Enhancing and Caring for the Laguna
The Laguna de Santa Rosa, a freshwater wetland—home to a large assembly of resident birds, and stop-over for an even larger assembly of winter migratory birds—is located in Sonoma County, California. The wetlands is cherished by the community and continues to be the focus of preservation efforts aimed at retaining its agrarian heritage, rural character, habitat and wildlife, and ecosystem services it provides for free. Community action has successfully protected it from the encroachment of nearby Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Sebastopol.
Over a four year period—as stakeholder liaison—I was in the best of possible positions to help the community to define its goals for the area and to communicate those goals to the sixteen local, state, and federal governmental bodies responsible for protecting the wetlands and its watershed. This was accomplished without flaw—a notable achievement given the diverse set of values held by landowners, recreation advocates, farmers and ranchers.
The first product of this stakeholder liaison work was the establishment of trust among the one hundred and forty different organizations that held a legitimate seat at the table: regulatory agencies, government administrations, advocacy groups, research organizations, and ad hoc citizen groups. Operating under this umbrella of trust, the forum worked together to define goals for the watershed. These goals were published in 2006 in the book Enhancing and Caring for the Laguna, co-authored by myself and Anna Warwick Sears.
More recent work has led to the creation of an ongoing stakeholder council for the Laguna watershed, comprised of researchers, educators, stewards, regulators, administrators, advocates, landowners, “watchdogs”, and others who share the community's desire to preserve the habitat and wildlife of the wetlands.