The mission of SMI is to preserve land for natural, scenic, agricultural, cultural, educational, and scientific purposes. SMI acquires land and conservation easements by donation, or by purchase. SMI also promotes public awareness of land use matters, such as the value of open space.

One of SMI’s major activities has been developing ways to restore soil and vegetation. It has used a 351 acre property in Petaluma, Sonoma County, California for this purpose. For several years prior to SMI’s acquisition of the Petaluma property, the property had been used as a cattle ranch and a horse ranch. The property was overgrazed, eroded, compacted, full of invasive species, and the trees were suffering from Sudden Oak Death. SMI has used the Petaluma property as a “test-tube” to develop ways to restore soil and vegetation and to make those restorative techniques available to other research organizations and the public. SMI continues to work closely with Sonoma County’s Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, a nonprofit education center and organic farm (www.oaec.org).

The Petaluma property has become a biological research laboratory. Some of the activities carried out include:

Through these initial, ongoing, and future projects, SMI is developing methods and protocols for managing soil and open space in ways that sustain biodiversity, stimulate biology, reactivate proper water cycling, remineralize depleted soils, and help to regenerate and support the vitality of natural systems. SMI continues to do research and train others in these methods and offers support in efforts to rehabilitate and manage soil and open space.