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Sonoma County Gazette
Helen Putnam Park
Helen Putnam Park

Planning for the future in Petaluma ~
Update on Helen Putnam Park

Aug 28, 2018


As a result of last year’s Putnam Challenge Grant, nearly $200,000 has been allocated to improvements in this beloved Petaluma park

Park visitors will notice improved trail access, a rock retaining wall overlook above the pond, and new picnic tables. Over the next 12 to 24 months, expect more trail work, habitat restoration, enhanced directional and interpretive signage and an upgrade of accessible parking and pathways to restrooms.

The Earth Island Institute’s Kelly Creek Protection Project, led by two longtime Petaluma residents, is working to purchase the Scott Ranch property adjacent to Putnam Park. The vision is that this property -- which includes iconic red barns, beautiful vistas and exceptional habitat for the imperiled California red-legged frog -- would eventually be added to Putnam Park.

Challenge Grant History

Thank you, donors, one and all! With your generosity, we were able to match our anonymous donor’s $50,000 matching grant for projects at Helen Putnam Park in the summer and fall of 2016.

The challenge grant improvements constitute a multi-year project, with work underway as of May 2017 and continuing until completion in 2018-2019. With the unexpected diversion of Regional Parks’ field and planning staff in the aftermath of the wildfires, work at Putnam has been delayed a bit. We appreciate parkgoers’ understanding and patience.

Putnam visitors have likely observed trail work underway. Volunteer work days have happened, and more will be scheduled. As trail work progresses, users may notice some short detours or alternative routes.


Other key renovations funded by this grant:

Grazing: Parkgoers may notice sheep or goats in various areas of the park throughout 2017 and 2018.

Pond work is likely to start in 2018 due to needed regulatory approvals

Description of Priority Projects

Those who frequent Putnam Park will understand the need for priority attention to these projects:

Trail Renovation (including but not limited to):
- Re-routing minor trail segments, improving drainage, and reducing erosion.
- Restoring and decommissioning unauthorized trails.
- Creating and installing trail wayfinding signage.
- Acquiring required permits and approvals (if any) for trail renovation. Other activities to improve the visitor experience and ecological performance of the existing trail system.

Pond Enhancement to improve habitat, visitor safety, and visitor experience, including: 
- Installing stable pond access trails and stabilizing pond bank.
- Building a boardwalk or other structure for pond access for fishing, viewing and seating.
- Planting native riparian plants for habitat and aesthetics.
- Instituting measures to improve water quality.
- Oak Woodland and oak savannah habitat enhancement and management, including but not limited to:
- Planting and protecting oak trees, native grass and understory.
- Monitoring for Sudden Oak Death.
- Other activities that improve the ecological health of the Park’s oaks.
- Goat and/or Sheep Grazing performed in short intervals that will benefit native wildflowers and native grassland, reduce poison oak and invasive weeds, and manage fuels in an ecologically beneficial way.
- Interpretive Signage along a designated “nature trail” or at other points of interest to interpret the park’s natural and cultural history and other topics of interest.

Interested in more details on this exciting opportunity? To contact the Parks Foundation directly, call Melissa Kelley, executive director, at (707) 565-1830 or email




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