Short Summary

Garber Park is a 13-acre City of Oakland woodland park located behind the Claremont Hotel. The mile long Loop Trail takes us through a forest of oaks, Bay Laurel, Big Leaf Maples and California Buckeyes to the 1920's era stone Fireplace Plaza. The Garber Park Stewards vision is to safeguard the native wildland resources of Garber Park while reducing the risk of wildfire and improving the trail system.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Focus on Fire Safety

July Volunteer Habitat Restoration Workdays
Help Reduce the Threat of Fire in Garber Park 
Tuesday, July 1 and Saturday, July 19 
10AM- Noon

Tuesday, July 1:  Volunteer Workday: There's lots to do as we continue preparing for this Fire Season to reduce the threat of fire.  Join us in chopping and pulling the usual suspect invasives (Algerian and Cape ivy, poison hemlock, thistle, and erharta grass) and perform trail maintenance.  We will focus on the Claremont Ave. Entrance, cut erhardtda along the trail or pull and cut the invasive grasses at the Evergreen Lane Entrance Hillside. 

Saturday, July 19: Volunteer Workday:  We will continue removing invasive weeds and performing trail maintenance with a focus on vegetation management for fire safety.  For details see Tuesday, July 1 description above.

For all Restoration Workdays in Garber
Wear long sleeves and pants, and shoes with good traction.  We provide tools, gloves, water and snacks but we encourage volunteers to bring their own gloves and reusable water bottles.  

Directions and Map: We meet at the Evergreen Lane Entrance to Garber.   The Claremont Ave Entrance is easily accessible by bus.  From the Claremont Ave entrance parking lot, it's a short, but steep hike to the Evergreen Lane Entrance. 

For more information and questions contact Shelagh at or 510-517-1918.  

We hope to see you there!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Grasses Demystified!!

Careful investigation when identifying grass
anatomy.  Photo by Lech Naumovich
Lech Naumovich, botanist, restoration ecologist, and Executive Director of Golden Hour Restoration Institute, presented another interesting and informative workshop in Garber Park on May 24, 2014.  The goal of this workshop, titled Demystifying Woodland Grasses, was to become familiar with key diagnostic features of the common grasses – both native and invasive – so that we could feel more comfortable weeding out the highly invasive grasses from our restoration sites.  
The attendees were a diverse group of veteran restoration workers from throughout the East Bay, and many were quite knowledgeable in the taxonomy of grasses, but wanted to know more about the local species.  Most of us, though, were encountering the challenge of identifying grasses for the first time.  But we all had the same goal – get to know our grasses so we can do a better job in weeding out the bad and encouraging the good!
We had the opportunity to observe species from a variety of genera including Erhardta, Elymus, Festuca, Stipa, Bromus, Agrostis, Melica and Avena. Lech arrived with a box full of grasses, which we used for the first few activities.  We were then much more prepared when were given the task of identifying these same grasses in the Evergreen Lane Restoration Site. All activities were with partners, and the atmosphere was one of cooperation and excitement at every “AHA, I get it!” moment.  The less experienced teamed up with the more skilled in the various exercises throughout the morning, which was most helpful for those of us who were less knowledgeable.  Fortunately, one of the most easily identifiable grasses, Erhardta Erecta, is also one of the most invasive, and the one we all want to be able to identify with ease as we try to control its range.   
  Photo by Lech Naumovich
A couple of truly amazing take-aways for some of us - we now look at grasses in a whole new way and can talk about them with a whole new vocabulary.  Rather than looking at them as all he same we now see that they are highly varied with very different inflorescence types, awns, ligules, collars, rooting behavior, and vestiture, spikelets, and more!  


Monday, May 5, 2014

CSEB Environmental Studies Students Return to Garber

Still smiling at the end of a successful morning of
field work - and looking forward to a well deserved
Every year for the past 16 years Mike Vukman, restoration ecologist, volunteers to lead students from Professor David Larson’s environmental field course at Cal State East Bay on a "in the field" day,  with the goal to introduce the students to bio-engineering techniques.  We were delighted that Mike once again chose Garber.

