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Tolay Lake Regional Park Environmental Impact (TPD0808033)





Report Prepared by

Sonoma County Regional Parks 2300 County Center Drive, #120A Santa Rosa, CA 95403

(707) 565-2041

Mary E. Burns, Director

Todd Holmes, Park Planning Manager Michelle Julene, Environmental Specialist Steve Ehret, Park Planner 11




The Sonoma County Regional Parks Department (Regional Parks) is pleased to present the Tolay Lake Regional Park Day-Use Permit Program for Interim Public Access & Management Plan (Interim Plan). Regional Parks has been working on the Interim Plan since 2006.1 The Day-Use Permit Program is the culmination of numerous public meetings, research, and the participation of a Working Group established specifically to work toward providing equitable access to Tolay Lake Regional Park during the Interim Plan implementation phase. This document describes the Day-Use Permit Program; the improvements that must be made before the park can be opened; on-going monitoring, operations, and maintenance activities; potential environmental impacts associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the park during the Interim Plan implementation phase; and background information.  The intention is  to provide information in a clear format for use by decision-makers, responsible and trustee agencies under CEQA, and the public.

Sonoma County is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lead agency for the proposed project. This document has been prepared by Regional Parks staff with resource studies completed by consultants. Regional Parks had four consultant studies completed for the Interim Plan, which are included in this document as appendices.

This Initial Study has been prepared in compliance with CEQA, the State CEQA Guidelines, and Sonoma County Code Chapter 23A – Environmental Quality Act of 1970 Implementation. Section 23A-12 requires that an Initial Study be prepared for public projects that are not exempt from CEQA and that the Initial Study is referred to the Environmental Review Committee (ERC). Section 23A-13 authorizes the ERC to, among other things; determine whether a Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be prepared for the project.  Regional Parks presented the document to the ERC on December  18, 2007 and ERC recommended that a Mitigated Negative Declaration be prepared for the Interim Plan. Details about the ERC meeting are included in the Public Process section of this document.


The Interim Plan is the second phase of a multi-phased public access plan for Tolay Lake Regional Park. The first phase, Guided Tours, has been in place since November 2005. The anticipated timeframe for the Interim Plan is from Summer 2009 until the Master Plan is adopted and Phase I of the Master Plan is implemented, approximately 3 to 5 years. During the Interim Plan phase, Tolay Lake Regional Park will be open as described in the Projected Park Visitors section of this document.


The purposes of the Interim Plan are to provide an interim level of limited public use beyond the guided tours and to manage the property while preserving the existing property resources until the Master Plan for permanent use is adopted and implemented.


To provide equitable access to Tolay Lake Regional Park during the Interim Plan phase including, hikers, bikers, equestrians, and picnickers in such a way that park users will gain an understanding of the unique nature of the property and will become land-stewards as a result.


The Day-Use Permit Program was based on that used for the Willow Creek Acquisition, part of the Sonoma Coast State Beach. The Day-Use Permit Program will require a one-time orientation after which, day-use permits will be issued and can be used when Tolay Lake Regional Park is open for general public use during the Interim Plan implementation phase.


v  The purpose of the Orientation is to provide an integral education component in order to implement the Day-Use Permit Program.

v  Regional Parks will schedule Orientation opportunities for general use and will post this information on the Regional Parks webpage.

v  Each orientation will be limited to 40 people of which, there can be up to 18 equestrian trailers. Special Orientations will be scheduled for group picnic area reservations to occur just prior to the event.

v  Orientations will be conducted by Regional Parks staff or trained volunteers.

v  After completing the Orientation, park users can use the Interim Plan trails for hiking, bicycling, or horseback riding. The optional guided hike associated with the Orientation will be hiking only.

v  Regional Parks will distribute permits at the end of the Orientation.

v  Permits must be renewed annually, possibly subject to completion of an Annual Use Survey.


1.     Welcome & Introduction
2.     Project BackgroundAcquisition process & partners

  • Conservation Easement requirements affecting development & use
  • Reasons for implementing an Interim PlanDifference between the Interim Plan and the future Master Plan

3.     The Interim Plan

  • Access via Cannon Lane, safety issues & neighbor relations
  • Entry gate
  • Parking areas
  • Interim Plan Trails
  • Off-limit areas, gates, & signage
  • Days & Hours of Operation
  • Weather & trail-condition closures
  • Expanded Guided Tour Program
  • Volunteer opportunitiesGroup picnic area reservation
  • Group hike & ride notification
  • On-going agricultural operations, including cattle grazing, vineyard management, & neighbors

4.     Program Administration
Based on bullets below under “Day-Use Permit Terms & Conditions”
5.     Resource ProtectionCultural Resources

  • Biological Resources
  • “Leave No Trace” principles
  • Trail Monitoring

6.     Reporting Procedure

  • Emergency contact: 911
  • Time-sensitive issues
  • Maintenance issues

7.     Optional Hike



v  Each permit can cover three non-permitted people for a total of four people per permit.

v  Permit holders will be allowed to park vehicles in designated parking areas only.

v  Permit holders will be allowed access along designated trails and public areas of the Park Center.

v  If a club or organization is planning an event, such as an equestrian ride, they will notify Regional Parks if twelve or more individuals will be attending. Regional Parks may exercise its option to meet with the group on the day of the event, before the event begins.

v  “One Strike and You’re Out” rule: Permit holders are expected to be aware of and adhere to all Regional Park Department Rules and special rules associated with the Tolay Lake Regional Park Interim Use Plan. Regional Parks may exercise its option to revoke permits in the event of rule breaking.


v  Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, possession of firearms (including paint-ball markers and toy guns); overnight camping, fires (does not include barbeques in designated picnic areas) , off road vehicle use, off trail use, unleashed pets. Please refer to the Code of Sonoma County, Park Rules and Regulations for a complete list of prohibited activities in Sonoma County Regional Parks (Code Section 20-1 through 20-40).


v  Permit holders will be responsible for any and all damage to the property resulting from their activities. Regional Parks will be sole judge of the extent of the damage and the extent of repairs required to remedy the damage. Damage does not include normal wear and tear on the trails.All repairs will be performed to the satisfaction of Regional Parks.


v  Permit holders are responsible to keep Regional Parks informed of current address, email, phone number(s) or other means of contact. This is necessary to keep permittees informed regarding updates associated with the property, including seasonal openings & closings, changes in access, etc.


The projections are considered by use time and are based on the annual visitor statistics for similar Regional Parks facilities. Projections for the Tolay Fall Festival are based on the 2006 and 2007 events hosted by Regional Parks, which had an estimated attendance of 12,000-15,000 people. Regional Parks will observe and record visitor attendance in all use types to assist preparation of the Master Plan. The projection of the number of park visitors expected during Interim Plan phase is listed in the table below.






Day-Use Permit Holders2

Friday – Sunday 8:00 am – Sunset

13,714 (annual: 78 days total)

Education Program

Monday & Tuesday

8:00 am – 3:30 pm

1,980 (annual: 33 days total)


Day-Use Permit Holders

Saturday & Sunday 8:00 am – Sunset

12,000 – 30,000

(month of October: 6 -24 days total)

Education Program

Monday, Thursday, & Friday 8:00 am – 3:30 pm


Day-Use Permit Holders

Saturday & Sunday 8:00 am – Sunset

3,490 (annual: 46 days total)

Education Program

Monday & Tuesday 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

1,380 (annual: 23 days total)


Day-Use Permit Holders Education Program Combined Total

Combined Total

November – September November – September October




12,000 – 30,000

32,564 – 50,564

1 These are the anticipated park hours. Please note that the park may be open limited hours during the winter season or closed as determined necessary.

2 Includes Expanded Guided Tour Program

* Individual trails may be closed to specific use at different times and all the trails may be closed during the wettest times of the year.

** Wednesday is a designated maintenance day. Various maintenance activities will also occur throughout the week.


The Interim Plan consists of the following four elements, which form the basis of the Project Description. The Interim Plan includes improvements that are necessary for the safe use of the park for the level of park visitors anticipated during the Interim Plan implementation phase.

v  Limited Public Access

v  Operations & Maintenance

v  Resource Enhancement

v  Programs & Special Events

For the purpose of this document the project site is split into four geographic areas. Please refer to  Figure 3, which delineates the areas.

v  Park Access

v  Park Center

v  Tolay Lake

v  Remaining Ranch


Assuming the Board of Supervisors adopts the Interim Plan and associated CEQA document and approves the Interim Plan project, the required safety improvements to Cannon Lane will be completed by the Sonoma County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DTPW). Thereafter, Regional Parks will begin scheduling Orientations for the Day-Use Permit Program and Tolay Lake Regional Park will be open for use under the Interim Plan.

Improvements for the Interim Plan will be completed throughout the anticipated Interim Plan phase timeframe based on available funding. Interim visitor-serving facilities, such as parking areas, restrooms, and some trail improvements will be prioritized. Maintenance and resource enhancement activities will be on-going. It is expected that the programs and special events described in this Initial Study will evolve and be modified through the Interim Plan implementation phase.

INTERIM VISITOR-SERVING FACILITIES: The following components are necessary to open the park for interim public access.

v  Cannon Lane Interim Safety Improvements

v  Directional and informational signage

v  Interim Parking Areas

v  Portable Restrooms

v  Interim Road / Trail Restoration and Maintenance

INTERIM OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE: The following components are necessary during the Interim Plan implementation phase.

v  Ranger Residences

v  Park Office

v  Interim Road / Trail Restoration, including drainage improvements and erosion control to internal park roads and trails

v  Interim fencing and signage for resource protection


Public access includes access to Tolay Lake Regional Park and visitor-serving facilities that will be available during the Interim Plan. Public use will be centralized in the Park Center, which is detailed in Figure 5. Hitching posts for equestrian use will be installed at locations throughout the property. Equestrians will have access to the existing horse corrals and some of the existing water troughs. Interim Plan improvements have been designed to eliminate or minimize the need for excavation in keeping with the temporary nature of the Interim Plan and for the protection of resources.

LAKEVILLE ROAD & CANNON LANE: Access to Tolay Lake Regional Park will be from Cannon Lane via Lakeville Road. Cannon Lane is a County-maintained public road from Lakeville Road to the first cattleguard, approximately 534 feet west of the proposed park boundary.2 The portion of Cannon Lane between  the first cattleguard and the proposed park entrance is in private ownership; however the County, as the property owner of the Tolay Ranch Property, has easement access rights over the private section of the road. Cannon Lane is approximately 1.2 miles in length and varies in paved width from approximately 17 to 30 feet, though most of the road is between 20 to 24 feet wide. There is intermittent centerline striping, no edge-line striping, and few traffic signs. A wooden fence has been installed on both sides of Cannon Lane by a private property owner.  Interim  Plan improvements to Cannon Lane include the following:

Minor Road Widening. Minor road widening will occur in places within the County’s right-of-way, as determined necessary by DTPW to improve safety. This will occur along two separate stretches, each  are approximately 400 linear feet. A maximum of eight of road width, including the pavement and gravel shoulders, will be added to the existing road width to provide a total road width of 22 feet in these sections. The total road width will include two 9-foot wide travel ways plus two-foot wide gravel shoulders along both sides of the road. No drainage work will be required. No utility poles, other public utilities, trees, or vineyards will be affected by the minor road widening. The Cannon Lane improvement locations are shown on Figure 4.

Yellow Centerline Stripe. A double yellow centerline stripe,3 approximately 3,500 feet long, will be painted on Cannon Lane to replace existing nonstandard pavement markings.

Signage. Park identification and directional signage will be placed in appropriate locations  along Lakeville Road and Cannon Lane to advise the public regarding the location and access to the park. Signage will also display park status (“Open/Closed”) and park hours to prevent unnecessary traffic on Cannon Lane when the park is closed. Cautionary signage will be installed along Cannon Lane to  indicate the speed limit, “narrow road,” and “Share the Road” with bicyclists.

Special Events Traffic Control. During the Annual Tolay Fall Festival, additional temporary signage will be installed along Lakeville Road to notify the public regarding the Festival and the park entrance. Other traffic control measures will be implemented as needed and/or required by DTPW. These additional measures may include use of a temporary flashing beacon and/or law enforcement personnel, such as Park Rangers, to direct traffic at the Lakeville Road and Cannon Lane intersection.

