As caught on camera, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, deer, and other animals routinely cross the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor from the slopes of Sonoma Mountain across the valley floor to the hills and forests of the Mayacamas Range (PDF map). At the center of the corridor is the more-than-1,000-acre historic Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC).
The vulnerable residents and vast natural lands of the SDC face an uncertain future due to Governor Jerry Brown’s approval of state plans to close the facility within three years, an expedited move to cut costs. Greenbelt Alliance has joined with the many voices calling for the rambling state facility to be transformed instead of closed to allow for continued health care and land conservation.
Situated in the green heart of Sonoma Valley, this rural facility has provided residential care for developmentally disabled individuals for more than 100 years. It also contains more than 750 acres of natural lands that are part of the wildlife corridor.
To help prevent development here, Greenbelt Alliance is calling on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to extend community separator designation to the SDC’s natural lands.
The existing Glen Ellen-Agua Caliente Community Separator (PDF map) already overlaps with SDC and connects with the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor. It prevents subdivision and commercial development of 1,400 acres of oak woodlands, vineyards, organic farms, parks, and nature preserves along scenic Highway 12.
Extending the community separator to include SDC’s water resources—including Lake Suttonfield and adjacent state lands already slated for county park additions—would protect this prime open space from inappropriate development that may be proposed in the future.
The Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor and the SDC lands are a critical habitat link across the North Bay from the new Berryessa-Snow Mountain Wilderness Monument to the Golden Gate Recreation Area along the coast..The Transform SDC Coalition has alternative plans for the surrounding lands and people who live there. You can compare the coalition’s plan to the official state closure plan here (PDF).
Watch for updates from Greenbelt Alliance as the transformation of the Sonoma Developmental Center moves forward.
Photo: Sonoma Developmental Center