November 2021 update from California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks
California Oaks is a project of California Wildlife Foundation (CWF).
© Welcome rains bring fall color to Burney Falls State Park's deciduous vegetation, which includes many beautiful oaks.
The California Oaks Coalition is perpetuating and protecting oaks throughout California and beyond. Below are some of the many stories about coalition accomplishments and victories in 2021.
California Oaks Coalition reports
Male Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), an oak-associated subspecies, nectaring on Petachaeta aurea. © Photo courtesy of Spring Strahm of WildSpring Ecology. WildSpring Ecology coordinates the Quino checkerspot reinforcement project in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Big win in Superior Court of California against Proctor Valley development
San Diego Superior Court Judge Richard S. Whitney struck down the County of San Diego’s approval of Adara at Otay Ranch on October 7, 2021, an important victory.

In 2019, the County of San Diego approved the proposed Adara at Otay Ranch project, concluding, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, that the introduction of structures and people would not increase wildfire risks and degrade the environment. Shortly thereafter, conservation organizations, which include California Oaks Coalition members Endangered Habitats League, Center for Biological Diversity, and California Native Plant Society, challenged the approval. In 2021, California Attorney General Rob Bonta intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the People of California. 

The ruling cited a range of issues, including the project's inconsistencies with San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan, wildfire risks, inadequate mitigation of the significant project-related increase in greenhouse gas emissions, protection of the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), and lack of affordable housing.

Originally known as Otay Ranch Village 14, the Adara at Otay Ranch project site would be constructed in undisturbed wildland in southwestern San Diego County, between the City of Chula Vista and the unincorporated town of Jamul. The project would develop three parcels that were previously set aside for permanent conservation as mitigation for the development of Chula Vista years ago. They were intended to become part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge as Multiple Species Conservation Program preserved lands, but the transaction was never completed and the parcels remained privately controlled, albeit designated as lands that could not be developed. In his ruling, Judge Whitney noted that the Environmental Impact report had improperly ignored these legal complexities and wrongly asserted that the development was both allowed and consistent with the Multiple Species Conservation Program. (A fall 2020 electronic Oaks newsletter article reported on Wildlife Conservation Board's denial of a flawed proposal by the developer to remedy the conflict.)

Sixty-eight fires have been recorded within five miles of the project site, including the 2007 Harris Fire, which burned 90,440 acres. The area is vulnerable to wildfire ignition and spread during extreme fire weather. The project would have expanded the boundary of existing development into thousands of acres of open space. At 1,284 acres, the project would include 1,119 single-family residences and a mixed-use site with 10,000 square feet of commercial space, along with parks and a community fire station. Of the 1,119 residences, none were set aside for affordable housing. 

The Endangered Habitats League and California Native Plant Society are represented by Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP in the litigation. The Center for Biological Diversity, Preserve Wild Santee, and the California Chaparral Institute are represented by the Center for Biological Diversity. The Sierra Club is represented by Chatten-Brown, Carstens and Minteer.

A copy of the decision can be found here.
© Blue oak in the Tule River drainage at the River Ridge Ranch. Photo courtesy of Barbara Brydolf, River Ridge Institute.
River Ridge Institute developing oak educational programming
California Oaks Coalition member River Ridge Institute is developing educational programming and materials centered on oaks. River Ridge Institute prepared an Acorns, Classes, and Ecosystems program summary that they requested California Oaks share as a model for other areas of the state. The program builds on a Trout in the Classroom collaboration with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kaweah Fly Fishers, River Ridge Institute, River Ridge Ranch, Sequoia Riverlands Trust (member of California Oaks Coalition), and Tulare County Office of Education.

Trout in the Classroom relies upon California Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide sterile hybrid trout eggs for classroom rearing by elementary school students. Substituting acorns for trout eggs and oak seedlings for juvenile trout facilitates greater participation by classrooms, with the goal of every 4th grade public school classroom in the county participating in the program. The Acorns, Classes, and Ecosystems program will distribute acorns to classroom teachers, along with pots and planting media, and instructions for students to observe and analyze germination and growth in their classrooms. In-classroom learning will also focus on Native Americans’ history and relation to our local environment and their management of oaks.

