On Friday, March 24, a diverse group of stakeholders from Mendocino and Sonoma counties will gather at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm in Forestville to launch a multi-generational plan to enhance and revitalize the Russian River watershed. The group, led by Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, includes farmers, members of several tribes, ecologists, local agency representatives, paddlers, and elected officials.
The Russian River Confluence will incorporate information gleaned over nearly a year of gatherings in the watershed, including a multi-day paddling trip from the river’s headwaters to the ocean. Organizers of the Confluence will present a One Watershed vision that will be the topic of breakout sessions.
“We’re creating an ‘un-conference’ with the goal of inspiring people to take action to make the Russian River watershed a better place to live for us, our children and our grandchildren,” said Gore. “We want people to take the One Watershed plan, make it better – and make it their own.”
In addition to breakout sessions and a series of short Ignite talks (visual, six minute presentations), speakers include Dave White, former chief of the Natural Resources Conservation District, who will provide the gathering’s keynote with inspiring examples of watersheds nationwide that have removed species from endangered species list, improved water quality and created sustainable economies. Closer to home, the event will close with a talk and call to action from of One Tam, a Marin County collaborative initiative focused on restoring and revitalizing Mt. Tamalpais.
“The Confluence will bring together the knowledge and wisdom that resides in our watershed, with the ideas of visionary thinkers from other places,” said Craig Anderson, Executive Director of LandPaths. “I’m looking forward to being part of the conversation and to learning from others.”
“The Confluence is a unique opportunity to gather as a community to discuss the future of the Russian River,” said Kim Vail Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. “Farmers and ranchers rely upon the Russian River Watershed to provide irrigation for their crops and pastures. It is in the best interest of the entire community to ensure that the watershed is sustainable and thriving”.
The $65 registration fee ($75 after February 28) includes a light breakfast, lunch and snacks provided by Ceres Community Project, a nonprofit organization that engages teens in cooking delicious, organic and locally-sourced foods for people in health crises. Ceres Community Project is partnering with The Geographer’s Kitchen to showcase seasonal products from throughout the watershed.
A reception will immediately follow the Confluence. Beverages will include local wine and beer. Music will be provided by Sonoma County’s own, Cahoots. In addition to Hog Island Oysters, sponsors of the event include the Sonoma County Water Agency, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Resource Conservation District and Cal-American Water Company.
Russian River Confluence Details
Date: Friday, March 24, 7:45 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm: 7450 Steve Olson Ln, Forestville, CA 95436
Cost: $65 before March 1; $75 after March 1.
For more information, to register or to learn more about becoming a Confluence sponsor please visit www.russianriverconfluence.org
In addition to the main event, on Thursday, March 23, LandPaths will host “Stories About Our River: A LandPaths Tributary Event.” This evening of storytelling includes the musings from people who have spent years developing a sense of place in Sonoma County, and in particular the Russian River. Speakers are from the community and provide individual perspectives—offering a glimpse of the many personalities of the Russian River to help build the bridges needed to succeed at a collective vision of OneRiver. Go to http://landpaths.org/ for event details.
About the Russian River Confluence
Conveners include Counties of Sonoma and Mendocino, Economic Development Board, Regional Parks, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Water Agency, Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, LandPaths, Russian Riverkeeper, Dry Creek Rancheria, and The Story of Place Institute.
In addition to the Confluence, several “tributary” events have been held to focus on the Russian River watershed. Conveners and others also spent 10 days paddling the Russian River, from the East Fork near Ukiah to the estuary at Jenner.
“The Russian River watershed is a magical place – but you need to get outside to explore it,” said Gore. “Our non-profit partners and regional parks are making a special effort to develop events that are accessible to people of all ages and walks of life. I hope folks will take advantage of these special opportunities.”