Join Janet Gawthrop and other volunteers restoring Huckleberry Park in the Oakland hills.
Please note that you may be exposed to poison oak during this event so if you are sensitive to it you may wish to consider another event.
We meet year-round at 9:30 am on the 2d Saturday of the month to remove invasive plants by hand from Huckleberry Park, one of the very few botanic preserves in the East Bay Regional Park system. Several plant communities thrive in Huckleberry Park, including live oak-bay woodland and maritime chaparral, which has several species unusual plants now threatened by development.
At the turn of the last century, maritime chaparral grew in much of the Oakland-Berkeley hills, but decades of real estate development consumed most locations of this plant community. Now, you can find maritime chaparral only at Sobrante Ridge, Huckleberry/Sibley parks (adjacent), and Knowland Park in the Oakland city parks. Unlike more typical, inland chaparral communities, maritime chaparral adapted to take advantage of additional moisture from summer fog and relatively mild winters.
Blooming season at Huckleberry Park often begins on New Year's Day, with the pink or white dangling urns of brittle-leaf and pallid manzanitas (Arctostaphylos crustacea and A. pallida). In February, yellow flowers of western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) join the late bloomers of the manzanitas, and about forty species of mosses and liverworts put on their greenest, most leafy display in February and March. Vascular plants flower on into spring, with huckleberries and madrones (Vaccinium ovatum and Arbutus menziesii) adding more dangling, pink urns in the heath family to replace the bloomed-out manzanitas. Fruits from these plants support an unusually large variety of migrant and resident birds.
Unfortunately, exotic landscaping plants, such as French broom (Genista monspessulana), now edge the margins of Huckleberry Park, while cape ivy (Senecio mikanoides) and periwinkle (Vinca major) have gained a foothold in the park interior. Our crew aims to remove these invasive landscape imports with a minimum of disturbance, so that historic native plants can fill in the small voids left by weeding.
Park staff provide support in the form of tools, gloves, water, and snacks--just be sure to return to the parking lot at 1 pm if you need to return borrowed tools or gloves.
Thanks to Ken-ichi Ueda for the photos
Rain? We go out in mist or light rain, but heavy rain cancels. Huckleberry Park has steep slopes and potential erosion problems, so the dividing line is there enough water on the ground to turn soil to mud? If yes, we simply meet again at the 2nd Saturday of next month. Light rain softens the ground, and actually makes work easier. When in doubt, I go up to the parking lot so no one is left wondering.
As with any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks in participating. By attending the event, you agree that you are 100% responsible for your own safety, health and well being.