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, August 31, 2012

Fuel Reduction Project Begins....Then Stopped


The long awaited Wildfire Prevention Assessment District (WPAD)  Fuel Reduction Project in Garber Park has begun.  The first phase takes place centrally in the park - to clear flash fuels and ladder fuels for 50 feet on either side of the Lower Loop Trail - basically the path from Rispin, the entire segment of the Lower Loop Trail, and extending through the fireplace area to the ravine just beyond Fireplace Plaza.  This is only phase one, and does not deal with the perimeters of the park (Phase 2).  Phase one deals with any potential ignition that might occur from the trail.
Before WPAD - along the trail.

Along the Lower Loop Trail Garber's major flash fuels are great stands of Erhardta grass, mounds and mounds of Himalayan blackberry, Algerian ivy, and hundreds of dead or brittle limbs extending to the ground from Big Leaf Maples, California Buckeyes, Elderberries, Coast Live Oak, and Bay Laurels.

Before the work began the Garber Park Stewards walked the trail several times, first with Brian, the plant specialist, and Camille Rodgers, City of Oakland Fire Suppression Supervisor.  Then the GP Stewards again walked the trail with Brian and Oscar, the leader of the contract crew who will be doing the work.  Once the work began we were walking the trail and communicating with the crew so they understood exactly what it was they were to remove as well as leave.  

Our task was to figure out how to accommodate the fire safety purpose and at the same time achieve maximum preservation.  Important here was to cordon off native flora - we used yellow caution tape - that we needed to save.  As we discussed each and every inch of ground we discovered that in many areas, especially close to the Rispin side of the park, we found only one or two plants thriving in a sea of Erhardta or Himalayan blackberry.

In the central part of the park we cordoned off entire hillsides of False Solomons Seal, snowberry, various ferns, thimbleberry, Oregon ash, and other natives.  These are healthy and thriving large communities that will provide ample reproductive opportunities, and provide a more fire safe and beautiful understory.

No one will be happier than we will to get rid of the ladder fuels and the flash fuels that drape and hamper the trail, and our entire North Hills Community will be much more fire safe after these ground fuels are removed.
Area along Claremont Ave. still needing flash fuels removed.

Unfortunately, after three days of work in the park in which over half the trail was cleared, work was stopped.  The Hills Conservation Network (HCN) filed a complaint with the City of Oakland.  Deputy Fire Chief Williams stopped work in the park until the matter is resolved.  It is now the end of August and three weeks since the work was abruptly halted. 
Fire season is approaching quickly, and the most critical areas for fire safety, the perimeters of the park (22 homes have backyards contiguous with the park) which includes Claremont Ave., where there are steep pitches with potential chimneys and ravines for flames to race from Claremont Ave. to the interface of the 22 homes on the Southern border.

Near Rispin after WPAD removed flash fuels
We invite you to come to Garber, walk the Lower Loop Trail, and see for yourself the fabulous work that is being done by WPAD to make Garber and our community more fire safe.  If you agree that work should proceed promptly contact Assistant Fire Marshal LeRoy Griffin, or Camille Rodgers 

Wish to know more about the Fuel Reduction Project?  Read a past blog article:
Fuel Reduction Project Takes Another Step Forward:  Here you will find a link to the plan that was submitted to WPAD and a short piece on the Garber Park Stewards Journey to securing the funding for this project.

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