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Supervisors to protect Paulin Meadow in Santa Rosa as open space

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected this week to approve the transfer of Paulin Meadow, a 10.42-acre property adjacent to the County of Sonoma-owned Chanate campus, to the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space). The transfer from the county’s general services department will ensure the protection of the woodland area as open space in perpetuity.

This collection of parcels consists of Paulin Meadow, Ag + Open Space’s Paulin Creek Preserve (8.89 acres), and land owned by Sonoma Water (26.57 acres). These properties function together as an informal urban nature preserve and recreation space, with the approximately 1 mile of informal trails on Paulin Meadow connecting the Sonoma Water parcel to Ag + Open Space’s Paulin Creek Preserve, as well as to the surrounding neighborhood.

“It has been a long-time goal of the community and a promise by the county to protect this particular property for the benefit of the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the wildlife that inhabit the meadow,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, whose district includes Paulin Meadow. “We are happy to find a solution that ensures this well-loved open space area remains protected forever and will become part of the larger nature preserve along Paulin Creek.”

“Paulin Meadow is a wonderful nature preserve; a community gem,” said Caroline Judy, Director of General Services. “We are so happy to have an agreement that will ensure it is protected.”

Paulin Meadow contains a mosaic of habitat types including oak woodland, open oak savannah, riparian woodland, grasslands, creek channel habitat with relatively undisturbed riparian cover, seasonal creeks and seasonal wetlands. Paulin Creek, a tributary of Santa Rosa Creek known to support steelhead trout, is the predominant feature of the area and runs through a portion of the property. In addition to their inherent value, the natural resources on the property provide important ecosystem services such as water filtration, storm water and flood management, air quality improvement and carbon sequestration.

“The beauty of Paulin Meadow is that it is natural, undeveloped land situated in a highly developed urban area,” said Ag + Open Space General Manager Misti Arias. “The open space character of this land provides visual respite for our community, as well as remnant habitat for fish and wildlife. Protecting this meadow will provide vital open space to residents and visitors in this particular area of Santa Rosa, and critical habitat for wildlife movement within the urban area.”

The property transfer will enable Ag + Open Space to incorporate the meadow into the adjacent Paulin Creek Preserve and protect its natural and urban open space resources while allowing for passive public recreational and educational uses. Ag + Open Space intends to eventually transfer ownership of the preserve to an appropriate government or nonprofit entity, subject to a conservation easement protecting its natural resource, urban open space, and recreational and educational values.

“We know Paulin Meadow has long been enjoyed by the public for walking, bird-watching, and other outdoor activities, so conserving this urban oasis is a priority,” added Supervisor Coursey. “We are pleased Ag + Open Space can take on management and operation of the property as an extension of its existing preserve while we continue discussions with experienced nonprofit land stewards or organizations regarding future management and/or ownership of the resulting larger Paulin Creek Preserve.”

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