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Ecological Restoration- Field Class


 Afternoons in the High Ridge Wildlands of the Oakland- Berkeley Hills


Spring 2019 Decal

ESPM 198 2 Units

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Student Facilitator: Alexander Gallandt

Community Facilitator: Glen Schneider

Faculty Sponsor: Ignacio Chapela




1. Course content and subject matter


This field class will focus on the natural history and ecological restoration of a section of the High Ridge Volcanic Zone in the Oakland Hills above the Caldecott Tunnel.  This ridgeline area, known as Skyline Gardens, is a 250-acre “Noah’s Ark” of native plants, located on EBMUD watershed land.  Skyline Gardens is the most botanically diverse area of its size in the entire East Bay, and also the East Bay’s area of highest recorded rainfall.  It is where the fog of the Bay meets the Inland heat.  All theses factors make for great ecological diversity.  Recently removed stands of Eucalyptus have opened up large areas where native ecosystems are re-establishing in competition with aggressive invasive plant species.  This class is held in partnership with the Skyline Gardens Project of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), under a Watershed Permit from EBMUD.    


Each outing will focus on one facet of natural history, such as climate, geology, woodlands, grasslands, lichen, etc., as well as principles and practice of habitat restoration.  Students will be expected to learn at least five keystone native species each week; and will do hands on restoration activities such as re-planting of local natives and control/weeding of invasive plant species.


2. Key learning outcomes


Over the course of the semester, students will learn this geographic and ecosystem zone in depth, and the basic keystone and sensitive plant and other species of the area.  They will learn not only their names, but how they live, season to season, as seedlings and small plants; in their breeding and seeding, and in their many ecological interactions, such as pollinator and predator/prey relationships.  Students will learn to quickly distinguish native and invasive plant species at various stages of growth through “hands and knees” restoration and weeding sessions, which are expected to comprise about two-thirds of the average field time.


3. Methods of instruction.


This is a field class, with an ecosystem approach.  Class will be three and one half hours (in the afternoon) once a week.  Students will learn in the field, emphasizing direct experiencing: looking, feeling, touching, planting and weeding, all in a small group setting.  Fieldwork will be supplemented by weekly readings.


Course Materials:  What to bring with you into the field.




-Snacks (for yourself & to share :))

-Long pants & shirt


-Hand lens


-Backpack with writing supplies, notebook, pen, pencil

- (Hand tools are provided)


Reading Materials:  See weekly schedule.  All required reading material will be provided by the instructors and will be emailed out weekly


Grading and Requirements:


60% Attendance: afternoon field study and restoration work at Skyline Gardens; 3 ½ hours per week


15% Reading: weekly readings in class Syllabus; one hour per week


15% Class journal: written reflections and observations on class readings and field work; one hour per week


5% Oral presentation: 4.45 hours of preparation  over the course of two weeks with an ensuing one 15 minute oral presentation on a topic of natural history connected with the project area


5% Volunteer in a related restoration activity: one three hour session in a local restoration effort.


Academic Integrity

These are some basic expectations of students with regards to academic integrity:

  • Any work submitted should be your own individual thoughts, and should not have been submitted for credit in another course unless you have prior written permission to re-use it in this course from this instructor.

  • All assignments must use "proper attribution," meaning that you have identified the original source and extent or words or ideas that you reproduce or use in your assignment. This includes drafts and homework assignments!

  • If you are unclear about expectations, ask your instructor or GSI.

  • Do not collaborate or work with other students on assignments or projects unless you have been given permission or instruction to do so.

*Content adapted from the Report of the Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism Subcommittee (June 18, 2004)


Accommodations: The nature of this course entails hiking and working on uneven and steep terrain for an extended amount of time.  Let us know if you are registered with the disabled Student Program or have any concerns during the first week and we will be happy to make accommodations.


Transportation: carpooling will be arranged among class members


Weekly Schedule


Week 1: Overview of Skyline Gardens


  • Mediterranean Climate

  • East Bay Rainfall Patterns

  • High Ridge native plant diversity

  • Hiking tour of project area

  • Readings:

      - Skyline Gardens welcome letter (includes project area map) – pdf

      - Skyline Gardens Poster - pdf

- Bakker, Elna , 1984.  An Island called California, Ch. 4, “Patterns on the Hills” UC Press - pdf

- Gilliam, Harold, 2002.  Weather of the San Francisco Bay Region; “Introduction” and “The Four Seasons”  UC Press - pdf

            - Contra Costa County, 2009. Mean Seasonal Isohyets (rainfall) - pdf

            - Schneider, Glen, manuscript, “Seasons of California” – pdf


  • Basic Resources (we will refer to these throughout the Semester)

- Skyline Gardens plant list

- NOAA, website. WFO San Francisco Bay Area / Monterey Precipitation Forecast

      (basic National Weather Service rain forecast maps for Northern Calif. and Bay Area)

- Contra Costa County Flood Control, website. Rainfall Durations  (up-to-date rainfall for 31 locations; Skyline Gardens is EBRPD Bald Peak, Tilden Park)


Week 2: Geology of Skyline Gardens


  • Geologic history

  • Moraga Volcanics

  • Orinda Gravels

  • Site visit to Claremont Ave. Chert & Caldecott/Hwy 24 East Portal road cut

  • Readings:

- Sloan, Doris, 2006. Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region, Ch. 9 “The East Bay” UC Press – pdf

- Geologic Cross Section of the Berkeley Hills – pdf

- Smith, David, The geology and paleontology of the Caldecott Tunnel's Fourth Bore, UCMP

- Characteristics of Soils in the Berkeley Hills - pdf

- Schneider, Glen, manuscript. “Faces of Nature” – pdf


Week 3: Restoration Cycle


  • Bradley Method – work outward from good concentrations of natives

  • 3 year cycle

  • Readings:

- Brock, Thomas D., University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The Bradley Method for Control of Invasive Plants” – pdf

            - Skyline Gardens Project, manuscript. “Restoration Sequence” – png                            -    Schneider, Glen, manuscript.  “Naming Nature” – pdf


Week 4: Control of Invasives


  • Basic strategies: prevent seeding and exhaust seed bank in the soil

  • Principal invasive species

  • Methods of control – chemical, manual

  • Readings:

- California Invasive Plant Council (Cal IPC), “About Invasive Plants”

- Schneider, Glen, manuscript. “Using Household Vinegar to Control Invasive Plants in the Bay Hills of California”


Week 5: Restoration Planting


  • Basic strategies – establish mother colonies

  • Growing plant starts

  • Timing

  • Follow up care

  • Readings:

- Emery, Dara E.   Seed Propagation Of Native California Plants.  Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

- Ornduff, Robert, 1974. California Plant Life, Climate of California, pp. 37-54 UC Press

Week 6: Plant communities – Woodlands


  • Principal tree species

  • Understory plants

  • Animal ecology

  • Readings:

- Barbour, Michael et. al, 2007. Terrestrial Vegetation of California, Ch.12 “Oak Woodlands and Forests”  UC Press

            - Schneider, Glen, manuscript, “Ten Trees of Home”



Week 7: Plant communities - Coastal Scrub


  • The Three Sisters: Sage, Coyote Bush, and Sticky Monkey

  • Understory plants

  • Animal ecology

  • Readings:

- Barbour, Michael et. al, 2007. Terrestrial Vegetation of California, Ch. 7 “Northern Coastal Scrub” pp. 180-194 UC Press

- Quinn, Ronald D. et. al, 2006. Introduction to California chaparral, Ch. 1 “California Chaparral”

Week 8: Plant communities – High Ridge Meadow and Scree


  • Grass species

  • Forbs

  • Animal ecology

  • Readings:

- Barbour, Michael et. al, 2007. Terrestrial Vegetation of California, Ch. 7 “Coastal Prairie”, pp. 194-205 UC Press

            - Crampton, Beecher, 1974. Grasses in California, “Introduction” pp. 5 – 23. UC

Week 9: Native Peoples in the Land


  • Human ecology – food and fire

  • East Bay tribal and language areas

  • Readings:

- Anderson, Cat, 2005. Tending the Wild, “Introduction” & Ch. 1 “Wildlife, Plants and People” – pdf file

            - Marshall, Amelia Sue, 2017. East Bay Hills, Ch. 1 “Natives”- pdf


Week 10: Local Animals


  • Reptiles

  • Amphibians

  • Mammals

  • Readings:

- Stebbins. Robert C., 2012. Amphibians and Reptiles of California, “Introduction”  UC Press 

- East Contra Costa County HCP/NCCP, October 2006. “Alameda Whipsnake”

- EBMUD, Mulchaey, B. 2013  “Alameda Whipsnake Trapping Effort: Siesta Valley”

- Schneider, Glen, manuscript, “Botta’s Pocket Gopher,” “Broad-footed Mole,” and “Dusky-footed Woodrat”


Week 11: Pollinators & Predators


  • Insects

  • Wind

  • Readings:

- Schneider, Glen, manuscript. “Yellow-faced Bumblebee”

- Skyline Report, July 14, 2018. “Ruderals and the life of Tarweeds”

- Garvey, Kathy 2013. BUG SQUAD “Bring on the Tourists!” UC Riverside

Week 12: Seed collecting


  • Basic strategy

  • Timing

  • Storage

  • Readings:

- Teel, Matt. January 3, 2018   “California Native Plant Propagation” California Native Plant Society


Week 13: Creatures of the Evening - May 8 optional 7:30 - 10 pm


  • Mammals

  • Moths

  • Mothing with UV lights (night field class)

  • Readings:

- Powell, Jerry et. al. 1979.  California Insects,  “Moths and Butterflies, Order Lepidoptera”  UC Press







  • Ertter, B. and Bowerman, M., 2002 The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo California; California Native Plant Society. (Mary Bowerman was a student of Jepson’s and wrote this classic, best of its kind local flora as a PhD thesis; first published in 1944; updated and reprinted in 2002).

  • Keator, Glenn, 1994. Plants of the East Bay Parks  Roberts Reinhart

  • Jameson, E.W. 1988. California Mammals UC Press

  • Powell, Jerry A. et. al. 1979.  California Insects UC Press

  • Sharnoff, Stephen, 2014. Field Guide to California Lichens Yale Univ. Press

  • Stebbins. Robert C., 2012. Amphibians and Reptiles of California  UC Press 

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