The Laguna de Santa Rosa is an expansive freshwater wetland complex that hosts a rich diversity of plant and wildlife species, and is also home to a thriving agricultural community. Since the mid-19th century, modifications to the Laguna and its surrounding landscape have degraded habitat conditions for both wildlife and people. Together with partners at the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, and funded by Sonoma Water and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the goal of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Master Restoration Plan project is to develop a plan that supports ecosystem services in the Laguna—through the restoration and enhancement of landscape processes that form and sustain habitats and improve water quality—while considering flood management issues and the productivity of agricultural lands.
The first phase of the project was the creation of the Restoration Vision for the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The report details a long-term vision for the landscape which highlights opportunities for multi-benefit habitat restoration and land management within the Laguna’s 100-year floodplain. It presents an understanding of the landscape functioning from past, present, and potential future perspectives. Starting with a picture of the historical ecology of the Laguna that details the magnitude of change in habitat conditions over the past two centuries, the document then presents an understanding of key physical processes that affect today’s Laguna.The restoration concepts described in the Visioni represent a potential future Laguna, and were developed and vetted through a series of workshops in which technical advisers, management advisers, and local landowners and stakeholders, shared their expertise and helped shape the concepts.
The second phase of this project is the development of a Restoration Plan that will build from the Vision, describing near-term restoration concepts and identifying restoration targets. The targets and concepts will be determined in close coordination with the project technical advisors, stakeholders, and local landowners. The ultimate success of the Vision and the Restoration Plan will be driven by local landowner support and adequate funding for implementation, as well as an updated approach to landscape management within the Laguna’s surrounding watershed.
2018 to 2021
Programs and Focus Areas:
Resilient Landscapes Program
Related Projects, News, and Events:
Laguna de Santa Rosa Historical Ecology Initiative (Project)
The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed spans 256 square miles and supports a unique complex of biologically diverse ecosystems. Containing the urban centers of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Windsor, the Laguna watershed encompasses one of the largest floodplains in California. Historically the Laguna watershed supported a diverse ecosystem consisting of oak savanna/vernal pool complexes, riparian forest, emergent and off channel wetlands, and open water.
Historical Ecology and Landscape Change in the Central Laguna de Santa Rosa (Project)
This study synthesizes a diverse array of data to examine the ecological patterns, ecosystem functions, and hydrology that characterized a central portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa during the mid-19th century, and to analyze landscape changes over the past 150 years. The primary purpose of this study was to help guide restoration actions and other measures aimed at reducing nutrient loads within this portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.
Lower Laguna de Santa Rosa and Mark West Creek: Changes in Historical Channel Alignment (Project)
Over the past century and a half, the hydrology of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed has been altered by a variety land use changes, including urbanization, agricultural development, draining and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams. These changes have impacted the function of the Laguna and Mark West Creek and contributed to a range of contemporary management problems, including habitat degradation, impaired water quality, altered sediment dynamics, salmonid stranding, flooding, and trash accumulation.