July 14, 2024
The area resident is organizing work parties to clear combustible vegetation from open space along Skyline Boulevard.

Heat advisories continue to dominate the news this week as firefighters remain vigilant — especially in the parched East Bay hills. A one-woman force of nature is on duty too, organizing work parties to help mitigate the fire danger along Oakland’s Skyline Boulevard.

Beloved former television news anchor Wendy Tokuda is using a grant from the Diablo Fire Safe Council to help with her passion project — removing invasive plants from parklands and open space. Most recently, she rallied a group of volunteers to tackle a thicket of brush and non-native saplings near Chabot Space & Science Center.

“This area we worked in is close to homes in Piedmont Pines in a high-fire-risk area,” she said, adding the area was a tangle of brush and invasive acacia trees that had fallen downhill on top of each other. “It was a mess. For a moment, I wondered if it was simply hopeless. Then I realized you could easily pull the saplings with a weed wrench. I thought, ‘What the heck — let’s just do what we can.’ ”

After several sessions of “weeding the forest,” as her daughter calls it, volunteers pulled out the saplings and removed branches. Then an arborist came in and cut down a number of acacias, leaving the stumps for a future work party endeavor. The goal is to restore the area and plant oak trees, a long-term project that will take several years.

“Cleaning up our open spaces doesn’t just make our homes safer,” Tokuda said. “We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful area, and these parks are little green oases — treasures, really. But they need stewardship to keep them healthy and to keep us safe.”

Around town: Montclair’s Sliver Pizzeria will soon make margaritas. We’re not talking margherita pizzas, but rather the frosty tequila-based beverages that go so well with summer. Sliver’s model is to make one meatless, vegetable-driven style of pizza each day. The liquor license will augment their current list of drinks, including beer and wine.

Also, the Temescal Street Fair is back — it’s this weekend on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Telegraph Avenue event hasn’t been held since 2019 but is a neighborhood favorite for showcasing the food scene and creativity of North Oakland. See temescaldistrict.org/temescalstreetfair online for more information.

BART’s July Christmas: The region’s BART commuter rail agency has just unveiled its new line of holiday merchandise, including ugly sweaters with antler-adorned BART cars along with matching beanies, scarves and vests. The website railgoods.com also includes train swag for Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor route.

Harbor tours: Free local boat trips are making waves this summer. The Port of Oakland is offering once-a-month 90-minute harbor tours through October.

The Blue & Gold fleet tours board at the Jack London terminal and take riders past the port’s busy marine terminals. Online registration for the Aug. 16 tour will open at 8 p.m. Aug. 5 and is expected to sell out in minutes. Find out more online at portofoakland.com/community/harbor-tours.

Ginny Prior can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook and at ginnyprior.com.

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