Tour Notes from the Dry Winter of 2018

It is hard to know what to think of the weather. The warm and dry weather has us Californians fretting over living in a place that we have tricked now for over a century to think it is not truly the desert landscape that it is. We hope that March and April will give us all the precious preciptation we could use to make up the deficit that the last few months have failed to afford us. That being said, the first leg of this, my most recent book tour into Los Angeles and beyond, has been met with enthusiastic and attentive souls, all of whom seem so ready for this nature-first narrative that I present. I could not be more grateful for my reception again and again. I see our electric network and I can sense the paradigms shifting among our populace.

The book, my California Field Atlas climbed its way back to number one on the Northern California Nonfiction Bestseller List just in time for the latest printing to sell out again. The next printing is on its way although I’m now having to ration my own copies for the upcoming tour dates. I have removed the book for sale from the website, but if you are having problems finding one, I can be afford a few copies to send. Please let me know via email if you would like one: coyoteandthunder@gmail.com. /// Obi

 

As I write these words, I am half way through a week of tour dates – please read on for a brief synopsis and some updates to my calendar. For a complete list of my calendar, please cruise over to www.californiafieldatlas.com. I would like to thank the tremendously generous and insighful Lanny Kaufer of HERBWALKS for inviting me as his special guest this past Saturday as we surveyed the Ventura River two months after the monumental Thomas Fire. My notes of the scene: “This morning you could feel the sweet rain on its way. I was so happy and ready to spend it meeting an unprecedented network of connected spirits, now monitoring how all this dynamic, new-green is pushing up through the broken gray of a terrible fire two months back. The Ventura River watershed will recover and this precious place will regrow under the careful stewardship of all those capable hands and hearts I’ve met determined to make it so.” /// OBI

Let’s celebrate this triumph of restoration! The spring-run Chinook salmon may yet be returning to California’s San Joaquin River. I donated this painting to the @friendsoftheriver raffle-event one week ago in Coloma, where I’ll be presented the #californiafieldatlas at, at the Gold Trail Grange onHighway 49. Let us now, always work to restore the San Joaquin River, the second largest river in California. We are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish are attaining new milestones. For the first time in sixty years, in 2017, spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests in the colder parts of the river below Friant Dam. By diverting most of the San Joaquin River for irrigation, since its building, the Friant Dam has caused about 60 miles (97 km) of the river to run dry. The fish last year successfully spawned, laying eggs that incubated and hatched into tiny fry as the sexually mature fish died. Biologists working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s San Joaquin River Restoration Project have now begun to catch in order to study and release the juvenile fish in traps for the first time in November and December. These critically endangered, spring-run Chinook are successfully reproducing in the embattled, and itself endangered, San Joaquin. The desiccation of the river has caused the degradation of large stretches of riverside habitat and marshes, and has nearly eliminated the historic chinook salmon run that once numbered “possibly in the range of 200,000 to 500,000 spawners annually”. Now as we glare at our ability to destroy we see an new road, a new dawn toward our ability to participate in creation and preservation across new vistas of restoration and conservation.

to continue now, the tour notes – On Saturday, I was welcomed at one of my very favorite motor inns in California, the Ojai Rancho Inn by my dear friends Chris and Chelito (pictured on either side of me, above) and their small retail space in the motel’s lobby, called Eskina. Masterful purveryors of style and grace (both social and design), Chris and Chelito have in Eskina, a retail-habitat that I could not be more proud to present the Atlas in.

Yesterday, I brought the #californiafieldatlas to @2ndhandrevival in Eagle Rock. I’m so proud to be included among this excellent creative community and to have been asked by our host @hodism to once again paint the invitational poster.

Tonight, I will be presenting at the Audubon Center at Debs Park.

I am so proud to support my friends at the @mojavedesertlandtrust. The MDLT works hard across a whole spectrum of conservation activism. Their agenda includes not only affecting policy change by defending the California Desert Protection Act from the thieving attempts of the executive branch of our current, federal government – they work every day at restoring the natural features and habitats of the Mojave: planting desert plants which they grow themselves and tearing up roads on private inholdings that they have purchased, remediated and plan on managing for public use. I will be there on Saturday the 17th to help kick off the #desertlovers campaign with the #californiafieldatlas. The original of this painting will be raffled off then as well, again as always – to support the great work they do.

I have a new map of the watersheds and watercourses of the San Francisco Peninsula – please go check it out now at http://www.coyoteandthunder.com. In collaboration with the @peninsulaopenspacetrust, the map will be printed as a poster in the next month or so. As with all my maps I see it as my duty and my honor as a painter, a cartographer and a naturalist, to present as clearly as I can what is effectively an inventory of conservation. We have to know what there is to defend in order to conserve it at all. I am sure that by presenting this information in a beautiful, simplified, graphically-efficient manner, the well-rendered, handpainted map can be a vehicle for what is certainly no less than a fundamental, consciousness shift. By familiarizing ourselves with the larger geography of the natural world and its living systems that support and sustain us, our value perceived towards those systems begins to warp into a more organic paradigm; a new paradigm that the stressed and exploited resource-systems that we rely on need for us to immediately adopt. In that spirit of geographic literacy and with assured hope that simply by learning, by naming and by apprehending how and where these local, living networks interact, our love and respect for them grows.

In my most honest moments when my eyes become birds with tiny wings and big songs and when the roots of the friendly oaks find my heart and wrap it in paper for the wind, I throw off the rest of my skin with the leaves and take to the raccoon trails. The mushrooms pop up through the earth with bassoons burping as I count the fallen willow flowers with coyote’s nose, from one to the next, I sailed past the abandoned math on a broken bit of lichen thread with only the assurance that I got from blatherings of the silver creek that the best of use of all language is given to the winter mud where the seeds inside can bake and wait until they’re damn good and ready.

Geographic Literacy & the Watersheds of the Peninsula

I often say that I don’t have any prophetic truths about where and how the state of California conservation and ecology is going to unfold in the next 100 years. We are entering a time dominated by ecological chaos on many levels of scale, all stemming from and around the inter-human (meaning here, the effects of a global human population of 10 billion) and the intra-human (meaning here, the systems and policies we as the community of California citizens choose to enact and defend). Whatever help I can be and it is my solemn honor to do so, as a painter, a cartographer and a naturalist, is to present as clearly as I can what is effectively, an inventory of conservation. We have to know what there is to defend in order to conserve it at all. I am sure that by presenting this information in a beautiful, simplified, graphically-efficient manner, the well-rendered, handpainted map can be a vehicle for what is certainly no less than a fundamental, consciousness shift.

Working draft of the Watersheds of the Peninsula for the POST (the Peninsula Open Space Trust) by Obi Kaufmann – @coyotethunder on instagram.

By removing the roads and by essentializing a nature-first narrative, we place ourselves and our anthro-aggrandizing human network in what is perhaps a humbler context, a larger ecosystem of necessarily networked forces. By familiarizing ourselves with the larger geography of the natural world and its living systems that support and sustain us, our value perceived towards those systems begins to warp into a more organic paradigm; a new paradigm that the stressed and exploited resource-systems that we rely on need for us to immediately adopt. In that spirit of geographic literacy and with assured hope that simply by learning, by naming and by apprehending how and where these local, living networks interact, our love and respect for them grows, I present my latest map: a collaboration with the PENINSULA OPEN SPACE TRUST. With love and respect for conservation comes legal defense, political will and a society-changing world view, that once fully embraced will protect not only whatever it is we choose to protect, but may just afford our complicated little species the grace it needs to navigate through the coming decades of chaos.

Watersheds and Watercourses of the San Francisco Peninsula. The map will be published as a poster in 2018 and be made available through the Peninsula Open Space Trust. By Obi Kaufmann

Covering approximately 1,100 square miles (over 700,000 acres), the land area described on this map holds more than 2,000 miles of watercourse across 67 primary creeks, streams and rivers within 58 watersheds.

A watershed is a geographically discreet zone defined by how the contour of its local geologic morphology (the shape of the land) and its hydrology (the way the water moves across the land) work around a common draining watercourse (creek, stream, river) or aquifer (groundwater).

The dominant land feature across the San Francisco’s southern peninsula, called the Peninsula, is the Santa Cruz Mountains. Separating the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, the mountains rise to a maximum height of 3,806 feet at Loma Prieta. The Santa Cruz mountains extend across three counties: San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara. The west face of the range is home to the largest, intact and continuous stands of old-growth Redwood forest south of San Francisco. Riparian habitat of this kind (redwood dominant, mixed conifer and bay) is common along steep basins saddling both sides of the northern, coastal-end of the range. Other regular ecological habitat along these diverse, coastal mountains includes Oak woodland, Montane hardwood, coastal dunes, chaparral, coastal sage scrub, Bay wetland, vernal-pool grassland, cattle rangeland and of course the human ecologies of the greater Silicon Valley, coastal communities, Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz. The Peninsula is home to nearly one hundred endangered species of plants and animals.

About the Peninsula Open Space Trust

The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has protected over 75,500 acres of open space, farms and parkland since its founding in 1977. In that time, POST has developed a proven methodology for successful land protection by purchasing the land and placing permanent protection on it through conservation easements. Once the protection work is complete POST continues to take care of the land in perpetuity.

Land conservation means not only protecting the land, but keeping it in good condition, too.  POST’s stewardship team uses both traditional and innovative techniques for evaluating, prioritizing and caring for open space on each POST owned property. POST’s work ranges from essential maintenance like re-grading roads, fixing fences and managing vegetation for fire control, to ambitious long-term restoration projects that create vibrant habitats for native plants and wildlife. Other examples include invasive weed eradication, developing new trails, reviving river, stream and creekside habitats, and managing productive working lands like ranches, farms and forests.

POST’s scope of work also includes providing assistance with working lands management, protecting natural resources and providing recreation activities for everyone.

Working lands include farms, forests and grazing land. POST projects promote productive use of these lands while protecting and enhancing natural resources.  Recent projects include managed grazing, water infrastructure improvements and selective timber harvesting.

We work in partnership with public agencies and private owners to protect natural resources: the flora, fauna, water, air and soil that exist on all POST protected properties. We raise money through grants and donations to eradicate invasive plants, restore riparian habitats and native grasslands, ensure fish and wildlife passage and prevent soil erosion.

When well managed, recreational activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding provide people with the chance to build a healthy connection to the land while also protecting the natural resources on each property.  We work with public and private partners to plan and build trails, while protecting the most sensitive environments.

Portrait of the artist Obi Kaufmann at Butano State Park.

My Favorite Books of the Year

My favorite books of the year
By Obi Kaufmann
12/30/2017

I started this list (or is it an essay?) with some rules in mind, and now I think I am about to break them all. The nine books I’ve chosen are not even my favorite books that I’ve read this year, thus the careful naming of this essay, these are my favorite books published with a 2017 copyright that delighted me so that I was able not only to get all the way through each of them, but cherish my copy of each now in my library.  I was so sure that this list would contain ten books (I mean who ever heard of a top nine list?) alas, I was apparently too distracted by other great reads from previous years that sitting down to write this, I only came up with nine. I am just going to have to live with that.

These other titles that I proudly devoured this year, but were exempt from this list because of the year they were written:

1) Trees in Paradise by Jared Farmer (2013, Norton, New York) – a surprisingly vibrant history of California from the perspective of four tree types: Redwood, Palm, Citrus and Eucalyptus.

2)  Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run by David Brower (1995, Harper Collins, New York) – David Brower did as much good for the modern environmental movement as any American ever has and this thin, thoroughly entertaining book is his story and one to go back to again and again.

