The failure of planning to address the urban interface and intermix fire-hazard problems in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Joe McBride and Jerry Kent

(Article originally appeared in the International Journal of Wildland Fire, January 7, 2019. Reprinted here with permission from the authors.)

(Many recommendations) for fuel mitigation and architectural changes have not been addressed. In spite of the recommendations for fuel management put forth in more than 30 plans since 1923, no region-wide action has taken place. Individual agencies and local Fire Safe Councils have, in part, followed up on recommendations for fuel management on land they administer, but often a complete adoption of recommendations has not taken place. The failure to enact all of the recommendations of these is due to various combinations of the following reasons:

Managing a Changing Oak Woodland, by Shelagh Brodersen

Workshop attendees on the hillside planting native forbs and grasses after the removal of the old oak which had succumbed to “sudden oak death.”

Workshop attendees on the hillside planting native forbs and grasses after the removal of the old oak which had succumbed to “sudden oak death.”

THANKS TO EVERYONE who made January 12, 2019 such a fun and exciting start to this year’s restoration work in Garber Park. The recent removal of the old oak tree at the Evergreen Lane entrance, due to its earlier demise, gave way to a most timely, information-packed and fun workshop by Lech Naumovich. The workshop focused on the changing ecology of the Evergreen Hillside and was aptly named: Managing a Changing Oak Woodland: Oak Woodland Restoration Post-Climax.

The old oak came down on Thursday, January 10, the first sunny day after a week of down-pours, just in time for the weekend workshop. And what a fantastic workshop it was. From Lech: “ I estimate we planted over 100 plants (plugs, containers, cuttings plus we caged three coast live oak seedlings). What a great group and we got quite a bit of work done.”

Winter Bird Walk, December 8, 2018

Once again our intrepid little group of birders, led by Dave Quady, headed out on a chilly morning in December before dawn to listen for owls. After hearing the hoot of a Great Horned Owl, all retreated home to warm up with coffee and breakfast before regrouping at 8 A.M. at the top of Claremont Canyon. We saw thirteen bird species, all expected in Claremont Canyon at this time of year. We feel fortunate to have Dave as our leader. He is always full of information and good cheer and has birded in our area for many years. 

FEMA update on grant to UC

Directly across the road from Signpost 29 (center of photo) are the remaining eucalyptus slated for removal on UC land in Claremont Canyon. UC is currently negotiating with FEMA to get funds returned so their wildfire safety program can move forward. Trees seen along the ridgeline (top of photo) are on EBMUD property. These are being thinned over time as an alternative to complete removal.

Directly across the road from Signpost 29 (center of photo) are the remaining eucalyptus slated for removal on UC land in Claremont Canyon. UC is currently negotiating with FEMA to get funds returned so their wildfire safety program can move forward. Trees seen along the ridgeline (top of photo) are on EBMUD property. These are being thinned over time as an alternative to complete removal.

Trail Map at Domingo and Claremont Avenues, by Jon Kaufman

Building and maintaining trails in Claremont Canyon is the Conservancy’s way of inviting area residents to experience the joy of living in the wildland-urban interface. We think it will help remind people that responsibility comes with the pleasure of living here. We need to care for our environment by making our wildland accessible and by removing invasive plants and keeping it as firesafe as possible.


May 6 bird walk—an ode to spring, by Kay Loughman

Especially with spring birding trips, our walk was as much about listening as seeing. We identified 29 species (see list below), many by sound alone. Resident singers, American Robins were among the first species we heard. Newly-arrived Swainson’s Thrushes announced their presence with single chips–they’ll be producing their spiraling ethereal song in another week or so.  Then the “what peevesyou?” call of a distant Olive-sided Flycatcher let us know it too had completed its northward migration.

Living up to our commitment, by L. Tim Wallace

The Conservancy is busy on several fronts—living up to our commitment to be vigilant about wildfire safety while encouraging a healthy native environment in Claremont Canyon. Unfortunately, wildfire danger continues to be a major issue as fire season is becoming a year round concern. Public agencies are unable to devote the financial and human resources necessary to address it.

New trail signs installed, by Jon Kaufman

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With thanks to Tom Klatt we now have a new trail marker where the Gwin Canyon Trail meets the Willow Trail just down the steps from Signpost 29. We installed the trail marker during our January stewardship day. We are hopeful that the Park District will add a trail sign of their own at the other end of the Gwin Canyon Trail where it meets Norfolk Road. Conservancy volunteers continue their work to make the trail easier to traverse by installing more steps and water bars and making a part of the trail less steep. We also will be installing logs along the edge to reduce erosion. Finally, the University has just improved the area just outside the gate at Signpost 29, making it safer to pull over and park.

December 9, 2017 Bird Walk, by Kay Loughman

Last month's bird walk, led by Dave Quady and me, was a quiet affair—only fourteen species were observed over six hours of birding (minus 90 minutes for breakfast). That's an all time low for our winter bird walks, likely due to lack of rain (only one significant rainfall since spring) and strong dry winds the preceding week. Nevertheless our group of birders—four for the early morning owl walk and six for the after breakfast bird walk—enjoyed each others' company while we waited . . .

Outing with the Park District trails managers

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Conservancy members recently hosted a tour of Claremont Canyon with planners from the East Bay Regional Park District's Trails Development team, including trails manager Sean Dougan and Ward 2 Board Member Dee Rosario. We hiked up the Conservancy's new Gwin Canyon trail connecting Park District and UC lands, then headed over to the Stonewall-Panoramic Ridge Trail to assess its steepest section just below Panoramic Way. We are hoping the Park District will build switchbacks on this degraded section of trail for increased safety and accessibility to hikers. We'll keep you informed as progress develops.