Volunteers make the canyon beautiful, by Jon Kaufman

Conservancy board members Josh Borkowski (leftmost) and Bob Strayer (rightmost) flank a group of cheerful Cal student volunteers last March on Berkeley Project Day. We hope to move the trail forward the last hundred yards and connect it with the existing trail on the East Bay Regional Park District’s land.

Conservancy board members Josh Borkowski (leftmost) and Bob Strayer (rightmost) flank a group of cheerful Cal student volunteers last March on Berkeley Project Day. We hope to move the trail forward the last hundred yards and connect it with the existing trail on the East Bay Regional Park District’s land.

We are fortunate to live on the interface of a city and wildland and can enjoy the convenience of urban living and the pleasures of undeveloped land. But keeping our wildland beautiful and enjoyable does not happen automatically. Earlier this spring a group of UC students and area residents learned that first hand.

Five UC students joined with regular Conservancy volunteers in March 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 difficult to navigate. The volunteers went to work on the Willow Trail on UC land below Signpost 29, carving channels so the water would drain off the trail, then filling the channels with small branches to prevent getting clogged with mud.

We were pleased to see immediate improvement and hikers went out of their way to compliment us on our work. We also were pleased to see how well the new connector trail to the Gwin Canyon Trail has held up with all the recent rains. This connector trail runs along a steep slope and therefore is particularly susceptible to erosion. However, we had shored up the lower side of the trail with fascines fashioned from smaller branches and with tree trunks when available. That seems to have been effective and the completed portion of the trail is in good shape.