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.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Citizen Scientists

A great turn-out of volunteers made the 2nd Annual Garber Park Earth Day a great success and a very bad day for invasives.  Our recent plantings at the Evergreen Lane Entrance were protected from the threat of poison hemlock and Cape ivy by the team who stayed till 1:00 removing these nasty invasives.  Another group went to work at the Alvarado Rd. Entrance making a big dent in the Cape ivy infestation at that site.  Our Himalayan Blackberry Bashers were once again hard at work.  They made a HUGE dent, not just in chopping down the blackberry-they accomplished that task a couple of months ago-but in digging out the roots.  This is a tiring and difficult task, which elicited an “Awesome” from Lech when he saw the huge rootballs they had dug out.  

We had a nice break from our physical labor when Lech Naumovich, botanist and restoration consultant, guided us on a walk through the park.  The Stewards goal for the walk was to pre-survey Garber Park to help us identify areas and trees which we might test in our upcoming participation in the Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Blitz on April 30-May 1.  This we did.  
But Lech did much more than that - we are all excited about becoming "Citizen Scientists"  and ready to collect information on the condition of our trees in Garber Park.  We not only learned how to identify possible signs of SOD but we measured the size, and estimated the age, and assessing the health of the trees (page 3 of hand-out below).   We encourage you to read the hand-out, and then join us on the SOD blitz on April 30-May 1, where we will not only collect samples but will begin our survey of the arboreal resources in Garber Park.

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.