PARK DRIVEWAY: The Park Driveway will begin at the end of Cannon Lane where the public road ends at approximately the first cattleguard, and will extend to the Entry Kiosk at the beginning of Area 2 – Park Center. This area is shown on Figure 5. The Park Entrance includes a fenced, 60-foot wide vehicular turnaround with a 24-foot wide double gate.  An emergency services lock system has been installed at  the park entry gate. The vehicular turnaround is surfaced in compacted base rock. The turnaround is located on park property, out of the adjacent property’s view from their driveway entrance. Existing signage includes the park entry sign, park sponsor sign, no parking signs, and signs on the gate.

The Park Driveway will reuse the existing ranch driveway. Interim Plan improvements to the Park Driveway include signage, dust control, and routine maintenance. Directional, safety, and other signage within the Park Driveway include: the first 300 feet after the Park Entrance Gate, the juncture of the Park Driveway and the West Ridge, and the 300 feet before the Park Center area. A standard chip seal or products such as Soiltac4 will be utilized for dust control.

ENTRY GATE: The existing manually-operated entry gate will be replaced with an automatic electric gate that will be powered by a single solar panel. The electric gate will essentially be the same dimensions as the existing manually-operated gate. The colors will blend in with the surroundings better than the  existing yellow-pipe gate and the design will include rails to keep the cattle inside. Day-Use Permit holders will be issued a code or card to open the gate. Sensors will automatically open the gate for departures. Standard emergency access provisions will be in place for fire and emergency response.

ENTRY KIOSK: The purpose of the Entry Kiosk is for Regional Parks staff to greet park visitors, provide information, and collect park fees. The Entry Kiosk in the Interim Plan implementation phase will be temporary in nature and can be removed for the Master Plan. The Entry Kiosk will  provide  the opportunity for many vehicles to cue without interfering with traffic on Cannon Lane because it will be located over a quarter mile inside the park boundary in the existing developed ranch compound. The Entry Kiosk will be approximately 120 square feet. It may be a portable or a constructed building.  It will  sit on pier blocks, will be painted green and white to match the existing ranch design scheme, and will have electrical service and possibly phone service from the existing overhead utility line. A fee station consisting of an iron ranger5 and external signage will be installed adjacent to the kiosk.

PARKING: It is anticipated that the parking facilities will include a primary vehicle parking area, an equestrian parking area to accommodate trailers, an overflow parking area for seasonal use and/or special events, park operations and maintenance vehicle parking, and parking areas for the ranger residences.

Primary Parking Area. The existing gravel parking area will  be reused as the Primary Staging Area. The parking area can hold approximately 60-75 vehicles, including five disabled accessible spaces, in approximately ¾ of an acre. Moveable planters, either galvanized steel or wooden, and/or bollards, may be used to define circulation and parking isles. The primary parking area will include three accessible vehicle stalls and two accessible van stalls that are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines. The ADA stalls may be chip  sealed or surfaced with permeable unit pavers and defined by a wooden header. On-going parking area maintenance activities will include occasional resurfacing with additional shale or base-rock and compaction, and trash receptacle, recycling receptacle, and restroom servicing.

Overflow Day-Use Parking Area. The Overflow Day-Use Parking Area is to be used when the Primary Staging Area and the Equestrian Parking Area are full. It is not anticipated that this will be needed for any but the peak times, such as on a summer weekend when a guided equestrian ride is in operation. The Overflow Day-Use Parking Area is located on either side of the Historic Lakeville-Sears Point Road south of the Tractor Barn. This area has been used by the previous property owner for vehicle and equipment storage as well as for overflow parking during events. Permeable shale or gravel may be added in this area without significantly modifying the existing topography.

Equestrian Parking Area. The equestrian parking area will be located east of the Shop, north of the Old Hay Barn and Horse Corrals, and south of the Slaughterhouse. The Equestrian Parking Area is approximately one to 1-1/2 acres, is partially graveled, is mostly enclosed with a wire fence, and comprises one of the three leachfields on the property. Additional wire fencing and wooden parking bumpers may be installed to better define the parking area. The areas without surfacing will receive shale to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (380 cubic yards). An existing water trough adjacent to the Old Hay Barn may be renovated or replaced. Three to eight galvanized steel hitching posts will be installed surrounding the perimeter of the Equestrian Parking Area. One to three manure bunkers, trash and recycling receptacles, signs, and an informational display board will be installed within the Equestrian Parking Area. The  existing horse corrals, located adjacent to the equestrian parking area, might be used during the Guided Equestrian Rides during the Interim Plan phase while preparing for and concluding the rides. These  horse corrals may also be used to house animals. Regional Parks maintenance staff will repair and maintain the horse corral fence and gates.

Special Event Wet-Weather Parking Areas. During the annual Tolay Fall Festival in October, rain can make Field A – Festival Parking Area, an approximately 12-acre hay field located to the southeast of the Park Center and north of the South Lake Knoll, unusable due to the soil conditions. In this case, Regional Parks proposes to implement the Cardoza’s strategy of using the following areas for temporary parking: along the West Ridge Road between the Park Driveway and the Upper Dairy Barn, the graded and compacted area around the Metal Hay Barn, and the area to the south of the Tractor Barn along either side of the Sears Point – Lakeville Road. Use of the West Ridge area for parking requires a shuttle system for Festival guests.

PARK CENTER: Park infrastructure will be clustered in the Park Center, which will include the parking areas, a trailhead, nonpermanent restrooms, re-use of many of the existing buildings for operation and maintenance purposes, and visitor-serving amenities including use of existing equestrian facilities, existing family and group picnic areas, new entry kiosk, and interpretive elements. Two of the existing residences in the Park Center will be utilized as Ranger Residences during the Interim Plan phase.

TRAILHEADS: Three trailheads are proposed in the Interim Plan, all of which are located within the Park Center. The purpose of the trailhead is to identify the beginning of the trail and to orient park visitors before beginning a hike. Each trailhead will include a Park Map, trash receptacles, and pet waste bag dispensers. Interpretive information will be provided where appropriate and as funding becomes  available.

Cardoza Lane Trailhead. This trailhead will be located just west of the Park Office, where Cardoza Lane leaves the Cardoza Family Picnic Area.

Tolay Lake Trailhead. This trailhead will be located at the Causeway Road before it bisects Tolay Lake.

Historic Lakeville Road Trailhead. This trailhead will be located where the Historic Sears Point – Lakeville Road leaves the Park Center, to the south of the Tractor Barn.

TRAILS: The Interim Plan will utilize approximately nine miles of existing ranch roads for the trail system. No new trails will be developed during the Interim Plan implementation phase. Trails will be designated with trail signs and markers and may include interpretive signage to compliment the brochures and provide a more full graphic representation of the features.  Trails will typically be 12-feet wide, which is  the width of the existing ranch roads. Year-round trail use will be provided where possible; however there will be seasonal closures of some of the trails due to the soft and erosive nature of the soils. Gravel may be placed along the trail as needed to provide a level surface and all season access. Trail and road restoration and maintenance is described in the Restoration section of the Project Description. Trail and road restoration and maintenance will improve conditions by repairing existing erosion.

The trail system will be designed to address the proposed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 16 Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas (ADA Guidelines) where feasible.6 The ADA Guidelines are intended to establish accessibility standards for developed areas, and include trail standards to provide the highest level of access to the natural environment to persons with disabilities, without causing damage to the natural and cultural resources of a site. The accessibility guidelines for developed areas will be incorporated into the staging area. At this time there are no formally adopted guidelines for public recreational trails in undeveloped areas. Regional Parks will work within the constraints of the Interim Plan to provide the greatest accessibility as possible. Regional Parks has utilized tractor-drawn hay rides to transport visitors to various destinations during the Tolay Fall Festival. This approach could be utilized during the Interim Plan implementation phase to accommodate disabled visitors.

Cardoza Ranch Interpretive Trail. This trail will be located within the Park Center on a relatively level surface, utilizing existing ranch circulation routes. The focus will be on the historic use of the property for ranching and agriculture. Old ranch and farming equipment that was part of the Cardoza Ranch will be displayed and some of the historic buildings will include screened vignettes for public viewing. Interpretive signage will be placed near the buildings to explain why the building is off-limits, focusing on protecting the historic resources, public education, and preserving public safety. Vignettes, interpretive signage, and protective barriers will be temporary and can be removed, if needed. The trail itself will be delineated by wooden posts, approximately 6-inch square and two feet high, numbered to correspond with an interpretive brochure that will be developed during the Interim Plan phase. The Cardoza Ranch Interpretive Trail will connect with  all three trailheads and trail connections. The following historic buildings will be highlighted.

Old Shop: The Old Shop is located between the Commons and the Shop. The Old Shop is a one and one half story frame building, possibly dating to the late 1800s. Old farm implements and ranch equipment from the Cardoza Ranch will be on display inside the building. In the south end of the Old Shop at the bay door, a screened enclosure is proposed to allow people to view the interior of the structure while preventing access inside the building to protect the old farm equipment and to ensure public safety. The roofed enclosure will also protect these historic items from additional decay and corrosion. An interpretive sign will be installed near the doors to describe the building, the displays, and their relative context within the former ranch operation.

Tractor Barn: The Tractor Barn will contain historic farm equipment near the main doors, visible from outside when the doors are open. A protective barrier will be installed, such as wire mesh screening or a nonpermanent fence. The south end of the Tractor Barn is proposed for storage by park staff.  Because  of the structure’s fragility, no public access will be permitted inside for safety reasons. An interpretive sign will be installed near the doors describing the structure. The south door, currently in disrepair, will be secured during the Interim Plan phase.

Stone Creamery (formerly called the Wine Cellar): The historic stone creamery will be fully fenced with a nonpermanent wire-strand fence, with the exception of the bay doors and upper doorway. These doorways will be opened for viewing from the outside. A protective barrier will be installed, such as wire mesh screening. As the Stone

Creamery was later used as a wine cellar, winery related items, such as the historic presses and barrels, will remain inside the facility for public display. An interpretive sign will be installed near the doors describing the facility. Gravel will be placed and compacted in public walking areas outside the structure to provide for an accessible and safe surface.

Cardoza Lane Trail (approximately 0.4 mile): The Cardoza Lane Trail begins at the Cardoza Lane Trailhead and connects to the West Ridge Trail.  This is a historic road lined with parallel rows of eucalyptus.

West Ridge Trail (approximately 1.0 mile): This trail follows the middle of the West Ridge and offers continuous superb vistas in all directions, especially towards the Petaluma by:J Blackburn River and Bay. The West Ridge Trail is generally an all weather trail with gentle grades.  The West Ridge Trail will connect with the Cardoza Lane Trail, South Creek Trail, and Burrowing Owl Trail.

South Creek Trail (approximately 0.4 mile): This is a spur trail off the West Ridge Trail.  It provides two unique areas of interest, including the best view of the Petaluma River on the property and a view of South Creek.  The vista point associated with the Petaluma River is located on a separate knoll that extends westward from the West Ridge.  From the knoll the trail drops to the isolated valley of South Creek.  A perennial spring and several seeps contribute to the riparian vegetation in the creek.  In 2004, the Bay Institute’s restoration program, Student-Teachers VIEW FROM S. CREEK TRAIL Restoring a Watershed program (STRAW), planted numerous trees and installed protective fencing. This restoration will be expanded in the Interim Plan to include the main channel of South Creek.  The slopes in the first portion are moderate and the  second portion is steep. This program is described in greater by: Gerald Moore detail in the Restoration section of the Project Description.  Burrowing Owl Trail (approximately 0.3 mile): This short trail connects the West Ridge with the Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail.

Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail (approximately 1.3 miles): The Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail can be accessed from the Historic Lakeville Road Trailhead or from the Burrowing Owl Trail, that connect with the West Ridge Trail.  This historic road was the middle segment that connected the docks on the Petaluma River with Sears Point, back when Sears Point was a nautical point extending into San Pablo Bay before the marsh was diked and drained.  What is now known as Cannon Lane is the northwest portion of this same historic road, while the south portion is on private property.  The grades are gentle and the route will be maintained as an all-weather trail to the greatest extent possible. The north portion provides views towards Tolay Valley and the south end of Tolay Lake while the south portion is adjacent to the riparian canopy of Tolay Creek. Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail passes through rock cairns that form a gate shortly before the Tolay Creek crossing, which then connects to the Tolay Creek Trail. This rock gate was reported to be a historical entrance to the ranch  and is located at the south end of the existing property.

South Knoll Vista (approximately 0.05 mile): The South Knoll Vista is accessed from the Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail. There is a small hunting shack that was rented out by the Cardoza family to hunting clubs. The structure will be removed because it is in an advanced degraded condition, all former utilities are nonfunctional, and it has become an attractive nuisance that does not have any historical or cultural significance. The hunting shack will be replaced with a viewing area, which will be delineated with split- rail fencing. Compacted gravel will be placed in the area of the hunting shack.

Tolay Creek Trail (approximately one mile): The Tolay Creek Trail can be accessed from the Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail at two locations. The westerly connection is at the Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail and the easterly connection is at the Farm Bridge crossing over Tolay Creek. Tolay Creek  Trail connects to the Pond Trail between the Farm Bridge and Cardoza Creek and ends at the Tolay Creek crossing where it joins the Sears Point – Lakeville Road Trail. The Cardoza Creek STRAW Restoration site is located at the easterly end of Tolay Creek Trail.  The Tolay Creek Trail grades are  very gentle; however the area beyond the Farm Bridge may be seasonally closed during the Interim Plan phase due to saturated soil conditions. Informal picnic areas may be placed near the historical rock gate. Cattle fencing will be included in this area to control grazing patterns. Existing restoration, revegetation, and habitat activities will continue.

Causeway Trail (approximately one mile): The Causeway Trail is accessed from the Tolay Lake Trailhead and connects to the Pond Trail and East Ridge Trail. The Causeway Road Trail offers three distinct experiences. The first is the willow-lined causeway that  crosses Tolay Lake. In the winter this section of trail offers excellent views of the hundreds of waterfowl and other birds across the lake.

The second section is slightly higher in elevation and was part of the historic Tolay Lake. It offers views of the grasslands that are included in the grazing program. The third section passes by the existing ten-acre vineyard and Eagle Creek on the route to the Pond Trail and East Ridge Trail connections. The trail grades are generally flat to gently sloping between the Ponds Trail connection and terminus at the East Ridge Trail. The Causeway Road Trail is critical to a regional evacuation route, the Stage Gulch Road Easement, the existing primary water supply, and generally the best access to the eastern half of the property. During extended periods of rain that lead to inundation, the Causeway Trail will be closed.

Wildlife Monitoring Platform: A Wildlife Monitoring Platform will be located along the shoulder to the Causeway Road to overlook Tolay Lake. The purpose of this feature is to allow wildlife monitoring during the winter when the lake is full and large areas of the property are inaccessible. The platform will be temporary and can be removed, if needed. It will sit on the surface of the ground.  It will include a  portable prefabricated aluminum access ramp and a platform. The platform itself will be approximately 8 to 12 feet wide by 15 to 30 feet long and approximately 30-inches high with 36-inch high handrails. The handrails will be modified to allow for placing spotting scopes for wildlife viewing. The access ramp will  be approximately 30 to 35 feet long and 36-inches wide and contain a 5-foot by 5-foot landing.

East Ridge Trail (approximately 1.3 miles): The East Ridge Trail is accessed from the Causeway Trail and provides access through the Oak Grove and ultimately to the grand Three-Bridge Vista. On a clear day the Bay Bridge, San Rafael-Richmond Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge can all be seen as well as countless other landmarks in all directions. The Oak Grove is the largest stand of oaks on the property and features some oaks believed to be at least 500 years old. Due to the sensitivity of known resources, public access has been carefully planned in this area. Slopes vary from moderate to steep. Interpretive panels will be installed at the Three-Bridge Vista and at the Oak Grove.

Upland Pond Trail (approximately 1.20 miles): The Upland Pond Trail can be accessed from the Causeway Trail and from the Tolay Creek Trail.  From the Causeway Trail, the Upland Pond Trail follows a historic road that is believed to date back at least a hundred years. Native grass stands, freshwater wetlands, and a historic masonry and timber bridge add interest to the changing vistas of Tolay Valley. This section will be accessible through most of the winter and generally has gentle slopes. From the  Tolay Lake Trail, the Upland Pond Trail is through a field. This route has gentle slopes and will not be accessible during portions of the winter due to saturated soil conditions.

Upland Pond Loop Trail (approximately 0.75 mile): The Upland Pond Loop Trail is accessed from the Upland Pond Trail and partially follows an historic road. The Upland Ponds area is intriguing because of the extensive springs, micro-topography, and annual spring wildflower show. The surprising contrast between the two ponds is due to the great fluctuation of the water level (known as “freeboard”) in the Upper Pond, which does not allow riparian vegetation to develop. The Lower Pond includes freshwater marsh habitat and contains sunfish and large-mouth bass. Fishing will be allowed at the Lower Pond with the appropriate fishing license. Interpretive signage to educate the public regarding the importance of this resource will be placed along this trail. Most of the trail has gentle to moderate grades, but there is one steep section between the two ponds

A temporary, portable restroom may be placed in the Upland Ponds Area during the dry season and  when visitor use warrants. The restroom would be serviceable from one or more all-weather ranch roads. A wooden and/or vegetative screen would be installed to visually integrate the structure with the landscape. The portable restroom will be setback from the Lower Pond by at least 100 feet.

PICNIC AREAS: Tolay Lake Regional Park will feature developed picnic areas, including a reservable group picnic area, and several non-reservable picnic tables

Developed Picnic Areas. Developed picnic areas include groups of picnic tables, barbeques, trash receptacles, and recycling receptacles. Picnic tables are generally 6 to 8 feet long and set on level  ground surface. Group picnic areas are a type of developed picnic area that includes groups of picnic tables, food preparation/serving tables, barbeques, trash receptacles, and recycling receptacles.

Tolay Group Picnic Area: The existing picnic area located between the Granary building and the Willow Pond, immediately to the south of the Park Office, will continue to be used as a Group Picnic Area in the Interim Plan implementation phase. This site has historically hosted many gatherings, weddings, and picnics using moveable outdoor furniture and this use will continue during the Interim Plan implementation phase. The Tolay Group Picnic Area can accommodate groups of 25 to 100 people and includes barbeques, serving tables, picnic tables, trash receptacles, and recycling receptacles. The Tolay Group Picnic Area can be reserved for groups of 25 people or more and only one group can reserve the picnic area per day. The picnic area will be available for general public use when it isn’t reserved. In the dry season, group picnic areas in Sonoma County Regional Parks system are typically reserved 90 percent of the time on weekends and 10 to 25 percent of the time on Fridays. In the wet season, group picnic areas in Sonoma County Regional Parks system are typically reserved 5 to 10 percent on weekends.

Picnic tables, serving tables, barbeques, trash receptacles, and recycling bins will be replaced as needed in the Tolay Group Picnic Area, generally under the existing metal awning on the gravel area. The picnic and serving tables will be anchored using earth anchors to minimize ground disturbance. The existing gravel surface will be maintained and periodically compacted to insure accessibility. The picnic area will include wheelchair accessible picnic tables. Fire clearances (vertical and horizontal) surrounding the barbeques will also be maintained to minimize potential fire danger.

Regional Parks will continue to maintain the existing lawn area, referred to as “The Commons” on Figure 5, which can be used for seating or other purposes as part of the group picnic area reservation. Some of the existing historical metal farm implements will be retained surrounding the lawn area and will be part of the Historic Ranch Interpretive Walk in the Park Center. Farm implements that are removed for safety or protective purposes by park staff will be displayed in the Tractor Barn or Old Shop and will also add to the Historic Ranch Interpretive Walk experience.

Parking improvements will include a loading zone and 4 to 6 disabled parking stalls, in the existing parking and turnaround area northwest of the Granary building. Minor surface grading (estimated at 2 to  5 cubic yards) may be necessary to smooth the surface, redefine cross slope for proper drainage, and reduce the overall slope. A 2-foot by 8-foot redwood header board will be installed to define the disabled accessible parking stalls and the stalls will be chip-sealed to meet accessibility requirements. Proper disabled access signage and markings will be included

A temporary, portable restroom may be placed near the Tolay Group Picnic Area. The restroom will include a façade to visually integrate the structure into the location.

The existing Line Shack, a small wooden structure located at the edge of the Group Picnic Area by the Granary and the Willow Pond, will be maintained in its current condition.

Cardoza Family Picnic Area: The Cardoza Family Picnic Area is located near the Tolay Lake Group Picnic Area, the Eucalyptus field, and the Cardoza Lane Trailhead. Picnic tables, trash receptacles, and recycling receptacles will be replaced as needed. Gravel will be placed and compacted for fire safety and accessibility. Historical ranch and farm equipment will be displayed in this area. Approximately 200 to  300 feet of existing wire fences will be relocated to define the picnic and grazing areas and to direct public access away from a drainage swale that runs through the Eucalyptus field.

Lakeside Picnic Area: This existing picnic area is located along the Causeway Trail, across from the Old Hay Barn and horse corrals, and approaching Tolay Lake. This area was used by the Cardoza family as  a sales tent for vending purposes during the annual Cardoza Pumpkin Festival. The existing 40-foot wide by 50-foot long canvas canopy, picnic tables, garbage and recycling receptacles will be reused. The canopy and picnic tables sit on an existing gravel floor. Picnic tables and garbage/recycling receptacles will be replaced as needed. The gravel floor will be maintained to provide disabled access. Unlike other informal picnic areas, the Sales Tent already has picnic tables and trash receptacles. this area will not be available for group reservation. The Lakeside Picnic Area will be utilized as part of the Education Program. During the Tolay Fall Festival, the Lakeside Picnic Area is where the hayrides will be staged.

Informal Picnic Areas. Informal Picnic Areas include one or more picnic tables and will be located in areas of the park that were utilized by the Cardoza’s for the same purpose.

Commons Lawn Area: The existing Commons Lawn Area is an oval- shaped turf area in the middle of the Park Center surrounded by unpaved roads, generally between the Primary Parking Area and the Park Office, Marvin’s Garden, and Vera’s House (Residence “B”). Picnic tables, trash and recycling receptacles and park information will continue to be located in The Commons Lawn Area. Irrigation will be accomplished with moveable sprinklers.

The Market is a small wooden structure in the center of the Commons Lawn Area. The Cardozas created this structure for selling gourds and other agricultural products during the annual Cardoza Pumpkin Festival. The structure is enclosed with plywood, sliding wooden doors and has a partially screened  porch and a central view of the Park Center Area. The structure will be accessible to the public as determined by park staff, including a greeting place for park volunteers. Proposed improvements include installing gravel for an accessible path to the back door and regular maintenance of the structure.

AMENITIES & APPURTENANCES. Visitor-serving amenities will be provided in the vicinity of the primary parking area. Facility-serving appurtenances will be provided throughout the property where needed.

Restrooms: Temporary, portable restrooms may be located in the Primary Staging Area, in the Equestrian Parking Area, in the Tolay Group Picnic Area, and in the Upland Pond Picnic Area. Two types of portable restrooms are being considered for use during the Interim Plan phase: restroom trailers and portable chemical toilets. Restroom trailers generally measure 8 to 14 feet wide, 10 to 14 feet tall, and  can be up to 24 feet long. The restroom trailers have between 2 to 6 stalls including ADA compliant units. The restroom will have hand-washing facilities. Depending upon the model, the restroom will be self- powered or will require an electrical connection and may include a freshwater holding tank. If  the selected model does not come equipped with a freshwater holding tank, a water connection will be provided from the existing spring fed water system. All restroom trailer models are self-contained units with ceiling air supply and wastewater holding tanks. A facade may be constructed to visually integrate the restroom into the historic ranch.

