~~~SUMMER 2020 E-UPDATES!~~~

Open Out LeafCuttersm
The Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce has launched an Open & Out artwork on display along Fourth Street to celebrate business openings in downtown Santa Rosa.  The Chamber has awarded a grant to Conservation Works to implement its Treasure Hunt Mini-Murals project.  The thrust of our project is to turn downtown Santa Rosa into an educational treasure hunt. These small art works – dispersed through the downtown area – are beautiful vignettes of native Sonoma County wildlife when viewed independently, and taken collectively are a self-guided treasure hunt for people who like to seek nature, beauty, and knowledge!

Treasure Hunt Micro-Murals themselves are small-ish paintings on selected surfaces including utility boxes, bike racks, light posts, planters, and pillars. These may also be placed in trees, on curbs or buildings, or even on free-standing supports in empty tree grates etc.

Part of this project involves public engagement with the artwork.  The Treasure Hunt Micro-Murals are designed for people to follow a self-guided treasure hunt throughout the downtown area, particularly along Fourth Street. Each small work would be a colorful vignette on its own, interesting and lovely. However, people will be able to engage with the art and be encouraged to explore downtown as they "hunt" for the next art in the series.  This project would particularly be a fun and educational activity for families with children.



Conservation Works has just been awarded a grant to conduct outreach on (1) increasing fire and/or flood resiliency, (2) improving pollinator habitat, and (3) lessening erosion near Colgan Creek, an urban and rural stream that is within the Russian River watershed. This project is youth oriented, and will be led by a youth Conservationist Intern to facilitate implementing innovative oureach techniques identified in Conservation Works' recently completed Outreach Plan.

Colgan Creek originates on the north side of Taylor Mountain in the uplands east of Santa Rosa.The creek flows southwesterly through Santa Rosa, past Colgan Creek Park, a 2.6 acre urban park. The creek continues adjacent and under the Santa Rosa Marketplace on the creek’s southerly side. The Colgan Creek Trail is a 1.2-mile paved accessible trail running along a portion of the creek between Bellevue Avenue and Todd Road in southwest Santa Rosa. The stream exits the urban landscape and passes through rural and semi-rural agricultural lands continuing southwesterly toward the Llano Road regional wastewater treatment plant, before joining the Laguna de Santa Rosa downstream of Llano Road. The Laguna de Santa Rosa empties into Mark West Creek and thence the Russian River.

Colgan Creek is being restored in segments by actions of both the City of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Water Agency. Multi-million dollar restoration elements by both the county and the city have prioritized Colgan Creek as an urban stream which has the potential to be returned to a thriving natural habitat.  Work since 2014 has improved the ecological function of portions of the stream and created a trail for public access. Additional work is currently underway to add to the length of stream restoration.


The Living Room is the only day center in Sonoma County that specifically serves homeless and at-risk women and their children by providing participants with a place to be during the day when overnight shelters are closed. The Living Room, located in Santa Rosa, provides a supportive place to heal while in transition. Conservation Works' project has completed the first phase toward creating a serene garden habitat area at the Living Room that will integrate our pollinator protection, water conservation, and vermicomposting programs. The project--funded by the Exchange Bank Foundation, the Santa Rosa Surise Rotary, and Rotary District 5130 Foundation--entails working with the Living Room’s homeless and at-risk women and their children in developing a healing and learning garden, which can be utilized for ongoing education and outreach. The first phase of the project installed pollinator habitat and rainwater collection and storage, along with addition of edible plant scapes such as fruit trees. 

Conservation Works uses these sessions to illustrate to the Living Roomclients of women and their children how everyone can make a difference,  and helps empower Living Room clients to be a part of change-making. In the last calendar year, The Living Room provided services to 1,200 participants including over 900 homeless and at-risk women and over 300 children. Although Covid-19 has affected both the Living Room operations and our project, exciting work is happening!

On August 15th, Conservation Works held its final community involvement day in the project until the second phase begins.  We had great, socially-distant turnout from Rotary club members, and made considerable progress in completing the first phase of this great project.

The second phase of our Living Room project, not yet funded, will incorporate more edible gardening pieces, as well as soften hardscapes and introduce child-centric whimsical elements such as toad stool seats, etc.  You can join us in funding this project by clicking here. Select "Living Room" in the optional drop-down choice area so your gift can be restricted to this project.


Our signature youth environmental education and ACTION project is "Bee Patches."  This year we are expanding "Bee Patches" into both Mendocino and Lake Counties, while continuing to nurture our Sonoma County sites.  Thanks to grants from several private foundations, "Bee Patches" will be working with youth and other community members planting and/or restoring pollinator habitat in burned areas on and near tribal rancherias in Lake County.  In addition, "Bee Patches" are spreading into coastal Mendocino County, a fitting location as the City of Fort Bragg became a Bee City last year. 

"Bee Patches" works with youth to design and plant habitat for pollinators utilizing native plants suitable to the particular niche ecosystem being planted.  Each planting site, when completed, will include the four elements of healthy pollinator habitat: (1) multi-season blooms for forage, (2) nesting area, (3) water, and (4) safety from exposure to pesticides.  Actual planting activities will occur in the fall just prior to the rainy season.  Follow-up observations on the patches happens subsequently as we count pollinators and upload their identification to a community science project.