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Our County by Efren Carrillo


Our County by Efren Carrillo - November 2015

by Efren Carrillo

On October 13th, our Board took part in a historic action that combined both social justice and conservation principles, providing financing that will restore ancestral lands to the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of Stewart’s Point (Kashia). In 2013, under the leadership of Tribal Chairman Reno Keoni Franklin, the Kashia approached the Trust for Public Land for help to secure the 688 acre Richardson property adjacent to Salt Point State Park that had been used by the Kashia for over 12,000 years before becoming private land about 200 years ago.

This spectacular coastal property has been owned by the Richardson family since 1925. Bill Richardson, who currently lives on the property, was interested in returning the land to the Kashia tribe, and along with his siblings agreed to accept less than the appraised value for the property. The land has been logged over the years, and a new Timber Harvest Plan was approved in 2013. The Richardson family agreed to delay harvesting timber while the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit organization, pulled together partnerships with the Coastal Conservancy, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD), and Sonoma County Regional Parks to acquire the Richardson Ranch property and transfer it to the Kashia for stewardship and management. The Kashia will protect the land from development in perpetuity and manage the property for habitat protection, sustainable forest management, cultural resource preservation and future public access along a coastal trail.

This vast swath of land features one mile and 52 acres of coastline bisected by Highway One. The inland portion contains over 356 acres of coast redwoods, additional acreage contain tan oaks and pines, and the forest is habitat to the endangered Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, and several rare plant species. Two streams drain from the property resulting in spectacular and rare coastal waterfalls. 

For the Kashia, acquisition will mean unfettered access to a coastal portion of their ancestral lands for the first time in 150 years. There are significant cultural resources and culturally significant sites on the property which will offer the Kashia a platform to tell their history. Formerly a coastal people without coastal access, the acquisition will allow the Kashia to preserve their cultural identity and strengthen their 860 members’ ties to their ancestor’s past. No longer confined to their 40 acre inland rancheria, the Kashia will soon have the ability to tell their story on their own land.

For the general public, this acquisition will allow public access to a new one mile section of the California Coastal trail. The process for trail development and access will be subject to approval by the Kashia Tribal Council. On the conservation front, the Kashia will waive sovereign immunity and enter into a conservation easement that will extinguish subdivision and development potential and restrict timber harvesting. For me, participating in this project is truly one of the most satisfying and significant accomplishments I’ve had the privilege to be a part of. I look forward to the impending transfer of this land to the first people, the people from the top of the land, the Kashia.

Another significant milestone was marked this month with the opening of a new community center at Roseland Village. The Roseland Village property is currently undergoing a community process relating to future development of the 7-acre site. While the process to select a developer and plan for a permanent public plaza is ongoing and not expected to break ground for some time, a portion of the building occupied by the Dollar Tree Store (777 Sebastopol Road) has been dedicated to public use. A new Boys and Girls club opened at the end of October, soon to be followed by the first ever Roseland Public Library branch. The large community space will be used for meetings, educational and recreational activities, provide public services and free Wifi and computer access. Coming soon to the back portion of the property will be a connection to the Joe Rodota Trail, an exercise equipment area, and a play area for toddlers. Additional portions of the property will be available for public events, and of course, the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Good things are happening in the Fifth District and for me as well. Yolanda, Matias, and I welcomed our new family member, Maximiliano Carrillo Alvarez, on October 1st. We are very grateful that he is happy and healthy, and brings us great joy.