Hulet Hornbeck — In memory and gratitude for protecting 76 square miles of East Bay parkland

Hulet Hornbeck with Sylvia McLaughlin
Hulet Hornbeck with Save the Bay co-founder Sylvia McLaughlin at dedication of the Berkeley "Meadow."
(Abridged from the West County Times; read the full article here.) Growing up poor in New Jersey before and during the Great Depression, Hulet Hornbeck learned to love nature when his mother took him by bus and train to the countryside. As a navigator on bomber missions in the Pacific Theater in World War II, he learned geography, maps, and math. After the war, he settled in Martinez and spent 20 years as an insurance lawyer — until a doctor mistakenly told him that skin cancer would kill him within a few years. He quit his job, joined the East Bay Regional Park District, and as head of land acquisition used his legal and WW II skills to help plan purchases that expanded the parks from 13,000 to 62,000 acres — adding 76 square miles to what is now the country’s largest regional park system. A strong advocate for open space, he also inspired others to act. BPFP President and co-founder John Steere, his nephew, credits him with inspiring John’s lifelong dedication to the commons. We are all in his debt.

Walkers 55 +: Birding loop around Aquatic Park Jan. 19

Walkers age 55+: Enjoy wintering waterbirds, WPA history, exciting new nonprofits, a native-plant garden, and a look at Berkeley’s coming palatial animal shelter on an easy, level loop walk around Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Friends of Five Creeks and Albany Senior Center co-sonsor.Avocets

Meet at 9 AM at Waterside Workshops, Bolivar Drive between Addison and Bancroft (AC Transit 51B). Bring binoculars if you have them, but you can enjoy birds without them. Information:,, 510 848 9358.

The walk is free, but please register with Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave., 510 524 0122.

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

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.

Great BPFP projects on Berkeley Project Day, Oct. 15!

Thanks to hundreds of UC Berkeley student volunteers and funding from the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, BPFP partner groups carried out a half dozen great projects on Berkeley Project Day, Sat., Oct. 15.

UC students working with Aquatic Park EGRET controlled weeds and improved trails at Aquatic Park. Students did major sprucing up at Schoolhouse Creek Common and Halcyon Commons, parks developed by neighborhood volunteers. At Schoolhouse Creek Common, they also hauled heavy fill to shore up the play area.Berkeley Project volunteers remove broom at Tilden Park Berkeley Path Wanderers added ten new steps to LaLoma Path. Student volunteers helped East Bay Green Parks Association roll up a carpet of invasive ivy at Codornices Park and also pruned and weeded at the Berkeley Rose Garden. In a new project just days from the 20th anniversary of the Oakland Fire Storm, students led by Friends of Five Creeks began removing fire-prone French broom in the area of the Tilden Park Carousel (see photo).