Gophers in TJ Martin & Jeffrey Fontana Parks

Below is MFPA Board Member Linda Wilson’s response to a concerned neighbor regarding the infestation of gophers in our parks.

I recently received your membership renewal and your note about the gophers.  This is a rather long and complicated problem.  Up to 2008 PRNS had full funding and ran an ongoing rodent removal program in all parks that were affected by gophers and squirrels, including TJ Martin and Fontana.  In 2008 the parks budget was slashed by 50% in maintenance due to the recession, and the rodent control program was cut accordingly.  They still hired an outside contractor to kill gophers in both parks using a poison that was inserted deep into the tunnels.  In 2010 the Federal government outlawed nearly all the poisons that had previously been effective in rodent control on public lands such as parks.  The contractor then had to change to trapping the gophers, taking them away alive from the parks and then he would freeze them to be used for owl food for the county’s barn owl population.

At this point, the gopher population in TJ Martin park exploded, first going into all the TJ Martin neighboring streets.  Now in TJ, homeowners from the park clear to Redmond Ave. have nearly all been impacted by gophers and have resorted to all kinds of remedies, but the park population continues to expand.  In Fontana, most of the rodent damage since 2008 had only been from the ground squirrels; the gophers did not appear in great numbers until they tunneled under Meridian into Fontana and spread eastward through the park.  Gophers are solitary tunnelers.  A gopher will only use another gopher’s tunnel if it has been long abandoned, so all gophers are always digging their own tunnels for their own use.  Once they have mated, they separate, and when the young are old enough they leave the mother to build their own tunnels and nests.

Last fall PRNS got permission from the state and feds to use carbon monoxide produced by small gas engines piped into the tunnels to kill the gophers by removing the oxygen in the tunnels. The machines cost about $2000, so MFPA got permission to train six volunteers and purchased one to use in conjunction with park staff.  Most of our volunteer work was done in TJ Martin soccer fields and in Fontana from Meridian as far as our first native plant island.  After the five island projects was begun in November, the Fontana volunteers worked only in the area directly in front of the five islands and around the five islands.  Eventually, volunteers dropped interest and only one person still tries to keep gophers out of the five islands.

I have asked all the volunteers about where they were working, and so far as we know, only PRNS ever worked from in front of the dog parks all the way down to Almaden Expressway.  We found, as did park staff, that the gophers and squirrels had been allowed to breed uncontrolled and overrun the parks beginning in 2008, so for ten years they have been multiplying and spreading throughout the parks and the surrounding neighborhoods for up to a mile and a half from the parks.  One of our members who lives two houses down from the Fontana on Ostenberg told us that last fall he had to completely remove his lawns, lay down gopher grid wire, then bring in top soil and replant.

Unfortunately, until the City receives enough complaints made to the City Council and the mayor, this problem will go on unabated.  Parks are last on the list to receive city funding by priority.  MFPA has attended city meetings, spoken to city representatives and pushed for funding for rodent control for the last six years with no meaningful results.  Since this March, we have only tried to keep the gophers out of the five island project using the Gopher X, the carbon monoxide method.  We live near TJ Martin and have battled gophers, and most of the Villas is overrun with gophers and squirrel damage.

I sympathize with you and what you have experienced, but with the burgeoning rodent population and no effective method to control it in a widespread manner, we have no answers.  I know this doesn’t make your situation any better, but I hope it helps you understand the magnitude of the rodent problem with which we are faced as park neighbors.  Until someone at City Hall finally gets the message, I don’t know how it will ever be addressed.

Sincerely,

Linda Wilson

Past President and Membership Chair, MFPA

 

TJ Martin Tot Lot Bench Refinished

Thanks to Scout Nathan Bird and some help and guidance from MFPA member Larry Sasscer, the bench was refinished to look like new again.  The work on the bench should help Nathan achieve his Eagle Scout status.

Now it’s safe to sit & watch the kids play.  Thanks so much, guys.

What would you have us do with $44,000 to spend in our Jeffrey Fontana & TJ Martin parks

I’m Robert Braunstein, Vice President of the Martin-Fontana Parks Association.

We have just signed a groundbreaking Right of Entry agreement with the City of San Jose that allows us to work on certain projects using contractors we hire.  Our association has $44,000 to spend on these projects. My question to you is, what are the most important issues in the TJ Martin and Jeffrey Fontana parks right now that need to be addressed?  If there is an issue you feel particularly strongly about, let me know if you would like to join a project management group to work on a specific fix.

Please reply with your opinion at SaveOurParkTrees@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Robert hard at work refinishing the Tot Lot fence in Jeffrey Fontana Park.

