The Gold Ridge RCD has a nine-member Board, including seven directors and two associate directors. Directors serve two year terms and are appointed by the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors with recommendations from the RCD staff.
Joe Dutton was born and raised near the town of Sebastopol on his family’s ranch in Sonoma County. In 1964, five years before Joe was born, his parents, Warren and Gail purchased a parcel of property near the little town of Graton just outside of Sebastopol. Joe became interested in the family business as a young boy. He grew up in the vineyards and orchards; operating the farm equipment and helping his father oversee the orchards and expanding vineyards every day after school and during summer vacations. Upon graduating from high school, Joe immediately pursued the family farming operation. Today, Joe and his brother Steve farm 1400 acres. 1200 acres are planted to wine grapes, mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They also are still farming 200 acres of organic apples. In 1995 Joe and his wife, Tracy started Dutton Estate Winery, making wines from the grapes grown by Dutton Ranch. In the last four years they started making a hard apple cider that showcases the local organic apple varieties grown by Dutton Ranch.
Elias’s life has always been centered around animal health and husbandry. He went to school at Cal Poly Pomona in the Animal Science department where he studied animal genetics and earned an MS in Poultry Science. His first job was working for a poultry breeder in North Carolina, where they exported breeder stock all over the world. Elias’s wife is from the Bay Area, so they eventually came back to California, where he continued working for the same company. Elias’s wife has a PhD in Education and started working at the Sonoma County Office of Education.
After that, Elias worked for Merial Select, a Merck company, in poultry vaccines. He was later hired by Petaluma Poultry (now Perdue) as the Live Production Division Manager. His last job was with Neogen, where he worked in Santa Rosa profiling dairy cattle genetics throughout the West. Elias loved visiting dairies all over the West, but especially loved working in Sonoma County. Helping the dairymen choose which calves to keep and which to sell based on their genetic makeup was very rewarding.
Once Elias retired, he wanted to stay involved in the agricultural world, so he initially volunteered for the Farm Bureau, testing the water quality of creeks in Sonoma and Marin counties. Elias also volunteered for the Gold Ridge RCD, which encouraged him to later join the RCD as a Board Director. He also currently volunteers for two Sons in Retirement (SIR) groups.
His hobbies are swimming, which he still does 3-4 times a week, as well as hiking and fishing.
Guy grew up in Sonoma County where his parents owned a ranch along the Lagune de Santa Rosa. They had orchards with a variety of fruit trees, raised cattle, sheep, horses, chickens, and pretty much everything you can imagine on a working ranch.
Growing up in Sonoma County gave Guy a love of agriculture, and he became familiar with many farmers and ranchers throughout the area. He first became aware of RCDs as a teenager by seeing some of the projects that they helped property owners with. Having known some of the former board members, Guy always felt that it would be an honor to be involved with the RCD. Having had the opportunity to serve on a number of Sonoma County Boards’ has given him great personal satisfaction. At the Lagune de Santa Rosa Foundation, Guy was instrumental in the restoration of the farmhouse and the design and construction of the Learning Center, eventually terming out as Board President.
While attending Santa Rosa Junior College, Guy worked part time fueling airplanes at our local airport. Never losing his love of aircraft, it was easy to become involved in the Pacific Coast Air Museum. As a board member, and eventually President, Guy is very proud to see what it has grown into today.
One of his many interests is maintaining and driving antique automobiles. He shares this hobby with his family and friends, where they have driven nearly every backroad throughout our county.
Guy continues to work in agriculture, helping property owner’s in developing their land for vineyards, orchards, and pastures. Guy is closely involved in timber harvesting, especially in areas where our more recent forest fires have occurred. He finds this work critical in salvaging the burnt timber, allowing the new juvenile trees a chance to mature into a future forest.
Guy feels fortunate to still reside on the ranch that he grew up on. Over the years, Guy has worked hard to preserve and protect the Laguna’s watershed and its incredible wildlife. The best part of Guy’s day is when he and his dog can walk along the shoreline and be a part of such a great place to live.
Mel is a 3rd generation farmer on his home ranch located on Irwin Lane in Santa Rosa. He has been married to his wife, Janeen, for 41 years, and has 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Mel has been farming for 55 years in Sonoma County. He has farmed apples, pears, prunes, plums, walnuts and now wine grapes. He has also raised oat hay and silage crops. His property had an apple packing house, where he packed and shipped fresh apples for many years.
Mel has served on numerous farm related boards at the county and state level, including the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. In addition, he served on the board of directors of North Bay Farm Credit for 12 years.
In Mel’s spare time, he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, collecting and restoring Cletrac Tractors, collecting wine, and drinking it. Most days he spends working on the ranch he loves, where he was born and raised.
Mel became a Gold Ridge RCD director on the urging of his good friend, Joe Dutton. Mel enjoys being able to serve as a Gold Ridge director and being able to interact with our dedicated staff on the many “Feel Good” projects that we work on.
Temra Costa brings 20 + years of work in food systems, agriculture, philanthropy, and more recently, forestry, to Gold Ridge RCD in service of their work and programs.
As a co-owner of a diverse rural land project, Green Valley Farm + Mill, Temra supports ecological forest management and other land stewardship activities. She is the author of “Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat,” and a consultant to businesses and foundations on regenerative agriculture and food systems programing. Toward increasing her understanding of climate beneficial land stewardship practices, Temra recently completed a Certificate of Holistic Farm/Ranch Planning & Design and Carbon Farm Planning Curriculum from Chico State and the Carbon Cycle Institute.
Temra’s endeavors with Gold Ridge RCD and beyond seek to foster programs and collaborations that scale regenerative land stewardship practices for a more resilient and equitable future.
Chris has been an Associate Director for Gold Ridge since 2016 but was also part of the staff for a short time in 2007-8. Chris has lived in the district since 2000 or so, working for STRAW and then Prunuske Chatham.
Chris grew up in L.A. and always wanted more connection to the natural world. The San Gabriel River flows past her hometown in a concrete channel and not a river. The ocean gave her a sense of place and peace and was a regular outdoor spot for her. Her college major was Conservation and Resources Studies, and she has been working to improve the world ever since! Chris currently works for Marin County Dept. of Public Works planning for flooding and sea level rise, while protecting Marin’s incredible natural resources and communities. Chris loves the RCD for the unique role we play to support natural resources, private landowners, and agriculture. Chris thinks this type of work is so necessary to support our beautiful natural lands, open spaces, and food for our long-term future.
Chris love getting outside, in her backyard or out in parks and open spaces. Over the last year, Chris and her husband, John, spent a lot of time working on their garden and growing food and flowers. Chris and John regularly go hiking in Willow Creek and biking on the West County Trail. Traveling to the Channel Islands was their annual trip for camping and kayaking until COVID-19. Santa Cruz Island is beautiful and close, and Chris highly recommends it! (You can go for the day if camping isn’t an option.) Chris has traveled regularly and appreciates spending time in new places: learning about the culture, the history, eating local foods and drinks. Every single place Chris and John visited has been one they’ve wanted to return to. Chris is excited to have the opportunity to travel again now that the pandemic is over.