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North Coast Winds - February 2015


North Coast Winds - February 2015

by Robin Joy Wellman

With the close of 2014, the 150th Anniversary of the founding of California State Parks came to a close. The year was full of wonderful celebrations throughout the state highlighting the state park system. The very first lands in the world to be set aside for protection and visitation were Yosemite in 1864 as a California State Park. Several years later it was signed over into the newly formed National Park System. California State Parks, the oldest State Park System in the world, as well as the largest State Park system in the world, will continue to thrive, bringing protection and educational opportunities to all the people of California as well as across the globe for another 150 years and more. 

Fort Ross, one of the first 10 state parks, is fortunate to have so much attention locally and internationally and continues to sparkle as one of the gems of the state.  For the 150th Celebration we participated in the  “150 Quilts” project, shared the Story of CSP with hundreds of visitors handing out the 150th brochure, 150th stickers, discussing the history of parks, Junior Ranger programs,  participated in the Sonoma County Fair with other State Parks, and introduced Ivan, the CSP Bear to our visitors and volunteers.

Fort Ross is ready for 2015. We have completed several major projects including the reconstruction of the fur warehouse, exhibits and updates for accessibility throughout the main areas of the park, and upgrades to the Visitor Center. Many thanks to our partners including the Gualala Art Center, Gualala Regional Point Park, Sonoma County Museum, Sonoma State University, the Congress of Russian Americans, The Russian Center, and The San Francisco Presidio for bringing Fort Ross forward in your programs. Special thanks go to the Fort Ross Conservancy for keeping Fort Ross active, growing, and in the spotlight. Many of the special events and programs come through the work of the Conservancy and they work tirelessly to create an amazing experience.  

Last year we hosted  school programs, scout programs, black powder training, teacher training for the overnight program, four volunteer trainings, five special events, supported a week-long festival: The Days of Sakha, created an academic one day conference, Junior Ranger programs in the summer, and worked closely with the Conservancy on our two major events: Fort Ross Festival and Harvest Festival. With gratitude we thank all our volunteers who make these special events successful. To learn more about volunteering visit our webpage at  

Edible and Medicinal Plants of Sonoma County

Although best known for its famous vineyards and the non-native Vitis vinifera (Common Grape Vine), Sonoma County ALSO happens to be home for quite a variety of other very useful (but often overlooked) native plants. From the mouth of the Russian River where it empties into the Pacific Ocean eastward to the top of Mt. St. Helena (at 4,344’), one can witness a stunning array of botanical specimens growing within a number of different plant communities.

Join us March 1, as we explore the trails of Fort Ross State Historic Park (located 11 miles north of Jenner) with Tellur Fenner, clinical herbalist/educator, owner of Blue Wind Botanical Medicine Clinic and Education Center, while we learn about the many amazing and useful plants which grow here.

During this workshop we will explore many of the more common (and lesser known) native/naturalized plants found growing throughout the region, with a focus on historical as well as modern use. This course will engage students through a combination of classroom lecture and field exploration. Topics/activities to be covered include: botany basics taught from a plant family perspective, plant identification in the field, medicinal/edible/utilitarian uses, California ethnobotany, ethical harvesting guidelines and information about at-risk medicinal plants, safety issues and tips on how to avoid toxic/poisonous plants, medicine making basics, sampling of a variety of medicinal plant preparations, and more!

For more information, please contact Special Events Manager Sondra Hunter at 707-847-3437.