We had some big excitement last week. Because of the Grizzly Peak Fire on Wednesday afternoon, we had to cancel our workday. We did get back to Skyine on Sunday and almost finished with Scattergrass in the Bay Grove. Perhaps one more good session will finish that off . . .
Botanists tend to love a fire, because the aftermath is so fascinating. Seeds not seen in decades may sprout. In the early days of California botany, when Jepson was at Cal in the early 1900's, he and others found scores of interesting natives on the slopes of Grizzly Peak. Will they return? How will UC manage the burn area (let's hope they do nothing besides remove the Eucs and Pines)?
"I attended the 8/2/2017 fire Oakland Hills fire scene during operations today and observed conditions and took photos. The City of Berkeley Fire responded, as did many other agencies. The fire would have threatened Berkeley, except that the winds were blowing onshore from the ocean. Imagine if the winds were blowing down the canyon (off-shore), as we see during Diablo Wind condition days. The most effective response came from helicopter water drops, taken from lake Anza, by EBRPD, Cal Fire and other attending helicopters. Most of the firefighters stayed on Grizzly Peak, as the hills are too steep and littered with dead eucalyptus and pine fuel."
I thought you might like to hear from a fire fighter and her mom's perspective. Kerry, my daughter, was a part of the fire fighting crews from EBMUD (every EBMUD ranger is trained in fighting urban interface fires.) They were at the scene in Strawberry Canyon a very few minutes after it started.
A heavily used foot path into the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve was recently upgraded by a volunteer trail crew, Take To The Hills. T3H was formed two years ago by Steve Glaeser (inset, above) and myself (photo on opposite page) to build stairways and make the trail safer for travel. Though the trail does not appear on any existing Park District or UC map, was never formally engineered, and was scarcely maintained, it has, for years, attracted both casual and experienced hikers traveling between Dwight Way and Panoramic Hill. Often misunderstood as belonging
This spring, we cover a new group, Take To The Hills, working on trails in the little canyon that runs parallel to Claremont Canyon. That canyon, and the foot path or “social trail” traversing it, have variously been called Derby, Dwight, Clark Kerr and even (at least once) Rattlesnake Canyon/Trail. Along with T3H, we are asking the agencies that own the land to settle on a name that will stick. For now, we agree with T3H that the historic name of Derby, in honor of Derby Creek whose headwaters begin in that small canyon, makes sense.
Earlier this spring UC students joined with regular Conservancy volunteers to participate in the semi-annual Berkeley Project Day. Recent rains had made Claremont Canyon sport new green foliage, but also left portions of our upper canyon trails muddy and . . .
At the invitation of the Conservancy, in 2009 members of the California Lichen Society surveyed lichens at sixteen sites in Claremont Canyon. Read a report of the survey in the Conservancy’s Fall 2009 Newsletter. In all, 81 lichen species were identified. The results of the survey . . .
For the last two years rainy weather forced us to cancel the Conservancy’s winter bird walk. More of the same seemed likely this year when we had plenty of rain during the preceding week. But the forecast for Sunday looked promising
"My Word," reprinted from East Bay with permission from Sue Piper.
"Take action like your life and those of your loved ones depend on it. " This is not just to be sure that Oakland residents living in the hills won’t have to flee for their lives when the next firestorm hits — as it surely will, given five years of California drought, the growing numbers of dead and dying trees, and the unusual topography of the Caldecott Tunnel that leads to small fires every year and major wildfires every 20 years.
It’s Time to Wake Up and Get Real About Wildfire Risk
We are experiencing a perfect storm as record heat, drought, massive numbers of dead trees, and dying forests are leading to the spread of wildfires like we have never seen before throughout the western United States and Canada. Instead of naively thinking your homeowner’s insurance is going to make up for the trauma of losing your home, or that overwhelmed firefighters are going to be able to save it, it’s time you woke up and got real.
Through its stewardship program, the Claremont Canyon Conservancy has been building and maintaining fire trails in upper Claremont Canyon. Working with the landowners, in this case the University of California, our volunteers have improved the fire trail from Signpost 29 to Four Corners and named it the Summit House Trail (after the old inn that once stood at the top of the canyon).
Life along the ridgeline of the East Bay Hills is like life on the edge, where inland and coastal climates come together, where the winds blow the hardest from either side.
You have probably heard by now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has withdrawn $3.5 million in wild fire hazard mitigation grants previously awarded to the University of California and the City of Oakland. As a result, both agencies will be postponing much needed vegetation management programs in their parks and open spaces throughout the Oakland Hills, including in Claremont Canyon.
Sunday, October 30, 2016, 4-6 PM
The Claremont Hotel Sonoma Room
Refreshments and wine bar from 4-4:30 PM
In response to a request for public comment, the Conservancy has written a detailed, five plus page letter in support of the University's plan to implement its grant from FEMA to make the hills above our homes more fire safe. The plan is extremely detailed and addresses all the concerns that have been raised during the years long federal environmental review process.
. . . the fire burned through EBMUD’s 4-acre “tower” hillside, across from UC signpost 15. The fire was largely confined to surface fuels (eucalyptus detritus) and did not engage the canopy, though it burned to the top of the hill.
On June 6, 2016, at Hiller Highlands Country Club, the Conservancy hosted the premier screening of the film “Bring Back the Oaks: Managing vegetation to reduce fire risk in the East Bay Hills.” Inspired by the controversy surrounding the FEMA grants for wildfire hazard mitigation, and in an effort to address public concerns, the making of the film was co-sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Conservancy, with a grant from the Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund.
Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve is hosting a research project focused on the Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus), also sometimes referred to as the Alameda striped racer (Coluber lateralis euryxanthus). This elusive and speedy snake is protected at the state and federal level and may be found in the park.