3) Assembling California by John Mcphee (1993, Farrar, New York) – The first two-thirds of this book is classic Mcphee: as inspired and fun as it is educational and researched. The book spends too much time for me on personal accounts of earthquakes towards the end, but how well it puts together the geological history of California in narrative form to start the book is well worth it.

4) The Lariat and other writings by Jaime De Angulo (2009, Counterpoint, Berkeley) – how I have lived my whole life in California and am just now learning about Jaime De Angulo is beyond me; the first Big Sur tramp who lived with many different native Californian tribes at the turn of the last century, and who had the heart of a poet and the mind of a scientist. The old-timey language can get wearisome and some of the racial talk is a bit dated, but beyond that, this work paints a picture of California lost but easily remembered.

5) Half-Earth by E.O.Wilson (2016, Norton, New York) – this is the one where he says that we need to preserve half the globe to defend against the further decline of world-wide biodiversity. E.O.Wilson tends to stick to about four themes in his books, and radiates out from there but only ever slightly. Familiar themes trace through from earlier work to defend his most recent idea: the one presented. Always a deeply satisfying and provoking experience that echoes out for months after reading.

6) The Moon by Whale Light by Diane Ackerman (1991, Vintage Books, New York) – Last year’s number one favorite was The Human Age, Ackerman’s most recent book, and going back to this one reveals her earliest inspirations as an adventure naturalist and poet biologist.

7) The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry (1977, Sierra Club, San Francisco) – if I were a high school teacher, or maybe even a college professor, I would want to teach a whole, semester-long class on this book. The themes of community, work and stewardship of land are prescient and as relevant today as the day they were written forty years ago.

8) Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka (2012, Chelsea Green, White River) – the basic premise and heart of this thin and fantastic little book, that food security is possible and about how we can get there, reads like an instruction manual as much as a story. Being a guerilla farmer? Sounds like a great idea – my big issue with the book is the premise that the desert is not beautiful and complete in its own way, an ecosystem that does not need improvement.

9) Mountains and Marshes by David Rains Wallace (2015, Counterpoint, Berkeley) – David Rains Wallace is one of my favorite writers of all time. The Klamath Knot and the Articulate Earth were both two works that changed me forever. In this book, Wallace explores the natural history of my home, the San Francisco Bay Area and I couldn’t be more happy or excited by the result.

I have been drawn lately to a certain kind of book. Or, in the whole spectrum of genres and styles available, I am happy in my wavelength. I suppose that wavelength is akin to the kind of thing I do, or imagine that I do, having just written the California Field Atlas and going back in for three more books on over the next year on a similar theme. I like nonfiction. I like prose with a nod to the poetic, and I like the really-long form essay. I like nonfiction so deep that it easily bounces back and forth from a philosophical context to a human-scale context – I feel most satisfied with a book when I glean something eternal from something profane. The subject of the books I like most is nature: the science of it, the history of it and the beautiful patterns in it. Give me Evolutionary Biology, Natural History, and Darwinian theory and sprinkle over it the spice of personal mythology. I want to hear the echo of the author’s soul and I want it to be big. I need a dramatic tension that unfolds from a life’s work that has only emerged from under the most personal type of introspection – give me a writer who has lived many lives and worked many professions: artist, scientist, and adventurer, ready to give it all with nothing to hold back.

My favorite books of 2017

9) Wildflowers of the Trinity Alps by Ken Decamp (2017, Backcountry Press, Kneeland) – despite my declarations in that last paragraph, I am going to start my list my pick for the best field guide of the year. Naturalist and photographer Ken Decamp presents an unparalleled portfolio of exquisite photography and documentation that will aid me in my wildflower identification obsession for years to come. I am so proud to be among the first to own this new work that contains over 700 full color photos of such excellent and clear quality, organized by flower color, detailing the flowering botany of one of the most bio-rich corners of California.

8) The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy (2015, New York Review Books, New York) – two rules broken in as many entries, oh well. This book came out a couple of years ago and I bought it at the beginning of 2017, and have just recently finished it. The ripples from this stone tossed into my pond where so resonant that I am justifying its inclusion into this list. British naturalist Michael McCarthy writes with such a delicate and haunting voice that I nearly had to abandon further reading as my heart was breaking again and again. The light he turns on in the darkness of account of human action upon the natural world is eye-opening but not unreasonable, it is as considerate, even meditative as it is important. About half way through the book he finds joy, or he points the many ways, some even biologic, that our relationship to nature is rooted in it and from there to the end of the piece he considers a potential coming into a reconnection with nature our culture needs.

“Our bond with nature may be hidden for much if not most of the time, it may be a signal engulfed by noise, it may lie buried under five hundred generations’ worth of urban living, but it is stronger than those experiences, for it was forged by fifty thousand generations of living in the natural world before the farmers broke the sod and hacked down the forest and imposed a new order on humankind; and underneath everything, it endures. It is unbreakable. Nor does it belong just to him, or to her; it is the inheritance of every single one of us, it is part of what it means to be human, and it can be found within us – not always clearly – and it can be understood, and it can be made the basis of our defense of the natural world in the terrible century to come. So let us leave them behind, the unbearable losses, and go where the bond can be found: let us journey into joy.” – Michael McCarthy

7) How a Mountain was Made by Greg Sarris (2017, Heyday, Berkeley) – okay, now I am three for three with breaking any kind of rules that I had set up for myself. This book is not non-fiction, per se, nor is it about nature, again – kind of. This book is the closest I get to including a book of poetry on my list. That is because the voice and narrative patterns presented break all the norms of regular language in such a sumptuous and satisfying way that I think of a horn-of-plenty spilling these stories out, full of fruit and wildflowers, to the consuming delight of our many senses. Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, presents a series of tender stories from the Coastal Miwok of Northern California that all center around Sonoma Mountain. Most of the stories include Coyote as either the protagonist or the antagonist depending on either what character he feels like that day, or conversely how events conspire against him, painting him into any role. Transcending some kind of ethnographic documentation, this book become a classic in the making – a source of timeless wisdom, full of humor and love.

“Coyote laughed and tossed his bead into the air. Then Ant and everyone else tossed their beads into the air like Coyote. All at once, the beads became prisms of light, and these words fell from the sky:

Seeing Forever
My eyes, my eyes
I offer you.

Seeing Truth
My eyes, my eyes
I offer you.

Seeing Lies
My eyes, my eyes
I offer you.

Seeing Forever
This song, this song
I sing for you.”

-Greg Sarris

6)  Tracks along the Left Coast by Andrew Schelling (2017, Counterpoint, Berkeley) – Before the great California writers of the 50’s (you know all their names), there was Jaime De Angulo. An immigrant who arrived in San Francisco the day before the 1906 earthquake, De Angulo was to become known for his talents as a cowboy, a cattle rancher, a horse-tamer, a medical doctor, a psychologist and a linguist. He spent decades with the Achumawi, Pomo, Karok, Modoc and Miwok tribes – he learned their culture and documented their languages and translated it, determined to tell the real history of California. A complex biography, well-written and full of nuance, the book presents us with a driven, creative genius who is as troubled as he is ahead of his time.

De Angulo: “I weaved in real Indian stories with the Tras-Tras; stories I was collecting in the field in connection with my work in Indian Linguistics – that’s how the whole thing got started, and of course friends of ours used to borrow the stories to tell them to their own children, and also in those days of the prohibition era when our house in Berkeley was sort of headquarters for all the young men and University students who were rebels – in those days we kept open house and there was always a crowd of ten to fifteen people sleeping it off here and there on the porch, in the childrens’ room, everywhere, and arguing for those were the good days (but too much drinking) and complete thorough sexual freedom they called it Jaime’s Gang and I was accused of every crime. All those stories about me, only one-third were true, and how the University hated me!”

5) Coast Range by Nick Neely (2016, Counterpoint, Berkeley) – In my review of Greg Sarris’ book, I said that it was probably the only book of poetry I included in this list. I’ve changed my mind, I think this book has equal parts poetry as well. Neely plays with the essay-format so ferociously that I feel confident enough to say that. Neely ‘s language is always measured and considerate, and his sense of connection to this place (most of the book was written near the Rogue River in Oregon) comes through strongly and with great purpose. The subjects he focuses on are always timely and from a unique perspective whether it be a conservationist guide to managing coyote populations or following a salmon from hatching to dinner plate. I kept coming back to this collection of essays, month after month, this year so although it technically was published at the end of 2016, I am including it here.

“The whole meadow, I realized, was papered with words, with stories and sketches and histories, and I would add a few. You can build a shelter from words. The poems stapled in the cabin would eventually cover the walls, like the thinnest of cedar shakes, and become a cabin themselves. And when the bear clawed or nuzzled into that house, it would return to the clay of vocabulary, become a madrone, drift again.” – Nick Neely

4) Nature Love Medicine, essays on Wildness and Wellness, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner (2017, Torrey House, Salt Lake City) – at first the name horrified me, like some terrible eat pray love cliché. My fear evaporated at first sitting. In fact, I finished the book in a single night and then came back to read it it again and again. This is a marvelous collection of essays by 24 writers and I loved nearly every piece, which is rare for me, as I tend to hate anthologies of any sort. My favorite essays were Laura Sewall’s “New Words, Lost Words and Terms of Endearment” where she frets that the loss of a breadth of scientific vocabulary in our culture represents “from a psychological perspective, this form of dumbing down could be cast as a crippling trajectory into a de-animated and self-referenced world, lacking in either perceived of conceptual diversity or abundance.” I agree. I was also particularly impressed with Mitchell Thomashow’s essay “Nature. Love. Medicine. Healing. Reciprocity. Generosity.” Thomashow prescribes a simple but powerfully poetic methodology by which our culture must go through to transform our view to the natural world. Think of the very definition of the word Reciprocity: “literally defined, reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit.” In a human culture fixed on preserving the ecological environment, this means that you leave things better than you found them. My favorite essay is by one of my favorite authors, Robin Wall Kimmerer, whose book Braiding Sweetgrass continues to be a guide for me and my life. In “Heal-All”, Kimmerer again deftly balances her scientific background with sublime insight into the creative forces at work in the natural world to suggest, among other things, that we alter our use of pronouns in the English language to be more inclusive of entities in the more than human world. “The language of animacy, of kinship, can be medicine for a broken relationship. I imagine it could be dosed out, pronoun by pronoun, ki and kin, word by word until it infiltrated our very being.”

3) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, edited by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, Nils Bubandt (2017, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) – this erudite, unique and brave work is one of those books that I will have and cherish for the rest of my life. Divided into two halves: Ghosts & Monsters, the book itself turns around so you read it from both sides. Are we haunted by our unraveling landscapes? Do ecologies of nothingness torment our dreams? Are we being stalked by some hunting force in ourselves that won’t let us be? What are Necropolitics and how do we exercise such a baleful process? These deeply artful questions are tilled again and again in this surprisingly coherent work of art by nearly two dozen contributing artists. I am not going to pick apart quotes from this book in this quick review. I need more time with it. I’m not even fully done with the book. It is so delicious and powerful that I need to take my time with it. I may write another entry just about it and it alone. These mythologic forces keep me up at night and I can’t help but feel a bit emancipated simply by this work’s existence.

