Oakland oaks under attack by EBMUD

21 07 2015

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This is a follow up regarding a post here in February 2013 where I reported on my attempts to save 25+ coast live oak trees from being cut down by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for construction of a pedestrian path on land owned by EBMUD. I and others in the neighborhood could not fathom any good reason to remove a healthy grove of oaks given their rare occurrence in Oakland. As a result of that post I was able to have EBMUD review their plan to remove so many oaks and I participated in a meeting with the landscape consultants, sharing with them my findings that the oaks were showing good health with no sign of sudden oak death or other diseases or pests. At that time I had hope that many of the oaks would be spared.

The project was completed earlier this year and last week I had an opportunity to visit the site. I first noticed that most of the original oaks slated for removal were gone. My earlier efforts had saved only a handful of trees. The largest oak in the grove, one that I and many of the neighbors had hoped could be spared, was also gone. In its place was a large open sunny area with a gravel path going through it.

Walking through what remained of the oak grove I quickly noticed wounds on the trunks caused by the workers undertaking the removal of the oaks. That prompted me to inspect more carefully the remaining oaks.

At this point I cannot put into words my feelings around what I witnessed. Instead, let me share with you photos taken of the damage done to the trees by EBMUD, the ‘stewards’ of this land. These photos show a careless disregard of the trees. I counted at least 18 oaks that had sustained significant damage during the project.

And in one case, the damage done to the tree was clearly intentional! Take a look at the last two photos of this series. They depict an oak that had been girdled with an axe or some other sharp edged tool. Why? Really, WHY?

EBMUD has won the first battle with the oaks. But these damaged oaks still have life, and they have a voice. EDMUD, please listen and fix this problem! Read the rest of this entry »


Coast live oaks in Hillsborough responding to fire mimicry

1 05 2015


A few days ago I checked up on some oaks treated with fire mimicry techniques twice in the past three years. Here are the results. I’m pleased to see that all the oaks are showing noticeable improvement in the health of their canopies. Also happy to report that none of these oaks have become infected with sudden oak death, despite this area being a hotspot for the disease.

Slide03 Read the rest of this entry »

Marin oaks respond to fire mimicry

4 04 2015


I’ve been away for the past 5 weeks, working on a project in Ireland. (Hint: the project made front page of the New York Times one week ago today.) While I was away I received messages from two clients concerned about the health of their oaks. In both cases they noticed a sudden browning of the oak canopy. The reports were definitely cause for alarm considering the prevalence of Sudden Oak Death, and other diseases and inspect pests that are afflicting the oaks in Marin.

Upon my return I promptly inspected the oaks and and am happy to report that in both cases the sudden “browning” was due to a heavy bloom of male flower clusters, which give the tree a brown appearance. I took photos of both trees, showing that they both are improving noticeably since their initial treatment with fire mimicry.