Rotary Nature Center Hours

The Rotary Nature Center opened to its full hours March 12 with our new Naturalist Program Director Joe Moore.

Hours will be Tue, Thu, Fri, and Sat 10-4. Closed Mon, Wed, and Sun

Stay tuned for more programming for kids, teens, and adults. Also make sure to check out Golden Gate Audubon for classes.

A budget for the community?

Several of us supporters of the Rotary Nature Center (Rotary Nature Center Friends and the Community for Lake Merritt) came to the Oakland City Council special session on budget proposals from the Mayor and City Council President.

There were concerns from many quarters about the Mayor’s budget: from illegal dumping, city workers, homeless advocates, fire safety in the hills, to specific concerns about funding for various non-profits, and it’s lack of faith in priorities laid out by the community at large.

Our specific concern (not to diminish any others — in particular a solution to our homeless crisis is intimately tied to parks) was where parks positions which were to be cut. This has an impact on not only our concerns at Lake Merritt, but Oakland wide — where parks would potentially be closed for lack of staff.

A support letter signed by 220 lake walkers in favor of restoring and improving parks funding was delivered by RNCF to council. They had tabled the last two weekends for this effort.

We believe that access to parks is good for the well being of all Oakland residents and visitors… and that without solid maintenance our investments in parks would be at severe risk, even those that are said to be jewels of Oakland.

We firmly believe that volunteers and the community at large play a role in maintaining our parks through things like Weed Warriors and Adopt a Spot and our own organization, but that this is not enough. We need the involvement and work of our excellent city employees, those of DPW and OPRY&D. We need them for a commitment to sustain our parks. The finance office indicated they are particularly concerned about Park’s funding.

Please write the mayor and your city council member and encourage that these positions not be cut and to work for sustainable parks.

Lake Merritt’s trees

A few years a back, the staff at the Rotary Nature Center produced this excellent little tree guide. The text came from Constance Taylor, Blake Edgar, Paul Belz, and California Center for Natural History. The illustrations are from John Muir Law’s nature illustration club.

Often, the trees we see in cities are from different parts of the world, so they can be hard to identify. This guide will introduce you to 10 of the most common trees you’ll find around Lake Merritt, Oakland, & other urban areas in California. Some of them are native & some of them are introduced, but all are part of our urban ecosystem. A giant thank you is due to John Muir Laws and his nature journaling club for creating all the beautiful illustrations! It’s our hope that this community-created tree guide will help you learn a little more about what else is “growing on” all around us in Oakland. See if you can find all 10 trees outlined. Happy searching, learning, and exploring!

Without further ado, checkout this Lake Merritt Tree Guide and amaze your friends when they ask what the heck is that tree.

Further References:

Rotary Nature Center Grand Re-opening

For a moment, this past Saturday, Feb 16th, 2019, it looked like it was going to be a miserable day. Volunteers had begun arriving to set up tables at 1130, and shortly after we’d gotten settled it began to pour with rain. We’d already had a good set of people stopping by, many people eager to have a look at the Center.

But the skies cleared, and people started arriving en mass. The Community for Lake Merritt board was out, helping dissect owl pellets, a game for looking at bird feet,  looking at insects, and pollinators. Lake Merritt Observatory had an excellent “From the Bottom Up” table with things taken out of the lake, water testing, and someone helping interpret the new Mutual Air Bell (and air quality art project). Golden Gate Audubon was down by the water showing people the birds.

Inside, OPYRD Director Nicholas Williams started off the proceedings by unveiling a plaque in appreciation of the Core Team who have worked for the last year setting plans and policy into place. The group, which is disbanded as of the opening, has included Karis Griffin of OPRYD, Alan Briskin consultant, C.J. Hirschfield of Fairyland, James Robinson of the Lake Merritt Institute and community activist Jennie Girard. He went on to thank other groups who have contributed including Community for Lake Merritt which brought in the substantial donation which paid for the refurbishment, and the partner organizations.

Mayor Libby Schaaf then took the stage to thank everyone and honor Stephanie Benavides for her contributions to the RNC over the last 40 years.  She shared her own childhood experiences at the RNC being mentored by Stephanie and shared the Patricia Polacco picture book, I Can Hear the Sun, written about Stephanie. Stephanie was also awarded a plaque to hang in the RNC and while local children held both ends she, together with the new lead naturalist, Angelina Manno, cut the ribbon officially reopening the RNC.

manno

  • Photos are courtesy of John Kirkmire. More of his excellent photos are at LakeMerritt.org

Lake Merritt Observatory Youth Activities -Winter/Spring 

Exciting news from Lake Merritt Observatory (STEM Activities for Youth), one of the projects approved by the Rotary Nature Center core committee, continuing activities in the spring:

  • Water quality testing
  • Exploring the Lake’s aquatic community with iNaturalist
  • Underwater robotic vehicle expeditions (with OpenROV)
  • Science careers in our community

Volunteer Cleanup Sat, Jan 5th

Katie Noonan will be leading an Adopt-A-Spot cleanup Saturday January 5th, 2019 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Volunteers needed. Please join, help cleanup before the Feb 16th Grand Opening.

Check out the new paint job on the building and you might get a chance to peek inside (if the windows in the garden are not papered over at least.)

Audubon RNC Winter/Spring Classes

Exciting news from Golden Gate Audubon, they will be offering three courses at the Rotary Nature Center starting in January on into the Spring. Courses include:

  • Introduction to the Wintering Birds of Lake Merritt
  • Bird as Icon in Nature & Culture: Black-Crowned Night Heron
  • Nature Journaling in the Heart of Oakland (Winter thru Spring)
  • Discover Nesting Colonial Water Birds in Oakland

More info can be found on the GGAS website.