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On 29 March 2016, our chapter’s Conservation Committee gathered at a volunteer’s private home to discuss current native plant conservation issues in the East Bay Area. Here is an outline of our main topics:

  • Antioch, CA: Vineyards at Sand Creek development: Several of our volunteers have attended public meetings to understand the impacts of this housing plan on our Four Valleys Botanical Priority Protection Area (BPPA) (map), southeast of the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. The City of Antioch and Antioch Planning Commission is deciding how to embrace this idea for a Highway 4 gated private residential community, also called the Sand Creek Focus Area. Unfortunately, Antioch decided several years ago not to participate in the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This particular valley is an important remainder of a once larger east-west migration corridor for plants and animals.
  • Richmond, CA: Point Molate: Conflicts over land use are settling, and this beautiful area is receiving broom removal treatments. The Urban Land Institute recently delivered six future plan alternatives to Richmond City Council, including two favoring total parks or mixed use with public parks and only some housing. This would be great news compared to the alternative of a casino discussed several years ago. It is concerning to note that City of Richmond plans to perform rezoning in the area as early as this week. Our chapter’s objective is to maintain the native vegetation corridor as much as possible from hilltop to beach and eel grass beds beyond. We favor continued public recreational enjoyment of the beautiful Point Molate with simultaneous protection of native plants. The Bay Trail Commission is in planning stages for making a connection through the area, as well.
  • East Bay Regional Parks District and fuels treatments: Our chapter continues to express worry about unclear management protocols for areas like the Huckleberry Preserve, specifically for care of sensitive maritime chaparral and the endangered pallid manzanita (Arctostaphylos pallida). We are working cooperatively with the Parks District on clarifying that forthcoming vegetation management plan. Additionally, we excerpted from their current Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan for discussing how native plant protections are framed in contract language grazing guidelines, in other regions where fuel breaks are needed.
  • Oakland, CA: Knowland Park addition to Oakland Zoo:  The East Bay Zoological Society is building its California Trail project, but several of our volunteers noted enough (17) permit violations to merit an impressive letter to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) asking for immediate action to protect remaining rare plant communities and Alameda Whipsnake habitat, including independent monitoring, penalty fee collection for mitigation, and beginning weed removal. We have not received a reply yet from CDFW.


Brief updates

– Hilltop Drive, Richmond: One of our volunteers noted construction spoils and indiscriminate herbicide spraying on native grasslands off of this Highway 80 exit.

– Point Pinole, Richmond: Wildlife populations may be declining due to drought or park management practices, including vegetation management.

– Berkeley Global Campus, Richmond: Construction plans are currently paused, which gives us the opportunity to learn more about the native flora and prairie grasslands.


Our Conservation Chair Jean Robertson led the meeting and kept our discussions focused. Want to get involved with our committee meetings? We love having more hands on deck! Please contact myself, or our Conservation Chair Jean Robertson ( Let us know  briefly what conservation projects in your area you are interested in contributing to, and what skills you can volunteer.

The Conservation Committee will meet again on 26 April, 2016.

Participate in field trips with our chapter from our Meetup page.

Read more conservation updates from our April 2016 chapter newsletter, the Bay Leaf.


Karen Whitestone

Conservation Analyst

From Eucalyptus trees in Claremont Canyon: Cal is seeking federal funds to cut down many such non-natives. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Please read this recent article posted on Berkelyside describing the ongoing FEMA process to fund fuels management plans in the East Bay Hills:

EBCNPS is working to review the FEMA EIS and will be submitting comments on the report. Those comments will be posted on this blog as soon as they are completed.

Update: The Claremont Canyon Conservancy ( is circulating a petition in support of the findings of the FEMA EIS and the fuels management measures outlined in the plan (removing flammable and invasive eucalyptus). You can view their petition here: .

Strawberry Canyon by John Martinez Pavliga

Strawberry Canyon by John Martinez Pavliga

FEMA will hold two public meetings on August 26th, 2010 at the Trudeau Center in Oakland (11500 Skyline Blvd).  The meetings will be held at 2 pm and 630 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to “evaluate the environmental impacts of funding a combination of hazardous fuel reductions projects within the East Bay Hills are in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California.” [Federal Register Docket ID FEMA-2010-0037]  The currently published documents are here.

This is an important meeting to attend as CNPS members can contribute their knowledge and perspective on vegetation management in the East Bay Hills. The East Bay has certainly enjoyed some “fuels and habitat” management successes, but there are many poorly planned projects that have impacted wildlands and increased the spread of invasive species – thus accentuating fire danger, rather than suppressing it.  Native coyote bush shrublands have been converted to weedy annual grasslands and thistle fields in some cases, causing a net loss in biodiversity and not achieving the goal of making an area more “fire safe”.  It’s a lose-lose, if not planned and executed properly.  The only way a sustainable plan for fuels can be created is by understanding the ecology and vegetation dynamics of the local area.

Additionally, we want to make sure rare and unusual local plant resources aren’t impacted adversely where “fuels” projects are being undertaken.  Please attend the meeting and help add to the depth of the Environmental Review process by presenting important considerations for making the proposed project a success.

Please send in formal comments to FEMA via email or snail mail at:

P.O. Box 72391
Oakland, CA 94612


Spring is an exciting time, but it’s been a long time since it has been this exciting for Redwood Regional Park.  The Serpentine Prairie is now in full bloom.  Goldfields, purple needle grass, owl’s clover, and poppies now carpet the upper portion of the prairie which is normally barren by May 1.  Thanks should go to the East Bay Regional Park District that fenced off the sensitive serpentine habitat in the fall of 2009.  This is the first year for this new stewardship regime.

