Through cooperative efforts of Friends of Joaquin Miller Park (FoJMP), Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC), community volunteers, Oakland Public Works and Oakland Zoo staff, invasive and flammable acacia trees are being cut down in Joaquin Miller Park and fed to giraffes and other animals at the Oakland Zoo.
By John Roberts
[republished with permission from The Buzz of the BTCEB]
BTCEB [Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay] is helping develop trail work safety practices. This is in collaboration with the Piedmont High School (PHS) Mountain Bike Team at Joaquin Miller Park (JMP). The focus is learning, more so than the work performed. Visualizing the initial step is easy, it involves basic social distancing. But actual trail work efforts can zap this concept. That is why additional risk mitigation practices were implemented from the ‘get go’.
Initially the volunteers participated in a live one-hour online class. In addition, youth athletes as well as their coaches were kept to their riding pods of less than 10 volunteers each. This meant that each individual pod was assigned distinct work days. In turn, the individuals in each pod were broken up into work pairs. The purpose of the two-person teams was for one athlete to supervise trail traffic, while their partner worked. Not only did this allow for the students to better focus on the quality of their trail work, it also kept one volunteer as a “sentinel” to focus on park visitor traffic, possible working partner hazards, and independent quality control. For example, when the “monitoring” partners see a park user approaching on the trail, they yell “hiker”, “biker”, or “dog walker”. This serves as notification to the park user that they can pass, and as appropriate, work is also eased and a focus on social distancing protocols is emphasized. This approach also increases the quality of work as it enhances onsite learning and balances work through alternating partner breaks.
In this manner, the PHS work pods worked on the Big Trees, the Sequoia Bayview, and the Horse Arena connector trails’ drainage via duff removal and ensured these trails have virtually no puddles after the next rain. This helps keep singletrack narrow, safer, and more sustainable as water will no longer be splashed down trail. During March, yet another PHS pod provided maintenance to the JMP pump track. Park users consistently thanked the PHS youth as they went by the work sites. Accordingly, thank you to all the great stewards that contributed towards this successful trail maintenance effort. With increased COVID-related trail use, JMP greatly needed the care.
A joint project of FOJMP and FOSC to continue in efforts to preserve the natural beauty of Fern Ravine. We planted two hundred native plants along Fern Ravine trail. We added signage to protect the slopes from hiking and biking within the protected reserve area.
Project supervisor Nat Lope of Hilride demonstrates a fire-line inspired trail building technique.
We began the day enjoying French pastries provided by FOJMP board member Stan Dodson of the Dimond La Farine Bakery before we headed out to the work site.
In a battle of man versus bay stump, a group began the excavation of a huge stump at the bottom of the reroute.
Others paired up and began hauling more railroad ties up from the meadow…
…while the majority lined up with Pulaski and McLeod tools to cut the bench.
The group broke for BBQ chicken and salads at mid-day, prepared by BTCEB Trails Director, Dave Cowley, before returning to the hill for the afternoon session.
At day’s end, with the majority of the bench cut, the new trail was visibly flowing down the hill.
By late afternoon, the exhausted group returned to the meadow for snacks and cold beverages.
The next construction date is scheduled on June 15th, when we’ll begin construction of the two switchbacks, build a couple retaining walls, and start the gateways on Sunset and Sequoia Bayview. We’ll meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Ranger Station. Plan on a two-hour morning session, break for coffee, juice, fruit, and pastries on the hill, and be done around 1:00 or so when we’ll head down to the meadow for lunch and beverages and where we’ll call it a day.
Thanks to Chef Dave for his most excellent BBQ, BTCEB’s Henry Mitchell, Mike Udkow, and Daniel Perkins for bringing in the railroad ties and helping with all the preproduction, Gary and Stan from the Dimond La Farine bakery for the incomparable treats in the morning, and of course Park Supervisor Martin Mataresse who made the entire project possible!
Also thanks to Jason Van Horn for some really nice photos. Check out Jason’s Bermstyle site for more images of the day.
The first workday on May 11th went really great. Thanks for everyone that turned out! We had around 15 people and started the day by moving 20+ railroad ties from the meadow up to the work site.
Once that was complete, we began the vegetation removal, digging up ferns & soup plant bulbs and Sticky monkey-flower.
We potted the plants and transported them down to the park nursery where we gave them a good soaking before leaving them in the capable hands of our friends at FOSC.
We also cut a scratch line along the route to give everyone a solid idea of where our bench cut will be.
At the end of the day we were back at the Ranger Station for cold drinks and socializing.
We’ll be back on May 25th when the real fun begins with the bench cut and construction of the two switchbacks. Get involved and sign up for the next work day on the 25th!
The old trail was underneath all this tree canopy and was a large dip into the creek (to the left) straight from this point to Daniel (in the orange).
The new alignment is higher up along the contour of the bank, instead of down in the creek.
The heavy clay soil formed up pretty well as we benched the new trail. Conditions were still a little wet, and the clay sticky, but the trail quickly took shape.
The new alignment keeps people out of the creek and helps slow riders down on the blind turns on each side of the reroute.
We then piled up bay tree branches along the edge of the trail (which we hacked off the bay that come down with the pine) to discourage people from venturing into the creek.
We are hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, dog owners, cross country runners, historians, writers, and neighbors — dedicated to maintaining, preserving and enhancing the rich natural legacy of this area for all residents and visitors of Oakland to enjoy, following in the footsteps of the Lisjan Ohlone people and the late 19th Century poet and environmentalist Joaquin Miller, who lived on and loved this place in times past.
Join the Friends today!
By joining Friends of Joaquin Miller Park (FOJMP), your donation is put directly into programs that improve 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park for all its many users. Recent accomplishments include adding the off-leash dog area, rerouting eroding trails, creating a new trail map, and installing interpretive signs and directional trail markers.
FOJMP has a number of programs that might be of interest to you:
• Restore the Woodminster Cascade
• Replanting work at the Fern Ravine wetlands and nearby redwoods
• Renovation of park bathrooms
• Rebuild trails for safety and usability
• Refresh the Tot Lot and improve its safety
• Reduce fire hazards in the park
• Remove trash and weeds
Come work with us on these and other projects to make the park more visitor-friendly and help improve trail safety. Check our calendar for monthly workdays.,
Once again, welcome, and we’ll see you on the trail, at the dog run, in the theater, or volunteering on a restoration project!