Archive for the ‘Guadalupe Oak Grove Park’ Category

District 10 sets aside $250,000 for Guadalupe Oak Grove Park woodland management

On December 4, 2017, Mollie Tobias of the City’s Adopt-a-Park program and her crew, including our Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services maintenance team, supported the Swath Project in the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park.  You may recall that the Swath is a section of our park, between the east and central trails, 30 foot wide and about 420 foot long, in which 1-year Blue and Valley Oak seedlings were flagged.

These small ‘starts’ have been out competed by Coast Live Oak saplings for years.  They are encroaching from two main areas: the dog-park entry area, near the Villas of Almaden and the main GOGP entry off of Thorntree.  As a result, our open Blue and Valley oak woodland on the Valley floor has been transitioning to a closed Oak woodland.  It was initially thought that the Blue and Valley oaks were not regenerating.  However, Lee Pauser, Dave Poeschel and I found that these starts were there and were just being out-competed by Coast Live Oak saplings and the unmanaged European grasses.

The idea of the Swath is to demonstrate this regeneration by removing the Coast Live Oak saplings, then caging the Blue and Valley Oak starts to protect them from wildlife, providing occasional summer water, and promoting their establishment through the removal of weeds and grasses adjacent to these starts. Preserving the unique GOGP (one of the last two remaining Valley and Oak woodlands in the Santa Clara Valley) requires woodland management and Monday’s effort is a first step!   Thanks to the commitment of District 10 and our Councilman Johnny Khamis, funding at a level of $250K has been set-aside to involve H.T. Harvey and Associates, environmental consultants, in the woodland management of this park!

We ant to thank the dozen volunteers from the Signifyd Company for their help in coordination with project leads Lee Pauser and I.  Ninety-five percent of the scheduled work was performed between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. on the workday!  I’m sure there will be a lot of sore muscles and a few bruises at Signifyd come Tuesday!

Park users should see a notable difference in the condition of the park in the area of the Swath.  This is illustrated in the photo comparison below.

Thanks again to all involved.

Patrick Pizzo

 

Guadalupe Oak Grove Park “Cluster-Buster” project completed

This morning, Patrick Pizzo and Lee Pauser implemented a “Cluster-Buster” plan, cleared with the City of San Jose- PRNS (Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services), in the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park.  This work was done near the J. Fontana West entry to the GOGP near the dog park.  The ‘cluster’ was a group of Quercus agrifolia saplings, encircling a ‘mother’ tree at the intersection of two of the main park trails in the GOGP.  One can identify the area by the tree-trimmings just adjacent the trail.  The trimmings should be gone by mid-week.   The before and after photos  of the work-area are illustrated below.

Why was this done?  The mature trees that define the oak woodland at this entry point, and throughout much of the flat-plain of our park, are Quercus douglasii (Blue Oak) and Quercus lobata (Valley Oak).  They are deciduous native oaks.  The trees in our park are at least 200 years old, especially the Blue Oak (very slow growing).  The Q. Agrifolia is an evergreen tree, and it is a recent entry to our park.  It is concentrated near the main entry to GOGP and in the area at the S-W corner, near the Villas of Almaden.   It is prolific in the urban area surrounding the GOGP, it is fast growing, and it is rapidly becoming a dominant tree. It’s acorns thrive on the valley floor.  Q. agrifolia out competes the Blue and Valley oaks.  Leaving nature take its course would convert the park from an open oak woodland to a closed oak woodland.  Note too that Q. agrifolia is subject to sudden-oak-death (S.O.D.) whereas the Blue and Valley Oaks are not.  So in addition to becoming a closed oak woodland, the GOGP would be more susceptible to S.O.D. issues.

The cluster in our subject-title is one of the young Coast Live Oaks (CLO) saplings that surround the edge of the canopy of the established CLO’s.  They were out competing young Blue and Valley oak saplings in that area.  Proof of this became evident when these saplings were removed; among the saplings were Blue and Valley seedlings which are now open to direct sunlight, the conditions required to establish these trees.  We found about 30 Blue and Valley Oak seedlings among the CLO saplings!   If we are vigilant in removing subsequent CLO seedlings and if we remove the circle of European grasses and weeds that will surround each of them, (they too out-compete the Blue and Valley Oak starts, by grabbing moisture and nutrients), come Spring, we can get the Blue and Valley Oak seedlings to survive 3 years to four years out, it should allow them sufficient time to get established.  In this way, we will be preserving the GOGP.

If you want proof of the spreading of Q. agrifolia evergreen trees in the park, go to Google Earth and look at the historical aerial views.  One can see the expansion of the CLO footprint throughout the park.

Please don’t pick the flowers. Oops! I meant to say FLAGS….

 

 

You may have seen green/blue and red irrigation flags in one area of Guadalupe Oak Grove Park between two of the main walking trails.  These flags represent a project being done in cooperation with District 10.  They mark a 30 foot-wide swath from trail to trail, and all the one-year old, baby Valley and Blue Oak shoots that are growing within.  These shoots are to be ‘caged’ in chicken wire cages to protect them, watered and encouraged to live as they are to be the replacement trees for the Blue and Valley Oak trees we are losing to the extended drought and other issues.  The flags are there because after the deciduous native oak trees drop their leaves they will be ‘invisible’ but for the subsequent caging.  Blue and Valley Oaks will not regenerate due to the high-weed and grass load in the park and the out-competing Coast Live Oaks which are overtaking the open Savannah.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

 

 

 

Pat Pizzo

Vegetation Management Plan for Guadalupe Oak Grove Park?