2) The Songs of Trees, by David George Haskell (2017, Penguin Random House, New York) – the straightforward voice of Haskell is a welcome relief, and a new poetic addition to the archives of naturalists who have struggled to clearly communicate the processes of the natural world with love and respect. Haskell is one of the very best the world has ever known. I was blown away by his last book, the Forest Unseen, which is an absolute must for anyone even remotely interested in how nature in North America works. In this book, he examines the ecology of the senses that surround twelve different tree species. He goes to the places where these trees live and he observes their texture, the quality of the wind in their leaves, the taste of the air, the smell of the bark. Fearlessly in love with all manner of forests, Haskell’s work will be remembered as a landmark and for us, his fans, we can’t wait to read what he writes next.

“In all these places, tree songs emerge from relationship. Although tree trunks seemingly stand as detached individuals, their lives subvert this atomistic view. We’re all – trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria – pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict and negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.”

1) The Origins of Creativity by E.O.Wilson (2017, Liveright, New York) – The was the year of E.O.Wilson for me. I can’t actually get enough. In the centuries to come, Wilson will be remembered as pivotal in whatever comes next. Should things go the way that he prescribes, he will be remembered for the hero he is, or if not, he will be remembered as the guy that gave us our best plan that we then ignored. The best thing about this plan he proposes is its inevitability. Just as Darwinian, Evolutionary biology necessarily infiltrates all theoretical and empirical models of the history of life, Wilson’s ideas of Biophilia, social evolution and biodiversity will come to infiltrate all the like-models of mind and humanity. In this book, Wilson unites the humanities and the hard-sciences to present the coming way of what he calls the Third Enlightenment – a science-based, humanist mindset that exists in a set of common truths about the interdependent meaning of all life on earth and our place in it.

“Scientists and scholars in the humanities, working together, will, I believe, serve as the leaders of a new philosophy, one that blends the best and most relevant from these two great branches of learning. If so, it will bring our species closer to realizing the prayer for reason inscribed by Diogenes and still visible in original form on the Oinoanda stoa in the ancient Greek region of Lycia.

Not least for those who are called foreigners,

For they are not foreigners. For, while the various segments of Earth

Give different people a different country, the whole compass of this world

Gives all people a single country, the entire earth, and a single home, the world”

 

Land Trusts in California – The way forward in land conservation

Land Trusts: The way forward in Land Conservation in California

By Obi Kaufmann

There is beauty in the Land Trust model. When arguably most of the overall environmental movement has stalled over the past twenty-five years or so since the movement was polarized on a national, political level, the Land Trust movement has steadily grown in popularity and effectiveness. When at the beginning of the 1990’s, there were only a handful of Land Trusts operating across America, there are now over 1,700, of which 60% operate on the all-volunteer business model. The secret to its success is the innovative mix of private and public values, having equal appeal to both conservatives and liberals; a solution based on a legal agreement known as the conservation easement, which now almost two decades into the twenty-first century, seems like the best model going forward in the overarching land-conservation movement.

Land conservation is the permanent protection by legal recourse of the natural, scenic, agricultural, historical, forested or open space character of a property or parcel of land. The Land Trust movement uses language that is inclusive and appeals to a general sense of hope and connection to a place, of restoration and stewardship, of local, community-based action. There are no limitations on the type of land can be conserved by land trusts – it may be in dense urban settings, remote rural lands or anywhere in between, and may include the water rights. Many landowners take steps to responsibly steward their land although their work can be undone by a subsequent owner or by condemnation by a public agency who wants to use the land for other purposes. The term “land conservation” is commonly used to distinguish those specific actions that provide legal protections so that the resources are not damaged or lost to future actions. These legal protections will endure beyond any single landowner. Land can be conserved in several different ways.  The method used is determined by the conservation goals for the property, the landowner’s preferences, and available funding.  The two most common methods is that the property is conveyed in its entirety, as in all the rights of the property are bought outright (“fee title”) to a land trust or public agency, or the second method, a conservation easement is conveyed to a land trust or public agency.

Conservation Easements

In California, the fee title or the conservation easement is often sold so that the landowner receives funds, but fee title and easements can also be donated for significant tax benefits. A variety of financial options and tax incentives can help landowners achieve their conservation goals. In addition to income and, in many cases, property tax benefits, conservation easements can significantly lower estate taxes sometimes allowing heirs to keep the land rather than having to sell it. Land owners receive a tax deduction equal to the appraised value of the easement.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a Land Trust.  Land Trusts are qualified nonprofit organizations set up specifically to conserve land and hold conservation easements.  The Land Trust primary role in this regard is to ensure that the terms of the easement are upheld.  This is usually done via annual monitoring visits to each easement by trained volunteer monitors.  Landowners typically manage and maintain the property, though the Land Trust can assist with projects or information that benefit or improve its conservation values.

As you investigate the Land Trusts across California and West, it might seem like a smattering of parcels, dots here that don’t represent big gains in land protection – like the chunk of land a large National Monument might represent. I encourage you to look at the bigger picture of connectivity between these spaces and how that it can represent a large network of land and habitat bridges for posterity, for biodiversity and for the whole host of inclusive reasons we are drawn to care about and for the places we love. As you get set to make your year end donations, please consider your local land trust, there is probably one taking care of a property you care about near you right now.

Note: this is a partial list of Land Trusts in California – groups I’ve worked with individually. If you would like to alert me to a Land Trust organization that I’ve missed, please email me at coyoteandthunder@gmail.com, and follow me on Instagram @coyotethunder. -Obi

A Land Trust Guide for Land Owners:

Land Conservation Assistance Network https://www.landcan.org/

For networking information about the National Land Trust System:

Land Trust Alliance https://www.landtrustalliance.org/

Trust for Public Land (Sacramento) https://www.tpl.org

The Wilderness Land Trusts http://www.wildernesslandtrust.org/

California Council of Land Trusts https://www.calandtrusts.org/

Summary of Land Trusts featured below

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County) http://andersonvalleylandtrust.org/
  2. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County) http://www.backcountrylandtrust.org/
  3. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County) http://www.bylt.org/
  4. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County) https://www.bigsurlandtrust.org/
  5. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County) http://www.bodegalandtrust.org/
  6. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento) https://www.rangelandtrust.org/
  7. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula) https://cnlm.org/
  8. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR) https://www.columbialandtrust.org/
  9. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy) https://www.frlt.org/
  10. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport) http://www.lakecountylandtrust.org/
  11. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara) http://www.sblandtrust.org/
  12. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz) http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/
  13. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville) https://lassenlandandtrailstrust.org/
  14. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station) http://www.malt.org
  15. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville) http://www.mlandtrust.org/
  16. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino) http://mendocinolandtrust.org/
  17. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree) http://www.mdlt.org
  18. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson) http://www.motherlodelandtrust.org/
  19. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas) http://www.mountainstrust.org/
  20. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez) https://www.jmlt.org/
  21. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine) https://occonservation.org/
  22. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside) http://ncrlt.org/
  23. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico) http://landconservation.org/
  24. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco) https://www.pacificforest.org/
  25. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto) https://openspacetrust.org/
  26. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento) http://www.sacramentovalleyconservancy.org/
  27. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,sempervirens.org
  28. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia) http://sequoiariverlands.org/
  29. Shasta Land Trust (Redding) http://www.shastalandtrust.org/
  30. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City) https://www.sierracascadelandtrustcouncil.org/
  31. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City) http://www.sierracountylandtrust.org/
  32. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa) https://sierrafoothill.org/
  33. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta) http://www.siskiyoulandtrust.org/
  34. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield) http://www.solanolandtrust.org/Index.aspx
  35. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa) https://www.sonomalandtrust.org/
  36. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City) https://www.sutterbutteslandtrust.org/
  37. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore) http://trivalleyconservancy.org/
  38. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad) http://www.trinidadcoastallandtrust.org/
  39. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee) http://tdlandtrust.org/
  40. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland) http://theyololandtrust.org/

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County) http://andersonvalleylandtrust.org/

Anderson Valley Land Trust (AVLT) is the only land trust that primarily focuses on Anderson Valley and the Navarro River Watershed. AVLT currently holds 26 easements. As of 2012, AVLT has joined with landowners to protect more than 2,200 acres of forests, riparian areas, agricultural land, oak woodlands, meadows, and views in Anderson Valley.  Some of the acreage will be “forever wild,” where natural processes are paramount. Others have been designated as working forest or as agricultural land that will be managed using sustainable practices. Each easement is individually tailored to the property’s conservation values and the landowner’s needs and vision.

  1. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County) http://www.backcountrylandtrust.org/

The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) began saving land in Descanso, CA. Charged with preserving Robert’s Ranch from development, the land trust successfully lobbied the United States Congress for federal Land and Water Conservation Funding for the 750 acres. The BCLT has also participated in the protection of 2,600 acres, working with Pronatura, San Diego State University, and the International Community Foundation to protect watershed lands in Tecate. Now the focus is on gathering the final funding to forever protect Wrights Field, a 230-acre nature reserve in Alpine, California. The BCLT organizes native habitat restoration projects across the region, including the removal Arundo, an invasive giant cane that chokes creeks and pushes out native ecologies.

  1. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County) http://www.bylt.org/

Nevada County Land Trust was born in 1990 when a small, diverse group of concerned citizens came together to preserve local farms, ranches, meadows and forests while recognizing that smart growth was important to the economic viability of the region. In 2011, Nevada County Land Trust became Bear Yuba Land Trust, bringing greater awareness to 9,000 acres protected within two watersheds spanning an area that begins in the lower elevation foothills and stretches to the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

  1. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County) https://www.bigsurlandtrust.org/

Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire love of land and conservation of our treasured landscapes. Since 1978, BSLT has conserved over 40,000 acres throughout Monterey County. BSLT works in coastal, inland, remote and urban open spaces – increasing access to public parklands and ensuring the long-term viability of working landscapes and significant habitats throughout Monterey County.

  1. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County) http://www.bodegalandtrust.org/

Bodega Land Trust is currently proceeding with a conservation easement to protect nearly one and a half square miles of this critical ranch land, securing in perpetuity the ridge tops, streams, and redwood forests. Bodega Land Trust will monitor the easement, and work with lessees to establish and implement a management plan. Protection of this ranch will be an enormous step to joining nearby protected lands on the Estero Americano with the park lands along the Russian River and the coast, a bounty for generations to come.

  1. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento) https://www.rangelandtrust.org/

California Rangeland Trust conserves open space, natural habitat, and stewardship provided by California’s working ranches. With over 12,000 acres of ranch and range lands protected forever from development in California’s Central Valley, California Rangeland trust has an impressive record of merging land conservation with ranchland heritage.

  1. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula) https://cnlm.org/

CNLM protects and manages preserves in the states of California and Washington. All of the preserves provide refuge for threatened or endangered species or protect rare and sensitive habitat such as wetlands. Our focus is perpetual conservation and our preserves have enduring legal protections such as our ownership of the property, deed restriction, conservation easement, and/or perpetual management agreement. Although most of CNLM’s preserves are too vulnerable to allow public access, there are some preserves with public trails.

 

  1. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR) https://www.columbialandtrust.org/

Fearless Conservation is a once-in-a-generation campaign to launch Columbia Land Trust’s 25-year Conservation Agenda. This agenda outlines what we will do over the next four years, and the next quarter-century, to protect our most important Northwest places. CLT is looking to the future with a sharpened focus and a commitment to practicing what we call “fearless conservation.” The objectives defined in our agenda require $1.2 million dollars per year over the next 4 years, which we are poised to leverage into $100 million worth of conservation—more than in our previous 27 years combined.

