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:

Measure DD: Interpretive Signs at the Lake

I have been going to the advisory committee meetings for Measure DD for a few years now. This is representatives of various groups and communities who meet with the Measure DD project manager to discuss the progress of various projects and to give advice and direction on what should or should not be pushed for.

One small project that had escaped my attention — that came up in the most recent of meetings — was the design of 6 interpretive signs. These would be distributed about the lake – but two were meant for the Rotary Nature Center area.

Members of the committee rightly pointed out that the signs ought to be multi-lingual, and that additional content could be placed on the web. Especially, if (as described to us) the intent was to help get across the message of not feeding the birds, and good more generally given the diversity of Oakland.

The lack of signs around the lake has always been a bit surprising, and Community at Lake Merritt had been looking at working on signs of our own, so it’s good to know this has been thought about.

It is nice to know a little bit of funding has ended up near the Rotary Nature Center — but I do wish I could rewind the clock to get the Center listed as one of the projects in Measure DD.

The project had been stalled because it lost both a designer and a project manager. It recently got a new project manager with a designer still needed to be found.

The Swallows of Lake Merritt

One of my little markers of the season is the swallows. Sometime in April (maybe I’ll pin the exact date someday, I first saw them April 9th this year), swallows appear at the lake and begin nesting.

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The channel is where I first noted them: Northern Rough Winged Swallows nest in light fixtures and drains under 280, and now the 10th st bridge. They have a strange and unique chattering call. I watched as one sorted 3 inch sticks to carry up into the darkness of a drain.

Cliff swallows built these amazing little mud nests on Laney College buildings and on the 12th bridge (maybe they’ll start new ones on the 10th as well), this year in 2018 (and maybe previous years, if so I missed it) on the Oakland Auditorium building. Cliff swallows seem to get up high into the sky too, you might see then swirling high above Laney.

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Low tide you can sometimes see them come get the mud for their nests. Rough Wings seem to stick closer to the surface, zooming back and forth over the water, though you’ll see Cliff Swallows doing it as well. In fact, standing on the 12th street bridge (as of mid May) you get a pretty good view of them as they skim across the surface.

Violet Green Swallows also come to the lake but they are on the northside (cliff and northern rough wings can also be found in other places around the lake). If you find a large lawn like the ones over by the Bellevue Club you’ll can find them zooming about.

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Rotary Nature Center cleaning complete

Karis’s Griffin’s weekly email of May 11th, 2018 indicated that “the cleanup of the RNC is finally complete. The boxes [of taxidermy] are expected to be moved out of the building in the next two weeks.”

The next public meeting is confirmed for Saturday, June 2nd 9am to 12:30pm at the Lake Merritt Garden Center.

Attendees should come prepared to:

  • Review the proposals that have been submitted
  • Discuss and share ideas with each presenter

The proposal deadline is still March 21, 2018

Next Community Meeting, June 2, 2018

Karis Griffin, in her May 4th, 2018 update, reported a number of things.

  • The first level of clean up has been completed. Taxidermy has been boxed and stored (until further notice) as per advice from professionals.
  • Additional cleanup continues (with a hoped for opening over the summer).
  • The deadline for program proposals has been extended until May 21st, 2018.
  • The next community meeting has been scheduled for June 2, 2018, 9am-12:30pm to be held at the Lake Merritt Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue, 94610, where programs will be presented by the community.

Let us know if you are coming here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2052327211712955/