Past Successes

Click here to review our 2015-16 Annual Report

Community comes together to build Gary Maresh Memorial Shade Structure at Ragle 

Ragle Dog Park ramada with Kristine, Larry and Jason

Regional Parks staff Larry, Kristine and Jason led the construction of this beautiful new shade structure at the Ragle Ranch dog park. It was made possible by donations in memory of Gary Maresh, a devoted member of the Sebastopol community and frequent visitor to the dog park.

When Gary Maresh passed away in 2015, his family had an idea for a very specific, personal memorial in his honor. Gary was an early supporter of the Ragle Ranch dog park and one its most frequent visitors with his beloved dogs, Rudy and Maize. Sonoma County Regional Parks, the Parks Foundation, and the generosity of dozens of donors, including the Sebastopol Fire Department, combined to bring the Gary Maresh shade structure from vision to reality. It is a fantastic gift to the community — a much needed improvement which is aesthetically pleasing and provides important sun protection for dog park visitors.

Beautiful Kenwood Plaza Gazebo Honors Bobby Musser-Kirby

Contractors build the roof of the Kenwood Plaza gazebo, spring 2014gazebo

The Parks Foundation is pleased to have helped sponsor a beautiful new gazebo at Kenwood Plaza Park. The gazebo, dedicated in fall 2014, was built in memory of Bobby Musser-Kirby, who died in a tragic car accident at the age of five.

The groundswell of support for this project from the Kenwood community was overwhelming. Special thanks goes to Don MacNair, the landscape architect who designed the gazebo and spent countless hours of his own time managing the project.

Local contractors, businesses and volunteers were exceptionally generous in donating materials, services and time. The Parks Foundation thanks the following individuals who contributed to the latest phase of the project: Rick Smandra and Kenwood Fence Company, Gary Doty of Strokes n Kotes, local farmers Jim Geib and Keith Kunde, Mark Bunte of Sonoma Valley Landscape, Patrick Williams of Aaction Rents, Paul Kruzic (Kruzic Woodworking), Mike Ward of Marble World, Jim Strand of In sTone, and Susie and Ed Grossi from Sweet Lane Wholesale Nursery.

The following thoughtful individuals have volunteered their time: Eleanor Trent, Ian MacNair and Jim Fletcher. The Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood sent volunteers Tim Holmes, John Meserve, Dave Chappel and Barney Watkins to dig trenches, and Jeff Tyler of Palooza Gastropub donated lunch for one of the workdays.

Finally, Alec and Ann Peters, publishers of the Kenwood Press, have followed this project from the beginning and helped to keep the community informed and involved. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making the new Kenwood gazebo a reality!

New Wind Wall Shelters Gualala Visitors

Windwall and Gillett Bechtel

Mr. Gillett Bechtel, father of Regional Parks Ranger Sue Bechtel, at the Gualala Regional Park Visitor Center. Behind Gillett is the newly constructed glass wind wall for which memorial plaques are available.

Construction on a new glass “wind wall” at the Gualala Point Park Visitor Center patio was completed in the spring of 2014. The wind wall creates an outdoor space that can accommodate up to 50 people while shielding visitors from uncomfortable gusts.

With the wind wall in place, the Visitor Center patio will become a lovely venue to host a casual picnic, family get together, birthday celebration, or even a small wedding or reception. This photo shows Gillett Bechtel, father of Regional Parks Ranger Sue Bechtel, visiting the recently completed wind wall. Mr. Bechtel and his family have donated a plaque to honor his wife, Betty Jean Bechtel, a long-time park volunteer who passed away in 2013.

Additional plaques will continue to be accepted at the wind wall. Donors who contribute $500 or more can have a plaque installed on the structure. Please contact the Parks Foundation if you are interested in a plaque.

Foundation Supports Science Scholarships for Low-Income Students 

A program of Sonoma County Regional Parks, the Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake Regional Park is an earth science center with hands-on exhibits connecting children and their families to Sonoma County’s natural world. The Discovery Center hosts the largest extracurricular science program in Sonoma County, serving more than 16,000 students and families each year through field trips, classroom visits and public hours. Outings are grade-specific and meet California State Standards in subjects such as science and language arts. The programs are immensely popular with teachers throughout Sonoma County and the North Bay.

Success stories for Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation

Approximately one-third of the students who participate in EDC programs receive a scholarship to attend the field trip. During the 2012-13 school year, more than 7,000 students from 100 Sonoma County schools benefited from participation in an Environmental Discovery Center field trip or class visit thanks to these subsidies. For a full list of schools that have benefited from the scholarship program, please see the attached list.

EDC Scholarships 2013-14 list of schools

Since 2002, the Parks Foundation has contributed more than a quarter-million dollars to the EDC.

Gift to Foundation Preserves Historic Watson School

Watson School

After nearly two decades of silence in the classroom, a quaint one-room school house received a much needed renovation thanks to a generous $200,000 bequest to the Parks Foundation. Watson School was closed to the public for nearly two decades because of a failing foundation, and the building had to be braced to keep it from toppling over in strong winds. A bequest by Daniel Furlong, one of the school’s last students, gifted the structure with a new foundation, seismic improvements, decks, trim, paint, finishes, doorways and parking spaces. The restoration rendered the building safe for public access, and protected this invaluable cultural and historical resource for future generations to use and enjoy. The Parks Foundation continues to raise funds for the school, as its remaining need is a new roof.