The structure of the morning was similar to last year:  The class was divided into three rotating groups -   one group helped monitor the Measure DD City of Oakland funded Erosion Control Project along Harwood Creek, a second group helped remove invasive weeds from the field next to Harwood Creek, and Mike led the third group in making and planting Willow Wattles in Harwood Creek for erosion control.   The group tackled each task with enthusiasm, climbing down the steep slopes along Harwood Creek, looking for the flags and pins to measure the size of the plants and assess erosion in the creek, or planting the willow wattles at the steep head cut to control the erosion along this very steep part of the creek. 

Alex Carrozza, Anthony Caquias, Henry Alvarez, and Kawai Leung
climbing down the steep slopes of Harwood Creek helping the
Stewards monitor the success of the City of Oakland's
Measure DD project in Garber Park.

 Last year the weeding group pulled out an entire field of erhardta grass which allowed the mugwort, snowberry, and ossoberry to thrive and cover at least 1/3 of the field.  The erhardta grass and other invasive weeds, of course, are popping up between the natives.  So this years weed pull was careful weeding between the natives.  Great job – the field looks beautiful.

Thank you Mike and Professor Larson for once again choosing Garber Park for a hands-on educational experience in watershed restoration.  And special thanks to the Garber Park Stewards  for their leadership.   Your contributions helped make a great advancement in habitat restoration in Garber today.   

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

HELP TRACK - AND SLOW - SUDDEN OAK DEATH: "bioblitz" survey May 10-11

Take an easy stroll or challenging hike to help with the annual Sudden Oak Death “bioblitz” survey! Help track the pathogen that is killing our beautiful Coast Live Oaks. After a 45-minute training in Berkeley or Orinda Saturday, May 10, you'll search for suspect leaves where you like – including your own yard! We'll suggest routes if you like. Return samples to a drop box by Monday morning. Results will be announced in fall, after lab testing.

No cure has been found for Sudden Oak Death, but well-timed action can slow spread and save specific trees and the many wild creatures that depend on oaks. For that, we need to know where the fungus-like water mold is spreading!

Sign up for 1 PM training on the UC Berkeley campus here. For the 10 AM training in Orinda,  email Both sites are easily reached by BART.  Background info, including maps of Sudden Oak Death to date, here.  

A free two-hour training session on preventive treatment for Sudden Oak Death is scheduled Wed., May 7, on the UC Berkeley campus. Information and sign-up here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

An Awesome April!

A HUGE THANK YOU to all the volunteers who gave their time and energy to advance the cause of restoration in garber during April. Excited by the rains early in April stewards could be seen almost daily  pulling invasive non-native weeds throughout the park, improving and mulching the trails, and even helping to get the last of the native plants into the ground this season.  The month culminated in a successful Earth Day -  we partnered with Claremont Canyon Conservancy to clean and beautify the Claremont Avenue roadside and the entrances to several of the popular hiking trails in the canyon.

Bob Strayer (on the left) can often be seen in Garber doing the heavy lifting work of trail restoration or pulling the ivy along Sylvan Path out of the trees.  On Earth Day he was joined by Pete, and these two did the really hardwork of removing loads of trash from Claremont Ave and Garber.  
The parking lot seen here was first cleared one year ago on earth day when over 40 people helped clear the the parking lot. One year  and many, many volunteer hours later the beautiful 1920's trail from Claremont Avenue to Fireplace Plaza has been restored.  This Claremont Avenue Entrance is now the main entrance to Garber.  There's ample parking and it's a beautiful short walk to Fireplace Plaza, the loop trail and Evergreen Lane, the site where most of our volunteer workdays begin.

