History of Resource Conservation Districts
Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are legal subdivisions of the State, formed under Division 9 of the Public Resource Code to provide local leadership in the conservation of our soil, water and related natural resources. RCDs were originally developed in the 1930's as the local non-regulatory mechanism for delivery of conservation practices to farmers dealing with the Dust Bowl, although they have grown considerably in size and scope since then. Conservation Districts exist in all fifty states. There are 103 Conservation Districts in California.
The Sotoyome-Santa Rosa Resource Conservation District was formed by a consolidation of the Santa Rosa RCD and the Sotoyome Soil Conservation District on March 3, 1975. The Santa Rosa Soil Conservation District was formed as the Central Sonoma Soil Conservation Service on February 25, 1946. The Sotoyome Soil Conservation District was formed on January 13, 1953. In January of 1997, the name of the District (Sotoyome-Santa Rosa) was shortened to the Sotoyome Resource Conservation District (SRCD).
The SRCD was originally established to aid ranchers and farmers in their soil erosion control efforts and to provide assistance in water conservation. The district has expanded our services to communities, school districts, economic development programs, river basin and watershed projects, and to environmental improvement programs. The SRCD provides leadership in assessing the conservation needs of the district, and in developing program and policies to meet those needs. SRCD funding comes from grants, fundraising, local property taxes, and/or Special District Augmentation Funds.
Location, district boundaries, and topography
The Sotoyome Resource Conservation District includes approximately 665,620 acres in the northern two-thirds of Sonoma County. It extends from the Pacific Ocean on the west to the Napa and Lake county lines on the east, and from Mendocino County on the north to the Russian River, Laguna de Santa Rosa, Cotati and the Sonoma Mountains to the south. The Gold Ridge RCD and the Southern Sonoma County RCD cover the remainder of Sonoma County.
The District's geology is predominately sedimentary rocks and sedimentary alluvium. Soils of high agricultural capability, frequently referred to as "prime" occur mostly in the level valley areas of Alexander Valley, Knights Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and the Santa Rosa Plains. Native vegetation ranges from timber to rolling grasslands with rich riparian forests and coastal shrub systems.
The topography ranges from sea-level valleys to rolling hills to the 4,000-ft peaks of the Coastal Range. In the western part of the county, proximity to the ocean moderates the climate. Further inland, this maritime influence declines; average temperatures are warmer and may reach greater extremes. Annual rainfall varies from 20-inches to 120-inches. Local U.C. Cooperative Extension specialists have identified three major climate belts, however the County has many microclimates that effect growing seasons and crops.
The climate and variable topography make much of Sonoma County ideal for growing a wide variety of crops, including orchard fruits, berries, a wide variety of vegetables, and premium wine grapes. Areas with climate conditions as conducive for premium wine grape productions as those in Sonoma County are relatively rare in the world. The climate and soil conditions supporting the quality of Sonoma County grapes also contribute to the quality and flavor of other crops grown here, as well as supporting a moderate timber industry and important commercial and sport fisheries. The climatic conditions allow farmers to grow crops 365 days of the year.