The Skyline Gardens Alliance is a combination botanical survey and restoration project in the Skyline Trail area of the Oakland–Berkeley Hills. The purpose is to document the native flora and to remove invasive plants to assist the recovery of the native ecological diversity of the area. The Alliance is sponsored by the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant
Society (CNPS) in collaboration with East Bay MUD.
Skyline Gardens is a section of the High Ridge Volcanic area on EBMUD land between
Tilden’s Steam Trains and the Caldecott Tunnel (Hwy 24). It is the most botanically rich area of
its size (about 250 acres) in the entire East Bay. 282 native plant species have been identified so far. There are more native plant species here than at Huckleberry Preserve (166 species), Claremont Canyon Preserve (177 species), Mitchell Canyon (127 species), and even the Mt. Diablo Summit zone (125 species). The map below shows the core project area; each blue dot shows the location of one trailside native species (red for a grove); 170 native plant species are found along this mile-long trail section of trail south of the Steam Trains.
Because of the high density of native plants, this is a great place to botanize, learn, and
observe – not only species, but how they behave, associate, and evolve in plant communities. As a result of invasive removals in the area (Eucalyptus, thistles, hemlock, etc.), natives areflourishing and rare species are recovering.
Nature does love a vacuum. Plants not catalogued in 100 years are popping up. We remove invasives before they go to seed, and assist the natives to gradually reoccupy liberated space through natural seed dispersal and selective planting from local genetic stock. This is known as the Bradley method.
We hold workdays twice weekly, Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings for three
plus hours each. Since May 2016, we have held over 300 volunteer workdays, involving some 202 people in over 1,620 volunteer shifts totaling over 4,800 hours on site.
Each outing combines botany and restoration. The project is open to anyone with
interest and commitment, regardless of background. Larger groups can be coordinated for
special events. Water, hats, gloves, sturdy shoes, and long pants and shirts are a necessity.
Hand tools are provided.
The Alliance is led by naturalist Glen Schneider, an East Bay native. He grew up in a local
nursery family and has been a native plant garden landscape designer/builder for over 40
years. His own garden in Berkeley is on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour.
The Skyline Gardens Alliance is an ongoing, multi-year project dependent upon a regular
core of volunteers. Please join us and help love this beautiful land back to wholeness!
To volunteer or for more information, contact: .
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