Mark can often be seen removing ivy and
expanding the restoration site at Fern Glen.
Trail improvements such as this in Fern Glen
can be seen throughout the park

Many volunteers prefer the working along the trail or
in Garber's meadows.  Two years ago Rispin Meadow,  on
the left, was impenetrable, filled with fire prone
 invasive plants (Himalayan Blackberry, broom,
poison hemlock).  Once freed the natives have re-bounded -
and volunteers enjoy a quiet time weeding in the meadow.

I am humbled by the number of volunteers who come to help restore and maintain this little piece of paradise throughout the year.   And, what better time to say THANK YOU  than on Earth Day.  We couldn't do it without you!  

Habitat Restoration Workdays in May
 Tuesday, May 6 and Saturday, May 17
Meet at the Claremont Avenue Entrance
at 10AM.  We work till Noon.
Contact Shelagh at
for more information.

We hope to see you soon in Garber!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day
    APRIL 26, 9am-Noon   

The Garber Park Stewards (GPS) and Claremont Canyon Conservancy (CCC) are again partnering and will be offering several fun and rewarding activities in the canyon:

Meet at the parking lot near 7380 Claremont Ave.   We will have several sites where we will clean and beautify this lovely popular corridor - Claremont Ave entrance to Garber Park in the lower canyon, Site 29, 28, and Four Corners in the upper canyon.

Meet at the Evergreen Lane Entrance. Help us complete the restoration of this beautiful trail built in the 1920's.  Projects include removing invasive ivy, weeding Garber's newest restoration site at Fern Glen, and cutting steps to make the steep parts of the path accessible and enjoyable for all.

Everyone Welcome.  No experience necessary.  Volunteering in Garber can be a great place for students to satisfy Community Service requirements.  Children under 18 must bring a Volunteer Waiver and Release of Liability Form, signed by a parent or guardian.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adults.
For more information contact Shelagh  

Directions:  A map and directions to both the Evergreen Lane Entrance and the Claremont Avenue entrance can be found at  By Bus: Exit AC Transit Bus 49 at NW corner of Claremont Ave/Ashby Ave.  It's a short .4 mile walk up Claremont Ave. to the Claremont Ave. Entrance to Garber (just beyond 7380 Claremont Ave.)

Wear long sleeves and pants, and shoes with good tread. 
Drinks, snacks, tools and gloves are provided, but do bring your own gloves and water bottle if you have them. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rain, Sunshine, and a Bird' s Nest

One of the many discoveries on
our Tuesday workday.  If you know
the name of the bird that inhabits
this nest please contact
 Much to my surprise, our Tuesday Workday was on - the rain stopped and three Stewards came to help with our first Spring Invasive Weed Pull.  Unfortunately, it was too wet, soggy, and muddy to be tromping on the hillsides.  What to do?

With the sun peeking through, the bright green of the ferns and newly leafed out Buckeyes and Maples beckoned us to take a slow walk along the trails with an eye to planning future activities and projects.  Along the lower loop trail we discovered false solomons seal, cow parsnip, and giant vetch just coming into bloom as well as a superbly constructed bird's nest anchored high in the tree.  In Horse Tail Meadow, on the Upper Loop Trail, the Equisitum (horse tails) is dominating the meadow, and on Sylvan Trail it was most satisfying to see the abundance of ferns, false solomons seal, and trilliums in Garber's newest restoration site at Fern Glen thriving.

Unfortunately, our break from restoration work was short lived. Along Sylvan Trail at Sylvan bridge, the water was pouring down the creek, creating waterfalls and overflowing the trail.  A storm drain was plugged near Evergreen Lane, sending a cascade of water down the creek threatening to erode the trail and the creek banks.  I called Public Works while Ricardo and Bob set to work shoring up the trail.  Several hours later, their work complete, the rain began once again.   Many, many thanks to you both!
Horsetail Meadow

Our next volunteer workday is Saturday, April 19.  We will meet at 10AM at the Evergreen Lane Entrance.  

SAVE THE DATE:  Saturday, April 26.  TAKE ACTION and join The Garber Park Stewards and Claremont Canyon Conservancy in cleaning and beautifying Claremont Avenue. 
We hope you can join us.