources, and other recommendations for the park’s future use and operations.

Proposed recreational uses include hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, picnicking, birding, back-country camping, and environmental education. Proposed physical improvements include the construction of a visitor center, restrooms and parking areas.

Resource management plans include continued ranching; restoring Tolay Creek and Tolay Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in Sonoma County and the only one remaining in the San Pablo Bay watershed; and preserving and interpreting the site’s significant Native American cultural resources.

According to the report, most of the master plan activities would not create significant environmental impacts. An impact the report does identify is increased traffic on Cannon Lane, the two-lane road leading to the park from Lakeville Highway. The county has pending plans to improve the road.  

The master plan and draft EIR were developed with extensive public outreach, including feedback gathered at community meetings. The EIR and master plan are available for review online on the Tolay Park planning page at sonomacountyparks.org as well as at Regional Parks’ Santa Rosa office, and at the Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma Valley library branches.

Comments submitted by the public should focus on the report’s sufficiency in addressing environment impacts. The feedback will be incorporated into a final draft EIR and presented to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in late spring.

“The EIR process is an important step to open the park,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose 2nd District includes the park. “Through this process, we will be closer to opening the gates to allow the public to enjoy this beautiful South County park in the near future.” 

When the master plan and EIR are approved, the park will fully open with limited amenities. (It is now open weekends only to permit-holders.) Because many of the master plan recommendations lack a source of funding, they will be implemented only as money becomes available.

The master plan includes both the park’s current 1,737 acres accessed from Cannon Lane as well as the 1,665-acre Tolay Creek Ranch addition now owned by the Sonoma Land Trust and scheduled for transfer to Regional Parks by mid-February, 2017.