About the Laguna

Sonoma County’s Ecological Treasure

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is the largest freshwater wetlands complex on the northern California coast. In a state known for extraordinary biological diversity, it is located in the second-most biologically rich county, Sonoma, and is a major contributor to the County’s biological diversity. The Laguna’s 22-mile channel forms the largest tributary to the Russian River, draining a 254-square-mile watershed which encompasses nearly the entire Santa Rosa Plain. This includes all or part of the communities of Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Forestville, and Sebastopol.

As the receiving basin of a watershed where most of the county’s human population lives, the Laguna is a landscape feature of critical importance to Sonoma County’s water quality and flood control. It provides an important overflow area for the Russian River during periods of heavy winter rain, serving as a natural holding basin which captures and slows floodwaters, easing their impact on lower Russian River communities.

But the Laguna is far more than its main channel. It is a unique ecological system covering more than 30,000 acres; a mosaic of creeks, open water, perennial marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, oak woodland and grassland. It is home to hundreds of species of birds from bald eagles to hummingbirds; mammals such as mink, badger, bobcat and river otter; and numerous fish and amphibians, including several rare and endangered species.

The wetlands of the Laguna are an important stopover for thousands of birds that migrate along the Pacific flyway, as well as a permanent home to myriad species. Its riparian forest — interface between land and flowing surface water — is a layered habitat of trees, shrubs and undergrowth. It provides food, shelter, and a travel corridor for wildlife, filters nutrients and pollutants from agricultural and urban runoff, and shades and cools the water for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Our mission is to preserve, restore and enhance the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and to inspire public appreciation and understanding of this magnificent natural area. We accomplish these goals through the support of our Board, hundreds of volunteers, and our members. Please help us by becoming a member or making a donation to any or all of our programs or by volunteering.

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