  1. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy) https://www.frlt.org/

At 2.32 million acres, the Feather River watershed is the largest watershed in the Sierra Nevada. Since 2000, the Feather River Land Trust has been working to conserve the magnificent lands and waters of the Feather River region. They have successfully protected over 47,000 acres of private lands that support outstanding biodiversity, waterways, fisheries, recreational and educational opportunities, cultural sites, agricultural lands, and spectacular scenery.

  1. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport) http://www.lakecountylandtrust.org/

Protecting land adjacent to North America’s oldest lake, The Lake County Land Trust’s signature project is the Rodman Ranch and Preserve, commonly called Rodman Slough, on the north end of Clear Lake. Acquisition of this property involved gathering resources from State, Federal, and County sources, as well as private funding to purchase and preserve valuable upland oak habitat and wetland habitat. Finally, in 1999, the Land Trust was able to complete the purchase of this property. The preserve consists of 240 acres, owned by the Land Trust and the Department of Fish and Game, plus another 40 acres owned by the County of Lake. Significant funding for this project came from the State Wildlife Conservation Board.  In 2007 a brand new nature education center was completed at the Rodman Preserve. The land trust was able to raise almost $150,000 locally to pay for the renovation of an old farm house on the property. Volunteers are leading walks, presenting programs, and working on installing interpretive and educational displays.

  1. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara) http://www.sblandtrust.org/

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the Cachuma Resource Conservation District, along with other community partners, joined the Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF Initiative have developed the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint. The Blueprint is the first comprehensive compilation of the natural resource and land assets in the county designed to inform conversations about the future of the region and transform how to approach conservation and development in the future. The LTSBC’s projects range from small, volunteer-based work days at Coronado Butterfly Preserve or Arroyo Hondo, to a $2.4 million major overhaul of 35 acres in the West Goleta Slough.

  1. Land Trust of Napa County (Napa) https://www.napalandtrust.org/

The Land Trust of Napa County is celebrating 41 years of preservation in Napa. The Land Trust has permanently protected 65,000 acres of land throughout Napa County. That is 12% of Napa county. 250 projects: 140 conservation agreements, 19 properties transferred to resource agencies, 16 properties protected through ownership, 9 permanent preserves.

  1. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz) http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/

Since its founding in 1978, the Land Trust has raised $62 million in funding for conservation, and has protected more than 14,000 acres – directly and through partnerships. In the spring of 2015, the Land Trust’s Board approved a five-year Strategic Plan. It calls for focused work on building 45 miles of new trails in the county, raising matching funds to build the Coastal Rail Trail, driving the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing to completion, and protecting more Pajaro Valley farmland. It also calls for continued stewardship of the 14,000 acres under the Land Trust’s care.

  1. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville) https://lassenlandandtrailstrust.org/

Lassen Land and Trails Trust has been working for over a quarter century to conserve all that makes our region ‘home’ for our friends and neighbors, as well as wildlife. Lying at the convergence of the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, Modoc Plateau and Great Basin, our northeastern California home offers a broad diversity of landscapes from alpine mountains and meadows to the sage-steppe of the high desert. The Lassen Land and Trails Trust is dedicated to conserving these resources along with the character and heritage of our region.

  1. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station) http://www.malt.org

Since the 1960’s, this venerable Land Trust has worked with 81 farming families to preserve nearly 50,000 acres in Marin County. MALT’s primary goal is to protect working farms in Marin County, and in doing so, protect so much more than the land itself. Benefits of sound stewardship practices which are at the core of MALT’s mission include 1) Local food – fresh and healthy, benefitting the community and the planet. 2) Open space – protected farmland provides space and resources for plants and animals to thrive. 3) Clean air and water – stopping sprawl blocks pollution, supporting healthy communities near and far. 4) Carbon abatement – innovative techniques on the leading edge of the fight against climate change.

  1. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville) http://www.mlandtrust.org/

North of Arcata, in Humboldt County, The McKinleyville Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation of our local open spaces for their ecological, historical, agricultural, educational, recreational and scenic values. It was started in 1994 as a result of local residents’ response to the development of the Mill Creek Shopping Center and its potential impacts on Mill Creek. Today, the McKinleyville Land Trust manages three, valuable and wild rural properties.

  1. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino) http://mendocinolandtrust.org/

The Mendocino Land Trust works with individual landowners, an army of volunteers and the California State Park system to conserve and restore ecologies across Mendocino county. Last fall the MLT helped a landowner protect 2,000 acres of family forestland near Point Arena, including 4.8 miles of streams and habitat for endangered owls and mountain beavers.  Looking ahead, the Land Trust is working with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council to protect land that is being donated to the Potter Valley Tribe by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. These lands are along Trout and Alder creeks in the Eel River area east of Potter Valley, and will provide tribal family members with a treasured place for cultural education and recreation.  The MLT also plans to open a picnic area and trail at the Ten Mile Estuary Preserve, a project that is coming soon.  The land in this area was donated to the Land Trust in the summer of 2016 by The Conservation Fund.

  1. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree) http://www.mdlt.org

Through direct-action land stewardship, land acquisition, easement management and investing in their own private native plant nursery for desert habitat restoration, MDLT is leading the way for other California Land Trust organizations with a dynamic agenda to protect and defend the Mojave Desert. MDLT protects land within the entire California portion of the eastern Mojave and Colorado deserts – 24.5 million acres in all. MDLT focus on parcels within national parks and preserves, wilderness areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and wildlife linkage corridors. We have successfully conserved land in Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Death Valley National Park.

  1. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson) http://www.motherlodelandtrust.org/

Since 2006 MLLT has been working with the Stewardship Council on plans to help PG&E divest itself of over 140,000 acres of watershed land in California.  The MLLT manages the 244-acre Kennedy Meadows property, 515 acres of Middle Fork Stanislaus River frontage in Tuolumne County, another 460-acre Conservation Easement at Lyons Reservoir, 899 acres at Bear River Reservoir, 1,400 acres at Blue Lakes in Alpine County, 1,100 acres at Doaks Ridge on the Mokelumne, and an additional 2,300 acres of river frontage along various reaches of the Mokelumne including Tiger Creek, Tabeaud Reservoir, and the Electra Powerhouse. These projects enhance the natural environment as well as ensure that public use is honored and improved. In 2016, MLLT received a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to complete a Watershed Assessment and Management Plan at our recently acquired Land Gulch Ranch.  This property is adjacent to the Pine Mountain Lake neighborhood and will focus on recreational opportunities as well as the watershed and Great Gray Owl preservation.  The components of the Plan will be a Timber Management Plan, Great Gray Owl Study, Recreation Plan, and Watershed Assessment.

  1. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas) http://www.mountainstrust.org/

MRT is a land trust in the Santa Monica Mountains. MRT’s primary method of operating is to work with the local community to expand nature preserves with the expressed intent of protect the unique biodiversity found in the area. Major projects include the 92-acre gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains called Headwaters Corner at Calabasas & Dry Canyon Creek, the 1600-acre Cold Creek Preserve (a SEA – Significant Ecological Area) and the La Sierra Preserve.

  1. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez) https://www.jmlt.org/

John Muir Land Trust permanently protects land throughout Alameda County and Contra Costa County to safeguard our beautiful environment for people, animals and plants alike. The Martinez Regional Land Trust which later became the MHLT was incorporated in 1989 to protect 150 acres of Alhambra Valley open space. That property is now called Stonehurst — located within the community of the same name. Just three years later, the Land Trust made possible the addition of a 325-acre Mount Wanda property to the John Muir National Historic Site. The MHLT is responsible for finding, acquiring and taking care of all JMLT properties, protecting and caring for open space, ranches, farms, parkland and shoreline in the East Bay, which now total over 3,100 acres.

  1. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine) https://occonservation.org/

Part of the Natural Communities Coalition (NCC), the Nature Reserve of Orange County was established in 1996 as one of the first implementation steps following the signing of a landscape-scale habitat planning and conservation effort—the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for the Central and Coastal Subregion of Orange County, California. The plan provides long-term protection for wildlife and their critical habitats, and regulatory assurances and economic benefits for participating landowners. In 2003, the Nature Reserve of Orange County created a habitat restoration and enhancement plan for the Central for the Central and Coastal Subregion.  The plan identifies and prioritizes potential restoration areas within the reserve and provides detailed information on the most effective methods of associated costs of restoration activities. A revision of the plan is expected in late 2018.

  1. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside) http://ncrlt.org/

The NCRLT works in Trinity, Humboldt and Del Norte counties and is responsible for conserving and monitoring more than 25,000 acres of ranch, farm, and timber land, including projects under the Six Rivers to the Sea Initiative. The are responsible for protecting 320 acres of old- and mature- growth forest with salmon-spawning streams. They manage and have restored 195 acres of agricultural land and estuarine habitat. In 2009, NRLT conducted restoration activities on Freshwater Farms Reserve and have facilitated public access on normally restricted private property through naturalist-led events. They work to engage their diverse community with the develop a 100-year common vision for land use plan.

  1. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico) http://landconservation.org/

The NCRLT’s program area includes Tehama, Glenn, and Butte counties, from the western slopes of the Sierra-Cascade Crest, across the Sacramento River Valley, to the eastern slopes of the North Coast Range. Within this approximately 6,000 square mile region, the NCRLT’s priorities are the conservation of farms, ranches, and open space important to our region’s economic well-being, ecological health, and quality of life. The Land Trust was founded in 1990 under the former name of “Parks and Preserves Foundation” and functioned as a local, grass-roots land trust that promoted cooperative preservation and enhancement of scenic, open space and significant habitat resources in Butte County. The NCRLT currently holds 29 conservation easements in Butte and Tehama counties covering over 15,500 acres. Our smallest easement is 0.39 acre, while our largest acquisition is 4,235 acres. In addition to conserving working landscapes and prime farmland, the NCRLT is also interested in conservation easements that protect natural resources and regional biodiversity. As such, many of the easements preserve natural oak woodlands, riparian areas, conifer forest, grasslands and a large population of special-status Butte County checkerbloom. The majority of these properties are in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

  1. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco) https://www.pacificforest.org/

For more than 20 years, Pacific Forest Trust has epitomized innovation, daring, and a savvy understanding of market forces to create new economic incentives that reward private forest owners for conserving their lands and practicing sustainable forestry. Working closely with other forest stakeholders, from landowners to agencies to environmental nonprofit partners, The Pacific Forest Trust creates and advances high-leverage, catalytic strategies that engage the commitment, imagination, and resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations to make it easier and more rewarding to do good things for the forests—and forest landowners—on which we all depend. The only conservation organization focused on private forests in California, Oregon, and Washington, we’ve conserved 250,000 acres of vital forestland regionally.

  1. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto) https://openspacetrust.org/

The Peninsula, tucked between San Francisco and San Jose, is known the world over for its beauty, great weather and as a global epicenter of education and innovation. To those who live here, it is special because we have struck a magical balance between rural beauty and urban lifestyle and opportunity. This unique balance is no accident. It is the result of over 40 years of vision, focus and tenacious land protection work. POST is a driving force behind this work. POST has protected over 75,000 acres of open space, farms and parkland since our founding in 1977. In that time, we have developed a proven methodology for successful land protection by purchasing the land and placing permanent protection on it through conservation easements. Once the protection work is complete we continue to take care of the land in perpetuity.

