Tag Archives: East Bay Regional Park District

How the California-wide drought is affecting Berkeley

High School students helped the Friends of Five Creeks remove invasive fennel from the mouth of Schoolhouse Creek in Berkeley in August. Photo: Friends of Five Creeks.
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The brown lawns are the least of it. The effects of the current California-wide drought go deeper than the roots of the grass and will continue several years after lawns turn green again.

Many of the impacts are very evident in Berkeley and the surrounding area. Trees are dying at a higher rate. The creeks are low and might be dry if it weren’t for leaky pipes. And if this winter brings heavy rains, damage to the stressed trees and creek banks could be significant.

One of the most obvious signs of the drought is the early fall color on many trees around town. Tony Wolcott, a master arborist, recently retired as Albany’s Urban Forester, said that the early leaf drop in the fall is a normal reaction to drought.

“It doesn’t mean the tree is dying,” Wolcott said. “It’s not a great thing, but it is a way of surviving,” he said.

But not all the trees will rebound. Wolcott said he’s noticed flowering cherries and flowering plums showing a lot of stress. So are the camphors, which line many streets in Berkeley.

“A lot of the camphors in town are old, but are dying more quickly because of the drought,” he said.  Even redwoods are looking stressed, dropping a lot of needles, he said. … Continue reading »

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Fallen tree cuts power in Tilden, sends cyclist to hospital

Golf Course Road. Photo: Art Poskanzer
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A live oak tree that fell onto a power line on Golf Course Road in Tilden Sunday prompted a power outage across the park and caused a crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital.

The tree toppled from 50 feet up a cliff onto Golf Course Road, around 200 yards south of the entrance to the golf course, at around 11 a.m., according to Carolyn Jones, spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District.

The tree fell onto a power line which in turn knocked down a power pole. A cyclist on the road collided with the power line. Jones said she understood the cyclist was unable to stop in time. He was taken away by ambulance but, according to park staff, seemed to be OK, Jones said.

The incident caused power to go out at the Tilden Golf Course, the park’s corporation yard and at the facilities serving the Tilden Steam Train. … Continue reading »

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Tilden Park exceeds goals in cutting its water usage

Irrigation was shut down to just part of the Meadows Lawn in Tilden Park, just south of the old pony rides site.
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Berkeley’s Tilden Park reports that it reduced water usage in May — the most recent bill available — by 40% compared to the same period in 2013.  The regional park in the Berkeley Hills has been watering its lawns less and less over the past several years, said Park Supervisor Sergio Huerta.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do, thanks to the creativity of staff,” said Huerta. Huerta was speaking for all of the park grounds except the golf course, which is on a separate water meter. The golf course reports that it has taken one-fifth of the greenways off irrigation — and it’s showing all along the edges.

Throughout the rest of Tilden Park, Huerta said, the lawns have been divided into four categories for watering: reduced, minimal, sporadic and zero. Lawns getting no water this year include the large picnic area called Padre on South Park Drive and the group campsites, Gillespie near the south end of the park, and Wildcat View near the north end. … Continue reading »

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Lake Anza closed to swimming due to toxic algae

Toxic algae can be highly visible, or not visible at all. In the photo above, algae can be seen at Lake Anza on Sept. 17. Photo: Sunshine Townsend/East Bay Regional Park District
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The East Bay Regional Park District has just closed Lake Anza, in Tilden Regional Park, to swimming due to high levels of toxic algae, which can be fatal for dogs.

Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said signs are going up now around the lake to alert visitors about the closure.

“Park District officials are very sorry to have to close Lake Anza,” she said. “It’s a beautiful time of year and a popular place to go swimming, but public health is the most important thing.”

Jones said park staffers test all the district’s lakes regularly, and discovered Thursday that toxic blue-green algae levels at Lake Anza were too high. They will now send samples to the EPA for further testing. Results for those tests should be in next week. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: The Sierra Club’s eucalyptus management policy is the right approach for East Bay Hills

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Eucalyptus trees are magnificent and picturesque, but they are inherently dangerous and invasive, depriving native plants of the chance to thrive wherever they grow.

In some cases, exotic plants can co-exist with natives, but, in the case of blue gum eucalyptus, this is not the case. The species has evolved in the extraordinarily harsh, dry climate of Australia to grow and spread quickly to then be burned to ashes in catastrophic wildfires.

According to Jared Farmer, in his recent book … Continue reading »

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Crews extinguish 1-acre vegetation fire in Tilden Park

Fire map
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At least five fire companies responded to a vegetation fire that broke out before sunrise in the Berkeley-Oakland hills Sunday.

According to Avery Webb, interim fire chief of the Berkeley Fire Department, its communications center received a report of a vegetation fire west of the Tilden Park Steam Train at 5:45 a.m. Sunday.

Berkeley Fire responded, along with fire companies from Oakland, Moraga/Orinda, East Bay Regional Parks, and Cal Fire. … Continue reading »

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Man commits suicide in Little Farm parking lot

Tilden Little Farm - Mary Flaherty
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A man in his late 60s killed himself in the Tilden Little Farm parking lot on Friday afternoon after leaving a note about his intentions in his El Cerrito home.

East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said the man, who was born in 1948, appears to have shot himself as he sat in his Subaru station wagon in the parking lot around 2:15 p.m.

Jones said no one heard the gunshot, but that a family reported the incident at 2:30 p.m. after seeing the man, who appeared to be deceased, in his vehicle.

The man was lying in the front seat, with the seat reclined, and had received a single gunshot wound to the head. The gun was found on his chest when authorities responded.

