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.