Short Summary

Garber Park is a 13-acre wildland park owned by the City of Oakland located behind the Claremont Hotel in Claremont Canyon. Garber Park is home to significant stands of big-leaf maple, California buckeyes and regenerating coast live oak woodland and forest. 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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

SOD-SUDDEN OAK DEATH: A Threat and an Opportunity

While Sudden Oak Death, SOD, takes its name as an analog to the terrifying killer of human infants, in fact the course of this botanic infection is not sudden (though the death of an infected oak may appear sudden to the untrained eye) and oaks in general are not the end goal of the pathogen (only some oaks are susceptible, including the Coast Live Oaks of our East Bay ridgelands). The recent devastated forests of Marin County were overwhelmingly comprised of trees we call "Tan Oak", which, botanically speaking, are not oaks at all. Nevertheless, dead and down Tan Oaks compromise the entire environment of which they are a mainstay, and engender a greatly magnified fire danger. We certainly do not want this scenario to play out in the East Bay hills among our vulnerable, signature Coast Live Oaks. (For an excellent article on the destructive potential of this pathogen, follow this link:

At this time, there is no "cure" for SOD, but both treatments and strategies exist which may be employed to arrest or to slow the progress of the disease. In the East Bay we know positively that the pathogen is present, but we do not have a reliable or comprehensive assessment of its location except to say it has been identified in a small portion of Tilden Park and also in Huckleberry Regional Preserve.

On April 30-May 1 we have a unique opportunity to advance our knowledge of the local situation.
Working with UC Berkeley’s Dr. Matteo Garbelotto ( and the California Oak Mortality Task Force (, community organizations including Friends of Five Creeks, Friends of Sausal Creek, California Native Plant Society, and the Garber Park Stewards are seeking volunteers for a “blitz” survey of infected host plants--mainly California bay laurels. Volunteers will need to register on line at to: 1. Attend a free one-hour training session and get survey materials, 1:30 PM Sat., April 30, on the UC Berkeley campus in Room 159 Mulford Hall [near Oxford & Hearst--campus map available at ] AND 2. Look for infected leaves at locations of their choice or suggested by organizers. Volunteers return suspect samples to an on-campus drop box by 5 PM Sunday, May 1. The Forest Pathology Lab will publish results in a couple of months.

We think five or six volunteers can cover virtually all of Garber
Park's 13 acres. If we can accomplish this degree of inspection we would have a valuable indication of the health of the Park. Tested information about the wildland trees in the urban neighborhood would also be very helpful. Please consider setting aside the time to participate and register promptly. If you have questions, contact the Garber Park Stewards or follow the links in this article.

The Stewards wish to thank Susan Schwartz, President of
Friends of Five Creeks and long-time champion of wildland areas within our towns and cities for taking the lead in organizing and coordinating this event.