Bright Ideas: Tuleyome Photo Booklet

Without having thoroughly explored California's Berryessa Snow Mountain region, it can be hard to visualize the special place that the volunteer advocacy group Tuleyome is working so hard to preserve. This month's bright idea is the way Tuleyome has allowed more people to see the hidden and remote stretches of the 500,000-acre Putah-Cache bioregion of northwestern California and instantly understand the need for permanent protection—a photo booklet.

Originally created by a volunteer photographer, the Tuleyome photo booklet highlights specific areas throughout the Berryessa Snow Mountain (BSM) region and has been used as a successful tool in the campaign to designate some of the land as a National Conservation Area. The publication has been distributed to media, political leaders, businesses, major landowners, donors, and to those who just haven't had the chance to see the whole region. Executive Director Sara Dawn Husby says the booklet has been very effective. “I can go on for hours and hours explaining why this is such a great region and needs permanent protection, but the photographs in the book do all the explaining.  If someone is not convinced beforehand on why this area is so special, they are hooked after seeing the photos.”

The BSM region comprises almost half a million acres of largely undeveloped land starting at Lake Berryessa in the south of Solano County and extending 100 miles north to Snow Mountain Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest. The vast area includes three wilderness areas, three University of California Natural Reserves, and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Mendocino National Forest, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

The region provides habitat and movement corridors for many species of wildlife and is an unusually rich part of the California Floristic Province, a biological hotspot for flora that thrive in its Mediterranean climate. With photos of rivers, trees, waterfalls, a newt, hikers, mountains, and more, the booklet shows the diversity of habitat and recreation activities organized by specific area in the region and keyed to a map on the cover.

Even though the photo collection has been an unqualified success, the organization has been working with Patagonia on revisions that will make it even more valuable to the campaign. In September of this year, Husby attended the 2011 Patagonia Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference, where Tuleyome's materials were reviewed by the manager of the Patagonia Edit Department, Vincent Stanley. “I was very nervous having him look at this piece, especially since I have never seen anything like it before,” Husby said. Yet, “my biggest fear turned out to be the best attribute of the piece. Vincent stated that he had never seen anything similar, that it is unique, and does an excellent job really highlighting the region.”

However, there's always room for improvement.  With suggestions from Patagonia, such as moving the map to the inside cover, adding taglines and captions to each section, and including more photos of people enjoying the land, Tuleyome is working to make the piece an even more effective tool. Additionally, Husby said that the final suggestion was to include “a list of the ways that people can get involved, something that we never thought of.” The photos from the booklet have been uploaded to Tuleyome's Picasa Site so you can see for yourself what they are working to protect.

With the next round of production to include Patagonia's suggestions, this bright idea will continue to help Tuleyome's campaign to protect Berryessa Snow Mountain, allowing for people across the country to get the picture about why this place is important to protect.