Fencing. The perimeter of the proposed park is fully fenced.  Fence replacement and maintenance will  be necessary to control cattle. The existing cattle fence generally consists of 4 or 5 strand barbed-wire, with sections of welded wire mesh. Wire mesh and barbed wire are both significant barriers to certain animals.

Cattle Fence. Cattle fences will be replaced, starting with the most critical sections first. Wildlife-friendly cattle fence consists of 5-strand wire strands with the top and bottom wires being smooth for wildlife, the middle three wires are barbed for cattle. The lowest wire is 12 to 16 inches from the ground. Metal post spacing is determined by soil conditions, length of run and other factors. Gates have been located at various places for the purpose of moving cattle from one property to another.

Public Safety Wire Fence. In several areas it is necessary to fence off hazards to the public. Near areas of high use, a wire exclusion fence may be necessary. These fences include no-climb wire mesh and range in height from 3 to 5 feet tall.

White Board Fence. The white board fence consists of many variations on three to five rails, between four and twelve inches wide, and generally 3 to 4-1/2 feet tall. The fence type is prevalent in the Park Center and Park Entrance Area.

Deer Exclusion Fence. Deer exclusion fences are approximately 8 feet tall and include wire mesh, smooth wire strands, and metal posts. Deer fences surround the existing vineyard and will be placed in other areas of the property, as needed, to protect resources.

Boundary Fence and Markers. The fences along the park’s nine-plus mile boundary are typically a cattle fence or a deer fence. In some cases existing roads are near the park boundary. While deer fences provide a significant barrier to potential trespassers, cattle fences are not as effective.  Regional Parks  will be installing signage, and in some cases on new posts between 3 to 8 feet tall. The spacing of the boundary markers and other signage will be determined by the visibility, line of sight, and proximity to recreational features. The park boundary will be carefully monitored and if trespass or other issues develop, Regional Parks will consider modifying the fence by increasing the height, adding additional signs, using no-climb mesh in certain areas and other measures. In addition, wildlife movement will be considered during fence design. Other methods of preventing trespass will be pursued including ranger and volunteer patrols and trail closures.

WCB Easement Fence. The Wildlife Conservation Board’s (WCB) conservation easement states that the easement shall be fenced. The easement is illustrated in Appendix C.  It includes the existing lakebed  and a portion of the area potentially subject to lake restoration. One of the purposes of the fence is to protect wetland resources from cattle impacts. Regional Parks is working with the California Department of Fish & Game to examine specific fence placement, grazing, easement boundary identification, and other management strategies for protecting resources within the easement and in other areas of the property. Regional Parks is currently utilizing existing fences to prevent grazing within the WCB Easement Area until new fencing is developed. This fence is required regardless of the Interim Plan.

Trail Markers. Trail markers will be located at trail junctions to identify the name and approved uses of the trail. They also may provide additional information. Trail markers will be constructed of 8-inch square wood timbers and include 6-inch square signs and symbols. The trail markers will generally be installed without concrete, depending upon soil type and potential for vandalism.

Internal Gates. A number of cattle gates will be removed, replaced, or relocated for maintenance and public access purposes.

Signage. Various types of signage will be installed during the Interim Plan phase. Signs range in size but generally are 24 to 36 inches tall by 36-inch wide in size and are mounted either on a painted steel frame or wood posts. The graphics and sign height will conform to American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The signs are installed on 4-inch by 4-inch square wood posts and are located at the access points to the park, or where needed to regulate public use of the site. These posts have native earth, compacted base rock, and/or concrete footings. Installation techniques for the interpretive sign footings include direct burial, concrete footings, and using other techniques that do not require excavation. Signage is temporary in nature and can be removed, if needed.

Operational Signs. Operational signs provide information regarding park rules and regulations and will be posted within the project area. These signs will designate the hours the park is open, prohibited activities such as fires or motorized vehicles, and other regulatory and public safety information and warnings. “Area Closed” signs or other access oriented operational signs may be used where necessary to inform the visitors of use. Operational signs provide general information to the public on the Sonoma County Regional Parks system, regulatory guidelines that apply to a specific region or site, and warnings about ticks, mountain lions or other dangerous conditions.

Facility & Trail Maps. Large-scale maps are generally installed at the trailheads in parks. These maps provide an overall picture of the park, information on the facilities provided and their locations, trail information, as well as general information on significant features and resources found within the park  and how to protect and preserve them. The proposed location for the facility and trail maps during the Interim Period is in the Park Center.

Interpretive Signage. Interpretive signage and other displays provide more specific information on biotic, cultural, geologic, or other resources and features found within the park. Interpretive signage will be placed throughout the property to educate the public about the park’s resources, sensitivities, history, and other educational information as a means to protect the resources.


This section discusses the areas within the property that will be designated for general park operations and maintenance activities, and tasks specific to managing the Tolay Lake Regional Park property.

PARK OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE AREA. The Park Operations & Maintenance area will reuse structures and areas used by the Cardoza family.

Park Office. The Cardoza’s primary family residence will  be used as the Park Office (“Yellow House,” Residence A). This one-story frame California Ranch style residence has a side- gabled roof, concrete walks, a basement, and a swimming pool. Parking for the Park Office is adjacent to the structure to the southeast. Maintenance items include replacing the carpet, maintaining the pool, installing and replacing the water heater, window repair, and other structural upkeep items as necessary. A walkway on the front porch  is proposed to be widened by 12 to 18 inches to accommodate wheel chairs. This will require a minor shortening of a brick planter.

Ranger Residence I. The “Green House” (Residence “C”) is a one- story building with a cross gable roof with a shed-roofed front porch. This structure has a modern shed attached to its east wall. The residence was constructed in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s utilizing reused lumber and other materials. Parking for the residents is adjacent to the structure. Improvements include basic livability and safety improvements.

Ranger Residence II. The “White House” (Residence D) is a one- story frame California Ranch style house constructed in 1950 by the Cardozas. The structure has a garage and surrounding  concrete walks and a basement. Additional parking is adjacent to the garage. Improvements will include basic livability and safety improvements.

Park Residential Area Sheds. In addition to the Ranger Residences, the Park Residential Area includes several small sheds in moderate repair that will be used for storage. One to three new wooden sheds are proposed for the park residential area for storage by the rangers. The non-permanent sheds will not include electrical or water hook-ups. The sheds will be painted green and white to match other ranch buildings. The locations of the sheds were selected to avoid biological and cultural resource impacts.

The Metal Hay Barn & Maintenance Yard. The proposed Maintenance Yard is located where the Cardozas located their maintenance yard, just to the north of the Metal Hay Barn, away from historic ranch resources and public use areas. Use of this area for maintenance purposes is consistent with the past practice of storing equipment and materials. Parts of the Maintenance Yard are visible from adjacent ranch properties ½ to ¾ mile away. The Maintenance Yard is currently fenced to control public access and will be used for storing equipment, compost pile, other construction materials and a fuel tank. An existing gate on the Metal Hay Barn Road already controls access from the Park Driveway. A new single 14-foot wide, ranch style metal gate is proposed on the Quarry Road to control vehicular access to the Maintenance Yard. The Metal Hay Barn will be used by Regional Parks and the grazing lessee to store hay bales, agricultural products, and equipment.

Shop. The Shop is located in the center of the Park Center, just to the north of the Old Shop. The Shop will be the hub of maintenance activities, which is consistent with previous ranch use. The interior will be fully secured, connected to utilities, and is in excellent condition. External modifications  include  retrofitting or replacing the outdoor lights to reduce glare and upward light ratios consistent with the Dark Sky Association Best Management Practices.7 8  An external fence with gates around one of the three  bay doors may be installed to restrict public access into the facility and to create a safe work space for park employees. The proposed fence may be retractable wire or other material with steel posts. The fence will be between 60 to 200 feet in length.

Fuel Storage. The existing fuel storage tanks will be replaced in compliance with applicable laws and regulations9 due to safety issues associated with the existing tanks. The replacement tanks will be  located adjacent to the Maintenance Yard, in compliance with current safety and environmental standards, including a roof, placement upon a concrete slab, and appropriate signage. The concrete slab will be approximately 250 square feet. The new fuel storage system’s capacity will be the same size as the existing system, which is 1,700 gallons. A new metal wire fence will surround the fuel storage system.

Maintenance Storage Shed. The Storage Shed is located between the Commons and Shop and is a one-story frame building with a concrete foundation that was constructed in 1950. The Storage Shed will continue its historic use for storage of materials for Regional Parks and the vineyard contractor. Materials stored include agricultural products and vineyard maintenance, such as fertilizer. No improvements are proposed in the Interim phase other than appropriate signage installation.


Park Hours. Generally limited from 8:00am to sunset except where other hours are approved by the Regional Parks Director. For a more detailed description of the proposed park hours, see Table 1 in the Projected Park Visitors section at the beginning of this document.

Regular Activities. Tolay Lake Regional Park is currently within the Park Ranger’s Central Area and the South Central – West County Maintenance Area. The activities listed below are occurring now and will continue after the park is opened for general public use.

v  Mowing and tree trimming for landscape maintenance and for fire protection

v  Conducting Guided Tours

v  Emergency law enforcement and medical services

v  Maintenance of existing roads and trails

v  Coordination with Facility Operations (part of Sonoma County’s General Services Department) regarding building maintenance

v  Coordination of continuing vineyard and ranch management, including grazing

v  Stormwater management

Additional operation and maintenance activities will be required after the park is open for general public use, which may include but is not be limited to:

v  Opening and closing the park

v  Emptying garbage cans and recycling bins

v  Monitoring for general compliance with park rules

v  Fee collection and general visitor services

v  Maintenance of roads, trails, and other facilities

v  Conducting cultural and environmental education programs


Routine Trail/Road Maintenance. Lakeville Road and Cannon Lane are maintained by DTPW. Continued routine road maintenance will include grading of the existing road and shoulders to maintain positive drainage, a smooth driving surface, and to create shallow rolling dips where cross slope is insufficient for drainage. Routine road maintenance will also include the placement and compaction of base rock where necessary to fill potholes and ruts. Maintenance will not include road realignment.

Operations and maintenance for the Park Driveway consists primarily of the signage, fence, and road maintenance. The existing cattle fence and white board fence will be maintained and  repaired  as needed. Operations staff will continue to coordinate closely with other agencies to provide all emergency responders with gate and access route information.

Routine maintenance may occur on all existing ranch roads, some of which will serve  double-duty  as public access trails. In addition to the activities listed above, Regional Parks maintenance staff will mow existing ranch roads as needed to reduce fire potential and provide access. Where needed, swales and ditches will be mowed to maintain a positive drainage regime. Baserock and gravel will be added where needed to fill potholes and to provide a level travel surface for vehicles and trail use.

Generally, only Regional Parks, emergency service, and other vehicles authorized by Regional Parks, such as cattle ranchers, special event workers, and consultants, will be permitted to drive on West Ridge Road. During the Tolay Fall Festival, the portion of the West RidgeRoad between Cardoza Lane and the Park Driveway is used by the public for exiting vehicles for safe circulation management. This is consistent with past practice.

Causeway Road Maintenance. Regular maintenance of the Causeway Road will continue consistent with past practice. This includes filling potholes  with rock  or gravel,  improving the outslope by  adding rock or gravel to shed water and prevent puddles, potholes, and ruts. Public access to the Tolay Lake Area will be provided by the existing causeway that transects Tolay Lake. Depending upon conditions, multiple trail use (hiking, biking, and equestrians) and staff vehicles will use the existing fenced Causeway Road to reach the other side of Tolay Lake. When the water level is  too high, as defined by the rangers, the causeway may be closed to public use for safety reasons. A water depth gauge will be installedin the Causeway Road’s shoulders to monitor the water depth that flows over the top  of the Causeway  Road. This allows park staff to assess options for crossing the Causeway Road.

Tolay Lake. Maintenance activities of the lake include pumping Tolay Lake, invasive species management, mosquito abatement, and Causeway Road maintenance. Emergency and maintenance access with use of motorized craft will be allowed on the lake as necessary.

