Agriculture is the driving force of Sonoma County. Our land is diverse and nutrient rich, our weather superb, and our farmers brilliant. Sonoma County’s unbelievable cultivation drives local companies to success and provides our population with bounteous harvest and reason to celebrate. Little did I know: agricultural practices can be an unfortunate contributor to the demise of our salmon and Steelhead trout friends, and these particular allies happen to be of utter significance to our ecosystem. Irrigation runoff, erosion, hydropower generation and water diversion all negatively impact the endangered salmon population throughout the Russian River.
Aside from nutrient value, these slippery creatures serve purpose as indicator species. Salmon are ultra-sensitive to human-induced impacts on their environment; i.e. water quality, quantity, temperature and turbidity. Through salmon monitoring, we are able to determine early warning of the decline in the overall health of the environment. Because salmon and trout use both freshwater and ocean ecosystems, their health offers a portrait of the well-being over a vast area.
Salmon are an irreplaceable link of the food chain. Over 100 species depend on Salmon as prey; including birds, bears, other fish, and humans alike. After the fishes’ three year life cycle their decomposing bodies create nutrient rich breeding grounds for other fish, insects and plants. Their post-life remains also make for excellent fertilizer for plant life both within and bordering lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans. The lifecycles of salmon are incredibly imperative to the health of our ecosystems along the Northern Pacific Rim, and these coastal watersheds are among the most prolific biological communities on earth.
I was thrilled to learn that there is a voluntary certification program, Fish Friendly Farming, which encourages growing practices that protect the salmon and Steelhead trout. FFF offers farmers and ranchers unique access to expertise concerning harmful environmental practices affecting the fish. Application of this guidance by the farmer through the FFF program not only benefits the environment, but also represents a cost-effective and efficient management approach. By concentrating on improving conditions for salmon and trout, the Fish Friendly Farming program takes a comprehensive approach to environmentally friendly land management. The program also recognizes the efforts of farmers to create or maintain habitat for wildlife such as songbirds, raptors, frogs, coyotes, and others. These species all share the same intricate food web as the salmon and play an important role in the biodiversity of the ecosystem.
Go out and flex those purchasing power muscles of yours by supporting both local and sustainable wine production! Our favorites here at Oliver’s include: Chateau St. Jean, Clos du Bois, Ferrari Carano, Fetzer, Geyser Peak, Husch, Parducci, Robert Mondavi, Seghesio, and Simi. Let’s join together and keep our ecosystems thriving!