(Rohnert Park) — The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have agreed to make a $2.85 million gift to Sonoma State University to improve and expand environmental education of the 450-acre Fairfield Osborn Preserve located on the northwest slope of Sonoma Mountain.
The upgrades include creation of an outdoor talking circle at the preserve’s education and research center and a remodeling of the center to allow greater use by students, faculty, staff, local K-12 students and community members. Work on the facility, which will be renamed the “Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Learning Center at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve," is targeted for completion in December 2020.
“These improvements will enable the growth of programs that enhance connections to nature and encourage the discovery of new solutions for challenges facing the planet,” said SSU President Judy K. Sakaki. “This is a tremendous gift to the university, and we applaud Dr. Greg Sarris, Tribal Chair, and the Tribal Council for their generosity and stewardship of the land.”
Named after conservationist and author Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr. and donated by his daughter and son-in-law, Joan and Bill Roth, the preserve has been used by Sonoma State for research and environmental education for nearly four decades. More than 20,000 students, community members and K-12 students have visited the preserve as part of educational programs or guided tours over the past 10 years. Historians say the area was once used as a seasonal hunting and gathering ground by Pomo, Miwok and Wappo tribes.
“We’re very proud of this opportunity to support the preserve’s many environmentally focused educational programs for years to come,” said Graton Rancheria Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris. “One of our main goals is to maximize outdoor learning spaces and strengthen the sense of the surrounding environment, which includes the tribal history and connection with the land.”
Fairfield Osborn is one of three preserves managed by SSU in the North Bay. The other two are Los Guillicos Preserve in Kenwood and Galbreath Wildlands Preserve in Mendocino County. Programs at the preserves are overseen by the Center for Environmental Inquiry based at Sonoma State.
The renovation of Fairfield Osborn Preserve facility is a reflection of the university’s commitment to sustainability and to helping protect the natural resources of the area. On April 5, President Sakaki signed a landmark declaration committing Sonoma State University to carbon neutrality, sustainability and working with community partners to build a resilient North Bay.
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