USA designates Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetland Complex

The Government of the United States has listed its 29th Wetland of International Importance, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetland Complex (1576 ha; 38°24´N 122°47´W). As summarized by Ramsar’s Sofia Mendez from the RIS, the wetland complex is composed of seasonal and perennial freshwater wetlands such as creeks, ponds, marshes, vernal pools, swales, floodplains, riparian forest and grassland located in the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed.

Vernal pool with federally endangered Lasthenia burkei-Burke’s goldfields (Photo: Hattie Brown)Close-up of federally endangered Lasthenia burkei-Burke’s goldfields (Photo: Hattie Brown)

The complex includes an array of public and privately owned units with a variety of conservation status that range from Wildlife areas to Mitigation banks. The Ramsar Site is considered a biological hotspot due to its various types of rare and unique wetlands like vernal pools and their associated rare and endemic plant like the Sonoma sunshine (Blennosperma bakeri) and animal species such as the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense). Besides its high biological value, the site provides flood control, scenic beauty, and recreation services to the majority of Sonoma County’s human population.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Photo: Joe Honton)

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Complex main threats are associated to recent land use changes in the area such as wetland drainage for farming and expansion of urban areas, pollution due to excessive use of fertilizers in the Santa Rosa Plain, and hydrological changes due to the construction of drainage and flood control channels. Currently, the Ramsar Site managers are using a restoration and management plan published in 2006 to implement the conservation goals in the Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetland Complex.

Sunrise in the Laguna (Photo: Joe Honton)

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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