The mighty oak, that East Bay native tree that grew from that little acorn, is threatened by a fungus-like water mold known as sudden oak death.
There is no cure for the condition, which researchers believe is spread by infected bay trees, but vigilant tracking of the condition of trees can slow its spread. Tracking will be the aim of a two-day survey by volunteers on April 27 and 28 and the public is invited to be part of the "blitz" assessing the condition of coast live oaks.
A pair of one-hour training sessions to prepare volunteers for the blitz will be held on April 27. Bill Hudson will lead a session at 10 a.m. in the Garden Room of the Orinda Public Library, 26 Orinda Way. To register send an email to email@example.com.
The second session will be at 1 p.m. on the UC Berkeley campus and registration and other details are online at www.sod2013.eventzilla.net.
After the training, participants can choose their own schedule and locations to collect suspect leaves in public areas or even your own back yard. Samples, along with notation of where they were collected, should be turned in at a designated drop box by morning on April 29.
Samples will then be analyzed in a laboratory and the results, which will be made public in early fall, will go a long way in helping determine where the condition has spread -- and where it hasn't.
Blitz co-sponsors -- including Friends of Five Creeks (firstname.lastname@example.org), Friends of Sausal Creek (email@example.com), and Garber Park Stewards (firstname.lastname@example.org) -- can suggest survey routes most likely to fit a volunteer's walking abilities.
Training is also available on how to deal with sudden oak death.
To learn more visit nature.berkeley.edu/garbelotto/english/sodblitzparticipate.php.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: The legendary garden created by the late Harland Hand at his hillside home in El Cerrito will be part of the East Bay Area Open Day tour being held by The Garden Conservancy on May 11. From the tour description: "This half-acre garden sits on a steep hillside with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. Designed and built by Harland Hand (1922-1998) whose house was inspired by the Sierra Mountains. He sculpted concrete steps, paths and pools with dramatic color combinations of plants."
Private gardens in Albany, El Cerrito and Oakland that are not usually open to the public are on this year's tour. Details and tickets: www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays/ or 888-842-2442.