“We give people the dignity of responsibility,” said a LandPaths staff person about the work they do at Bayer Farm in Santa Rosa. That responsibility is to take care of the farms, parks and trails in Sonoma County. LandPaths takes a different – and deeply rooted – approach to volunteers. Through their People Powered Parks efforts, hundreds of residents from all walks of life in Sonoma County are rolling up their sleeves to take care of the land. Bayer Farm provided an entry point for low-income families to get outside, build community, and connect with LandPaths’ staff and programs. LandPaths’ properties outside of the urban core have limited public access, unless you have a permit-for-use. The way to get that permit is to attend an orientation, which are held on a regular basis in English and Spanish and they regularly fill up in advance. LandPaths hosts Trail Days and Stewardship Days to both do work that needs to be done, and build community at the same time. The work days are well attended and multiple languages are spoken.

The crown jewel of the People Powered Parks program is Willow Creek State Park. Willow Creek is a spectacular 3,373-acre “community-powered” park near Duncans Mills covers much of the Willow Creek and Freezeout Creek watersheds. It was purchased by Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District in 2005 and turned over to State Parks contingent on LandPaths ability to manage public access.

Its rolling grasslands, forested ravines, and fish-bearing streams are home to an abundance of plants and wildlife. Hikers, bikers and equestrians will enjoy the 15 mile network of old logging and ranch roads, accessible through a free permit-for-use program. These roads & trails connect with adjacent State Park lands, allowing users to hike or ride the 7+ miles from Duncans Mills to Shell Beach – all on State Park land.

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