A field trip component of the program includes a visit to collect acorns in the fall and/or a hike and planting module. Students participating in the latter visit oak habitats for three species of oaks; learn more about Native American relationships with these lands and oaks; learn oak natural history and the importance of oaks within the complex ecosystem of plants, animals, and humans in the Central Valley and Sierra foothills; and plant their oak seedlings in designated locations on the site where the acorns were collected.

River Ridge Institute is also producing an educational video series on repairing erosion damage on working landscapes. The videos, which will be issued in December, showcase holistic methods of repair of seasonal streambeds by using local materials and labor.

For more information, contact Gary Adest, PhD, President, River Ridge Institute, Owner, River Ridge Ranch:, POB 879 Springville, CA 93265-0879, (559) 539-0207 (office).
© Photo courtesy of Professor Janet Morrison, The College of New Jersey.
Shasta Environmental Alliance protecting northern Sacramento River watershed
Shasta Environmental Alliance (SEA), a member of California Oaks Coalition, is a non-profit organization that unites local individuals and 19 supporting organizations to educate the public, elected government officials, and other policy makers on the importance of environmental conservation in Tehama, Shasta, and Siskiyou Counties. Incorporated in 2017, SEA brings a strong, united, and organized voice to advocate for the environmental integrity of the northern Sacramento River watershed.

A recent focus has been working with the City of Redding to adopt an improved tree ordinance that requires mitigation for the removal native oak trees during development. This will encourage developers to save oak trees or to mitigate impacts with funds that can be used to increase the tree canopy in Redding to alleviate the heat island effect during hot summers.

Shasta Environmental Alliance developed an acorn planting program on Bureau of Reclamation land following the Carr Fire in 2018 and on 380 acres of oak woodland and chaparral that members successfully convinced the City of Redding to permanently protect. The program has continued in accordance with Covid protocols, as have field trips to inspire area residents to protect the watershed.

Shasta Environmental Alliance conducted a Redding City Candidates forum in Redding in 2018 and subsequently developed a candidate’s questionnaire, which was widely distributed via various media in response the Covid protocols.

Shasta Environmental Alliance has also submitted comment letters on many Sacramento River watershed issues such as the proposed rise of Shasta Dam and the importance of federal Endangered Species Act listing of the Shasta snow wreath (Neviusia cliftonii) and four imperiled native bee species.
Acorn woodpecker photographed gathering acorns in San Francisco's Lafayette Park on August 8, 2018. 
© Photo courtesy of William Grant.
Videos a call-to-action to protect oaks
The Oak Woodland Subcommittee of Sierra Club Northern California Forest Committee, a member of California Oaks Coalition, produced an educational video and public service announcements focused on the importance of keeping oak trees standing. Deforestation: Sounding the Alarm, a short video created by Amber Manfree, PhD, Beth Nelson, Jim Wilson, and Patricia Demery, engages Dr. Manfree and students from Napa County Resource Conservation District’s Acorns to Oaks program to convey the story of the critical climate and biodiversity services provided by mature oak trees. The students share results of research by Jim Wilson and Katie Stillwell on the importance of keeping mature oaks standing for climate stabilization. Click on this link and scroll down to view the video.

The Oak Woodland Subcommittee also produced two 30-second Public Service Announcements (click here to view one of them), which aired 43 times daily over four weeks on AT&T U-verse and Comcast cable TV. Partners funding the video production: Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, Napa Climate NOW!, Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture, Forests Forever (a member of California Oaks Coalition), Napa Vision 2050, and Napa Schools for Climate Action.
Participants and crew leaders in Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy’s Leave No Child Inside Expeditions: Landscape by Design 2021 program. © Photo courtesy of Lindsey Milstein.
During this pandemic period many of us have felt the power of our public green spaces to refresh, decompress, and renew. Natural landscapes, parks, and gardens are integral to safe and healthy communities, providing the balance to find happiness and well-being where we live. To have our existing green spaces preserved and to continue to create additional green spaces is essential for life in densely populated urban environments. In this light, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy’s mission is dedicated to preserving and restoring Dumbarton Oaks Park as a unique natural and cultural resource in Washington D.C. It is the only remaining wild garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, a pioneering female landscape architect. 

