Wine Tasting This Weekend to Benefit Sanctuary Forest

Whitethorn Winery, shown during a tasting last year, will support Sanctuary Forest's Mattole restoration work with another Memorial Day tasting event this Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Whitethorn Winery)

Whitethorn Winery, shown during a tasting last year, will support Sanctuary Forest's Mattole restoration work with another Memorial Day tasting event this Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Whitethorn Winery)

Like any other nonprofit, Sanctuary Forest — known for its pioneering work in restoring the Mattole River watershed — depends on fundraisers.

But as executive director Tasha McKee pointed out, the money generated by fundraising events, while important, is secondary to something else: demonstrating to grant funders that the organization has community support.

“If you make $20,000 through community support [from a fundraiser], it leverages $500,000 from outside the area [in the form of grants],” McKee explained. “A successful fundraiser shows you have community support when you’re applying for grants.”

In that sense, the money generated by a fundraiser, “goes a long ways,” as McKee put it. It also helps close the gap, she added, when a project is only partially funded by grants.

Sanctuary Forest’s latest fundraiser is coming up this weekend, a wine tasting and barbecue that’s taking place at Whitethorn Winery from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of the winery, it’s located roughly 400 yards from Sanctuary Forest’s office. Which is convenient since McKee co-owns the winery along with her son, Galen Doherty.

Doherty, also involved in Sanctuary Forest as its lands program director, pointed out that tastings intended to benefit Sanctuary Forest are typically held on Memorial Day Weekend as well as Thanksgiving Day Weekend.

In terms of how much money a fund raiser like the one this weekend generates, McKee expressed the hope that the event will bring in $20,000 — although she indicated that that might be a little optimistic.

Marisa Formosa, a Sanctuary Forest staffer, said that the wine tasting last Memorial Day generated $1,200. The one coming up this weekend is expected to do better. “This time we’re selling food,” she explained, adding that sausages and local whitefish will be on the menu.

A previous wine tasting that featured an added attraction — a silent auction — brought in $10,000. Formosa said that was not last Thanksgiving weekend but Thanksgiving weekend in 2014.

In terms of more recent fundraisers, Formosa said that a show put on by magician Brad Barton at the Garberville Theatre last month netted $5,000.

As for the work Sanctuary Forest does, it includes negotiating conservation easements in which landowners agree to certain restrictions in exchange for tax breaks.

Additionally, utilizing grant funds, the group according to Doherty has to date supplied 24 properties located along the main stem of the Mattole with water storage tanks. The idea here is to enable landowners to store water during the rainy season that they can then use during the summer dry spell.

Known as the “storage and forbearance” program, its purpose is to restore summer stream flows, which can get so low that it poses a major impediment to salmon restoration efforts.

Another way Sanctuary Forest has tackled the low flow problem is through a project with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in which logs were put in creeks to enhance fish habitat. Another project that is slated to be launched this summer is aimed at recharging groundwater supplies through water retention techniques such as placing mulch on the ground to slow run-off during winter rains.

“The idea is to put the sponge back on to make the water infiltrate [downward],” McKee explained.