Managing Neighborhood Coyotes

Here is a Advisory from the Santa Clara County Vector Control District:

Have you been to the Islands yet?

Well you don’t have to go far.  Just drop by Jeffrey Fontana Park at the corner of Meridian Avenue and Oakglen Way and you will see our beautiful 5 Islands display of native plants.  Stroll around the Islands, find a plant you like, check the name on the plant ID signs, head to your nursery, and add one to your yard.  Mother Nature will thank you.

Almaden Valley Nursery has a wonderful island displaying some of the plants they have available for sale.

Check out East Bay Wilds‘ Island:

Then there’s DGDG‘s Island:

And don’t forget PG&E‘s Island:

And last but not least, is the Presidents’ Island, so named for the past MFPA Presidents who we want to thank for their generous donations to make this island possible:

In fact we want to thank all these generous organizations for their contributions of either Plants or Monetary donations.  We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Come on out.  The Islands await you.

 

HEART OF THE PARK THANK YOU BY LINDA WILSON

A big THANK YOU!!! to the 35 volunteers who worked together to make this event the biggest and best Heart of the Park celebration. The morning set up crew of Rich Zahner, Robert Braunstein, Brandon Koehne, Larry Sasscer, Theresa Wellman, Wayne and Linda Opp, Gary Wilson, Dan Judd, Mike Winters, Rosy and Gordon Bowring had tables, chairs and canopies set up and ready to go by noon! Annie Braunstein stepped in and handled the cash boxes, and Mike Kalashian was there to make sure the PayPal widgets worked.  Susan Mosher was our busy photographer recording the four- hour event.  Be sure to check out her great pics on this website.

Hop Banner

Lisa Myers led the bird watching tour with a large group of enthusiastic birders.

Bird Watchers

Rod Carpenter brought together sponsors, PRNS staff, and the creator of the islands, Pat Pizzo, for the long-awaited ribbon cutting and dedication. Ellie Carpenter arranged the big red bow between the fences, and the robot bringing in the giant scissors was a big hit. Sunny Wagstaff’s photo presentation of building the islands from beginning to end showed the tremendous teamwork and effort it took to bring the project to completion.

Island Dedication

Back in the main corral, Linda Opp and Jean LaMarca signed up eight new members and one renewal, while handing out membership applications to several interested attendees. Thanks to Linda Abad and Sophia Snyder who tried in vain to keep the ice cream and water cold, while manning the refreshment booth, while Kari Snyder ran the 50/50 raffle.

Membership

50 50 Raffle

Rod Carpenter and his Dog Parade Team entertained the pet lovers with a well-run dog parade. Judges Courtney Granner, Johnny Khamis, and Stacey Winters presided over the large group of large and small dogs, both in costume and not, as owners proudly led their charges for the Strut Your Mutt event. Joy Stevens ran a smooth operation as the Master of Ceremonies, while Dick Stevens, Bunny Granner, Ellie Carpenter, Rosy Bowring, and David Chai registered the participants, helped give out prizes, and kept the whole event running smoothly. Rod did a wonderful job of rounding up all the volunteers for this event and making sure it ran smoothly.

Rich Grialou and Pat Burrow coordinated the booth for the Meet the Artists display, making sure all who were interested learned about the forthcoming mural painting project for the twelve concrete water vaults throughout Fontana and TJ Martin Parks. Thanks to Michele Dexter who brought the sound system from the D-10 council office for our use, Sunny Wagstaff for our backup MFPA sound system, all the displays, banners, stage, and so much more. Lee Pauser was there for the sixth year with his display of nesting boxes, bird species and their eggs, and a raft of information on barn owls in our parks. Finally, thanks to the organizations who sponsored the informational tables contributing so much to our event.

Artists

The$2/$5 raffle was a big hit with raffle items brought in by the MFPA Board of Directors, and Pat Pizzo who went after the Boulder Ridge golf certificate with a vengeance, finally wearing them down. Nancy Kalashian, Christine Noordam, Annie Braunstein and Michelle Judd did the amazing task of arranging the items, finding extra tables when they ran out of space and making sure each item had the correct ticket bag for the raffle draws. Mike Kalashian fulfilled his role as the “ticket hawker”, bringing raffle sales to a new height.

Raffle TicketsRaffle
I close with thanks to my family for their long-suffering support of this event, as well as our neighbor, Ron Guevara who is always there to lend my husband and the rest of our volunteers a hand getting everything cleaned up and out of the park at the end of the day.

Linda Wilson

Current Newsletter Available

Please click below for the May 2018 Newsletter:

https://saveourparktrees.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/newsletter-may-2018-final-version.pdf