Regional Parks will continue to pump water from Tolay Lake in the spring consistentwith past practices as necessary to minimize excess water collecting on the adjacent property. Pumping is accomplished by placing a portable diesel pump on top of the existing levee near where Tolay Creek exits Tolay Lake. Water is pumped over the levee into Tolay Creek. The lake pumping typically takes 1 to 2 days. Pumping may not be practical or possible during dry years when there is not a contiguous lake and only isolated pools.

Spring-Fed Ponds Area.Maintenance activities in the Spring-Fed Pond Area will includeinvasive plant management (Ludwigia and duck weed), removing of one of the two goose perches in the Duck Pond, installing approximately 250 feet of wildlife-friendly wire fence to enclose the Duck Pond where it is adjacent to Cardoza Lane, and installing approximately 120 feet of wildlife friendly wire fence on the northeast side of the Willow Pond to prevent public access.

Bridges. There are two bridges on the property, the Farm Bridge and the Rock Bridge. The wood decking on both bridges is failing, creating a safety concern. Steel plates or plywood sheets will be installed to address this safety concern. The steel plates are removable and are considered a temporary, interim repair.

Eucalyptus Field.Maintenance activities in the Eucalyptus Field include fence relocation, mowing and/or grazing of the field, and pruning of the existing weeping willow trees, which are located by the Duck Pond, to remove hazardous branches and to provide clear access.

Vineyard:A 10-acre Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard was planted to the northeast of Tolay Lake along Causeway Trail in the early 1990’s. Existing infrastructure includes a wind machine, irrigation/fertilizer system, drainage ditches, and a deer fence. This existing vineyard will be maintained for agricultural education and park revenue and will be operated by a vineyard management contractor. Ongoing maintenance activities include replanting dead vines, operating the fertilizer and irrigation system, frost protection, and other necessary duties.

Approximately 450 feet of deer fence will be relocated to the north side of Eagle Creek. This will improve creek hydrology, road drainage, vineyard protection, and allow the creek to be managed separately from the vineyard.

Water Treatment System:A water treatment system will be installed to provide potable water for the ranger residences and public consumption. The current domestic water is contaminated and there is no existing treatment system. The proposed water treatment system components will include a chlorination system, a pressure tank, a holding tank, filters, and associated piping. The holding tanks will be located in a shed upon a concrete slab, which will be approximately180 square feet in surface area. The slab will be formed and poured on the ground surface. Ground compaction for the shed slab will includeonly the use of a vibra-plate, no heavy compaction equipment will be needed. Base rock will be placed on the compacted area for the slab construction. Ground disturbance from connecting pipe installation will be minimized to a trench measuring approximately 150-feet long and 30-inches deep. The electrical service will either be provided overhead or by sharing the water pipe trench to minimize ground disturbance. The shed itself will be constructed and painted to match the existing color scheme of the existing ranch structures. It will be located on the southeast side of the Tractor Barn where it can be visually integrated with the historic ranch. The shed will be a maximum of six feet in height.

Irrigation. Irrigation currently is accomplished with moveable sprinklers and drip irrigation. This practice will continue during the Interim Plan phase.

Septic System: The property includes three operable septic systems. They are located near the Shop, near the Tractor Barn, and in the Commons.


Type of Use

Current Source

Proposed Source


Potable. Domestic

Natural springs

No Change

Ranger residences & Park Office

Potable. Public Use


Treated water from natural springs or

imported from offsite.

Restrooms and water fountains

Non-potable. Equestrian & grazing

Spring-fed & upland ponds; natural springs

No Change

Hose bibs, water troughs, & stock water

Existing spring-fed stock tanks

Non-potable. Landscaping

Spring-fed & upland ponds; natural springs

No Change

Maintain existing landscaping, vineyard,

pumpkin patch & Marvin’s Garden.

Non-potable. Restoration


Spring-fed & Upland Ponds, and springs

Demonstration projects & restoration projects.

Non-potable. Fire Fighting

Spring-fed & upland ponds, Tolay Lake, off-

site sources

No Change

Any area in need of fire fighting efforts

Emergency Services. Regional Parks is dedicated to closely coordinating with emergency and law enforcement response efforts. The park property is primarily served by the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department, although the East Ridge is partially in the Schell-Vista Fire District. Tolay Lake Regional  Park contains several roads identified by the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department as being potentially critical during emergencies. A tsunami evacuation route exists from Lakeville Road to Cardoza Road to Stage Gulch Road on the other side of the property. Other emergency routes that could be utilized by Regional Parks staff and/or emergency service vehicles will vary depending upon soil and road conditions, however, it is anticipated that the Causeway Road and Farm Bridge may both be of use to cross Tolay Creek.

Historically, the Cardozas mowed and disked Tolay Lake for agricultural purposes. Regional Parks may continue mowing along the northerly property line within Tolay Lake to maintain a fuel break between the adjacent property, with authorization from the California Department of Fish and Game10 and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.11

Regional Parks and the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department will continue to conduct trainings of emergency services coordination on the park site. This will provide regular opportunities for emergency responding personnel to familiarize themselves with the roads, gates, locks, water sources, water features, potential property hazards, search and rescue approaches, site communication logistics, helicopter landing zones, and other response issues. Regional Parks will provide detailed mapping of site features to expedite any emergency response effort.

Off-Limits Structures: Regional Parks maintenance staff will generally maintain the existing condition of these structures, which will remain off-limits to the public during the Interim Plan phase. No  improvements are planned to these structures during the Interim Plan phase however, it is recognized that repairs may be required to maintain their existing condition.

Old Shop. There are oil spills at various locations inside the building, which Regional Parks is unable to remediate in the Interim Plan phase due to the necessary ground disturbance. The contaminated area,  as identified during the Phase 1 and Supplemental Environmental Site Assessments 12 will be addressed in accordance with the law when full remediation can occur.

Granary. This structure is a large 1½-story wood frame building that was constructed in the 1940s. This structure was converted to a museum by the Cardozas.

Historic Cottage: (Residence E) is a one-story frame cottage with a side-gabled roof located within the Park Residential Area to the southeast of the Metal Hay Barn and north of Ranger Residence II. This structure is the oldest residential structure on the property, constructed in the early 1900s.

Vera’s House. (Residence B) This residence is located on the west side of the Park Center adjacent to the existing Commons and Marvin’s Garden, and proposed Entry Kiosk. It is a one-story frame California Ranch style residence constructed in 1946. A single-car garage, in the same architectural style, is  located to the southeast corner of the house.

Slaughterhouse. This wooden structure is located to the north of the Shop and east of Ranger Residence I in a fenced field. The Slaughterhouse will be secured from public access utilizing green painted boards across the main entrance.

Upper Dairy Barn. This barn is located on the West Ridge to the southeast of the Park Entrance. This large, old, dilapidated building is structurally unsound. The barn will be fenced with a wire fence to  prevent public access.


In addition to general maintenance activities, a grazing program will be implemented for fire control and rangeland management, invasive plant control will be implemented throughout the property, and restoration programs initiated by the Cardozas will continue.

GRAZING PROGRAM: Regional Parks has continued the on-going grazing program by contracting with a rangeland manager and intends to continue with the grazing program throughout the Interim Plan implementation phase. Elements of the grazing program  include: fencing, exclusion areas, rotation, animal type, number of animals, frequency and other patterns for grazing, and developed springs and watering holes, mineral/salt licks, corrals, and other grazing appurtenances. The property includes numerous smaller springs and seeps. Controlling the grazing patterns in these wetlands is important for protection of native vegetation. By restricting grazing at particular times of the year, trampling of native vegetation can be reduced and invasive vegetation can be grazed before going to seed. Potential fencing areas include Tolay Creek, Cardoza Creek, and other unnamed springs and seeps.

Regional Parks is prevented from tilling the soil within a portion of the historic lakebed, per the Conservation Easement held by the Wildlife Conservation Board therefore, hay cannot be grown within Tolay Lake. Some hay may be grown as part of a demonstration project associated with the property’s historical ranch operation in areas outside of the lakebed, which may be utilized for feed purposes. Most of the hay needed for grazing animals must to be imported during the winter months. The following existing ranch structures will be utilized as part of the grazing program.

Old Hay Barn: No improvements are proposed for the Old Hay Barn. Both the adjacent Horse Corrals and Cattle Corrals are proposed to continue to be used consistent with past practice.

Cattle Corrals: No improvements are anticipated to the Cattle Corrals. Maintenance may include replacing rotted wood. The Cattle Corrals are located next to the Old Hay Barn and will be used by the grazing lessee. Ongoing maintenance for the corral gates, fencing, and water trough is anticipated. During special events such as the Tolay Fall Festival, the Cattle Corrals may be used to display farm animals.

Cattle Scale: The Cattle Scale is to the south of the Cattle Corrals and is used for weighing cattle. The scale will be maintained for agricultural use. Additional wire mesh screening and cautionary signage may be added to deter children from climbing under the scale.

INVASIVE SPECIES MANAGEMENT: There are several invasive species in the park that the Baseline Report13 recommended for removal. Plants present in the grassland areas include medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), harding grass (Phalaris aquatica), mediterranean linseed (Belladardia trixago), yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), purple starthistle (Centaurea calcitrapa), bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus). In the Valley Foothill Riparian areas invasive species include himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor), Fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sativus), and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). In the Fresh Emergent Wetland area invasives found include pennyroyal (Mentha puligium), Fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sativus), and swamp smartweed (Polygonum amphibium var. emersum). The Swamp Smartweed, although it is a native plant and provides food for waterfowl, is behaving as an abundant invasive in the Tolay Lake lakebed. The Wet Meadow area contains spiny cocklebur (Xanthium spinosum), himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor), Fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sativus), and pennyroyal (Mentha puligium). The Tolay Creek riparian area located near the far south edge of the property has an infestation of himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor), and a small area of Acacia (Acacia spp.). Regional Parks will consider modifying the grazing regime, utilizing volunteers, partnering with other organizations such as the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner, to address the invasive plants in specific areas. When the Rangeland Management Report is available, the recommendations for invasive plant management will be integrated with conservation easement and cultural and biological resource reports to improve maintenance program.

Swamp smartweed has spread across the bed of Tolay Lake now that the lake is not being managed for farming activities. Water primrose is increasingly spreading across the surface of the Spring-Fed Ponds. These invasive aquatic plants may be removed by mechanical, cultural, and/or chemical methods. Mechanical control options include removing plants by hand or using small tools. Tilling the soil is  another mechanical control method that is commonly used to control invasive species; however this method cannot be utilized in Tolay Lake 14 Cultural control methods include prescribed burning, grazing, and revegetation. Chemical control of water smartweed would utilize a glyphosate-based herbicide.

Regional Parks is working with the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (MSVCD) to monitor the conditions of water bodies on the property. The MSVCD conducts mosquito surveillance throughout Marin and Sonoma Counties. Depending upon the results of the surveillance, the preferred mosquito abatement method is applied. Mosquito fish can be used in the perennial bodies of water such as the Spring-Fed Ponds and the Upland Ponds. Larvicide can be used in non-perennial water bodies, including Tolay Lake.

GENERAL HABITAT ENHANCEMENT & RESTORATION. Existing habitat enhancement and restoration projects will continue during implementation of the Interim Plan.

East Ridge Area Oak Restoration and Enhancement. The opportunity for oak restoration and enhancement has been identified in the East Ridge Area. Oak restoration may include caging volunteer oak seedlings for protection from grazing activities. Tree cages may include up to four wood or metal posts with wire fencing.

Tolay Creek Area. Specific resource enhancement projects have not been identified for the Tolay Creek Area. General habitat enhancement and restoration work, may include caging shrubs and trees, invasive plant eradication, and plantings.  Please see the restoration section for a description of the general  habitat enhancement and restoration program.

Developed Springs. The property includes approximately twelve freshwater springs that have been developed into watering troughs for livestock. Restoration of developed springs will include fencing the spring source, spring box, and the areas receiving the majority of the spring’s runoff. The stock water tanks would remain unfenced to provide access for livestock and horses, along the public access trails. The fencing will provide controlled access to the stock water tanks, which will reduce trampling of the surrounding vegetation. The water troughs will be posted with signage stating that the water is non- potable.

