Bring Back the Oaks, by Jim Hanson

With assistance from Janis Bankoff

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.

Inspired by the controversy surrounding FEMA’s decision to fund three agencies for hills fuels management, members of the Sierra Club, the Claremont Canyon Conservancy, and the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) realized that many East Bay residents are not aware that there is a financially-sound strategy for removing high fuel load vegetation that reduces fire risk while retaining the natural beauty and diversity of the East Bay hills. Summarized as “Remove, Restore, and Re-Establish” by the Sierra Club, a good example of this approach can be found in Claremont Canyon at UC’s Signpost 29, located along Claremont Avenue 1.5 miles behind the Claremont Hotel.

CNPS and Sierra Club member Jim Hanson made the suggestion and Norman LaForce, the Sierra Club’s Chair of the East Bay Public Lands Committee, raised the seed funds from SPRAWLDEF to get the video off the ground.

Conservancy volunteer Bob Strayer took videographers Corinne Weber and Marc Boubli of Carpe Omnia Productions through Claremont Canyon and the North Oakland Sports Field to document fuel build-up from blue gum eucalyptus. The group also toured the restored oak, willow, and bay woodlands and their quilt of native shrubs and forbs at the former eucalyptus site on the south side of Claremont Avenue at signpost 29. Over the winter the producers and volunteers teleconferenced to review and assemble the video footage and photos. Special thanks go to the many photographers who skillfully and sensitively captured the natural beauty and diversity of these hills.

The Sierra Club’s Norman LaForce noted, “The video graphically depicts the more fire safe and more ecologically diverse woodland ecosystem we can re-establish through the removal of the monoculture eucalyptus plantations in the hills.” Bring Back the Oaks can be viewed here.