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Sonoma County Gazette
Vital Lands Initiative

Vital Lands Initiative

Apr 25, 2017
by Teri Shore, Greenbelt Alliance


By Teri Shore

We have a chance to provide input on the protection of agricultural lands, natural resource areas, greenbelts and community separators, scenic open space, and recreational lands in perpetuity with the new Vital Lands Initiative of the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District. They have launched a county-wide public outreach effort to get input for a new long-term plan. Important community separator and greenbelt workshops focusing on specific land conservation themes start on May 16 to call for the permanent protection that goes beyond the 20-year protections we won last year.

The initiative outlines strategies for protecting our most precious open space lands to preserve agriculture, natural resources, recreation, scenic vistas, greenbelt areas, and urban open space. As a community-envisioned, voter-approved land conservation organization established in 1990, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District protects our working, natural, and scenic open space land and connects people to it. They have a monthly e-newsletter for landowners, volunteers, and others to share the story of the land conservation work done on behalf of Sonoma County taxpayers.

The Sonoma County Vital Lands Initiative is a comprehensive planning process that will guide work through 2031 and beyond – and they are seeking public input. Thee-newsletter provides information about Vital Lands Initiative meetings, events and opportunities for you to share your ideas and recommendations.

If you can, please attend workshops on agriculture, natural resources and recreation on open space and stay in touch through this website:


Community Meetings 

May 16: Greenbelts & Community Separators| 9:00am – 12:00pm,Steele Lane Community Center — DeMeo Room, 415 Steele Ln, Santa Rosa

May 17: Agriculture| 9:00am – 12:00pm,Steele Lane Community Center — DeMeo Room, 415 Steele Ln, Santa Rosa

May 23: Natural Resources| 9:00am – 12:00pmFinley Community Center — Cypress Room, 2060 W College Ave, Santa Rosa

May 25: Recreation & Urban Open Space| 9:00am – 12:00pmFinley Community Center — Cypress Room, 2060 W College Ave, Santa Rosa

Earlier this spring, the District held a series of community meetings around the county asking the community to share their thoughts and ideas for the future of land conservation in Sonoma County, and the work of the District in particular. This feedback will be incorporated into a draft plan to be shared with the public for review via a second round of public meetings in late summer or early fall. If you’re interested, you can review some of the materials presented, as well as the transcribed community input, from those meetings at the website above.

In May, the series of thematic workshops explore several areas in more depth. Experts and stakeholders (local citizens) provide detailed feedback on priorities, threats and strategies focused specifically on the following themes: natural resources; agriculture; greenbelts, community separators and scenic lands; and recreation and urban open space. 

The goals of the workshops are to:

• Share and build upon the feedback received at the community meetings

• Gain a deeper understanding of threats posed to each thematic area

  Brainstorm strategies and land conservation solutions to ensure long-term protection in each thematic area

These workshops are open to EVERYONE. Getting your early input on the Vital Lands Initiative is important. We view these workshops as a critical step in gathering the right information about how to shape our work for the next 15 years and beyond, and we hope you will help us with this process.


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