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.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Creeks are the Children of Watersheds

Harwood Creek in Garber Park
Creeks are the children of watersheds; watersheds are the parents of creeks. With concern for our newly discovered springs and recently sunlighted Harwood Creek, the Garber Park Stewards devoted a good part of this past week to making acquaintance with the complex world of East Bay ridge watershed and creek organizations. First impression: there are lots of them and their numbers are growing. These organizations may represent differing aspects of their watershed, their creeks may embody varying stages of health and restoration, and their constituents may share a wide or narrow range of goals, but resource conservation, however defined, and restoration in the broadest sense are the twin heartbeats of this familial group.
We started by attending the members meeting of Friends of Sausal Creek, an exemplary pioneering creek and watershed organization to which the Garber Park Stewards are already deeply indebted. We went there, however, to hear about the work of one of their “sister” organizations, the Friends of San Leandro Creek. We learned that San Leandro Creek flows westward out of Lake Chabot and, partly above ground and partly culverted, makes its way to what is now the Oakland Airport where the creek creates the marsh that you traverse as you drive in. The Friends of San Leandro Creek have worked with the community for a number of years to promote and monitor water quality and to carry out extensive watershed education through carefully and professionally designed programs specifically crafted to fit the grade level of the local students.
We also learned of the upcoming meeting of the Alameda County Watershed Forum. The Alameda County Watershed Forum ( functions as a facilitator of communication among county creek and watershed groups and between these groups and larger or higher conservation organizations such as the U S Dept. of Agriculture’s Alameda County Resource Conservation District and its Watershed Council (
At the Forum meeting, conducted at Oakland’s Peralta Hacienda Historical Park which includes a substantial section of old Peralta Creek, we were interested to hear the advice and experience of various restoration experts on the topic of “Remediated Creek and Habitat Site Maintenance”. This is an important topic for Garber Park which has the opportunity to build maintenance into its restoration plans. Not all past creek remediation has been able to do this, often with unhappy results.
Though networking takes time away from field work, in this instance the benefits are timely and valuable to us. In spite of years of neglect, in this decade and in times to come, Garber Park with its many resources is not alone. Moreover, there is a growing body of creek and watershed experience specific to the East Bay ridge lands and available to anyone for whom wildland preservation and restoration is a priority. In recounting these events, we have spared you and ourselves the alphabet soup that goes along with agency awareness. Speaking for the Stewards, we are ready to get our hands in the dirt again.
Restoration of our entrance hillside begins next week!

Mary Millman
Friend of Garber 2

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trail Improvements

One of the activities that the Garber Park Stewards has carried out over the past year is the amendment and improvement of the one-mile Loop Trail that traverses most of the forests and ecosystems that make up the Park. We have replaced deteriorating steps at the Evergreen Lane entrance and cut “steps” in the most steep sections.  We have also tried to channel away water runoff, level sloping walkways, widen eroded spots, and buttress trail boundaries. Recently we put some wire mesh on the Upper Loop bridge to try to improve traction.

Even with these measures, however, care must be taken when hiking in Garber Park because the trail is still rugged and quite steep in places. At the Evergreen Lane entrance there are some walking sticks; please use them and return them for the next walkers. If you walk down the stairs to Fireplace Plaza and along the Lower Loop trail you can also avoid the steep switchbacks on the Upper Loop Trail. The entire trail is easier to walk if you begin at the Fireplace Plaza and walk the lower section first.

The Stewards always appreciate feedback and information about specific points or conditions on the Loop Trail. We will continue working to improve it and to explore alternative routes. This is always a collaborative effort. We especially want to thank the many volunteers who have helped make the trails just a little bit safer.