This past week our interns were treated to a lesson on trail maintenance with retired East Bay Regional Park Supervisor, Dee Rosario. We met Dee at the Old Cañyon trail in Dimond Canyon to help remove some limbs that were intruding into the trail. Before becoming Park Supervisor at Redwood Regional Park, Dee worked as a Fire Lieutenant and Park Ranger. He imparted wisdom regarding selecting the right tool for the job, technique in using the tools, and the virtues of working for the Park District. Dee also shared his new campaign to be elected to the Board of Directors for the Park District.
Ricky using the pole saw, reflected that he enjoyed using the new tools and felt trusted by Dee to cut limbs from the overhanging trees.
Marianna and Long made quick work of an invasive Cotoneaster which was on the side of the trail. All of the interns shared that they enjoyed learning how to use the tools, and enjoyed contributing to the maintenance of the trail. As we worked, several trail users stopped to share their appreciation for the group and their efforts to make the trail more enjoyable for hikers.
On February 6th, students from Skyline HS joined the Skyline High School EarthTeam and Friends of Sausal Creek to remove Coyote Bush from the wetland above Fern Ravine Creek. To advertise the workday, EarthTeam interns practiced their “elevator pitches” and rehearsed what they would say to their peers about the event, and why they should attend. Using a list of do’s and don’t(s) from the Antioch HS EarthTeam, Skyline HS interns practiced projecting their voice, using visuals, and making eye contact with the audience.
Come Saturday, their efforts were rewarded with the presence of 11 of their classmates from Skyline HS, joined by 3 fellow interns from Alameda HS, making the total group a potent 21 students. Michelle Krieg, field coordinator from Friends of Sausal Creek, introduced the restoration activities underway at Fern Ravine, and described the project students would be undertaking that day. To our surprise, we would be removing a native, Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis, from the wetland. Michelle described the importance of the rare wetland habitat in the Oakland hills, and how the presence of the Coyote Brush was an indication of ecological succession, the changing of species in an ecological community over time. While Coyote Brush was widespread through the Oakland hills, the wetland plants it was succeeding were not, and so the difficult choice was made to remove the Coyote Brush to maintain the wetland plant community so uncommon in the area.
Using hacksaws and loppers, our students made quick work of the Coyote Brush, working in teams to heave the large root balls from the soil. Before removing the Coyote Brush, students checked for evidence of early nesting birds, which they wouldn’t want to disturb. Another species they tried not to disrupt was the convergent ladybug which had gathered in the thousands to overwinter while their food sources were hard to find.