  1. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento) http://www.sacramentovalleyconservancy.org/

SVC’s mission is to preserve the beauty, character and diversity of the Sacramento Valley landscape by working with citizens, property owners, developers, public agencies and other nonprofit organizations. It preserves dedicated open space by the acceptance of gifts, private purchase, facilitation of public acquisition, conservation easements and by cooperative efforts. Their total acreage count of land protected is 17,584 and the flagship property is Deer Creek Hills Preserve, and located in eastern Sacramento county on Latrobe Road in Sloughhouse. Being the largest open space preserve in Sacramento County and working cattle ranch, it boasts over 4,500 acres of Blue Oak Woodlands, seasonal creeks and grasslands.

  1. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,sempervirens.org

Sempervirens Fund is California’s oldest land trust and the only organization dedicated exclusively to protecting the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Great Park is Sempervirens Fund’s vision of a beautiful, healthy, accessible redwood forest between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean and one of the most exciting conservation visions in California today. The Great Park protects remaining old-growth redwoods as well as second-growth redwood forests. The vision integrates both public and private land into a magnificent, resilient whole. The Great Park encompasses 215 square miles of redwood forest and watersheds in the Santa Cruz Mountains (138,000 acres) stretching from Pescadero Creek to Wilder Ranch, from Skyline to the sea. The Great Park will protect remaining old-growth redwoods, as well as second-growth redwoods that are only 50-150 years into their 2,000-year lifespan. Once protected and connected, the natural systems can reassert themselves, and the healthy forest can sustain itself – and us — for countless centuries to come. It will provide a safe home for wildlife — like mountain lions, marbled murrelet and salmon – and crucial refuge and recreation for us all. About 2/3 of the Great Park area is already protected – hosting countless people and animals every day. But, 61 square miles (39,000 acres) of priority forest land are still vulnerable to subdivisions and development. A vast Sequoia sempervirens forest thrived here for at least 20 million years – and with the help of the Sempervirens Fund, may support people and wildlife for 20 million more.

  1. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia) http://sequoiariverlands.org/

Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) is dedicated to strengthening California’s heartland and the natural and agricultural legacy of the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. SRT engages landowners, farmers, conservationists, business partners, and governmental agencies in the counties of Tulare, Fresno, Kern and Kings to collaborate on land conservation throughout California’s South Central Valley heartland. To date, Sequoia Riverlands Trust has protected more than 20,000 acres. SRT owns and manages six nature preserves that protect 4,089 acres of remnant landscapes, woodland communities and wildlife habitat. SRT holds conservation easements on more than 13,366 acres of protected land, most of them on working farms and ranches. SRT has also collaborated with agencies, other non-profit conservation organizations and landowners to protect almost 4,700 additional acres, including 2,388 acres with deed restrictions on Bureau of Land Management land within Carrizo Plain National Monument.

  1. Shasta Land Trust (Redding) http://www.shastalandtrust.org/

Conserving the beauty, character, and diversity of significant lands in far Northern California Since 1998, Shasta Land Trust has led efforts to identify and conserve significant lands in the north state that provide local benefits such as open space, wildlife habitat, scenic views, recreation, and working agricultural lands. Shasta Land Trust has preserved 23,947 acres on 15 properties.

  1. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City) https://www.sierracascadelandtrustcouncil.org/

Occupying only a third of California’s landmass, the Sierra Cascade provides over 60 percent of the state’s clean drinking water. Half of California’s plant and animal species are found in the Sierra Cascade region, and more than 50 million visitors come each year to enjoy the spectacular scenery and abundant recreational opportunities found here. Ten local land trusts based in the Sierra Nevada and California Cascades, together with their four state and national partners, want to make sure that our region continues to thrive. These 14 groups comprise The Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council.

  1. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City) http://www.sierracountylandtrust.org/

The Sierra Buttes and Lakes Basin is one of the most compelling and visually beautiful features in the Sierra Nevada. Pristine and set off the beaten path, this region seems how Tahoe might have looked before it was overcome by vacation homes and tourist towns. There are still 55 private properties within the basin, totaling almost 3,000 acres. The potential development of some of these private lands threatens this spectacular area. In addition to an ambitious management and education outreach agenda, the SCLT is currently working to create a long-term endowment fund to protect the Buttes.

  1. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa) https://sierrafoothill.org/

The grasslands, foothills, and forests between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks provide land for farms and ranches, a home for native plants and wildlife, and a source of clean water. Sierra Foothill Conservancy honors our natural and cultural heritage by protecting these resources and ensuring that present and future generations will continue to experience and enjoy the land in this region. At this moment in its history, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy is the proud owner of eight nature preserves, totaling 6,481 acres. Although they are all located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, they are remarkably diverse in their history, their topography, and their plant and animal life. In fact, they stand as splendid examples of the rich diversity of different habitat types in this region. SFC offers guided hikes on several of their preserves.

  1. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta) http://www.siskiyoulandtrust.org/

Across Siskiyou County are many landowners that have a strong connection to the land that they own. People who want to conserve and protect their land into the future sometimes need financial assistance or someone to carry forward their wishes.  Without help from an organization like the Siskiyou Land Trust, all too often these special places disappear forever. Key Holdings and Projects of the SLT include: 1) Sisson Meadow, Mount Shasta, CA protecting 7.7 acres of scenic view-shed and wetland habitat. 2) Trinity River Conservation Easement, Trinity County, CA protecting 70 acres of open space, view-shed and wildlife habitat corridor. 3) Scott Valley Conservation Easement, Siskiyou County, CA protecting 5,500 acres of agricultural land, river corridor and wildlife habitat. And 4) Hammond Reservoir, Weed, CA protecting 67 acres of open space and wildlife habitat.

  1. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield) http://www.solanolandtrust.org/Index.aspx

Founded in 1986 as the Solano County Farmlands and Open Space Foundation, the group changed its name in 2004 to the Solano Land Trust. Solano Land Trust was established as a result of litigation involving open space advocates, land developers and a municipal government. This unusual genesis created a board that reflects all sides of land-use issues united in the mission to preserve the agricultural legacy and natural landscapes of Solano County. Using innovative, non-confrontational techniques, SLT has permanently protected 22,161 acres of natural areas and agricultural lands to date. SLT’s anchor properties at Jepson Prairie Preserve, King-Swett Ranches, Lynch Canyon, Rush Ranch and Rockville Trails represent the rich and varied landscape that makes Solano County unique. From rare vernal pools to tidal marsh wetlands to rolling serpentine grasslands, our properties serve an important role in preserving these habitats for residents in the local community, the Greater Bay Area and all of California.

  1. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa) https://www.sonomalandtrust.org/

In November of 2007, Sonoma Land Trust purchased a 1,665-acre property in southern Sonoma County at risk of subdivision and vineyard development and named it Tolay Creek Ranch. The acquisition of Tolay Creek Ranch also completed the protection of a 7,500-acre wildlife corridor extending from the foothills of Sonoma Mountain to the bay. With sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, dazzling wildflower displays and plenty of space for hiking, the ranch was well suited to becoming a park — particularly since it is situated adjacent to 1,737-acre Tolay Lake Regional Park. Today, after nearly 10 years of resource assessments, habitat enhancement and creek restoration activities, Sonoma Land Trust has donated Tolay Creek Ranch to Sonoma County Regional Parks, a move that will double the size of Tolay Lake park. This is but one of many projects in a portfolio of works that includes dozen of preserves, easements and completed projects in the portfolio of the Sonoma Land Trust, an extremely successful organization.

  1. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City) https://www.sutterbutteslandtrust.org/

Preserving agricultural land has become the primary focus of Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust. With more than 20 land trusts working to protect Central Valley farmland, habitat and native vegetation, increased demand for partners to manage and monitor easements has become essential. Becoming an active and respected regional conservation partner is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the organizations and it efforts. The Sutter, Colusa and Yuba County region encompasses approximately 2,200 square miles or 1.4 million acres located in the valley of north of Sacramento. Current growth projections will result in as much as 34,000 acres of critical habit, agricultural lands, wetlands, and open space slated for development.

  1. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore) http://trivalleyconservancy.org/

Tri-Valley Conservancy’s mission is “to permanently protect the fertile soils, rangelands, open space and biological resources and to support a viable agricultural economy, in the Tri-Valley area.” The TVC accomplishes this mission by providing landowners with a flexible, voluntary alternative to subdividing or developing their property. With over 7,000 acres preserved in the Livermore valley across 64 Conservation Easements on over 100 properties, The South Livermore Valley Area Plan (SLVAP) was created to preserve the area’s vineyards and wineries, enhance recognition as a premium wine-producing region, and to incentivize investment and expansion of vineyards and other cultivated agriculture. Additionally, The South Livermore Valley Specific Plan (SLVSP) requires that development occurring in the area must preserve one acre for every house built and for every acre built on, an additional acre must be preserved (i.e. five houses built on one acre = six acres to be preserved).

  1. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad) http://www.trinidadcoastallandtrust.org/

The Land Trust’s twenty coastal properties are managed by volunteers and landowners for public access, recreation and open space protections. Some of the properties owned by the TCLT include Houda Point/Camel Rock Beach Park, Baker Beach, north Luffenholtz Beach, our future Little River Trail property, Pilot Point, Saunders Park and public access easements to Moonstone Beach and Secret Beach. The Trinidad Coastal Land Trust owns, for public benefit, some of the most beautiful coastal properties and beach access trails. The TCLT owns and manages nine properties (fee title, or complete ownership) and the additional eleven conservation easements are held on private properties. In total, twenty properties located from Little River to Big Lagoon are protected to date, and three additional, significant public trail projects are in the works

  1. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee) http://tdlandtrust.org/

Over the years, The Truckee Donner Land Trust has protected over 33,000 acres, ensuring continued recreational access and protecting lands for future generations. We are determined to protect another 24,500 acres in the coming years with a value of over $40 million. Public access and recreation are extremely important to the Land Trust’s work. We are the builders and stewards of the Donner Lake Rim Trail, a 23-mile multi-use trail. Volunteers can also join us in trail construction, maintenance, signage installation, and construction of picnic areas and campgrounds. Go to their website for trail-building dates.

  1. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland) http://theyololandtrust.org/

Yolo Land Trust (YLT) conserves farmland and ranchland by providing landowners with a viable financial alternative to selling their land for development. The most common method is through conservation easements, by which landowners maintain ownership, but agree to never develop their land. Conservation easements help keep farmers farming, and ranchers ranching. Yolo Land Trust has permanently protected 11,000 acres of farmland through over 60 conservation easements, and the fee ownership of an easement-restricted farm. Yolo Land Trust also supports habitat protection for plants and animals that depend upon farmland and the adjacent sloughs, creeks and rivers for survival.

 

 

 

 

Conservation in California and the American West Right Now

Conservation in California and the American West Right Now
11/30/2017 by Obi Kaufmann

When only a couple of years ago we were celebrating the addition of five National Monuments to California’s portfolio of protected land (Berryessa Snow Mountain, San Gabriel Mountains, Sand to Snow, Castle Mountains and Mojave Trails), we have now witnessed a swinging of the political pendulum: the party in executive power seems bent on dismantling federal protections and selling them off to private interests. The talk among conservation groups seems not about protecting new lands, although some California-based initiatives still exist in that regard, but to protect what we’ve already got done and thought was settled. The massive network of local, regional and national organizations who tirelessly work at defending and conserving land across the west remains steadfast, even galvanized in resistance to the current presidential administration and the toxic appointments that have been made to the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies are currently shirking, perhaps even deliberately undermining their responsibility to the nature legacy of our public interest and trading our grandchildren’s wilderness for profit. I have created a list and am presenting it here of some of my favorite non-profit organizations who rally against downward, unwise and mismanaged trend of our federal government, day after day. As you consider end of the year donations, please peruse this list and consider these embroiled organizations and their fight for your public lands. In their fight to maintain habitat and the promotion of biodiversity they stand against the wave of short-sight progress which comes so easily and so often at the expense of the natural world of the American West.