To unlock this American landscape treasure for people of all abilities and all walks of life is, as Beatrix Farrand observed, “hard work but also a perpetual pleasure.” Thanks so much to the California Oaks Coalition for widening the circle from coast to coast.
Lindsey Milstein, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy
Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy celebrates its 10th year with many accomplishments
Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy, the most far-flung member of California Oaks Coalition, marked its 10th year with improvements to the site, new programming, and the development of a plan to enhance access for all.

Among the 2021 accomplishments are the completion of a stream valley design, which encompasses the entire stream corridor and includes 18 historic stone waterfalls that are part of the site's original plan. The project harmonizes current habitat typologies and historic design precedents, feasible maintenance requirements, and sustainable plant communities. It includes succession planting for replacement of the original layered plant palette of groundcovers, shrubs, and trees chosen by Beatrix Farrand. A Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy priority is repopulating the oaks, including bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii), shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria), overcup oak (Quercus lyrata), white oak (Quercus alba), pin oak (Quercus palustris), scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), black oak (Quercus velutina), and chestnut oak (Quercus prinus).

Restoration projects also include the replacement of two historic wooden plank bridges with repurposed fallen white oaks from a neighboring park. This restoration project has been years in the making given the difficulty of sourcing trees well-suited in size and durability. The sustainable solution of utilizing fallen majestic urban trees provides them with a second chance of life in the park. Installation will take place this winter. (© Photo above, which shows one of the current bridges, courtesy of Allen Russ.)

The Conservancy's Leave No Child Inside environmental education initiative has provided an expressive outlet and expansive space for youth throughout the pandemic. The Conservancy adapted the Expeditions: Landscape by Design program from an outdoor classroom experience to virtual and hybrid formats. This allowed continued engagement with youth, including those with limited access to green spaces, about the history and future of Dumbarton Oaks Park. Curriculum includes stories of the work of Beatrix Farrand and her colleague, Frederick Law Olmsted, over a century ago in the field of landscape architecture; how this shaped the American landscape; and how their influence continues today in the discussion about democratic access to public spaces. The students participate in design studio sessions within and outside of the park. The effort taken to share this site with our future land stewards is critical. The reward is to see these urban youth engage in nurturing of this green oasis and also being nurtured by it.

This year’s work also centered on the development of a universal access assessment master plan for the entire park, both physical and informational. Making disability and inclusion at the forefront of everyday business for Dumbarton Oaks Park is a vital community undertaking.
Mast year in Sonoma County
An October 29, 2021 article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat by Stephen Nett reports on Sonoma County's abundant crop of acorns. Congratulations to California Oaks Coalition member Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation for their many quotes in the article.
© Photo of student tree planting in Templeton courtesy of Central Coast Heritage Tree Foundation.
Templeton Heritage Tree Foundation now Central Coast Heritage Tree Foundation
California Oaks Coalition member Templeton Heritage Tree Foundation is expanding to become Central Coast Heritage Tree Foundation. The organization is collaborating with the Templeton community to grow the next generation of heritage oak trees for the town. Three lead teachers from the school district and their students recently planted 20 valley oaks grown from acorns from giant oaks in Templeton's historic downtown. High school landscape students made gopher and browse protection, a local tree company provided mulch to use in the weed abatement and moisture retention, and a local organic vermicompost company provided worm casting and compost tea for each sapling (to nourish the sometimes very-compacted soil). The teachers and students are committed to watering their trees for the next 3-5 years, in collaboration with volunteers with Central Coast Heritage Tree Foundation. The District's maintenance department, school board, and teachers, as well as tree foundation volunteers, are excited by the prospect of watching these oaks grow where they will be enjoyed by many people in the community. Three of the trees have been named by the elementary school: Quer-ky, Oakley, and Professor Oak!