STRAW Restoration Program. In 2004, the Bay Institute began sponsorship of Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW), an ongoing project to restore and enhance riparian vegetation and habitat. The project began while the property was owned by the Cardoza family and has continued with the Regional Parks Department. The Bay Institute is a Novato-based non-profit organization focused on protecting and restoring the San Francisco Bay. One restoration site is along Cardoza Creek, a tributary of Tolay Creek. A second restoration site is located on an ephemeral drainage to the Petaluma River, named South Creek by Regional Parks staff. Each restoration plot is approximately 35,000 square feet, along approximately 700 linear feet of creek.  In 2005, approximately 72 native shrubs and trees and 40 willow sprigs were planted at the South Creek restoration site, which will be monitored throughout the year. Volunteers in the STRAW program include fourth and fifth grade school children, parents, and others who participate in the effort.15

Regional Parks proposes to expand the South Creek Restoration Site, to include the majority of the wetland in the drainage. Expansion of the restoration site involves fencing approximately 2,200 feet of creek and planting willows and oaks (See Figure 7). The oaks will have tree cages, similar to the existing restoration project. Grazing may be permitted inside the restoration site, but only for a brief time in optimum soil conditions.

Cardoza Creek Restoration. The Cardoza Creek Restoration will restablize the existing spillway to a more natural setting. Restoration will include removal of discarded auto bodies, concrete, and other items that were used to reduce erosion. The area will then be regraded, armored, and revegetated.

TRAIL & ROAD MONITORING PROGRAM: The Purpose of the Trail Monitoring Program is to identify maintenance needs and protect resources during the Tolay Lake Regional Park Interim Plan implementation phase. The Trail Monitoring Program is expected to generate additional benefits by raising awareness of resource issues by involving staff and volunteers in the monitoring process, which will help ensure compliance with the Interim Plan and to provide information regarding development of the Master Plan.

The Interim Plan will utilize approximately nine miles of existing ranch roads for the trail system. Trails  will typically be 12-feet wide, which is the width of the existing ranch roads. Trails available during the Interim Plan implementation phase are described in the Public Access section of the Project Description and are shown on Figure 6.

During the Interim Plan, the trail system may be used by pedestrians; equestrians; bicyclists; Regional Parks Department trucks, service vehicles, tractors, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs); heavy equipment, and cattle. Each user type has the potential to affect trails. Only Regional Parks, emergency service, and other vehicles authorized by Regional Parks, such as cattle ranchers, special event workers, and consultants, will be permitted to drive beyond the parking areas located within the Park Center.

The Trail Monitoring Program will be carried out by Regional Parks staff. Trained volunteers may also be utilized.16 Trail monitoring will include the actual trails and the areas adjacent to the trails and will focus  on the following trail conditions:

  1. Vegetation: including grasses, forbs, shrubs, trees, and invasive specie introduction
  2. Trail Surface: including sheet erosion, rutting, and cross slope reduction
  3. Drainage Features: including culvert headwalls, drainage dips, and puncheons
  4. Adjacent, Off-Trail impacts: including multiple trailing, illegal use trails, litter, and vandalism

Implementation of the Trail Monitoring Program will utilize the following four-step process:

    1. Establish Baseline Conditions:The baseline condition of each trail is its existing condition and will be the minimum performance specification that future trail conditions will be monitored against. The baseline conditions are established through the process described below.
      1. Create a standard Trail Log for each trail using a measuring wheel. A Trail Log lists each feature of the trail, such as culverts, and their location relative to the distance from the beginning of the trail segment.
      2. Identify Trail Monitoring Points along each trail. The number and spacing of Monitoring Points per trail will be determined in the field and will be based on the following factors:
        1. v  Representative samples of the trail in a typical trail segment, devoid of management concerns
        2. v  Open areas with little or no barriers, such as immediate fencing and grade separation.
        3. v  Drainage crossings of all types and saturated areas
        4. v  Curves, including directional changes in the trail
        5. v  Trail Junctures
        6. v  Steep grades
        7. v  Off-trail areas, such as illegal trails
      1. Complete the Trail Impact Monitoring Point Assessment Form for each Monitoring Point, including taking digital photos. The first assessment will be completed prior to the opening of Tolay Lake Regional Park under the Interim Plan.
      2. Monitor Trail Conditions:Trail conditions will be monitored and changes relative to the established Baseline Condition will be measured.
        1. Trail Monitors will collect data at least three times a year, including fall, winter, and spring. Additional assessments will be collected as necessary for specific areas. Trail monitoring will be scheduled by Regional Parks staff.
        2. Trail Monitors will collect data on the Trail Monitoring Form and Trail Monitoring Cover Sheet. This information will be provided to staff participants, including the Park Ranger 3, the lead Maintenance Worker, and the Planning Division.
      3. Evaluate Changed Condition & Select Adaptive Management Technique:Evaluate changed condition and select adaptive management options to address corrective action based on the Trail & Road Restoration component of the Interim Plan.
        1. Determine the contributing factor(s) associated with the changed condition to the greatest degree possible. Factors could include weather conditions, soil conditions, and/or user group activity.
        2. Select and implement an adaptive management technique appropriate for the changed condition, consistent with the Interim Plan. Adaptive management techniques may include, but are not limited to: trail and road restoration, adjusting seasonal closures, adjusting grazing timing, adjusting tire pressure of vehicles, eliminating certain uses on the trail, de-commissioning the trail from further use during the Interim Plan.
      4. Monitor Adaptive Management Technique:Monitoring and evaluating the adaptive management technique is critical to adjust approach to ensure resource protection and compliance with the Interim Plan.
        1. Establish a new Monitoring Point for each area in which adaptive management techniques are utilized.
        2. Incorporate new Monitoring Points into the Trail Monitoring Program.
      5. Evaluate Trail Monitoring Program: Regional Parks staff will evaluate the effectiveness of the Trail Monitoring Program at least once a year following its first year of implementation. The Trail Monitoring Program will be modified, as needed, to improve upon monitoring techniques, reporting, and adaptive management techniques.


Trail & Road Restoration. Trail and road restoration will restore the eroded trails and roads to remediate existing erosion problems. Excavation will be avoided whenever possible and improvements will be kept to the minimum needed for resource protection. Structural trail treatments will be used to traverse wet areas and natural drainage ways and will be supplemented with bio-engineering techniques where feasible. Trail and road restoration methods may include the following:

Bio-Engineering. Bio-engineering methods provide additional ecological value than traditional treatments alone. Bio-engineering methods generally utilize willows and other plants to provide stability to creek banks and slopes.

Puncheon. Puncheons are short bridges without handrails constructed over minor drainages.  Puncheons are used where the vertical drop-off is less than 30 inches. They generally have a vertical curb as a safety device for visually or mobility impaired individuals. Puncheons are generally the same width as the trail they serve, but not less than 36 inches clear of the safety curbing along the outside edges. They are installed on large timber sill plates and anchored using steel pipe or large diameter rebar. Puncheons are generally constructed of dimensional redwood lumber. No pressure treated wood with chromated copper arsenate preservative will be used. On hillside areas, rock slope protection may be included to minimize potential erosion.

Armored Crossings. Armored crossings are drainage features within a trail segment that are  constructed using rock slope protection and possibly geotextile fabric, allowing water to flow across the trail in its normal pattern. The gravel or slope protection minimizes the erosion of the trail surface and  acts as an energy dissipater, slowing the water velocity.

Drainage Lenses. Drainage lenses will be used on very minor drainage features to improve existing drainage patterns and protect resources from erosion. Drainage lenses are constructed of large rocks installed point-to-point and stacked one to three layers high to allow water to flow between the gaps. The trail surface over the rocks usually consists of smaller rock or gravel placed into the upper gaps of the rocks to create a relatively level trail tread, possibly using geotextile fabric for reinforcement.

Rolling Dips. Rolling dips will be used to drain water from the steeper areas of the trails. Rolling dips are slight constructed swales that run somewhat perpendicular to the trail tread and are used to direct water off the trail.

Swale Modification. Existing swales may be modified to direct water in a more resource-protective manner. Typical modifications include deepening the swale to increase capacity and decrease maintenance, and modifying the existing swale structure from a v-shape to a u-shape.  Swale  modification will reduce erosion on the slopes of the swale, which in turn will support wetland vegetation as well as reduce maintenance, such as mowing and sediment removal.

Swale Creation. Shallow swales may need to be created where needed to protect existing trails and roads from erosion that could result from existing drainage patterns.
Headwall Modification. Existing headwalls that are contributing to scour at culvert inlets will be modified to minimize trail/road failure and protect resources.

Headwall Installation. Some existing culverts do not have headwalls and in some cases, the lack of headwalls has contributed to erosion and/or flooding onto the trail/road. In these cases, headwalls will be installed. Generally, headwalls will be constructed of large rock, between 18 to 30 inches in diameter without concrete.

Rip-Rap. Rock rip-rap may be placed at existing culvert inlets and outlets where existing  erosion warrants this treatment to prevent the trail/road from erosion and failure.


GUIDED TOURS. During the Interim Plan phase, Regional Parks will continue to offer guided tours of the property and will expand this popular program to include tours focused on specific areas of interest, such as wildflowers, birding, photography, painting, cultural history, geology, etc. Some of these Guided Tours may be led by volunteers who have received appropriate training from Regional Parks staff. Training will focus on the specific areas of the park that can be used for the activity, awareness of biological and cultural resources, and the Park Rules.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM. On-going educational programs include environmental, agricultural, and cultural education. The K-6 program would run during the school year, generally September – June, and would involve one chaperoned group of students at a time. Rita Cardoza conducted an educational program with the local public schools. Regional Parks proposes to continue this use pattern and limit it to one group of 60 kids a day. Typically one group of 60 students arrives around 8:30-9:00 in the morning and leave noon to 1:30 in the afternoon. School bus use is highly encouraged but due to the economic and demographic differences between schools, not all are able to utilize school buses. Potential indoor facilities to support the educational program may include reuse of an existing barn or a new structure, storage area, educational office, and interpretive facilities.

The Education Program may utilize the trailer formerly used by Rita Cardoza for her education program. The trailer entrance ramps will be widened to better accommodate wheelchairs. The education trailer is located between the Granary and Tractor Barn. The Lakeside Picnic Area will also be utilized as part of the Education Program.

Marvin’s Garden will be used for gardening consistent with past practice for educational programs and staff use. Materials for the pumpkin festival will be grown here (such as corn or squash) as well as demonstration plants typical of vegetable gardens such as tomatoes, carrots and lettuce. No trees will be planted, due to the uncertainty of long-term use of this area. A small wood and fiberglass potting shed is located adjacent to Marvin’s Garden towards Old Residence B. The potting shed will be reused to pot plants, consistent with past practice. Raised beds will be used if cultural resource issues are  encountered.

Additional educational facilities may be proposed throughout the entire site. These facilities may include outdoor classrooms, interpretive displays, and demonstrations. These educational facilities will be for ecological, historical and/or cultural education. Existing ranch structures may be utilized, particularly to illustrate the history of the project area as a working ranch.

TRAINING PROTOCOL. Off-trail access will be granted to groups and individuals involved in the scientific collection of information, park stewardship activities, and other approved activities that have received special training that describes what to do if encountering biological, cultural, and historic resources. Park staff assigned to the park will receive a more in depth level of training on cultural resource issues.


Regional Parks will continue collaborating with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR) throughout the Interim Plan phase regarding cultural resources on the property. This collaboration has positively influenced the scope of the Interim Plan such that public access can be provided in designated areas while minimizing impacts to existing cultural resources. Cultural resource protection will include temporary protective fencing or barriers, interpretive signage, and coordination regarding public access and park operations. The locations of proposed Interim Plan improvements and operations have been reviewed by a qualified archaeologist and FIGR to avoid and/or minimize potential impacts to known cultural resources. Regional Parks and FIGR have developed procedures for the accidental discovery of cultural resources including maintaining an inventory of resources.

