In spite of its more than 1 million acres of stunning scenery, 90 percent of Sonoma County’s wildlands are locked up in private property. The good news is public access to the ecologically diverse region’s open space just got a lot bigger thanks to the opening of the Jenner Headlands Preserve in September 2018. The network of trails cross coastal meadows, oak woodlands and stands of redwoods. The signature Sea-to-Sky Trail offers a challenging, 14-mile round trip to the 2,204-foot summit of Pole Mountain, the highest point in Sonoma County with 360 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Russian River Watershed, Point Reyes National Seashore and beyond.
“A hike from the Jenner Headlands to the top of Pole Mountain is to explore coastal fields, forests and vistas that have drawn people here for millennia,” said Dave Koehler, executive director of Sonoma Land Trust, which was instrumental in putting the deal for the preserve together.
“A hike from the Jenner Headlands to the top of Pole Mountain is to explore coastal fields, forests and vistas that have drawn people here for millennia,”
The 5,600-acre preserve, the result of a 10-year, private-public partnership, connects with other open space lands combines to create a contiguous expanse of more than 6,300 acres, about half the size of Manhattan.
While the miles of trails and expansive ocean views are already a draw (the 34 parking spots fill up quickly so come early) one part of the preserve may prove less popular: conservation logging of redwood trees. Those two words sound like oxymorons, but hang on. Unscrupulous logging that removes an entire stand of trees is disastrous for many reasons, one of which is that when trees grow back they are all the same height, creating a monoculture that doesn’t allow for other flora to grow under the uniformly shady redwood canopies.
"One part of the preserve may prove less popular: conservation logging of redwood trees"
The science behind conservation logging is to use forest management techniques to reverse the damage caused by less enlightened logging by selectively removing trees to allow more light and therefore new growth into single species forests. The practice sets in motion a slow, but profound effect on not just local flora but two- and four-legged wildlife as well.
In addition to increasing forest diversity, there’s another benefit to conservation logging at the preserve: proceeds from timber sales will go back to help support the park. We’re onboard!