Central Coast Heritage Tree Foundation Board member Dana Tryde has been hard at work managing and restoring a parcel on 1,000 acres of oak woodland and savanna, on the edge of mixed pine forest in the outskirts of Santa Margarita. She is growing 250 valley and blue oak saplings in a nursery on the property. Working with her son, Grant, and landowner, Stuart, she has planted 50 oak saplings and nurtured at least 40 others. She is also focused on rebuilding the soil's health. The land was grazed by cattle, as is typical of much of the land in the area. Improperly managed cattle grazing prohibits oak regeneration when cattle trample and graze on the tiny sprouts and compact the soil. The compaction encourages non-native plant growth and ground squirrels, which diminish native plants' ability to survive. This vicious cycle of soil depletion often continues after the cattle are no longer present until the soil health is restored.
Governor Newsom signed bill to expand Chino Hills State Park
Governor Newsom signed SB 266, sponsored by California Oaks Coalition member Hills For Everyone, into law on October 9, 2021. Authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and co-authored by Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R-Brea), the bill requires the California Department of Parks and Recreation take title to 1,530 acres, most of which is the eastern ridgeline of Chino Hills State Park.

Using the Chino Hills State Park General Plan as an implementing guide, Hills For Everyone identified 1,530 acres, nearly all of which is on the eastern ridgeline of the State Park, to acquire from willing sellers. Hills For Everyone has been facilitating the acquisition of land and working with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), as well as The Conservation Fund, to acquire these properties from willing sellers and a land donor. Nearly half of this land has already been protected and is currently being stewarded by MRCA. The overall goal is to first preserve these lands and then transfer them into the State Park system. There are two more phases left to purchase and one potential land donation to process (see the blue parcels on the map below). At that point, all of the land can transfer into State Park ownership in one transaction to streamline the process, workload, and staff time.View the Hills For Everyone Press Release.
Plan to restart offshore platforms and truck oil rejected
California Oaks Coalition member Environmental Defense Center spearheaded an effort that successfully challenged a proposal to restart offshore oil platforms and transport oil by tanker truck through oak woodlands and other sensitive habitat. ExxonMobil’s plan called for up to 24,800 oil-filled truck trips per year on coastal Highway 101 and hazardous Route 166, 24-hours a day, to refineries for up to seven years or whenever a new coastal oil pipeline is completed, whichever is shorter. ExxonMobil’s three offshore platforms near Santa Barbara were shut down in 2015 after the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of oil along the California coast.

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted to recommend the Board of Supervisors deny the proposal. The vote is scheduled for early 2022. Click here to read Environmental Defense Center's press release.
Upcoming Workshop
Channel Islands and California Native Oak workshop
December 7-8, 2021
San Diego Zoo (12/7)
Beckman Center for Conservation Research, Escondido (12/8)

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and California Oaks Coalition member Global Conservation Consortium for Oak are co-hosting a workshop focused on developing conservation management plans to address threats to Nuttall’s scrub oak (Quercus dumosa Nutt.), island oak (Q. tomentella Engelm.), island scrub oak (Q. pacifica), and Cedros Island oak (Q. cedrosensis). Click here to download the agenda for the workshop.

A hotel block is reserved at the Doubletree Hilton for $129/night. Please use this link to reserve a room by 11/22/2021. The rates are effective for three days before and three days after the nights of December 6th and 7th. 

