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You have probably heard by now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has withdrawn $3.5 million in wild fire hazard mitigation grants previously awarded to the University of California and the City of Oakland.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.
One day last fall we received an email asking if any of us at the Conservancy knew about an art piece composed entirely on location high along the ridge of Claremont Canyon.
The welcome rains of this winter and spring have renewed the natural beauty of Claremont Canyon . . . the EIS for the three grants was approved by FEMA and is now considered complete on the federal end. The next step . . .
Bring Back the Oaks, a video focusing on the build-up of fire fuels in the East Bay hills, and a sensible way to deal with it, was released in spring 2016 with the hands-on participation and financial support from the Conservancy.
Panoramic Ridge Trail: The most popular trail in Claremont Canyon is the Stonewall-Panoramic Ridge Trail, sometimes called the East/West Trail at its upper end. The trail begins at the Stonewall Road entrance to Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve and climbs steeply for about a half-mile, enabling hikers to enjoy spectacular vistas of almost the entire San Francisco Bay Region.
The Claremont Canyon landscape and its uses have changed dramatically over the last century. From the 1800's through the first few decades of the 20th century, the East Bay hills were primarily grasslands with trees and brush growing only in canyon draws. Much of Gwin Canyon, a tributary on the south side of Claremont Canyon, was planted with Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata), a widely established practice in the hills to beautify the land for housing developments in the early Twentieth Century. That these trees were fast-growing tinder in the landscape became evident after every subsequent hill wildfire.
The Conservancy's efforts to link the Willow Trail near Signpost 29 with the Lower Norfolk Trail is getting a big boost from Eagle Scout Troop 6 in Berkeley. Troop member David Hood has make this work his scout project and he and other members of the troop have begun their work.
In response to a request for public comment, the Conservancy has written a detailed 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
I can now say with confidence that all three FEMA-funded grants—Oakland’s, the Park District’s and UC’s—are set to move forward. Thanks to excellent media coverage, the public is now better informed about the need for wildfire prevention projects and better understands the responsibility that comes with providing a safer environment for all.