Help Path Wanderers and BPFP win $10,000; honor Charlie Bowen

Charlie Bowen directing volunteer path builders
Charlie Bowen (lower right) directs path-building volunteers
Berkeley Path Wanderers’ Association path-building head Charlie Bowen is one of three finalists in the 2012 Bay Area Cox Conserves Heroes contest, sponsored by the Trust for Public Land and KTVI Channel 2.

The one that gets the most on-line votes by Sept. 24 will get $10,000 for their chosen nonprofit. Please click here to see short videos on the finalists and vote!

For 10 years, Charlie has worked tirelessly to restore and expand Berkeley’s historic network of public pathways. More than 20 Berkeley paths, formerly overgrown or fenced off, are now open — and with Charlie’s guidance volunteers in four other cities are pursuing similar efforts. Re-opening these beautiful paths and steps, many wooded and with beautiful views, also helps create a heathy, environmentally friendly, walkable city.

Besides enlisting literally thousands of volunteers for what is often heavy pick-and-shovel work, Charlie has planned carefully, recruited surveyors and contractors, and worked positively and respectfully with the city and with neighbors. Many initial skeptics have become enthusiastic supporters.

The runner up will receive $2500 for their nonprofit of choice. The online vote decides which group gets an additional $7,500. Berkeley Path Wanderers, a partner group of Berkeley Partners for Parks, needs funds to pay for handrails that make steeper paths safer, especially for senior citizens.

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

Help find and slow Sudden Oak Death: Apr. 30 – May 1 ‘blitz’ survey

Sudden Oak Death, a fungus-like mold that is ravaging coastal California’s beautiful live oaks, is infecting trees in the hills from El Sobrante to Oakland, and has been found on the UC Berkeley campus and North Berkeley hills.

The disease is carried on many host plants. Its advance is fitful but inexorable, spurred by high winds or late-spring rains. The pathogen affects large oaks; most infected trees die quickly (hence the name). Sometimes, massive infestations of beetles and fungi that follow the disease cause trees to snap off at the base even before the leaves turn brown.

Loss of our coastal oaks means much more than loss of beauty or property values. Hundreds of native animal and plant species depend on oaks. Watershed and water cycling would change. Danger of fire and damage from falling limbs and trees would increase.

There is no cure, but some things can be done to slow the spread and protect high-value or high-risk trees — for example in parks or near homes. Most of these must be done before an area, or a tree, is infected.
Working with UC Berkeley’s Dr. Matteo Garbelotto and other community organizations, BPFP is sponsoring a “blitz” survey of infected host plants – mainly California bay laurels. Sign up here to:

  • Attend a free one-hour training and get survey materials, 1:30 PM Sat., April 30, on the UC Berkeley campus (easy access by BART and bus). Training also is available at 10 AM April 30 at the Orinda Community Center; Bill Hudson at
  • Look for infected leaves at locations of your choice (including young home) or suggested by organizers.
  • Volunteers return suspect samples to an on-campus drop box by 5 PM Sunday, May 1.
  • Samples will be laboratory tested. Results will be posted on an online database and Google Earth. A community meeting will discuss results and what can be done.

    For more information about the survey, or if a group is interested if your group is interested in surveying a specific park or neighborhood, please contact Friends of Five Creeks, or 510 848 8358.

    If you think you have an infected oak on your property, check out the Garbelotto lab’s free treatment-training sessions .

    If the April 30-May 1 blitz doesn’t work for you, but you have an I- phone and want to help add to knowledge of this plague, check out this I-phone app from Maggi Kelly’s lab, also at UC Berkeley.

    For general information on sudden oak death, go to the California Oak Mortality Task Force web site.

    BPFP partners with Bay Nature

    A Note from our president, John Steere:

    Oct-Dec 2010 coverWe encourage all current and prospective members of Berkeley Partners for Parks to take advantage of our new partnership with the Berkeley-based award-winning and bio-regionally informative magazine, Bay Nature, which you can receive a year’s subscription for only $17.95 (or as a Holiday gift subscription) when you sign up for BPFP! That’s more than 25% off a regular subscription prIce….

    Bay Nature is the only magazine dedicated to exploring and protecting wild places at the urban edge AND the wild places right outside your door, connecting Bay Area people to the mountain lions nearby, restoration of thousands of acres of tidal wetlands, the butterflies of the Presidio, the best local hikes, and more.

    From now until December 31, you can get a one-year gift subscription to Bay Nature for only $17.95.

    Even better, if you give two or more subscriptions, they will be only $15 each! That’s a savings of over 32% off a regular one-year subscription.

    ‘Hidden Gems’ bike tour explores the ‘Breas.

    The 8th annual Hidden Gems of Berkeley bike ride explores the curious, quirky, and crafted features and grassroots greening initiatives that make Berkeley unique — this year in Berkeley’s charming Northbrae and Westbrae neighborhoods. Meet at the North Berkeley Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda and Hopkins, 10 AM Sat., May 15. The leisurely ride on level and gently sloping terrain ends at 1 PM. Bring lunch, water, and the family — great for children over 10. The event is free; updated Hidden Gems of Berkeley maps available for $5 donation. Sponsored by Berkeley Partners for Parks, Livable Berkeley, East Bay Green Tours, and Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition; led by John Coveney, Marlene Fouche, and originator John Steere (for information contact John at 510 849 1969).