Please register by November 30, 2021.
Virtual events
Watch Pala Band of Mission Indians' virtual Save Our Oaks! workshop
In August 2021, the Pala Band of Mission Indians delivered their 6th annual Riparian Management Workshop. The theme for the Workshop was: Save Our Oaks! Co-hosted with UC Cooperative Extension and Climate Science Alliance, the two-day workshop included four sessions, officiated by Pala Band Natural Resources Specialist Kurt Broz and botanist Carolyn Martus. 
The workshop explored a range of issues and resources pertaining to oak protection and restoration by tribes, on tribal lands and beyond. Pala Tribal Member Eric Ortega opened the workshop with a welcome and blessing. The Oak Threats session, facilitated by Carolyn Martus, included speakers Stacy Hishinuma, PhD, Charlie Barnes, PhD, and Jan Gonzales, who provided reports on the threats facing these sacred trees in California. The afternoon session on Tribal Knowledge, hosted by Connor Magee of Climate Science Alliance, included Joelene Tamm, Stan Rodriguez, EdD, and Kristie Orosco speaking to the deep and durable understandings and practices that tribes are applying today, and that can serve to save oaks across the Golden State for tomorrow. In the Climate Change session, moderated by Chris McDonald, PhD, speakers Dan Cayan, PhD, Professor Lluvia Flores-Rentería, Megan Jennings, PhD, and Professor Helen Regan made presentations. The two days wrapped up with an exploration of Oak Restoration Techniques, with talks by Chris McDonald, Emma Havstad, Ryan West, and Dan Gluesenkamp, PhD of California Institute for Biodiversity (a member of California Oaks Coalition).
Though largely of, by, and for California tribes, the workshop was intended to help practitioners throughout California. Thus, recorded videos of the presentations are available online, along with other important materials, at the Pala Environmental Department’s YouTube channel.
Watch Professor Douglas Tallamy's Leadership Lecture Series presentation
Entomology Professor Douglas Tallamy, author of The Nature of Oaks, spoke about the book on October 27, 2021 at Dominican University. Hosted by the university's Institute for Leadership Studies, the presentation is available for viewing on YouTube.
© Black oak at Big Sur. Photo courtesy of Tom Gaman.
California Oaks Coalition
Amah Mutsun Land Trust; American River Conservancy; American River Watershed Institute; AquAlliance; Banning Ranch Conservancy; Butte Environmental Council; Canopy; California Institute for Biodiversity (CIB); California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC); California Native Plant Society (CNPS), including CNPS Dorothy King Young Chapter, CNPS San Diego Restoration Committee, and CNPS Sanhedrin Chapter; California Rangeland Trust; California State University (CSU) Chico Ecological Reserves; California Water Impact Network (C-WIN); California Wilderness Coalition (CalWild); Californians for Western Wilderness (CalUWild); Center for Biological Diversity; Chimineas Ranch Foundation; Clover Valley Foundation; Conejo Oak Advocates; Confluence West; Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy; Elder Creek Oak Sanctuary; Endangered Habitats Conservancy; Endangered Habitats League; Environmental Defense Center; Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC); Environmental Water Caucus; Foothill Conservancy; Forests Forever; Friends of the Richmond Hills; Friends of Spenceville; Global Conservation Consortium for Oak; Hills For Everyone; Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation; Lomakatsi Restoration Project; Los Padres ForestWatch; Lower Kings River Association; Northern California Regional Land Trust; Planning and Conservation League; Redbud Audubon Society–Lake County; Redlands Conservancy; Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains; River Partners; River Ridge Institute; Rural Communities United; Sacramento Tree Foundation; Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE); Save Lafayette Trees; Save Napa Valley; Sequoia Riverlands Trust; Shasta Environmental Alliance; Sierra Club Northern California Forest Committee–Oak Woodland Subcommittee; Sierra Club Placer County; Sierra Foothill Conservancy; Tejon Ranch Conservancy; Templeton Heritage Tree Foundation; Tuleyome; Tuolumne River Trust; and University of California Los Angeles Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden are among the groups partnering with California Oaks to conserve oak woodlands and oak-forested lands for future generations.
Please reach out to if oak woodlands or oak-forested lands in your area are threatened.
©2021, California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks. Please feel free to share this e-newsletter and reprint after providing notice.
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