A busy spring for Garber Park, by Shelagh Brodersen

AS I WRITE THIS ARTICLE, it is early fall and the Garber Park Stewards have just had another successful Creek-to-Bay Day. We really enjoy this event, sponsored by the City of Oakland, as it gives us an opportunity to highlight Garber Park’s unique wetlands and riparian corridor along Harwood Creek. Our goal this year was to remove the invasive weeds that were threatening to encroach on last January’s Measure DD-funded creek stabilization project, in which indigenous willows, ash, ferns, and horsetails were planted, and preparations were made for this year’s winter planting. Our efforts, as they are each year, were guided by Lech Naumovich, Director of the Golden Hour Restoration Institute.

Harwood Creek has seen many changes since we formed the Garber Park Stewards three years ago. At our first Creek-to-Bay Day in 2010, our hardy group of volunteers attacked with gusto a 10-foot high wall of Himalayan blackberries, and managed to free part of the creek of this highly invasive plant. Two years later, thanks to our ongoing “blackberry bashing group,” the blackberries are gone.

Other changes to the creek area include last August’s fire safety work funded by the City of Oakland Wildfire Prevention Assessment District in which flash fuels and ladder fuels were removed from the park, revealing large stands of native snowberry, thimbleberry, gooseberry, and ferns.

We ended Creek-to-Bay Day this year with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and look forward to our winter restoration planting. While we have made great progress, we still have much work to do to prepare our next restoration sites.

Cape ivy continues to blanket much of Garber Park, and there are still more stands of Himalayan blackberry and French broom to remove. To that end, fall stewardship will continue. We plan to work along the riparian corridor of Harwood Creek, removing invasive weeds so that native riparian plants that provide important habitat and help stabilize the banks can thrive. We will also work on the hillside at the Evergreen Lane entrance and hope to expand this restoration site to “fireplace plaza” and beyond.

Thanks to all of the many volunteers who have spent countless hours in helping to roll back the years of neglect and the invasions of Himalayan blackberries, Cape ivy, and French broom. Because of your efforts the unique and fascinating native habitat—snowberry, thimbleberry, willows, ferns—is returning. Each workday in Garber Park brings a new surprise that inspires us to return time after time. Won’t you join us? Our stewardship days are the first Tuesday and the third Saturday of the month, 10 AM-noon. During our regular Saturday stewardship session in December, we will have a special third-year anniversary celebration to mark the completion of two years of restoration planting under the leadership of Lech Naumovich, who has worked with the Garber Park Stewards and the City of Oakland to develop our restoration plans. His knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm are primary reasons for our success and make for a fun and informative morning.

For more information on the Garber Park Stewards and their active restoration efforts please visit our blog garberparkstewards.blogspot.com or email us at garberparkstewards@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you soon in Garber Park.