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Our 16th Annual Meeting featured heads of two major agencies responsible for fire safety. The meeting began with the reading of a proclamation by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Susan Wengraf recognizing our service to the community.  The reading was followed by brief presentations from board members (see our blogs) then on to the two keynote addresses.   

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Our keynote speakers, pictured to the right with Conservancy Board President, Tim Wallace (left), were Robert Doyle (center), General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District, and Ken Pimlot (right), Director of CAL FIRE. Each gave information-packed presentations of their agency's challenging tasks to promote fire safety in the East Bay Hills and respond to emergencies. About 100 people were in attendance with many participating in a Q&A or talking directly with our speakers at the end.

The Conservancy has put public agencies on notice. On November 27, the Conservancy's attorney sent a letter to the City of Oakland, the East Bay Regional Park District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the University of California. The three-page letter advised them that hazardous blue gum eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees in the East Bay Hills are a fire danger and that their agencies are liable under California law if they fail to take corrective action, noting that the failure to act prophylactically could be more costly than rpaying for losses after a fire. The letter noted that the Conservancy is a 500-family member organization of area residents. 

Conservancy Dues: All donations, large and small, are important and very much appreciated. To make online donations with Paypal or your credit card (click here). Founding Sponsor memberships are $100 per year. Regular annual dues are $50 per household and $25 for students and others with limited incomes.

Here's what's happening this month: 

Saturday, December 9—The Birds of Claremont Canyon, 8-11 AM, led by Dave Quady, Audubon Christmas Bird Count Leader, and Kay Loughman, creator of Wildlife in the North Hills (nhwildlife.net).

Join us to look for winter birds in Claremont Canyon. Dave and Kay will also lead a special owling adventure in the wee morning hours, followed by a break for breakfast. Join us for one walk or both.

Owling (December 9), 4:30-6:30 AM. Meet at the trailhead on the north side of Claremont Avenue (Signpost 28), about one half mile uphill from the Alvarado Road intersection. After a brief owling lesson, we’ll listen for owls at a couple of locations in the canyon. We will walk a little, but mostly stand quietly in the dark and listen. Owling is chancy: we hope to hear an owl or two; if we’re lucky we may see one. Rain or high wind cancels.

Daytime Bird Walk (December 9), 8 AM. Meet at the top of the canyon at Four Corners (the Claremont Avenue/Fish Ranch Road/Grizzly Peak Boulevard intersection). We will drive to a couple of locations to sample different habitats in search of resident and migrant birds. Rain or high wind cancels.

Call Dave at 510-704-9353 before 9:00 PM on Friday, December 8 if you’re unsure whether the walks will run in light of the next day’s weather forecast. Dress warmly and bring binoculars, field guide and flashlight (for owling).

December 16 in Garber Park. Please join us from 10 AM to Noon for our last workday of 2017. We will continue our invasive weed pull in our long-term effort to restore and maintain native plant communities in this beautiful woodland park at the base of Claremont Canyon. This month we'll focus on the Harwood Creek Area (Bob's Place) where invasive weeds are threatening to take over. We will look for possible planting sites--and do some planting. And, of course, if you have a favorite place to work, or wish to do some trail maintenance and clearing, we welcome your help! Meet at the Claremont Avenue entrance to Garber Park, .4 miles up Claremont from the Tunnel Road/Ashby Avenue intersection. Look for the Garber Park sign at the parking turnout. Maps and directions also can be found at www.garberparkstewards.org or contact Shelagh at garberparkstewards@gmail.com.

December 23 in the Upper Canyon, 10:00. We will be putting the final touches on the Gwin Canyon Trail, cutting back roots from the most recent trail widening work and cutting and installing steps at the steeper sections of the trail. Meet us at 10:00 at Signpost 29, 1.5 miles up Claremont from the Tunnel Road/ Ashby Avenue intersection of Claremont. We will supply tools.