Friends of the
Mark West Watershed

*** Next FMWW General Meeting Scheduled for May 27th, 2021, 6:30 PM

Sonoma County has proposed updates to the Cannabis Ordinance and a General Plan Amendment that FMWW believes will have significant new impacts on water quality and water quantity in the Mark West Watershed. FMWW submitted the following statement at the Planning Commission Hearing on March 18, 2021. The hearing was continued to March 25, 2021, and continued again to April 15, 2021.

Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger, a law firm specializing in environmental law, submitted the following on behalf of FMWW:

Priorities for Sonoma County's Wildfire Settlement Vegetation Management Funds

This report, done by the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (UC Berkeley) at the request of the County, specifically mentions the Mark West Watershed and the Tubbs/Glass Fire corridor as high-risk areas (included in their priority recommendations for funding).

Results are in! Our Mark West Water Availability Study

Prepared by O'Connor Environmental, Inc, in partnership with Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Coast Range Watershed Institute, and FMWW.

Read the study highlights here.

Or, download the full report (12MB PDF) here.

From the highlights:

This study was conducted to help us better understand streamflow dynamics in the Mark West Watershed, and to identify how we can improve streamflow for the benefit of fish, people, and overall ecosystem function. The study is focused on the upper 40 square miles of the watershed in the hills above the Santa Rosa Plain. We chose this area because of its importance for endangered coho salmon; it has been identified as a core area for protection and restoration by multiple national fisheries agencies.

We learned about the watershed and its streamflow conditions by developing a complex hydrologic model. The model was developed by incorporating existing data on topography, geology, vegetative cover, and climate, and then calibrated using real-time data collected from stream gauges and groundwater wells in the watershed.

This model covered a 10-year study period (2009-2019) and provides us information on the availability of streamflow throughout the watershed and the year, how that might be impacted by climate change, and how streamflow conditions intersect with habitat conditions for fish.

The model also allows us to test out different conservation project scenarios, helping us to understand what types of projects will provide the greatest benefits for streamflow and fish.

Fire Recovery Guide from
CA Native Plant Society

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) offers a Fire Recovery Guide for private landowners affected by the October fires.

In the wake of previous fires, CNPS realized that no one guide brought together the best science in a practical way for landowners desperate for information to help their land recover.

In response, CNPS developed this beautiful, informative guide in collaboration with a number of partners, including many members of the Collaborative.

The resulting book includes topics such as Frequently Asked Questions, Dos and Don’ts, Care and Recovery, Erosion Control, Fire Preparedness, Seeding, Helpful decision trees, and more.

The Guide is available online at and a limited number of free paper copies are available by request through the CNPS website.

Please share with others in your network who will benefit from this resource.

Preparing for the next wildfire

The Glass Fire was a nightmare for all of us.

We want to do whatever we can to better prepare our homes, land and roads before the next firestorm occurs.

The Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) will help us to achieve these goals.

Our final CWPP (linked here, minus final signatures):

• Compiles an assessment and prioritization for fuel reduction projects in the watershed.

• Educates landowners about best materials and practices to harden structures and improve defensible space.

• Develops our relationships with neighbors, Rincon Valley Fire Station, CalFIRE officials, and others.

• Makes us eligible to apply for grants from state and federal programs to get the fuel reduction work done.

Expert presentations from Living with Fire

These expert presentations, and a selection of live videos produced by KRCB Northern California Public Media, are now available online. A proceedings document with presentation highlights and photos from the symposium and field trips are also now available. Here are some examples:

- Intro to fire ecology by Dr. Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley's Stephens Lab for fire science

- Creating defensible space by Ben Nicholls, CAL FIRE's pre-fire division chief for Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties

- Home design and retrofitting techniques for wildfire defense by Yana Valachovic, of UC Cooperative Extension

- Meteorology and weather associated with extreme wildfire, by Dr. Craig Clements of San Jose State University

Access these presentations and more at

Additional information specific to Living with Fire in the Mark West Watershed.

Legal & Scientific Support for Major Revisions to Cannabis Ordinance

The law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger provided legal and scientific support for major changes to the existing Sonoma County Cannabis Ordinance.

Download the letter (22MB) with appendices.

FMWW Proposes an Cannabis Exclusionary Zone for Mark West Watershed

Please see FMWW’s attached letter regarding the amendments to the cannabis ordinance, which is on the agenda for the August 7th Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Supervisors will be considering amendments that would allow for exclusion zoning districts to be created where cannabis cultivation would not be allowed.

The criteria for such districts include such factors as inadequate road access, potential detriment to residential character, significant fire hazard areas, and/or areas with sensitive biotic resources or significant environmental sensitivity.

FMWW is advocating for the Supervisors to add language to the ordinance that would allow for the creation of exclusion districts, and then immediately move to create an exclusion district for the Mark West Watershed.

Phone Alert System from the
Emergency Preparedness Committee

A joint program of the Alpine Club and the FMWW, the Phone Alert System calls your phone(s) when there is a local emergency that could impact you or your property. For more information, go to our Emergency Preparedness page.

Map of the Upper Mark West Watershed

Here’s a link to an excellent map of the Upper Mark West from the Sonoma Resource Conservation District (RCD), November 20, 2014. (It's a 6.2MB PDF file, suitable for printing at up to 36" x 24".)

As you can see, the map is an aerial photo with:

  • Streets

  • Streams

  • Landowner Parcels

  • UMW (Upper Mark West) Watershed Boundary

  • Protected Lands, including Open Space properties, Preserves, State and Regional Parks, and Conservation Easements

Source: Sonoma County Ag Preservation & Open Space District. 2014 Aerial Imagery provided by National Ag Imagery Program.

Find you parcel. See how close you are to Protected Lands!

A Concise Introduction to Friends of the Mark West Watershed

Download our FMWW Brochure.

Maacama and Upper Mark West Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan

Authored by our partners at Sonoma Resource Conservation District (March 2015)

Download here (6.2 MB)

See upcoming events, enjoy photos of the watershed, and join in the conversation.