In late December 2020, East Bay Regional Parks District, in partnership with Earth Team, installed 30 coast live oak trees at Oyster Bay regional park. Earth Team and EBRPD have a long and positive history of restoration work and tree planting at Oyster Bay, and despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 this year was no different. This project originated as an extension of existing efforts at the park, but with a new focus on increasing climate benefits from urban forests in disadvantaged communities.
While the plan was to have Earth Team interns from San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, and Arroyo install 30 trees at Oyster Bay, these plans changed as a result of Covid-19. Instead, interns learned about urban forests and reflected on work of previous years, and EBRPD staff installed the trees on their behalf. Over the next 3 years, Earth Team interns will continue to visit the site, support with maintenance including weeding and mulching, and have the opportunity to benefit from the newly installed trees.
Earth Team staff and students still played a critical role in planning this project. When deciding what trees to plant, EBRPD and Earth Team discussed the historic success of various trees at the site and landed on Quercus agrifolia, as existing coast live oaks at the park are thriving. They are able to withstand the coastal wind and do incredibly well at this particular park. Another consideration was preventing the spread of pathogens like root and crown rot and sudden oak death caused by pathogens like Phytophthora ramorum. In order to prevent the spread at East Bay parks, a decision had to be made about safely sourcing trees. Plant nurseries are known to harbor a myriad of pathogens, such as Phytophthora spp., that pose a great risk to our parks and trees. In order to prevent the introduction of soil-borne pathogens into the park, we decided to source trees exclusively from The Watershed Nursery, a local nursery that follows the highest standard of best management practices, and chose smaller trees that are less likely to be infected
Despite the many challenges posed as a result of Covid-19, three teams of interns had the opportunity to learn about urban forests and their benefits to disadvantaged communities through this project. In coming years, these same students will have the opportunity to maintain and benefit from this new urban forest. All 30 trees were successfully planted at a regional park that serves members of disadvantaged communities itself. The benefits, though felt from afar this year, will be felt by many in years to come.
Special thanks for CalFire and California Releaf for providing funding for this project.