The Cortereal Swale: A Success Story
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Recent Photo of the Cortereal Swale*

The story starts years before Friends of Montclair Railroad Trail (FOMRRT) formed in April of 2010. Long time residents of Montclair Village may remember the flooding of local businesses as rain water coursed down Cortereal Avenue and through the tunnel near the parking garage on LaSalle Avenue. The drainage system installed by the City of Oakland was a major step in preventing a recurrence of the flooding. 

More recently, the area of the Montclair RR Trail adjacent to Cortereal Avenue became important for slowing runoff and preventing clogged drains. In early 2014, FOMRRT took on this section of the park as an improvement project and that project continues.

A swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy. The term can refer to a natural landscape feature or a human-created one. Artificial swales are often infiltration basins designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration. (Wikipedia)

The Cortereal swale area in 2013
Weeds & Eucalyptus Trees
Close up of Eucalyptus trees
showing closeness to homes

Improvements began when we obtained grants from the Diablo Fire Safe Council and Oakland's Wildfire Prevention District to remove Eucalyptus trees that presented a danger to nearby homes and generated debris on the ground forming a fire ladder into the trail’s tree canopies.  

From this large project emerged another, larger project - to restore the area where trees were removed. We wanted to keep that section of the park from eroding and from filling up with the weeds that move in when soil is heavily disturbed.  Hemlock, thistle, non-native grasses, and Himalayan blackberry were and are ready to sprout up in the now sunny area.

We mobilized volunteers and, over several 3rd Saturday work sessions, accomplished the tasks of: weeding and mulching the area, placing logs to slow rain water flow, clearing the existing drain, and positioning sandbags to prevent clogging. We placed native plants such as grasses along the water course to aid in retaining water in the soil and further reducing runoff. 

Since that initial work, we’ve used advice from local experts  to enhance the effectiveness of the swale. Volunteers have pulled out invasive plants, added more native plants to further stabilize and beautify the area, and spread more mulch to keep down weeds. Our plan is to continue to add regional native plants appropriate for the sun-exposed sides, as well as the damp, shaded areas of the swale.

As a result of our ongoing efforts, the Cortereal Swale proved effective in handling runoff from the wettest October - February season on record. We’re grateful to everyone whose volunteer work, membership dues or other donations are part of this success story. If you would like to support our work, click here to donate. 

For your calendar: The Friends of Montclair Railroad Trail’s annual meeting and election of board members is scheduled for Saturday, April 15, at 9 AM, followed by a work party. FOMRRT members who have paid their 2017 dues are encouraged to drop by and cast a vote, and volunteer if you can. New volunteers are welcome. We’ll gather at the LaSalle Avenue entrance to the trail.

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Copyright © 2017, Friends of Montclair Railroad Trail, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 13032
Oakland, CA 94661

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FOMRRT · P.O. Box 13032 · Oakland, CA 94661 · USA

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