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, August 16, 2014

Summer Restoration a Success

Working in Fern Glade is always a rewarding experience.
Thanks to all who helped make our Summer Habitat Restoration Workdays an overwhelming success.  Throughout July and August volunteers cut and pulled fire prone invasives in our most critical areas for fire safety -  especially along the trails, the perimeter of the park (22 homes have backyards contiguous with the park), and along Claremont Avenue.   

Janet working on the trail at Claremont Avenue entrance. A
year ago this 1920's built trail was smothered in ivy.
We have cleaned up trash and debris along the Claremont Ave entrance parking lot, pulled and chopped ivy from the trees and the steep slopes along the Claremont Spur Trail where the buckeyes, big leaf males, oaks, and understory of ferns are now thriving.  We have removed erhardta grass, ivy, Himalayan blackberry and hundreds of brittle limbs extending to the ground  revealing the beautiful understory of  ferns, snowberry, thimbleberry, ossoberry, and other less fire prone natives. 

But the most difficult task and our BIGGEST THANKS go to the group that cut –up, moved and dispersed the logs and branches from an Acacia tree that had split earlier in the year and fallen across the trail near Harwood Creek.   Heavy lifting indeed.  The logs now line the trail preventing erosion.  And thanks to the City of Oakland for cutting the huge logs into movable sizes.

SAVE THE DATE:  Our next Habitat Restoration Workday is Creek to Bay Day on Saturday, September 20, from 9AM-Noon.    We will shift our focus to the lovely Harwood Creek Restoration Site, an area once covered with 12ft. high Himalayan blackberries but where today the natives are thriving, including milkweed, an important native bee pollinator.  Contact Shelagh for more information and ways you can help.

In the meantime, do visit Garber and enjoy the trails through this gem of a wildland park.   We hope to see you soon in Garber!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Focus on Fire Safety

August Volunteer Habitat Restoration Workdays
Help Reduce the Threat of Fire in Garber Park 
Tuesday, August 5 and Saturday, August 16 
10AM- Noon

Tuesday, August 5:  Volunteer Workday:  Your help is needed as we continue preparing for this Fire Season to reduce the threat of fire.  Join us in the cool shade of Garber's native oak woodland as we chop and pull the usual suspect invasive weeds and perform trail maintenance.  We will focus on beautifying the Claremont Ave. Entrance, pulling ivy in beautiful Fern Glade, and removing erhardtda grass on the hillside at the Evergreen Lane Entrance.  

Saturday, August 16: 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, August 5 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.  

Map and Directions:
Meet at the Claremont Ave Entrance to Garber. From the intersection of Claremont Ave/Ashby Ave, go .4 miles up Claremont Ave up towards Grizzly Peak to a large parking turn-out just beyond 7380 Claremont Ave. The Claremont Ave Entrance is easily accessible by bus number 49.  Exit at the Claremont Ave/Ashby stop and follow directions above.  For a map and direction:

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!