 

Patrick Pizzo, one of Martin-Fontana Parks Association’s project managers, proposes timed grazing for GOGP:

A method suggested in the Vegetation Management Plan for Guadalupe Oak Grove Park.  Grazing may be done via goats, sheep, or cattle; and the timing part deals with the ideal time to remove European introduced grasses and weeds, promoting the return of CA native grasses and wildflowers, which once were common in our park.  This improves the wildlife habitat for the birds, animals and insects.  Since the park is enclosed by fencing, all that would be required to exercise this option is to bring in the domestic animals and provide them with water (a plastic tot-swimming pool or bathtub).  These three photos taken in the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, illustrate the benefit of timed grazing. You are looking out at Vernal pools in the Spring, about mid-March.  An area has been cyclone-fenced to provide a ‘control’.  In this area, the Cattle cannot graze.  What you see is the effectiveness of grazing in removing the European grasses and weeds which fill the fenced-in area and providing room for the native plant seed base to do its thing.  The yellow flowering plants outside the cage are native wildflowers common to Vernal Pools, as are the other ground-plants you see in the photos.  You can imagine the difference in fire-load and, considering the events of last week (a fire in the northern portion of the GOGP), one can see the benefit from timed grazing.

Guadalupe Oak Grove Park fire

When asked in an email about the afternoon fire in GOGP on June 12th , Roger Hurtado, a Workers Compensation Analyst for the San Jose Fire Department, replied that it was a controlled burn.  However, according to Michele Dexter, the Council Liaison for the Office of District 10 Councilmember Johnny Khamis, reported that it was not a controlled burn, but a fire started by a tipped over BBQ being used illegally in the park.  The perpetrators fled the scene, so it is not known who started it.  Thankfully, the SJFD got there as quick as possible, and got the fire  controlled or who knows how far and wide it would have spread.

Sadly, Lee Pauser, who has a web site called Birdsfly, reported that there were 9 Bluebird nesting boxes in or adjacent to the burn area.  Five nestlings in a box on the edge of the burn area were found dead.  Five 2-day-old nestlings in another box deep in the burn area were weak, and or not expected to survive.  Not only were there birds nesting in the nest boxes, but the park has many natural cavities which are used for nesting purposes. There may also have been birds nesting on the ground, or in nests they have built in the trees.  The burn has blackened the hillside that harbors insects that the birds are so dependent on for feeding their young. This loss of local insects now means that they will have to extend their foraging range.

Park Visitors:

With an Excessive Heat Watch having been issued by the National Weather Service for Friday through Sunday across the Bay Area, please take care not to have this happen again.  With the huge mass of dead weeds in the park, yesterday’s event clearly illustrates the problem with the fire-load in the park and the fire department’s ability to deal with the situation. Access to roads, multiple entry points and such, made for a rapid response. Winds were active at the time of the fire, and we were all very fortunate. Thanks to the San Jose Fire Department’s quick response, good coordination, and proper training, they were able to put out the fire before it had spread any further.

Check out the Hawks in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park

Thanks to photographer Ed Grossmith, we have these beautiful photos of a family of Red-Shouldered Hawks living in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park.

 

 

Have you seen the Soap Plants in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park?

On Martin-Luther King Day, I went to the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park for a walk. It was a beautiful day and, it seems, we continue to have Indian Summer days in succession. I noticed that the buds on the Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) were beginning to open! The little flowers that lead to acorns were beginning to show as were new, green leaflets. This is, perhaps, a false spring, with heavy winds and cold weather to follow (and hopefully rain!). Cold and wind can do a lot of damage to young oak leaves, as was the case last Spring. It is good to see that the prior heavy rains and current warm weather are promoting spring-like conditions…. but this is worrisome as it is only the end of January. What can you do? Enjoy it while it lasts!

chlorogalum-pomeridianum

I also noticed signs of CA native wildflowers burgeoning forth! Actually there are/were few flowers, just the sprouting plants. We’ll see the flowers soon, especially if we have a string of 72 degree days! More likely we must await the end of February and March/April.

I want to tell you about one CA Native Wildflower in the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park that grows from an underground bulb, and ask you to follow its progress this Spring. The plant is called Soap Plant (common name): Chlorogalum pomeridianum, the botanical name. This plant was used by the indigenous people to a great extent. Go to the following web page to see how it was used:

http://www.parksconservancy.org/conservation/plants-animals/native-plant-information/soap-plant.html

To see how it looks currently, go to the following URL:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorogalum_pomeridianum#mediaviewer/File:Chlorogalum_pomeridianum_aka_Soap_Plant.JPG

Note the ‘waviness’ of the leaves. As you enter GOGP from J. Fontana Park near the Tot lot, a good patch of the Soap Plant is on the upper trail  to your left, just as you are climbing to the first quarry site.  Now the Soap plant is ‘off trail’ for the most part; so please be careful to visit only the near-trail soap-plant sites. In ‘normal’ times, the first flowers may open just prior to Memorial Day.

Let me tell you one fascinating aspect of this plant. The flowers open like clockwork, one by one, within a minute of each other, and they go from fully closed to fully open in a matter of seconds. You don’t need slow motion or timed exposure to see these flowers open! For a little “soap opera” here’s a short PowerPoint presentation.  And here is a little soap-plant story I wrote in 2007.

Patrick Pizzo

Pat Pizzo

Pat Pizzo