F5C President Susan Schwartz honored for invasive-plant work

Friends of Five Creeks President Susan Schwartz received the California Invasive Plant Council’s Ryan Jones Catalyst Award “for exceptional initiative in invasive plant management and the protection of California ecosystems,” at Cal-IPC’s annual meeting Thursday, Oct. 11. A large part of all-volunteer Friends of Five Creeks’ work in natural and restored “green threads in the urban fabrid” goes toward controlling invasive weeds that threaten plant and animal diversity and increase risk of fire or flood.

Oct. 18 walk for 50+: Charming small gardens

Walkers age 50+: Join Friends of Five Creeks Vice President Shirley Jowell in an Indian Summer exploration of North Berkeley and Albany gardens that are water-saving and Bay-friendly as well as beautiful. Meet at the garden next to Berkeley Bagels, 1281 Gilman near Santa Fe, Berkeley. This is an easy, level, unhurried walk. Information: sjowell@att.net, 510 525 7012.

The walk is free, but please RSVP to co-sponsor Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic, 510 524 9122.

Survey for Sudden Oak Death April 28-29

Coast Live OaksSudden Oak Death is a fungus-like water mold that threatens our beautiful Coast Live Oaks. Besides their beauty, oaks are critical to the survival of many plants and animals, and the functioning of our watersheds. Dead or dying oaks greatly increase fire danger, and trees or limbs can fall suddenly, endangering people or property.

According to Dr. Matteo Garbelotto, head of the Forest Pathology Lab at UC Berkeley, writes: “2011 was a bad year for our oaks. Prolonged spring rains have resulted in a significant spread of Sudden Oak Death throughout the state,” including the East Bay.

Please mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, April 28-9. After an hour-long training by Dr. Garbelotto at 1 PM Saturday on the UC Berkeley campus, you’ll collect suspect bay leaves (the main carriers to oaks) on your own time, and where you choose, for lab testing. You return suspect samples to a drop-box on the UC Berkeley campus by Sunday evening.

We will gladly help you plan a route — just ask on the signup form. This year’s blitz will follow a new protocol that makes it possible to estimate the actual local SOD infection rate!

Sign up for the training at http://sodblitz2012.eventzilla.net.

Like photography? nature? Help document highest tides Jan. 20-22

Do you like photography? nature? Join the California King Tides Initiative documenting the year’s highest tides — levels likely to become the “new normal” as sea level rises due to global warming. King Tides will occur about 8:50 AM Fri., Jan. 20; 9:40 AM Sat., Jan. 21, and 10:30 AM Sun., Jan. 22. The idea is to (a) identify areas vulnerable to tidal flooding, erosion, or other damage and (b) gather compelling images to promote awareness and support action to deal with climate change. The project seeks photos of areas likely to flood or erode, that have infrastructure that might be affected. For information, go to www.californiakingtides.org.

Friends of Five Creeks would like to document the “heads of tide” — the farthest inland reaches of tides in creeks and channels. For information and ideas on good sites in the East Bay, click here.

Vote online to help BPFP win $5000!

Please vote online to make Susan Schwartz, president of BPFP partner group Friends of Five Creeks, this year’s Bay Area Cox Conservation Hero! The contest sponsors, Cox Communications (locally KTVU Channel 2) and the Trust for Public Land , will make a $5000 donation to the winning Hero’s environmental charity of choice. Susan has chosen F5C’s nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Berkeley Partners for Parks.

Friends of Five Creeks president Susan Schwartz with more volunteersIn 12 years of leading all-volunteer Friends of Five Creeks, Susan has transformed over a dozen waste places into vibrant green areas welcoming people and wildlife. Thousands of hours of hands-on work and organizing have, for example, renewed Berkeley’s Mortar Rock Park and the shoreline of Shorebird Park, revitalized almost a half mile of Cerrito Creek in Albany and El Cerrito, restored natives and access at the mouths of Schoolhouse and Strawberry Creeks, built an observation railing and trail along Codornices Creek in Berkeley and Albany, and removed acres of invasive broom, yellow-star thistle, and perennial pepperweed from Berkeley to Richmond.

Susan also organizes regional projects including East Bay surveys for frogs, pepperweed ,and Sudden Oak Death; a four-language brochure on invasive dodder; and a web site showing water-friendly developments in the East Bay. She started Berkeley Path Wanderers’ program of opening undeveloped paths, as well as the Greening Berkeley partnership, engaging thousands of UC Berkeley students in outdoor volunteering. She develops interpretive signs and leads informative walks.

These volunteer projects restoring nature in cities mean that children can splash in creeks; folks in wheelchairs can savor sun; and all can enjoy nature close to home. Just as important is inspiring volunteers to do more. Many F5C volunteers go on to full-time environmental careers or leading their own projects.

Go on line at http://www.coxconservesheroes.com/san-francisco-bay-area-ca.aspx to see short videos on the nominees and vote. Please ask family, friends, and colleagues to vote. Voting ends September 19!