About FMWW

Watershed and CWPP Boundaries

Upper Mark West Watershed and Sub-Watershed boundaries can be seen on the map to the left. Most of our current FMWW work involves areas within the Van Buren and Humbug Creek sub-watersheds. This is driven by our current membership and participation. Similarly, our Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) -2.1MB covers those same areas. See exact CWPP boundaries here.

FMWW has always had an interest in expanding our work downstream, but we have been limited by the number of available volunteers. If you are a community member in the areas downstream of our current boundaries, we welcome your participation! In fact, PLEASE come join our efforts so we can expand downstream. See meeting and contact information on our home page.

A High-Priority Preservation Area

Mark West Creek runs through one of the few remaining pristine native areas left in northeast Sonoma County. This land is covered by oak, madrone, redwood and fir forests. The creek, nestled in the bottom of the canyon, is one of a few tributaries of the Russian River that still supports a healthy population of endangered steelhead trout and is spawning habitat for coho salmon.

Mark West Creek has been identified as a high-priority stream for preservation and restoration by several state, federal and local agencies.The significant aquatic resources reflected by the high water quality, significant in-stream and riparian habitat, and endangered species occurrence in the area make the upper Mark West Watershed extremely regionally significant for conservation and protection.

Friends to the Rescue

Friends of Mark West Watershed (FMWW) was formed in 2003 in response to a major development proposal on Saddle Mountain adjacent to Saint Helena Road. FMWW joined the Audubon Society to voice our concerns about the 30-year-old environmental impact report (EIR).

Working together with Sonoma County Open Space and the landowners, FMWW helped to ensure that the 1,200 acre Saddle Mountain property will remain a “forever wild” nature preserve. Visit the Sonoma County Agricultural Preserve and Open Space District website to learn more about this special place.

Today's Goals

FMWW attempts to preserve — from ridge top to ridge top — the beautiful natural environment we live in.

In addition to keeping a watchful eye on the Saddle Mountain preserve, we (and our watershed partners) organize ecology-based educational events and activities. Together with our friends at the Alpine Club, we do an annual road and creek clean-up, as well as the ongoing collection of historical information from our Valley. Our Upper Mark West Fire Safe Council also works to help our community prepare for wildfire.

Past FMWW Activities

FMWW has ongoing partnership projects in the watershed, including:

• With the Sotoyome Resource Conservation District (currently the Sonoma RCD) and the Department of Fish and Game, aiding in the community participation of a $600,000 private road sediment reduction project involving more than 70 different land owners. RCD and FMWW received Environmental Achievement Awards from Congressman Mike Thompson for the project.

• With the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, established and operate the Saddle Mountain “trail-watchers” volunteers program. Trail watchers regularly hike the mountain, report what they see and work closely with Open Space as interim stewards of this valuable resource.

• With the Rincon Valley Fire Department, hosted Urban/Wildlands Interface Fire Response training drills for more than 50 engine companies on private properties in the watershed.

• In partnership with Rincon Valley Fire Dept. and Alpine Club, FMWW developed an Emergency Preparedness Committee, using an automated phone “broadcasting” system to alert participants during emergencies such as wildfires, landslides, earthquakes, etc.

• Cohosted a UC Extension Forest Stewardship Workshop.

• For nearly a decade, we cleaned up the creek and roads — with help from the Alpine Club and Sonoma County Public Works. This event includes the on-going eradication of invasive species, such as scotch broom, reducing fire hazard, aiding in the re-establishment of native species, and improving the riparian corridors. Currently, FMWW, our UMWFSC, and the Alpine Club have each adopted 2-mile stretches of road which we clean up twice a year.

Participate in Your Watershed

Join the online conversation

Receive emails regarding watershed preservation and FMWW topics by sending us an email.

Come to a FMWW meeting

We meet 4-8 times per year, typically on Thursday evenings at 6:30PM. Visit markwestwatershed.org for the upcoming agenda, or email us or call Harriet at 707-538-5307.