Members of the conservancy’s board of directors spent much of the past summer working with UC Berkeley Forestry Professor Emeritus Joe McBride developing a plan to manage vegetation in Strawberry and Claremont canyons. I am pleased to report that Joe’s plan is now available at www.claremontcanyon.org/fuel-management-proposal. We urge UC to follow the plan as it is the standard for how to minimize the damage of a future wildfire.
Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem. The Skyline Gardens Alliance has been doing just that in the high ridge volcanic area between Tilden and Sibley regional parks. This is East Bay MUD watershed land, traversed north-south by the Skyline Trail. Under special permit from EBMUD, we are doing a botanical census …
In light of continued wildfire and earthquake disaster threats to Oakland, the Oakland Firesafe Council has begun a new program called Oakland Community Preparedness and Response (OCPR). The program, which launched in September, will help citizens and groups in the Oakland hills and foothills—both high- risk areas due to the “very high-hazard wild fire zone” at the Wildland-Urban Interface and the 120-mile-long major earthquake zone along the Hayward Fault—to prepare for these threats. The goal is to bring about fewer injuries and deaths and lower financial losses in the event of a major disaster, such as a wild re or earthquake.
This season the Oakland vegetation management unit, under the leadership of the incomparable Vince Crudele, made significant progress in reducing vegetation on city and public roadside properties. Major thoroughfares in our area include Tunnel Road, Skyline Boulevard, Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Hiller Drive, Clarewood Drive, Panoramic Way, and Claremont Avenue. I’m pleased to say that Oakland is doing its job in the hills along major roads and near open spaces.
(Note: Do this hike with a friend because two cars are required for a short shuttle.)
This moderately difficult 3.5-mile route begins at Signpost 29 and finishes at the Claremont Avenue end of Garber Park. The hike traverses parkland trails and parts of the neighborhoods above the Claremont Hotel, where many of the lovely houses were rebuilt after the 1991 Berkeley-Oakland Hills fire.
Conservancy volunteers were busy in June and July working on the trails in our canyon, while efforts to make us safer from wildfire were moving forward at UC, in Oakland, and in Sacramento.
In June, our volunteers relocated a small section of the Willow Trail, where it had become a seasonal creek, and a little further up the trail moved a creek crossing where erosion had begun to weaken one of the corners.
At its March meeting, the Conservancy Board of Directors elected new officers—including Marilyn Goldhaber as Vice President, Nancy Mueller as Secretary, Kay Loughman as Treasurer, and myself as President. Tim led this organization with dedication and a steady hand for much of the past 18 years. Fortunately, we are not saying goodbye to Tim; he will remain on the board as a member-at-large.
I begin my term with a shout-out to retiring president Tim Wallace.
Oakland’s current $4 million funding level for vegetation management, for which the Conservancy and other local organizations lobbied hard, will need our support again soon. In February, the city’s finance director, Katano Kasaine, told the City Council that these funds, to be spread over two years, were a “onetime appropriation” and thus were not included in the baseline budget.
After more than a decade of disappointments in its failure to obtain funding to assist with vegetation management and wildfire protection, the University of California is once again hopeful as it has been awarded a $3.6 million grant from Cal Fire.
UC’s Grant Proposal to Cal Fire: The University of California at Berkeley proposes to treat vegetation in 250 acres in its Hill Campus (upper parts of Strawberry and Claremont canyons) to reduce wildfire hazard to its buildings and nearby homes, targeting areas forested with “flammable eucalyptus and high fuel volume.” UC will also create defensible space within 100 feet of roads, fire-trails, buildings, and homes and increase the reliability of the 150 KV transmission line that supplies power the campus and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
To bird is to listen. And once you know the vocalizations of the local birds, an unusual bird stands out. That’s how Erica Rutherford and I discovered a summer tanager last fall in the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. Within minutes of stepping out of our car on the October 30, we heard “pit-ti-tuck,” a vocalization reminiscent of an expected (albeit out-of-season) species, the western tanager . . . but not quite. So, when we heard “pit-ti-tuck” again, we ran.
Members Tell Us What They Think - Summary of findings from 2018 Survey (click here to download tabulations).
On November 12, 2018 we began an online survey of members and friends of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy for whom we had email addresses (N=523). We followed up three weeks later by a mailing to non-respondents and additional member households for whom we did not have email addresses. By the close of our survey in January, 2019, a total of 180 persons responded, either electronically (N=105) or by sending in their survey through the mail (N=65).
(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:
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.
Sunday, November 11 was our 17th Annual Meeting at the Claremont Hotel. The meeting began with a moment of silence to remember those who perished or who were adversely affected by the recent wildfires in Butte and Ventura counties. We also took a moment to honor our veterans, as our meeting occurred on Veteran’s Day.
This year an exceptionally large number of destructive fires have occurred in Northern California. The causes were well publicized: 1) an on-going drought, 2) abnormally hot weather,