TOLAY FALL FESTIVAL. Regional Parks has been continuing the Cardoza Pumpkin Festival in the form of the Tolay Fall Festival. The Tolay Fall Festival includes programs and activities associated with public education on the cultural and agricultural and ranching history of the property and resource protection. Additional programs and activities offered at the Tolay Fall Festival include hayrides, guided hikes, nocturnal animal exhibit, farm animal displays, and an Native

American Village. Regional Parks has established a pumpkin patch, approximately 0.1 acre in size, just east of the vineyard. Regional Parks may continue to purchase pumpkins from other growers to supplement pumpkins grown on-site. Regional Parks may also establish a corn maze and additional interpretive elements associated with the Tolay Fall Festival.

OTHER COMMUNITY SPECIAL EVENTS. Regional Parks is committed to continuing the community- focused special events initiated by the Cardoza family, such as the annual Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. Regional Parks is interested in continuing this tradition and finding additional ways to partner with the Fire Department. Concepts may include Fire Department participation in the Tolay Fall Festival, fire engine rides on site for fundraising, hosting a booth, and other activities.


The primary benefit of the Interim Plan to Regional Parks is that staff will be able to evaluate and utilize information while developing the Master Plan. The Interim Plan phase can be considered a “trial run.” Regional Parks will be interested in receiving feedback from the public regarding the following:

v  How the property is being used

v  Visitor use patterns

v  Use conflicts

v  Signage and interpretive materials

v  What park users like and don’t like, and

v  What park users would like to see in terms of facilities and activities

The Interim Plan benefits the public in providing greater access to the public.


Tolay Lake Regional Park consists of five parcels that total approximately 1,737 acres, which were purchased by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (District) and its partners on September 29, 2005.17 Please refer to Figure 2 – Parcel Map. The property includes five single-family residences and numerous barns, sheds, and shop buildings.

CULTURAL HISTORY. This property contains a unique cultural history beginning with habitation by native Californian Indian tribes and continued with family ranching.

Native American History. Tolay Lake Regional Park is within the aboriginal territory of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR), territorial lands that included all of Marin County and southern Sonoma County. FIGR membership is composed of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo, over 1,000 members strong including members who are descendents from the original fourteen tribal ancestors.18    In 1992, the FIGR became a federally-recognized tribe. A tribal counsel, including ten active committees, provides governance.

Ranching & Agricultural History. Tolay Lake Regional Park offers a unique glimpse into historic farm and ranch life of the past centuries within Sonoma County.  The property had been in agriculture since  the 1850s. The Cardoza family owned and farmed the Tolay property since approximately 1943. The Cardozas utilized the property for a variety of agricultural operations including cattle grazing, a 10-acre vineyard, crops, and agri-tourism during the fall.

Cardoza Pumpkin Festival.In October, the Cardoza Pumpkin Festival attracted an estimated 30,000 people to purchase pumpkins and enjoy the property. There also was a school field trip program during the month of October during which approximately 5,000 – 8,000 school children were able to take a hayride, play in a hay maze and playground, and have lunch on the property in addition to selecting a pumpkin to take home. The Cardozas also opened their on-site cultural museum to the public during the October festival.

PROPERTY SETTING. The Tolay Lake Regional Park property contains diverse topography  and habitats that provide a unique experience for park users.

Property Location & Access. The address listed for proposed Tolay Lake Regional Park project area is 5869 Lakeville Road.19 Primary access is from Cannon Lane, a County-maintained road off Lakeville Road. Tolay Lake Regional Park is located approximately five miles southeast of the City of Petaluma, within 30 minutes of Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley, and within 60 minutes of approximately 1.2 million residents in the adjacent counties of Marin, Napa, and Solano.20 Please refer to Figure 1 – Project Location Map.

Tolay Lake. Historically, Tolay Lake was the largest natural freshwater lake in the San Pablo Bay watershed.21 Tolay Lake evolved as an ancient sedimentary lake, and is currently the only large natural body of freshwater, and the largest lake with restoration potential in the San Pablo Bay watershed. Tolay Lake has a surface area of approximately 200 acres and is located in the valley bottom. It is a fairly shallow lake, averaging between 4 – 8 feet in depth, filling in the winter and draining in the spring. In the mid-to-late 1800’s the natural dam that created the lake was removed to facilitate farming of the rich lakebed soils. The lake bottom had been drained and farmed annually ever since to farm various crops including pumpkins, squash corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. The practice ended in 2006 after acquisition  of the property in 2005 for park development. The property includes approximately 20 percent of the Tolay Creek watershed, including a two-mile stretch of Tolay Creek running in a north-south direction. Tolay Creek is an ephemeral creek that feeds into and drains away from Tolay Lake.

Historical accounts regarding the surface area of the lake differ, but it is generally believed to have been between 400 – 450 acres in surface area when full in a typical winter. As the water in Tolay Lake evaporates after winter, it functions as a large vernal pool. In particularly wet years, Tolay Lake may have been a perennial lake. As such, the surface area of Tolay Lake varies throughout the year and with rainfall. In the winter, Tolay Lake provides an important refuge for migrating waterfowl and is within the Pacific Flyway. Evidence suggests that Tolay Lake was the site of both prehistoric and historic settlement and use. The cultural and historic resources have been determined to be of statewide and national importance. Numerous charmstones, carved rock objects used for both ritual and practical purposes, have been found in the lakebed and environs, some of which were sent to the Smithsonian Museum in the early 1900’s. To date, over 1,000 charmstones have been found. The charmstones are of various types, and thought to be of various ages, dating back perhaps 4,000 years. It has been noted that the property contains at least 15 pre-historic sites. There also are a number of un-recorded sites within the project area.

There are no Interim Plan improvements for Tolay Lake. Operations and maintenance activities may include pumping the lake to maintain the existing hydrologic regime on the adjacent property, invasive species management, mosquito abatement, and Causeway Road maintenance. Access in the Tolay  Lake area will only be permitted on the fenced Causeway during the Interim Plan phase. Resource studies, such as bird counts and cultural resource studies conducted by trained personnel, will continue in the Tolay Lake area during the Interim Plan phase.

Tolay Creek. Tolay Creek flows through the entire property, feeding Tolay Lake from the northeast. The Tolay Creek headwaters are located off the Tolay Lake Regional Park property, north of Stage Gulch Road on to the southern flank of Sonoma Mountain proper. Historically, Tolay Creek drained directly to San Pablo Bay. During the past decade, Tolay Creek becomes intermittently blocked and it sometimes drains to Sonoma Creek, which then drains to San Pablo Bay. Tolay Creek is a seasonal creek and  would therefore not provide suitable habitat for fish or California freshwater shrimp. Several tributaries feed into Tolay Creek. These are not officially named; however, several have been named for convenience in preparing planning documents: North Creek, Eagle Creek, and Cardoza Creek.

Tolay Creek has been channelized throughout much of the valley, including the section within Tolay Lake and extending to the historic dam. This section is characterized by fresh emergent wetland vegetation  and is crossed by the causeway within Tolay Lake and the Farm Bridge. The spoils from dredging associated with the channelization of Tolay Creek appear as berms of variable height and width on both sides of the creek between the existing Farm Bridge and the approximate location of the historic dam. The section of Tolay Creek between the approximate location of the historic dam and the southern property boundary has a well-developed riparian woodland habitat.

Park Center. The Park Center is located at the end of the Park Driveway and includes the structures and general area utilized by the Cardoza family as part of their family residences and ranch operations. The majority of visitor-serving park facilities will be located in the Park Center. Highlights include historic structures, the spring-fed ponds area, and the eucalyptus field.

Historic Structures. Several of the ranch structures may be eligible for listing in the National Register as contributors to the proposed Tolay Valley Historic District. Most noteworthy are the Stone Creamery (possibly constructed in the late 1800’s), the Old Shop (possibly constructed in the late 1800s), the Granary (constructed in the 1940s), Vera’s House (constructed in 1946), and the Historic Cottage (Residence E, the oldest residential structure on the property, constructed in the early 1900s).

Spring-Fed Ponds Area. The Spring-Fed Ponds area is located in the Park Center, near the Park Office and the Tolay Group Picnic Area. The two ponds have been named the Willow Pond and the Duck Pond. The Willow Pond is so named because it is surrounded by willows. It is approximately 1/3 of a surface acre. The Duck Pond is so named because ducks frequent the pond. The Duck Pond is covered with duck weed, which is a nutritional food source for the ducks that populate this area. The Duck Pond is slightly smaller than the Willow Pond. The depths of both ponds are unknown. Public access into either pond will not be provided during the Interim implementation phase, although the Spring-Fed Pond can be visually enjoyed from the surrounding public-access areas.

Eucalyptus Field. The Eucalyptus Field is a fenced, sloping meadow surrounded by two parallel rows of Eucalyptus trees. The Eucalyptus trees currently provides nesting habitat for a pair of red-tailed hawks and therefore will be preserved. The 1-1.5 acres field will be open to public access when not being grazed.

Remaining Ranch: The Remaining Ranch Area includes the remainder of the property and is categorized by the following focus areas: Oak Grove & East Ridge, West Ridge, Tolay Creek, Upland Ponds, Vineyard, South Knoll & Hunting Shack, and areas in the valley bottom outside of Tolay Lake.

East Ridge & Oak Grove: The East Ridge contains numerous cultural and biotic resources, including the only significant oak grove on the property. Both historic and prehistoric features are interspersed throughout the coast live oaks that are hundreds of years old on the northern part of the East Ridge. At approximately twenty acres, the Oak Grove area is the largest oak grove on the property. A pair  of golden eagles has been frequently seen in the Oak Grove area; however no nests have been discovered on park property to date. An existing ranch road, now called the East Ridge Road, is generally drivable throughout the year, although during winter it becomes inaccessible near its southern terminus. There  are numerous active springs and seeps along the top of the East Ridge, some of which have been developed for livestock use. The Three-Bridge Vista is the high point of the property and consists of grassland covered knolls on the East Ridge. The view encompasses the Golden Gate Bridge, Richmond- San Rafael Bridge, and the Bay Bridge, downtown San Francisco and Oakland, and numerous other landmarks and is unlike any other southerly vista in Sonoma County currently accessible to the public.

Upland Ponds: There are two constructed ponds located along Cardoza Creek, a tributary to Tolay Creek and southwest of the East Ridge referred to as the “Upland Ponds”. These ponds were created in the 1950’s with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a program to assist private landowners. Each pond is approximately two surface acres, with a capacity of 25 acre-feet, and between 12 to 20 feet deep. The Upper Pond is fairly devoid of riparian vegetation. The Lower Pond includes freshwater marsh habitat and contains sunfish and large-mouth bass. The existing bass and sunfish have been recreationally fished at this location for the past half century. The fish likely eat the invasive bullfrogs as well as other amphibians. The ponds are included in the existing Water-Right Application 30558 because these ponds divert and retain water from Cardoza Creek. In addition to the constructed ponds, there are numerous springs in the Upland Pond Area that contributes to the adjacent emergent marsh vegetation.

West Ridge. The West Ridge offers superb vistas in all directions, providing views of the entire property including Tolay Lake, Tolay Creek, and the Petaluma River. The West Ridge contains the only part of the property that drains to the Petaluma River. PG&E transmission towers run parallel to the existing ranch road that will be reused for the West Ridge Trail. This area has been utilized for grazing and some of the natural springs have been developed for livestock use.

Easements. Tolay Lake Regional Park includes three other easements, which potentially provide access to the property in addition to the Cannon Lane access. Approximately 1.16 miles of Cannon Lane are in the county road system and are paved. An additional 534 feet is part of the Park Driveway and is not in the County road system and is not paved. The following easements are all unpaved and not in the county road system. No improvements are proposed for these easements. The easements include:

Cardoza Lane: This route travels over rough, seasonal roads through numerous gated private properties to the west before reaching a public road (Lakeville Road). In the event of a tsunami that affects San Francisco Bay, the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department plans on potentially evacuating people from Lakeville Road up Cardoza Road through the park and then to Stage Gulch Road. This easement is not practical for developing as a public access route because of its unimproved condition, limited seasonal access, and its status as a private road not in the county road system.