All of the groups score highly on Charity Navigator’s list of quality, registered 501(c)3 organizations for transparency and effectiveness. There are so many more organizations that I could have mentioned and do wish to support. This list presents a balanced view of Non-profit organizations that span topics and areas across California and some beyond with specific regard to issues of conservation, biodiversity and public lands. They are presented in alphabetical order. I will be following up this inventory with another, highlight the many wonderful Land Trust Organizations that I whole-heartedly support. -Obi

Portrait of the author, artist Obi Kaufmann, by Paul Collins.

01. ADVOCATES FOR THE WEST (www.advocateswest.org)
Hold our Ground Donation $25

Advocates for the west is a non-profit environmental law firm that employs law and science in the argument to protect the west’s public lands, water and wildlife. Advocates for the West are the legal backup to over 30 conservation nonprofits and partners in the West. They are currently representing themselves in a suit filed by Senior Attorney Todd Tucci against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice, seeking disclosure of unlawfully withheld documents demonstrating that President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lack authority to vacate or shrink Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and all other National Monuments.

AMARGOSA CONSERVANCY (www.amargosaconservancy.org)
Supporting Membership $35

The Amargosa Conservancy works through advocacy and stewardship to protect this ancient and delicate, desert watershed. Membership supports their efforts to (1) Make the Amargosa a priority for government land managers, and partner with them to accomplish goals of common interest. (2) Build support for the Amargosa Conservancy in local communities and among others who love the Amargosa. (3) Facilitate community engagement in environmental policy-making and endangered species conservation. (4) Promote awareness and support for conservation in the Amargosa region among political leaders in California and Nevada who represent the region at the national (Congress), state (legislature), and county (supervisors) levels. (5) Control invasive species. (6) To gather essential data to gain a clearer understanding of the water resources of the Amargosa Basin. (7) Partner with others to support economic sustainability that protects the land, water, and beauty of the Amargosa. (8) Protect key conservation target properties in the Conservancy’s area of interest through acquisition of conservation easements or outright purchase. (9) Ensure sound organizational operations and structures.

View from Sibley Ridgeline north, East San Francisco Bay. All wilderness photos by Obi Kaufmann

03. AMERICAN RIVER CONSERVANCY (www.arconservancy.org)
Individual Membership $35

The American River Conservancy serves our communities by ensuring healthy ecosystems within the California’s Upper American and upper Cosumnes River Watersheds through land conservation, stewardship and education. ARC is now working on the American River Headwaters Restoration Project, a plan for the upper American River watershed to support its biodiversity with healthy forests that are resilient to naturally occurring wildfire, rivers and streams that support an abundance of native fish, and a network of trails that enable the public to enjoy the scenic and ecological richness of this property.

04. ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION (www.theabf.org)
Basic Donation $25

The ABF works to conserve land by purchasing it from willing sellers and adding it to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. When Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest State Park, was formed in the early 1930’s, it was checkerboarded by thousands of acres of private land inholdings. Since 1967, the ABF has acquired more than 54,000 acres of those missing puzzle pieces and have added them to the park. In such critically endangered local landscapes such as Borrego Palm Canyon and Coyote Canyon, areas rich in life and paleontology. Looking to the future, the ABF seeks to acquire yet more of these inholdings and to conserve wilderness areas in perpetuity.

Old Culp Valley Road, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

05. AUDUBON CALIFORNIA (www.ca.audubon.org)
Basic Donation $20

Since the 19th century, the Audubon Society has been working in California to protect wild birds and their habitat. Most recently, Audubon California has been leader in (1) Advocacy to elected officials and agency staff to include water for refuges in drought response legislation and policies, (2) supporting a network of activists who support bird-friendly state policies, work to restore and maintain healthy habitat for birds, and help educate the public on bird-friendly issues, (3) maintaining safe places for kids and families to explore the natural world at our nature centers and sanctuaries, (4) supporting partnerships with farmers to bring songbirds back to rural California, and with fishermen to support sustainable fishing practices for waterbirds that share our oceans and bays, and (5) Scientific research on best conservation practices for birds and people in a changing climate.

06. CALIFORNIA WILDERNESS COALITION (www.calwild.org)
Individual membership $35

Through political action and activist organizing, Cal Wild works to protect California’s Wild Public Lands and Rivers. Cal Wild has projects across the state, but most notably, they are working to support the newest version of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (CCHPA S.1959 and HR 4079) introduced by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and when passed, will protect 244,909 acres of wilderness across eight existing wilderness areas, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is important new legislation in a time when bills like this are few and far between.

looking north to San Gorgonio Peak from near the top of San Jacinto Peak, Mt. San Jacinto State Park

07. CONSERVATION ALLIANCE (www.conservationalliance.com)
Basic Donation $25

Since the Conservation Alliance was founded in 1989, they’ve helped protect 50 million acres, 2,991 river miles, removed or halted 29 dams, purchased 12 climbing areas and designated 5 marine reserves. 100% of your donation will be directed to the groups working to protect wild lands and water for future generations to enjoy. Most recently, the Conservation Alliance has established the Public Lands Defense Fund (PLDF) to safeguard the integrity of our public lands and to coordinate corporate money with environmental restoration projects.

08. CONSERVATION LANDS FOUNDATION (www.conservationlands.org)
One-Time Donation $15

Working on BLM and National Monument land throughout the west, CLF has a broad portfolio from working directly to restore ecosystems in the field to political advocacy defending these wild places from those in Washington who would like to exploit the natural resources there. As laid out in their mission, CLF works to ensure the Antiquities Act and our bedrock environmental laws are protected; defend our national monuments from attacks; safeguard the National Conservation Lands as a permanent system of protected public lands; Uphold strong conservation management practices and policies; and ensure the National Conservation Lands are backed by a dedicated and influential constituency of grassroots advocates.

Summer along Sagehen Creek Trail, Tahoe National Forest, Nevada county, California

09. EARTHJUSTICE (www.earthjustice.org)
Basic Donation $35

“Because Earth needs a good lawyer” is Earthjustice’s famous tag line. For 45 years, Earthjustice has been litigating for the side of conservation and biodiversity. This massively successful organization with a long track record of impressive victories is now taking on big oil in their attempts to rip apart the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, to combat the dismantling of the federal Clean Power Plan and the protecting large predators in the west that would be affected by a bevvy of laws that are now gearing up to end remaining population.

10. ENVIRONMENT CALIFORNIA (www.environmentcalifornia.org)
Basic Donation $25

Environment California is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. With roots in direct activism, EC recently launched the Alliance to Save Bees which united sixty-five chefs and restaurant owners to form the first Bee Friendly Food Alliance. Other major projects include staunch leadership in opposition to Fracking in California and “keeping plastic out of the Pacific.” EC is instrumental in the movement to ban plastic shopping bags from the state.

Slinkard Wildlife Area, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California

11. FRIENDS OF THE INYO (www.friendsoftheinyo.org)
Clark’s Nutcracker Donation $35

Friends of the Inyo provides Preservation, Exploration, and Stewardship of the Eastern Sierra from places like the Golden Trout Wilderness and Owens Lake to Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and the Bodie Hills. From the crest of the Sierra to the White and Inyo Mountains, Friends of the Inyo has a long history of making a difference with programs that connect people with their public lands. Members receive FOI’s biannual newsletter, The Jeffrey Pine Journal, invitations to outings and events, and regular email updates about what’s happening on and for the Eastern Sierra’s wild open spaces.

12. FRIENDS OF THE RIVER (www.friendsoftheriver.org)
Friend $35

For 45 years, Friends of the River has been tireless in their dogged protection of California’s water resources and keeping wild rivers wild. On their website, Friends of the River lays out a specific and fascinating plan for California’s water future, balancing conservation and human needs without building ecologically disastrous dams. Now the fight is on over Sites Dam in the western Sacramento Valley near Maxwell. This dam would be devastating to the many threatened and endangered species that depend on the river and its dynamic flow-based ecosystem.

Green Creek Wildlife Area, Hoover Wilderness, California

13. KERN RIVER CONSERVANCY (www.kernriverconservancy.org)
Individual Membership $25

Kern River Conservancy works to implement education initiatives focused on watershed conservation, responsible public land use, wild trout conservation and community outreach. Kern River is home to 3 of California’s Native Heritage Trouts, The Kern River Rainbow, Little Kern Golden and California’s official state fish, The Golden Trout. The population of these fish have become dire as our waterways continue to warm up from the climate of our planet and the ongoing destructive drought in California. Adding to the factor of the threat, is free range cattle grazing that has destroyed precious meadows and streams which the trout rely on for a healthy habitat. Kern River Conservancy has an exclusive relationship with so many partners who work to create a unique outreach program on engaging anglers and outdoor enthusiasts on the importance of conservation and the safe practice of catch and release.

14. KLAMATH SISKIYOU WILDLANDS (www.kswild.org)
Basic Donation $20

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands, or KSWILD, works to protect wild areas, rivers and wildlife in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion of Northern California and Southwest Oregon through direct and legal action and community activism. The so-called “Resilient Federal Forest Act” (H.R. 2936, 2017) is an extreme attack on public lands, proposing 50 square miles of timber-industry clearcuts with no public review. Although the bill was successfully amended to make clear that the provision did not affect Wilderness, Wild and Scenic, and other land designations. That amendment did not do the same for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, areas of critical environmental concern, riparian reserves, late successional reserves, northern spotted owl critical habitat, and other designations.

Trinity River near Willow Creek, California

15. LOS PADRES FOREST WATCH (www.lpfw.org)
Membership $50

Los Padres Forest Watch is the only local nonprofit organization protecting wildlife, wilderness, and clean water throughout the Los Padres National Forest, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and other public lands along California’s central coast for the benefit of our communities and future generations. Organizing armies of passionate volunteers, LPFW works to maintain trails and monitor the health of the Coastal ranges across Central California. LPFW employs a cadre of biologists who have most recently formally submitted the Refugio Manzanita (Arctostaphylos refugioensis) as a candidate in Santa Barbara county to be protected by the federal endangered species act to the U.S. Department of Fish & Game.

16. MONO LAKE COMMITTEE (www.monolake.org)
Basic Donation $25

Since 1978, The Mono Lake Committee has been a voice for Mono Lake for research, negotiation, litigation and lobby efforts in defense of Mono Lake. As advocates for cooperative solutions to water supply problems, the Mono Lake Committee has also become a voice for water use efficiency. The long legal struggle that saved Mono Lake also set the stage for restoring many of Mono Lake’s damaged resources. Mono Lake is rising and its streams ore re-establishing the natural processes that once supported lush desert-forests and thriving ecosystems. As the recovery continues over the next 20 years, there will still be much work to be done, and offers a dynamic lesson in restoration that Mono Lake Committee will oversee and document.

View of Mono Lake from Panum Crater, California

17. MOUNT SHASTA BIOREGIONAL ECOLOGY CENTER (www.mountshastaecology.org)
Basic Patronage $15

A community working to preserve, protect and restore Mount Shasta’s world-renowned mountain environment, the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center is now in its 28th year. Since 1997, the MSBEC and their Native American and environmental allies have been battling multinational geothermal corporations to assure that polluting industrial geothermal energy development with associated hydraulic fracturing, acid leaching, and habitat fragmentation will not get a foothold on this sacred ground near and around Mount Shasta up in the Medicine Lake tablelands.

18. NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION (www.npca.org)
Basic Membership $35

Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historic and cultural treasures of the largest and most diverse park system in the world. From their national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 27 locations nationwide, the NPCS calls on program and policy experts, committed volunteers, staff lobbyists, community organizers and communications specialists to inform and inspire the public and to influence decision makers to ensure that our national parks are well protected.

equipment

19. NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION (www.nwf.org)
Basic Membership $30

The National Wildlife Federation currently works to connect habitats for bison, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears in the West through our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program. We’re also raising awareness and building safe pathways for mountain lions in California’s urbanized landscape through the Save LA Cougars campaign. Additionally, we work to connect wildlife habitats in the Northeast through the Critical Paths Project. The National Wildlife Federation has bold plans to expand work connecting habitats for wildlife by 2021.

20. NATURE CONSERVANCY (www.conserveca.org)
Basic Donation $25

One of the largest Conservation groups in the world, the Nature Conservancy is currently working locally in California on a numbers of important campaigns, including: 1) the continued monitoring of the Santa Cruz Island Fox as it recovers from the brink of extinction, 2) the 2015 Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, the state’s first serious effort to provide a regulatory framework for producing marijuana with particular deference to its local, environmental impact, 3) The BIRDRETURNS program, which temporarily leases land from farmers in the central valley to erect temporary and seasonal nesting sites for migratory birds when they need it most, and 4) working with government agencies to assess where massive solar plants across the Southwest could be built without disrupting critical habitat and pristine desert land.

Santa Lucia Memorial Park at the base of Junipero Serra Peak, California

21. PACIFIC CREST TRAIL ASSOCIATION (www.pcta.org)
Basic Donation $35

Working on all levels to preserve America’s greatest, long-distance wilderness trail. You can designate your contribution to support one of our following programs. (1) Highest Priority Need – you allow PCTA to fund our most urgent needs. We recommend this option. (2) Trail Maintenance – your support helps recruit, train, supply and mobilize volunteers and staff to help in our goal to maintain 100% of the trail. (3) Trail Protection – your support helps PCTA respond to any threats to the trail. You help us build our partnerships with land managers and you support our advocacy efforts on behalf of the trail. (4) Land Protection –your support enables PCTA to prioritize, plan for and acquire lands that are at risk. (5) PCT Endowment – Endowments exist in perpetuity.  The PCT Endowment Fund supports the strategic goals of the PCTA forever. (6) The Linda Morris Fund of the PCT Endowment – The Linda Morris Fund is a gift for generations to come, ensuring that the trail she loved will be preserved for others who follow. (7) Jane & Flicka Endowment – The Jane and Flicka Endowment Fund provides a way to support the trail in perpetuity while also recognizing the spirit of these two hikers.

22. PACIFIC RIVERS (www.pacificrivers.org)
Basic Donation $25

An organization of scientists, lawyers and activists, Pacific Rivers works to protect and restore ecosystems of the West to ensure river health, biodiversity, and clean water for present and future generations. Working to bolster Oregon’s timber laws which are failing to protect rivers, water and human health, Pacific Rivers works to protect 24 million acres managed under the Northwest Forest Plan and 2.5 million acres of Oregon’s O&C lands (BLM railroad).

Redwood Regional Park, Oakland, California

23. REDWOOD PARK CONSERVANCY (www.redwoodparksconservancy.org)
Basic Donation $10

The Redwood Parks Conservancy works with the National and State parks systems to maintain public lands along California’s Redwood Coast through education and infrastructure fundraising. Among their current projects is protecting the recently opened and untrailed Titan Grove, and corner of the old growth forest that is being trampled by human traffic. The plan is to build an elevated walkway to preserve the massive trees’ roots for generations to come.

24. RESTORE HETCH HETCHY (www.hetchhetchy.org)
Basic Donation $25

The mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor ─ while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River. The movement does not begrudge San Francisco and other Bay Area communities the use of Tuolumne River water, as they have done for the past hundred years through what is now decaying infrastructure, but the water needs to be stored outside Yosemite National Park, and this jewel of California wilderness needs to be restored.

Bolinas Ridge, Marin county, California. #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

25. RESTORE THE DELTA (www.restorethedelta.org)
Basic Donation $25

Through public education and citizen activism, Restore the Delta works to ensure the restoration and future sustainability of the SF Bay-Delta estuary. Contributions help  with litigation, sponsor outreach events, assist education efforts on what makes the Delta so special, and assist in the building of a coalition centered on sustainable water policies for the Delta and California that will be recognized by government officials as they make water management decisions

26. SANTA BARBARA WILDLIFE CARE NETWORK (www.sbwcn.org)
Hummingbird Donation $70

SBWCN works to rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild sick, injured, orphaned, or oil-impaired wild birds and small mammals native to Santa Barbara county. $70 will feed hummingbirds recovering from injury for a season. $300 will support a single pelican for one month.  We had 448 in their care last year. $500 will pay for four shipments of mealworms for hungry songbirds. $1,650 will buy 1,400 pounds of frozen sardines for our seabirds. $2000 will fed a raptor for an entire year.

Sunset in Henry Coe State Park, Santa Clara county

27. SAVE MOUNT DIABLO (www.savemountdiablo.org)
Trailblazer Membership $35

Since 1971, SMD has worked to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance the region’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources.

28. SAVE OUR WILD SALMON (www.wildsalmon.org)
Chum Donation $75

Save Our Wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region’s ecology, economy and culture. Anti-environmental Members of Congress are working hard to roll back protections for endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers in Oregon and Washington. Save our Wild Salmon is working to stop HR3144, a blatant attack on salmon, orca and tribal treaty rights.

View of Mount Diablo Peak from Bollinger Canyon, California

29. SAVE THE REDWOODS LEAGUE (www.savetheredwoods.org)
Individual Membership $25

For one hundred years, Save the Redwoods League has pioneered innovative, science-based forest-restoration work, educated thousands of schoolchildren about the Redwood forest and continues to work at improving access to parkland and to create more parks and reserves. Currently the League is Working with researchers from Humboldt State University, University of California, Berkeley, and citizen scientists, we are studying the impacts of climate change on redwoods’ growth, carbon storage, and forest biodiversity through the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI). They also are working on a project called Redwoods Rising. Redwoods Rising is a collaborative project of Save the Redwoods League, National Park Service and California State Parks that will greatly accelerate the pace and scale of redwood forest recovery and help protect Redwood National and State Parks’ remaining old-growth groves. Recent parcel acquisitions include Mailliard Ranch. is the largest undivided family-owned property in southern Mendocino County. Moreover, with nearly 12,000 acres of redwood and mixed conifer groves, including nearly 1,000 acres of towering old-growth redwood forest, it is the largest expanse of redwood forest still in private family hands in the coast range.

30. SIERRA CLUB CALIFORNIA (www.sierraclub.org/california)
Membership $50

Every day, the Sierra Club activates its political-action network to address some pressing matter that affects all who reside in the West. In California right now, this classic bastion of environmental defense organizations is focused on (1) Clean energy in California (2) Endorsing Alex Padilla for California’s Secretary of State (3) Air Quality and Climate Disruption (4) advocating for Keeping California Forests Healthy, Habitat Viable, and Wildlife Safe (5) Keep California’s 278 state parks open and reverse Governor Brown’s plans to close 70 of those parks due to budget cuts (6) Ban the brutal practice of “hounding” in bear and bobcat hunts (7) Ban the sale of shark fins, the harvest of which threatens to wipe out sharks (8) Beat back legislation that threatened to increase unsustainable forestry practices on private lands.

Tacquitz Canyon. #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

31. SIERRA NEVADA ALLIANCE (www.sierranevadaalliance.org)
Individual Membership $50

For over 25 years, the Sierra Nevada Alliance has been following a strict mandate that lays out a multi-point plan to maintain the sustainability of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as an extended community where dynamic ecosystems interface with human society. The SNA is an umbrella organization, networking many dozen organizations currently working with (1) the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership which conducts on-the-ground watershed restoration and environmental education; (2) Grassroots Advocacy and Regional Climate Change Programs which work with cities throughout the Sierra on transitioning to 100% renewable energy; (3) a Member Group Support Program which allows us to help other groups in the Sierra build capacity and expand their impact.

32. SOUTH YUBA RIVER CITIZEN’S LEAGUE (www.yubariver.org)
Friend of the Yuba $50

SYCRL works to protect, restore, and conserve the greater Yuba River watershed. Current work focuses on combatting the plan to build a new dam, called the Centennial Dam on the Bear River, adjacent to the Yuba, which will If built, this 275-foot dam would block the last six miles of publicly accessible free-flowing river on the Bear. It would destroy fish and wildlife habitat, beloved swimming holes, and sacred Native American sites. We don’t need a new dam generating more polluting sprawl and traffic. We can increase our water supply by restoring our forests and meadows, and use the water we do have more wisely. SYCRL also produces the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival: one of the nation’s premier environmental and adventure film festivals. The 16thannual event will feature films that combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth. Each year, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers for film, music, workshops, celebrations, and inspiration.

studio

33. TULEYOME (www.tuleyome.org)
Tuleyome Friend $35

Tuleyome works to protect, maintain and celebrate the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in Northern California. In addition to political advocacy, ecological restoration and administrative management around the monument, Tuleyome is currently working on building the Explorit Science center in Woodland, California. This new center for regional science and education will be the only of its kind in the area and foster a new level of understanding in this often unknown and unexplored corner of the California’s Northern, Coastal ranges.

34. TURTLE ISLAND RESTORATION NETWORK (www.seaturtles.org)
Basic Donation $35

The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network – SPAWN – protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to survive in West Marin. SPAWN was initiated as part of Turtle Island Restoration Network in 1997. SPAWN works to protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the habitat they need to survive in West Marin. By engaging hundreds of people each year to see and learn about the majestic endangered salmon, SPAWN works to restore watershed habitat, to raise native redwood trees, and to study salmon health. With the support of thousands of activists, SPAWN is also making strides towards fish-friendly development policies to help the salmon survive and thrive.

Kingston Peak, Mojave, California #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

35. VENTANA WILDERNESS ALLIANCE (www.ventanawild.org)
Ventana Advocate $35

The VWA works to protect, preserve and restore the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within California’s northern Santa Lucia Mountains and Big Sur Coast. Founded in 1998, The VWA has tirelessly worked to maintain wilderness trails, provide stewardship for the local ecosystems, clean up marijuana grow sites, restore riparian areas, been an advocate for sustainable wildfire planning and responsible grazing standards and has been an invaluable resource for natural history education throughout the region.

36. WILD EARTH GUARDIANS (www.wildearthguardians.org)
Wild Bunch Donation $25

Founded as Forest Guardians in 1989, the original mission of the grassroots effort was to fight a logging project on northern New Mexico’s Elk Mountain. As the evidence of environmental threats continued, the efforts of the Guardians expanded. In addition to fighting logging projects, the organization began to take on public lands livestock grazing industry. Seeing the devastation that cattle wreak on the Southwest’s precious waterways, the organization launched a campaign to out-compete public lands ranchers for leases. Once the leases were obtained, we fenced out the cattle, removed non-native invasive vegetation, and planted native cottonwood and willow trees that allow waterways to thrive and wildlife habitat to be reborn. Although Guardians has significantly expanded their scope over the years, their core mission to confront the threats facing the beauty and diversity of the American West has not changed. They now have an in-house legal team that works closely with their program directors to reform policy and uphold environmental laws. Guardians has joined with Waterkeeper Alliance to protect and restore the Rio Grande from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the Chihuahuan desert of southern New Mexico. Guardians has partnered with Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, Living Rivers, and Waterkeeper Alliance to challenge the recently approved Windy Gap Firming Project that seeks to further drain the already imperiled Colorado River. Guardians and the Western Environmental Law Center stepped up our efforts to compel the Trump administration to publicly release government records concerning the killing of western wildlife and the oversight of fossil fuel companies.

