OAEC is a non-profit education center in Sonoma County that works to promote ecologically and culturally resilient communities. Learn more.
Wildlands Biodiversity Program
Over the past several years, OAEC staff and many volunteers have been steadily implementing a restoration plan for OAEC’s 70-acre Wildlands Preserve.
- One goal of the work is to help the land restore itself to exhibit the healthy, self-willed ecological processes it had before European settlement brought clear cuts and invasive exotic plants just 130 years ago.
- A second goal is to reduce the threat of catastrophic forest fires.
- Fulfilling a third goal, we are conducting participatory research and sharing the results of our experience with others.
In an era when naturally occurring forest fires are suppressed, ground-level fuel loads accumulate, inviting fires that could reach into the forest canopy. Much of our restoration work has involved thinning the many crowded stands of Douglas Fir and California Bay Laurel that have grown thick since the last clear cut on this land.
To help restore the native bunch grasses and their associated animal and plant communities, we are mowing and spot-burning the open pastures to clear them of invasive Scotch and Spanish broom and annual European grasses, and re-planting native bunch grasses. Much of the woody material thinned from our forests has been used in the construction of brush dam gabions to slow and sequester surface water flow during heavy rains and to mitigate eroded gullies.
The Wildlands Biodiversity Program provides education about effective restoration theory and methods as well as collaborates with various youth service-learning programs and our local West County Fire Safe Council. The Wildlands Biodiversity Program has also been studying the presence of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) and making efforts to protect both infected and uninfected trees.
OAEC's Wildlands Biodiversity Program includes:
- Managing and restoring OAEC’s 70-acre Wildlands Preserve.
- A new annual course called Tending the Wild.
- Facilitating Fire in the Landscape courses for local landowners.
- Practicing and modeling the restoration of native upland hardwood forests on the OAEC land with a grant from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Teaching wildlands restoration courses for OAEC’s Permaculture Design intensives and School Garden trainings.
For more info, contact our Wildlands Program Associate Director Lindsay Dailey at ext. 127.