Jones said the man had been reported missing out of El Cerrito. Authorities found a suicide note at his home during the investigation.

The Berkeley Fire Department declared the man dead at 3:10 p.m. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley, protesters get naked to try to save trees

Protesters get naked in the eucalyptus grove at the Grinnell Natural Area of UC Berkeley on Saturday July 18, 2015 to show opposition to tree cutting proposal. Photo: Ted Friedman
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An estimated 50-75 people took part in a staged protest today at a eucalyptus grove on the UC Berkeley campus, many of them stripping naked in doing so, to make clear their opposition to a proposed FEMA-funded tree-clearing program in the East Bay hills.

The event was orchestrated by the Tree Spirit Project whose mission is “to raise awareness of the critical role trees play in our lives, both globally and personally.” Jack Gescheidt, who founded the project, does this partly by taking fine-art photographs of people, often naked, communing with trees and nature.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency in March allocated $5.7 million to the California Office of Emergency Services to remove eucalyptus trees as part of fire hazard abatement in Claremont Canyon — scene of a devastating wildfire in 1991 — and other nearby areas, such as Tilden Park and Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. The funds will be distributed to UC Berkeley, the city of Oakland, and the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD). … Continue reading »

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Police investigate suspicious death of Berkeley woman

Foxtails at Pt Isabel. Photo- Kathy
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The death of a Berkeley woman whose body was found floating in the water near a Richmond park last week is now believed to be suspicious, and police are investigating.

A park user at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline found the body of Katherine Gravett at about 12:35 p.m. Thursday, July 2, said Carolyn Jones, East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman.

Gravett’s body was found in a rocky area of the water behind an East Bay Municipal Utility District treatment plant at the park.

The 30-year-old was identified Wednesday as a transient from Berkeley who was originally from Fremont.

An autopsy was performed Sunday by the Contra Costa County coroner’s office.

Jones said the coroner found no water in Gravett’s lungs. There was, however, trauma to her head and marks on her neck. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Christmas Fantasy at Tilden Park is less spectacular, but 103-merry go round is in better shape

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“They ruined Christmas!” starts Mike K. of Berkeley’s Yelp review of Tilden Regional Park Merry-Go-Round posted on Dec. 11.

That is how I was feeling when my children and I headed up to see Christmas Fantasy this weekend. While my daughter warned me that her friends were whispering on the playground at school that it was “lame” this year, I couldn’t forgo tradition. It was not the same, but it also not the same owners.

For the past decade, hundreds … Continue reading »

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Police search South Berkeley after Seabreeze homicide

A search warrant operation in South Berkeley woke many residents early Thursday. Photo: A citizen reporter
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Authorities conducted a warrant search in South Berkeley early Thursday that was connected to a fatal shooting last week at the Seabreeze Market.

The Berkeley Police Department put out a notice Thursday evening about the operation after receiving “several inquiries” from community members about the disturbance.

According to the statement, the operation — which had been organized and carried out by the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department — took place in the 1500 block of Harmon Street early Thursday morning.

The Seabreeze is in Berkeley but is located within Park District boundaries near University Avenue and Interstate 80, en route to the Berkeley marina. Last week’s fatal shooting took place Tuesday, Oct. 28 shortly before 8 p.m.

According to a local resident who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, Thursday’s operation began shortly before 5 a.m.

“It started with 4 flash bangs in succession … then a slight pause, then one more flash bang,” he wrote, adding that he was “woken up by the noise.” (A video of those flash bangs follows.) … Continue reading »

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Man killed near Seabreeze market in West Berkeley

The killing took place in the parking lot of Seabreeze Market
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Update: Oct. 31: East Bay Regional Park District police identified the man shot and killed Tuesday night as 21-year-old Damarco J. Thomas of Stockton.

Investigators are looking for information on cars that might have been on the scene of the Tuesday shooting, according to a press release. They want information on a white Ford or Chevy style pick-up truck, extended cab, possibly a side step model. Investigators are also looking for a man spotted in the vicinity, described as a heavyset black male in his late 20s to early 30s.

Update Oct. 30: Sgt. Tyrone Davis of the EBRPD police said that video taken at the scene indicated the victim knew his assailants. “It appeared based on the interaction that prior to the event they knew each other.” Davis said it looked like there were three people at the scene at the time of the shooting. The victim was shot multiple times. Police have not yet released his name.

Original story: A man in his 20s was shot and killed Tuesday night in the parking lot of a market near the Berkeley Marina, according to East Bay Regional Park District police.

Berkeley police received a call around 8 p.m, that there had been some sort of disturbance at the Seabreeze Market, which is located at the corner of University Avenue and West Frontage Road. They arrived to find a man, whose identity was not released, lying on the ground. EBRPD police arrived as well. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Tilden lake
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FREE PARK LIFE The East Bay Regional Park District is celebrating its 80th birthday by offering “free third Fridays” in its parks, including Tilden. From April to December, fees will be waived for a variety of park services, every third Friday of each month, which includes Friday, Aug. 15. On those days, you get free parking, free boat launching (note, boat launchers still have to pay for the required invasive mussel inspection); free entry for horses and dogs, free swimming, free fishing permits (anglers still have to possess a California state fishing license, for which there’s a fee. And there will still be fees for camping and for group picnic reservations); and there’s free entry to Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont (normally $2-$6). The Park District says Free Fridays are its way of thanking the public for eighty years of support. “A grass-roots movement provided the political momentum for establishment of the district back in 1934, and public support has been key to the district’s successes ever since.” … Continue reading »

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