Near Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, California

37. WILDERNESS SOCIETY (www.wilderness.org/california)
Basic Membership $35

One of the world’s great wilderness preservation groups. Currently the Wilderness Society in California is working to (1) purchase and donate future public land holdings in Death Valley to expand the National Park by 32,000 acres near what is called “the Bowling Alley”, (2) purchase and donate future public land holdings in Mojave National Preserve to expand the Preserve by 29,000 acres near Lanfair Valley, (3) advocate for the protection of 70 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers in the Amargosa, (4) the designation of four new wilderness areas inside of Death Valley National Park, (5) working with the California Wilderness Coalition on the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, (6) advocating to wilderness land additions around Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.

38. WILDLANDS CONSERVANCY (www.wildlandsconservancy.org)
Basic Donation $35

Founded in 1995, The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) is dedicated to preserving the beauty and biodiversity of the earth and to providing California’s largest chain of land managed by a non-profit.  In working to achieve this mission, TWC has established the largest nonprofit nature preserve system in California, comprised of fifteen preserves encompassing 147,000 acres of diverse mountain, valley, desert, river, and oceanfront landscapes. These preserves are open to the public free of charge for passive recreation, including camping, hiking, picnicking, birding, and more. Many acquisitions of the Wildlands Conservancy are then graduated to federal protection and larger conservation efforts, including (1) Wind Wolves Preserve gave birth to a land acquisition effort to link the Coast Ranges with the Sierra Nevada, (2) The 560,000-acre California Desert Land Acquisition gave birth to the 1.6 million-acre Mojave Trails National Monument, and (3) The Wildlands Conservancy’s work in the Santa Ana River Watershed helped bring together cities and counties across Southern California to create the 110-mile Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway project.

camp

39. WILDLANDS NETWORK (www.wildlandsnetwork.org)
Membership $50

Wildlands Network is leading the movement to rewild large tracts of develop land and to establish critical wildlife corridors across the West. The amount of land needed to establish a continental system of connected wildlands will be determined by long-term, science-based mapping that identifies the protected areas and linkages required to sustain wildlife and natural processes. The Wildland Network’s conservation proposals include enlarging existing protected areas—including Wilderness Areas and National Parks—creating new protected areas, and encouraging various levels of additional protections for federal, state, and private lands. Most of the attention this year is on the Wildlands Network’s Borderlands Campaign, the goal of which is to ensure that jaguars, ocelots, and other wildlife can move freely through the Sky Islands region of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. This means organizing against effort to build a border wall which would destroy critical migratory routes for a whole host of animals who rely on being able to move through that beautiful and wild landscape.

Sunset from Abalone Point, Orange County, California

December Book Tour for the Sold Out Best-Seller

With the selling out of the first printing of the book, I’ve needed to postpone a few dates on my continuing book tour to support and celebrate the California Field Atlas. The dates at both the Coloma Grange and the Burlingame Library are postponed until the New Year. As for these other dates, I am not actually certain there are too many copies of the book left so please be punctual to maximizing your chances of getting a copy. I am so appreciative of your support and the love that you’ve shown me and this project. If you would like to get on the backorder list for one of the first copies of the second printing which will be here on January 1st, please email me at coyoteandthunder@gmail.com -Obi

My first best-seller list! The California Field Atlas comes in at No.3 for Northern California Trade Nonfiction as reported by Bay Area News Group. Thank you friends, for all of your support with this project. There are no more copies of the first printing available online from me or my publisher, HEYDAY.  I am saving the final 50 copies of the first printing for my appearance at Patagonia, Palo Alto, next Saturday (12/02) 6pm – 8pm. There are only a few copies left available in bookstores around the Bay Area. If your local independent bookstore doesn’t have any left, try Barnes & Noble. Amazon is selling a few copies of the sold-out first printing for a couple of hundred dollars. If you buy those, I will send you a card inscribed any way you want that you can put in the book. I went City Lights Books tonight to see if my book was on the selves of that San Francisco temple, a life-long dream of mine, but they told me that they can’t keep it in stock and they sold their last copy yesterday. What a delightful problem. I thank you all dearly for your excellent support of this, my love letter to this place I love. #californiafieldatlas

I am offering hand-painted reproductions of your favorite maps from the California Field Atlas. I work by commission so you tell me what you want. The paintings are $150, including tax, mounting and shipping. They measure 5.5″ wide by 7.5″ tall and are on 120# watercolor paper. I can reproduce any of your favorite #trailpaintings from the book also. I’m booked for a week or two, so to get them before the holidays, I need your order now. Email me and we can talk about it. I want to hear your stories. Thank you, Obi coyoteandthunder@gmail.com #californiafieldatlas

 

Obi Kaufmann in the San Francisco Chronicle

by Sophia Markoulakis

On the morning of Oct. 11, Obi Kaufmann was wrapping up the first leg of his book tour en route to the Lost Coast. Days later, he gave the keynote address to the annual fundraising dinner for the Klamath Siskiyou Wildland Center while his beloved Bay Area was burning. The theme of the evening was resiliency. Most would say his new book, “The California Field Atlas” (Heyday; $45), carries a similar ethos.

 When I first spoke with Kaufmann, a month before fire ravaged over 100,000 acres in Northern California, we talked about the state’s ability to heal itself. Today, the landscape is forever changed and he’s steadfast in his views on how to live within the state’s ecosystem, saying that, “The book works best as a manual of conservation, a handbook to the deep, long-term and ancient ecological mechanisms of the state and its themes are not swayed by the events, terrible or otherwise, that play themselves out year after year across California’s rich and vital topography.”

 

Kaufmann, 44, grew up in the shadows of Mount Diablo, where he was more at home with the mountain’s sage and oak than he was with the suburban streets. As the child of an astrophysicist and psychologist, he was accustomed to a certain level of intellectual levitation and spent his formative years juggling both his love of nature and aptitude for academics. A marriage of the two resulted in a degree in fine art. He worked as a gallery artist until 10 years ago, when he recommitted himself to California’s trails and traded his oils for a more portable medium (watercolor). His introspective first book of art, poetry and prose is a result of his circuitous journey through the state’s varied regions.

“It’s my love story to California,” he says of his tome. “I’ve been walking California my whole life, and this book represents years of exploring and painting, organizing it and putting it all down on paper,” he says.

This phase of Kaufmann’s artistic expedition, culminating in a dense state atlas the size of a car’s glove compartment, began when Kaufmann met Heyday’s acquisitions editor, Lindsie Bear, through friends two years ago.

“I was already familiar with his work and admired his tremendous vision and perspective, so when I met him, I casually asked if he ever thought of writing a book,” Bear says of their first conversation.

“He said, very intensely, ‘I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me that, and I’ve had a vision for a book for 20 years. It will be 600 pages, include 300 hand-drawn maps, and if I stop everything I’m doing, I think I can complete it in a year.’ My reaction was, ‘Wow, OK, send me some samples and we’ll see.’” A week later, according to Bear, Kaufmann delivered a polished book proposal that her colleagues described as a “unicorn” title that you see once a decade. “We thought, this is a massive undertaking and he’s the guy to get this done,” she says.

The book, released in early September, has become Heyday’s best-selling first printing of any book in the Berkeley publishing house’s history. Copies of the first printing sold out before its release.

Though Kaufmann describes the book as an indispensable road-trip companion, there are no actual roads in the book. It won’t help you find your way out of the woods, but it will provide you with a greater appreciation for the state’s ecological jewels and landmarks. Kaufmann’s writing offers up hope during this trying time for conservationism and climatic pushback.

The first eight chapters represent Kaufmann’s idea of ecological parallel groupings. Chapter titles like “Of Earth and Mountains” and “Forest and Fires” detail corresponding geography and history, and stress nature’s resourcefulness and responses to its power. “We were looking for a different kind of mapping companion, full of these bridges that connect aesthetics and ecology,” he says. “The redwood tree’s toolbox allows it to live for 2,000 years. What calamities would you encounter if you lived that long? Floods, fire and mudslides … and you need a strategy to survive.”

Chapter nine is dedicated to the state’s counties, illustrated through roadless maps with graphic icons that correspond to geographical landmarks. “These are not Google maps. They’re full of paint, which is an anathema to today’s graphics. Ultimately, the user is rewarded once they are deciphered. They open up like a rose, and the text is sublimated by understanding them,” Kaufmann explains.

In addition to hiking California, his other pursuits — tattoo art, poetry, and being the former chief storyteller for fragrance line Juniper Ridge — hint at a person who is so deeply connected to his purpose here on earth that he’s unabashedly unaware of his effect on others. “My work always gravitates towards synthesis, not analysis,” he says.

Experiencing a commonality with others on his hiking expeditions is a highlight for Kaufmann. When Mats Anderson of the Swedish denim brand Indigofera, whom he met through Juniper Ridge, joined him on a previous backpacking trip, they formed a friendship. When Anderson learned of the book deal, he was inspired to create a capsule collection of clothes called the California Hiking Series in honor of it and its message of conservation.

Anderson describes the collaboration as a merging of the minds. “People like Obi help me paint the picture of Indigofera in a way that I can’t do myself,” he said via email. “We had been on the trail together several times, sharing an interest in nature and wanting to be dressed for the occasion.”

Anderson considered Kaufmann’s penchant for painting en plein air when he designed large pockets on the vest and jacket. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp and wool were used, reflecting both men’s distaste for synthetic materials that make one stand out instead of blend in with the environment.

“When you look at my Instagram, some might say I look like a mountain man, but I’m actually more town and country,” Kaufmann says of his desire to look properly dressed for a hike or a drink in town after. “I love the idea of owning fewer, better things. These clothes are made for today and are constructed to last.”

The capsule includes a banded, long-sleeve shirt, a field vest and a heavy linen jacket. There’s also a graphic Norwegian-sourced lambswool blanket with Kaufmann’s Coyote and Thunder logo. The pieces, available exclusively at Oakland’s Standard & Strange, render a John Muir-like image of 19th century gentlemen’s attire. “Nature refuels our battery, resets our clock — so why not be dressed for it,” he says.

Kaufmann’s cautious optimism and appeal is undeniable as people search for authenticity — in nature, in fashion, in literature and art. His commitment to California makes us all want to tread lighter on a place that gives us so much. “We have to look at nature as living networks, systems that play out despite the 21st century’s urban veneer that humanity has successfully imposed across the West. The ultimate goal of the book is one full of hope, course and vision — a welcome antidote in these days of endless political miasma on a national scale,” he says.

Sophia Markoulakis is a Peninsula freelance writer. Email: style@sfchronicle.com.

“The California Field Atlas” is available at www.heydaybooks.com, and via https://coyoteandthunder.com.

Kaufmann’s next reading is 6-8 p.m. Nov. 24 at Oakland Yard Wine Shop, 420 40th St., Oakland.

all photos of Obi by Paul Collins @paulnemirahcollins