The results are simply stunning.  Please go out and visit the park and see for yourself.

Presidio Clarkia in flower

Presidio Clarkia in flower

EBCNPS has been working on understanding and analyzing the Fuels and Habitat management plan with the Park District, as well as a group of interested individuals.  One of our main goals is to understand how the implementation of this plan will effect the environment, and the Parks as we’ve come to know and love them.  We argue that certain plan elements need to be amended, such as, the “fire” road up Claremont Canyon, habitat conversion of Northern Coastal Scrub to weedy grassland, and monitoring techniques for changes in vegetation.

The plan and the DEIR are large documents.  Even with the 30 day extension, EBCNPS was not able to digest all elements of the plan.  We hope we have covered the most important elements.

We present our findings about this plan in the followingletter: EBCNPS comments on VMP and DEIR.

Coast Live Oak Woodland of the East Bay Hills - Lech Naumovich

Fritillaria agrestis by John Game

Fritillaria agrestis by John Game

The East Bay Chapter of CNPS has been working on a publication that will help communicate the value of our local botanical resources to a greater general public.  This project, the Botanical Priority Protection Areas (or BPPA), outlines 15 of the most important landscapes in the East Bay that convey a “sense of place”.  Many of these areas will have development proposals in the next decade and we hope that our project will help communicate the importance of these areas.
There is a team of individuals that is helping make this project a success.  Please feel free to email Lech Naumovich ( with comments and suggestions on this project.  Thanks for your everyone’s generosity and support!!!

Here’s a sneak peak at a DRAFT layout of the 4 Valleys area near Antioch, CA.

DRAFT 4 Valleys BPPA publication

Serpentine Prairie after Treatment

Serpentine Prairie after Treatment

After careful deliberation about the impacts and benefits of restoring the Serpentine Prairie of Redwood Regional Park, the East Bay Park District has taken the courageous first step to increase the extent of serpentine grasslands.  The first phase of the project has removed a number of planted Monterey pines and invasive Acacia trees in the central prairie area.  We believe this treatment marks the beginning of a renewed commitment to well-planned resource management at the Park District.

The Stewardship branch of EBRPD have renewed their commitment to not only managing, but actively restoring this world class resource which is home to handfuls of rare and protected plants including our own federally endangered Presidio Clarkia (Clarkia franciscana).  Continued research and stewardship at the Prairie will help provide invaluable information on this hardy annual that is restricted to only two locations in the world.

Notably, a post-removal walk-through indicates that the work was completed with little disturbance to soils and existing flora.  Please see the prairie for yourself, and then let the Park District and the Board of Directors know that this work is appreciated.

Stumps of Invasive Acacia sp.

Stumps of Invasive Acacia sp.

View from the Trudeau Center Parking lot

View from the Trudeau Center Parking lot

Western Leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) is a state protected rare plant that is likely to get impacted by this project.

Western Leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) is a state and federally protected rare plant that is likely to get impacted by this project.

EBCNPS is in the process of reviewing the East Bay Hills Wildfire Hazard Reduction And Resource Management Plan and EIR (by East Bay Regional Parks).  We have great concern that the management proposed for the Claremont Canyon area (in Oakland) will future damage to native habitat in the canyon as we know it.  Approximately 80% of the canyon open space will undergo “initial treatment” or “maintenance” treatment.  Past fuels treatments by the Park District have converted good habitat to areas the document maps as “non-native scrub”.  Additionally, there is a plan to build a strategic fire route, aka fire road, up some of the steepest parts of the canyon.  This road would further fragment habitat and prove an opening for weed invasion.

Claremont Canyon Fuels Proposal

We ask you to see this wonderful place for yourself.  Please print the above map and drive Claremont Avenue, or hike Gwin Canyon, or bike Grizzly Peak Boulevard above the canyon.

EBCNPS, then, asks reviewers knowledgeable about this area to consider commenting on the proposed treatments that may impact Claremont Canyon as we know it, see it, and enjoy it.  We believe that some of the best intact vegetation communities and populations of rare plants will be disturbed and impacted by the proposed plan.  EBCNPS believes that the “thinning” of coyote brush scrub and other scrub in the canyon will adversely impact this area and lead to greater ignition potential in this area.

An area this sensitive requires more specific plans to be presented at the EIR stage since this may be the only time public review will be considered for this plan.

Here’s our Green paper on the East Bay Hills Fuels Management.

Comments need to be submitted by October 30, 2009 to (EXTENDED BY EBRPD):

Brian Wiese, Chief, Planning and Stewardship
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Court
Oakland, CA 94605-0381

Typical landscape in the East Bay Hills

Typical landscape in the East Bay Hills

The much anticipated “twin goals” plan for the East Bay Hills has been released for public review.  This plan looks  to reduce wildfire risk and actively manage parkland resources in the East Bay Hills.  EBCNPS has been active in providing germane resource information related to this effort.  Please read our Environmental Green Paper on East Bay Hills Vegetation Management.  EBCNPS will be reviewing the Park District’s plan and providing written comments as appropriate.

East Bay Regional Park District: The EB Hills plan

The first public meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. at the Trudeau Center, 11500 Skyline Blvd., Oakland.  Comments are due by October 1st, 2009.

The following is a “green” paper written by East Bay CNPS, Sierra Club and Golden Gate Audubon that addresses guidelines to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire while enhancing native habitat directed toward public agencies involved in fuels management at the urban-wildland interface. The file is saved as a PDF.

Green (white) paper

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