Mengel Ranch Road: Mengel Ranch Road extends nearly five miles over rough, seasonal roads through resource sensitive areas on park property and on gated private property to the south before reaching a State Route 121, a public road. This route is only passable in dry season with high clearance four- wheeled drive. It does not offer much of an emergency vehicular access at this time. This easement is not practical for developing as a public access route because of its marginal condition, limited seasonal access, resource issues, bridge construction issues, and its status as a private road not in the county road system. To bring this unimproved road up to county fire safe road standards is cost prohibitive. The point of connection on Highway 121 is the furthest from the majority of the population who would be utilizing the park.

Stage Gulch Road Easement: This all-weather gravel road traverses three privately owned parcels to the northeast before reaching the park boundary. From the park boundary, approximately three miles of seasonal roads connect the Stage Gulch Road Easement with the Park Center. An electronic gate controls access at Stage Gulch Road (State Route 116). Manual gates also control access the approximate Park boundary. Regular road maintenance may be conducted, but the alignment, road  width, and rock surface will not be changed. In the event of a tsunami that affects San Francisco Bay, the Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department may use the Stage Gulch Road easement for evacuating people from Lakeville. This easement may be needed to access the East Ridge in winter when the Causeway Road is inundated. The Stage Gulch Road easement is not suitable as a public vehicular access route due to the absence of a left-turn lane on the state highway, line of sight and curve issues on the state highway, resource issues associated with Tolay Lake, and its status as a private road not in the county road system.



The Regional Parks Department started guided tours of the property on November 26, 2005. Subsequent tours have been held at least twice monthly and are by reservation only.  Currently, three tour routes  have been offered: a two-hour tour of the West Ridge, a three-hour tour of the Upland Ponds, and a three-hour tour to the Three-Bridge View along the East Ridge. Special tours focusing on wildflowers and birding have also been offered. The very popular Guided Tours have been scheduled two to three times  a month. The tours are guided by Regional Parks staff and focus on a variety of topics, such as natural history, agricultural history, and Native American history. Tour routes were reviewed with representatives from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR). As described in the Project Description, the Guided Tour Program will be expanded during the Interim Plan phase to provide tours focused on specific topics and activities.


Regional Parks published a Notice of Preparation of an Interim Public Access & Management Plan (NOP) on October 02, 2006. The NOP was filed at the Sonoma County Clerks Office, mailed to the State of California Office of Planning and Research (State Clearinghouse), to responsible and trustee agencies, and to people on the project mailing list. The NOP was also posted on the Regional Parks Department’s web-site. The NOP invited public comment regarding what should be included in the Initial Study and announced the public Scoping Meeting at the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission on October 16, 2006. The comment period associated with the NOP was 30 days, concluding on November 03, 2006. Comment letter received in response to the NOP are included in Appendix B.

Regional Parks published a draft Interim Plan Project Description in February 2007 and made it available for a 30-day public comment period. This was not required by CEQA but Regional Parks determined it was in the best interest of the public and the project to obtain feedback. In general, the Project Description was received favorably however there were comments that caused Regional Parks to revise the Project Description. The revision included an overall scale back in several areas, including some of the proposed improvements to the property, the number of days the park would be open for public use during the Interim Plan implementation phase, and restricting equestrian and bicycle use to scheduled guided tours. Comment letters received in response to the February 2007 Interim Plan Project  Description are included in Appendix B. A public meeting regarding the draft Project Description was hosted by the Commission on February 26, 2007 and the revision was hosted by the Commission on July 16, 2007. The scaled-back equestrian access included in the revised Project Description generated negative comments from some meeting attendees, ultimately leading to development of the Day-Use Permit Program.


Regional Parks presented the Interim Plan and associated CEQA document, including a summary of the comments received at the special public meeting from the previous night. Most of the public comment was similar to that presented the night before. Regional Parks committed to researching and considering a day-use-permit program for implementation during the Interim Plan implementation phase, and updating the CEQA document with any changes prior to initiating the 30-day public comment period on the document. The ERC agreed with this approach and recommended that a Mitigated Negative Declaration be prepared for the Interim Plan.

Regional Parks presented the proposed Day-Use Permit Program at a combined Neighbor & TAC meeting and at a separate PRAC meeting in March 2008. After these public meetings, Regional Parks revised the document that was presented to the ERC in December 2007 to incorporate the Day-Use Permit Program. The Project Description itself was not changed however, there were changes to the

Projected Park Visitors information, Traffic and Transportation environmental impact analysis, and revision to Mitigation Measures to reflect inclusion of the Trail Monitoring Program. Incorporation of the Day-Use Permit Program did not result in new significant environmental impacts from the document presented to the ERC in December 2007.


Regional Parks has hosted a total of five meetings specifically for the Tolay Lake Regional Park neighbors. The Neighbor Meetings provide an opportunity for Regional Parks to update the neighbors regarding various aspects of park development and issues that pertain directly to the  neighbors.  Regional Parks will continue to host Neighbor Meetings throughout the processes for both the Interim Plan and the Master Plan. To date, Neighbor Meetings have occurred on:

v  March 27, 2008

v  July 16, 2007

v  January 29, 2007

v  June 21, 2006

v  January 26, 2006


The Regional Parks Department desires input from project stakeholders and technical experts throughout park development and determined that a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) would serve that purpose. The TAC provides an advisory function to the Regional Parks Department. To date, the TAC has met on the Interim Plan on March 27, 2008, January 30, 2007, and July 17, 2007. The purposes of the TAC are:

  1. To have a public involvement process in addition to the required public meetings as part of the legal requirements associated with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  2. To aid in developing the Interim Plan and the Master Plan by providing technical assistance.

The TAC is composed of one regular member and one alternate member per represented group. It is expected that the regular member would coordinate with his/her represented group throughout the process. Represented groups include:

v  Audubon Society

v  Bay Institute

v  California Department of Fish and Game

v  California Native Plant Society – Milo Baker Chapter

v  Cardoza Family

v  City of Petaluma

v  Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

v  Friends of Tolay Lake

v  Regional Parks Foundation Board

v  United States Geologic Survey

v  Americans with Disabilities

v  Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District

v  Sonoma County Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission

v  Sonoma County Permit & Resource Management Department

v  Sonoma County Trails Council

v  Sonoma County Administrators Office

v  Sonoma County Supervisors

v  Neighbors of the Park Site

v  US Fish & Wildlife Service


Regional Parks will provide regular updates to the Commission and has requested that the Commission host some of the public meetings as part of the CEQA process, including the Scoping Meeting. The Commission has provided a liaison and alternate to the Technical Advisory Committee. The Commission has hosted five public meetings associated with Tolay Lake Regional Park:

v  March 31, 2008

v  July 16, 2007

v  October 16, 2006

v  September 18, 2006

v  December 05, 2005


Regional Parks recognizes the value public involvement and has been utilizing the Commission as a forum for most of the public meetings associated with the Interim Plan. To date, one Public Workshop  has been held separate from the public meetings hosted by the Commission, on July 24, 2006.

On December 17, 2007 Regional Parks hosted a special public meeting that focused on the issue of equitable access to all park users during the Interim Plan implementation phase. At this meeting, Regional Parks heard mostly from equestrians and bicyclists and other public speakers recommending that Regional Parks consider a Day-Use Permit Program based on the Willow Creek model. This was the genesis of the Day-Use Permit Program currently proposed. Also at this meeting, Regional Parks committed to meeting with a “Working Group” develop a program for equitable access to Tolay Lake Regional Park during the Interim Plan implementation phase.


Invitations to Participate were sent out to the various equestrian, bicycle, and hiking clubs and organizations that Regional Parks had information for. A total of fifteen individuals representing a cross- section of interests agreed to participate. Regional Parks presented its research on the Willow Creek Day-Use Permit Program and ideas about how it could apply to the Interim Plan. The focus of the meetings was to provide a forum for Regional Parks to hear ideas and concerns from the Working Group. Two Working Group meetings were held in February 2008 and some members of the Working Group met separately in between the two scheduled meetings. The goals of the Working Group were met in terms of coming to agreement regarding an outline for a Day-Use Permit Program for the Tolay Lake Regional Park Interim Plan.

Some Working Group members have expressed interest in continuing to be involved in the yet-to-be• developed Orientation Program, which is a significant component of the Day-Use Permit Program. One remaining issues from some Working Group participants is the desire for Tolay Lake Regional Park to be open at least one additional mid-week day during the Interim Plan implementation phase. At this point, Regional Parks intends to limit the public access days to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the warm- weather months and Saturday – Sunday during the wet-weather months.


POTENTIAL PROPERTY ACQUISITION. Regional Parks has been in discussion with an adjacent property owner regarding realignment of a recorded easement and access across approximately four acres located adjacent to the east ridge of the Tolay Lake Regional Park property. The 4-acre property is crossed by the East Ridge Road, an access road upon which the County has a prescriptive easement that provides access rights.

MASTER PLAN. Regional Parks is in the process of preparing the Master Plan and associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Master Plan and Water-Right Application. The primary differences between the Interim Plan and the Master Plan include breadth of improvements, hours of operation, and activities; the Interim Plan is intended to provide limited public access until the Master Plan is developed and adopted. Parks will utilize the Interim Plan phase implementation to guide preparation  of the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan.

Tolay Lake Restoration. The most significant Master Plan improvement may be restoration of Tolay Lake. The goal of the Tolay Lake Restoration is to restore the configuration of Tolay Lake closer to its historic condition in order to increase wildlife habitat for diverse avian and amphibian species, enhance and protect Tolay Lake as a culturally significant feature, and to provide recreational opportunities when not in conflict with resource protection and enhancement goals. Tolay Lake restoration is subject to grant and easement restrictions that are referenced in the Property Acquisition section of this document.

Public Access – Lakeville Road, Cannon Lane, And Park Driveway. Improvements to Lakeville Road, Cannon Lane, and the Park Driveway will be considered in the Master Plan. These improvements may  be necessary to accommodate full public access in a safe manner. Improvements to Lakeville Road may include extension of the vehicular capacity of the southbound left-turn lane, improvements to Cannon Lane may include road widening, horizontal and vertical line of sight improvements, and other safety measures, and the Park Driveway may be realigned and a separate horse trailer access may be created off the Park Driveway to the West Ridge Road.

Trails And Internal Park Roads. The Master Plan will consider decommissioning some of the existing trails/road, realigning others, and developing new routes.

Parking. The Master Plan may consider relocating the Interim Plan parking areas, creating additional parking areas, and improving the temporary Interim Plan parking areas if they remain in the Master Plan.

Equestrian Facilities. A separate equestrian parking area may be created if the West Ridge Road is utilized as a horse trailer entrance. Other improvements that could be incorporated into the design of the equestrian entrance include an equestrian parking area, concession from which park users can rent horses, an entry kiosk, electric entrance gate, additional fencing to control cattle, planting of trees and shrubs, trail surface improvements, and other resource protective measures. Other factors that would be considered in the Master Plan regarding equestrian facilities include drainage, road grade, dust control, maintenance, emergency response, safety, resource protection, and overall visitor experience.

Visitor-Serving Facilities. Concepts in this category may include a new building, re-use of existing buildings and outdoor area, and other alternatives and may include a new interpretive center, permanent restrooms, picnic areas, and special events areas.

Building Restoration and Re-Use. Concepts in this category may include restoration of some of the existing buildings for use in public interpretation, public access, special-use areas, and for Parks operations and maintenance. Some of the existing buildings may be demolished if they are beyond repair and restoration and do not hold significant historic value.

Quarry Operation. The Master Plan will consider on-going quarrying with an eventual transition to a complete restoration plan. The quarry rock will only be used on site. On-going quarry operation will require a grading permit from the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department.

Grazing Program. The Rangeland Management Study currently underway will identify options  to achieve the goals of ecological health, habitat enhancement, fuel management, fire reduction, public safety, and agricultural heritage through a grazing program. The preferred options will be included in the Park Master Plan.


In 1996, the Cardoza’s submitted an application to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for a permit to appropriate 1,100 acre-feet per year of water. Water-Right Application 30558 is pending at the SWRCB. Regional Parks is working with the SWRCB staff regarding the pending application as there are elements of the Tolay Lake Regional Park Master Plan that are dependent upon the successful completion of the water-right process. The SWRCB published the Public Notice on the Petition to Amend on August 13, 2007. The 30-day public review period concluded on September 14, 2007.


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