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Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation Celebrates 25 years


Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation Celebrates 25 Years

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation is proud to announce that 2015 will be the 25th Anniversary of its founding and the beginning of our work to restore, conserve, and inspire public appreciation of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. 

Migratory birds, butterflies, indigenous wildlife, plants, trees, and generations of humankind had a rich and supportive habitat or home in the Laguna from prehistoric times. Since the mid to late 1800s however, human activity has degraded and diminished the waterways. By the late 1980s, the healthy waterway, usable land, flora, and fauna were all in danger of disappearing.

Laguna original FarmhouseIn the mid 1980s, the City of Sebastopol formed a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to look into the challenges, opportunities, and natural gifts these complex water and land zones held for all life in the area. By 1989, early studies by the Citizens Committee were completed and a landmark State of the Laguna Conference was held in Sebastopol. The public stimulation this conference fostered led to the creation of The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, which was officially incorporated in 1990. 

Until 2003 the Foundation existed as an all-volunteer organization. In 2003 we hired our first staff and our ability to achieve our restoration, conservation, and educational goals expanded exponentially. On World Wetlands Day, February 2, 2011, the Ramsar Convention named the Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetland Complex as a Wetland of International Importance. According to their website, the Laguna is considered a biological hotspot with rare and unique wetlands ecosystems – such as vernal pools – and their associated rare and endemic plant and animal populations. The Laguna also provides flood control, scenic beauty, and recreation services to the majority of Sonoma County’s human population. 

Laguna Foundation remodeled farmhouse officesTo date, the Foundation has planted and fostered more than 15,000 native trees, shrubs, and grasses. These native plants have widened riparian zones (streamside forests), which in turn shade and cool these sections of the Laguna and its tributaries. More shade and cooler water limits the spread of the invasive weed Ludwigia and improves water quality, expands wildlife habitat, and provides natural beauty. Today, the restored portions of the Laguna support over 200 bird species as well as many mammals and reptiles.

New streamside forests have led to increased numbers of wildlife such as river otter, American Mink, mountain lion, deer, and fox.  Migratory bird flocks sheltering here in winter have increased in number and indigenous bird life is flourishing. Through our Learning Laguna program, more than 14,000 school children have had first-hand classroom education and field trips to the Laguna. In 2012, the Great Blue Heron Hall at the Laguna Environmental Center was completed. Since then, more than 5,000 visitors have participated in our open house events on the second Saturday of each month and come for the regularly held talks, walks, and classes. 

The Laguna Foundation thrives today through grants to its restoration, conservation science, and education programs, and through the generous donations of the public. We thank everyone who supports our mission in ways large and small including our amazing volunteers, members, and donors. Support for our mission to conserve, restore and inspire public appreciation for the Laguna de Santa Rosa has never been stronger.

The coming 25th Anniversary year celebrations will begin with the joint exhibit and celebration “Wetlands: Ever Changing Waters, Land, and Life” created in collaboration with the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, the Tuesday Afternoon Photographic Group, and the Santa Rosa Photographic Society. Additional events, special activities, lectures, and celebrations will be announced as the year unfolds.  Please join us in our efforts and get to know the Laguna de Santa Rosa better. Watch for events and opportunities in our newsletter Meanderings or on our website 

Laguna de Santa Rosa interpretive sign and gazebos