If you want to wander among native trees and grasses, watch birds or gaze at the river, Riverkeeper Stewardship Park welcomes you. The address is 16153 Main Street, Guerneville, although the park is not visible from the street. The property is along the Northwest bank of the Russian River, and stretches from under the old Guerneville footbridge all the way under the Highway 116 bridge and a bit further upstream. Access is down a driveway located between Sonoma Nesting Co. and the town plaza. Parking is available near the entrance to the park. The park is open every day during daylight hours, and is free.
Windsor Oaks Academy students helping to restore Riverkeeper Stewardship Park, October 2016
Typically, we are planting, mulching, weeding and watering. On-going maintenance involves nurturing native plants, erosion control, keeping paths clear and level, picking up litter and holding undesirable plants at bay.
When: Every Wednesday morning (rain cancels)
Time: 9:00 a.m. – Noon, please join us for all or part.
Bring: Water and gloves. Wear sturdy shoes.
Where: 16153 Main St. Guerneville, located on the north bank of the Russian River directly upstream of the pedestrian bridge. Access is down a driveway west of Sonoma Nesting Co. At the bottom of the driveway look for the blue and white sign that says, Russian Riverkeeper Demonstration Riparian Restoration Project Future Community Park. Parking is available near the sign.
Managers and crew are there on Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-Noon, sometimes longer through the day.
Who: For more information or to RSVP, please contact Russian Riverkeeper’s Education Director and acting park manager, Birkin Newell.
Phone: Russian Riverkeeper Office: (707) 433-1958
History of the Park
Nowhere is the mission of the Russian Riverkeeper exemplified more than at Riverkeeper Stewardship Park in downtown Guerneville. The five-acre property, which includes over 800 feet of shoreline along the Russian River, used to be called “liquor store beach” and was rife with illegal dumping and overrun by invasive non-native plants. It was also a target for vandals and a hang-out for derelicts. Since 2007 Russian Riverkeeper’s two park staffers and our many community partners have been clearing out the trash, removing invasive non-native plants and restoring the local native plant community. In the last six years volunteers working with staff have removed over 16,500 pounds of garbage, over 20 tons of invasive non-native plants and installed roughly 2100 new native plants and transformed the property into one the community is proud of.
The goal of the Park is to serve as a shining example of how we can all be stewards for the health of the Russian River that is so critical to our community and provides us with our water for homes and agriculture, a place to relax and get away and for our youth to connect with nature. A healthy river boosts economic activity and property values and a degraded river costs a community so being good stewards is not only good for our fish and wildlife but also for our pocketbooks. Realizing the great value of a healthy Russian River volunteers from schools, businesses and the community have pitched in and cleaned up the land, hauled out trash, built paths and planting beds, installed a water source and created biological zones compatible with the riparian habitat that once existed along the Russian River.
Riverkeeper Stewardship Park will help educate local residents, students, businesses and visitors on how to take care of our river and restore and maintain its health. Rather than reading about how to restore a river the Park will serve as a living outdoor classroom with 10 interpretive stations on various education topics. People can learn not only why native plants are critical to maintaining our local fish and wildlife populations but also how they identify non-natives and remove them and what native plants are best to replant with to support local wildlife. In addition visitors will learn about fish ecology, the role of flooding, water conservation, water quality and how they can play a part in ensuring a healthy River.
This is how the Park looked the first day we started cleaning up – Yuck!
The same area a year later with new native plants – Nice!
Just 14 miles east of the Russian River mouth at Jenner, the land was donated by the Horne Family of Guerneville to the Russian Riverkeeper organization in 2005. The Park is nestled between Highway 116 and the pedestrian bridge just off the town square at the eastern entrance to Guerneville. (Link to map)
The transformation taking place fits in with the Russian Riverkeeper’s mission to protect and restore areas within the Russian River watershed while providing education to the general public. If a park visitor happens by on Wednesday mornings he or she will encounter Park Manager Victoria Wikle and Noxious Weed Specialist Julie Cross along with a dedicated group of volunteers. Typically, they are planting, mulching, weeding and watering. On-going maintenance involves nurturing native plants, erosion control, keeping paths clear and level, picking up litter and holding undesirable plants at bay. About 60 percent of the land has been restored.
Several times a year volunteer crews from Santa Rosa-based companies Marmot Mountain Ltd., Agilent Technologies, Medtronic Corporation, REI and students such as those from the Santa Rosa JC, Sonoma State University and Sonoma Academy come out to Riverkeeper Park where they give a boost to the restoration in progress. The park also serves as a de facto nature lab for elementary school students and a work site for young adults in Sonoma Youth Ecology crews.
Each volunteer learns something new about how to care for the river!
Volunteers of all ages learn about planting new native plants near the bioswale!
Future plans include enhancing the six distinct ecological zones within the park:
* Redwood forest, near the existing trees with appropriate understory plantings.
* Upper Riparian plain habitat, a zone of shrubs and meadow grasses.
* Native meadow, another type of plain marked with lower-growing plants interspersed with trees.
* Bioswale, planted to prevent erosion and clean runoff draining from parking lot.
* Shoreline habitat, the steep banks along the river, marked by soil-holding plants.
* Lower shoreline habitat, the beach and bank zone subject to periodic inundation.
With the infusion of a $281,000 Rivers and Parkways state grant, Riverkeeper Park has added permanent trails with handicapped access, a young stewards’ interactive watershed model, a wildlife node for young kids, picnic tables, a community circle, a river overlook, a naturally tiered outdoor classroom, a willow overlook area and several rain gardens and bioswales. Later this year the Park will have regular education programs to train students and residents to use the same process we did to restore other parts of the watershed.
Learn non-toxic methods of weed control like Sheet-Mulching
or how to build a bioswale to clean up polluted road runoff.
We hope to see you at Stewardship Park soon!