New Overlook Trail Kiosk Panels!

Photo by Susan Peterson

New kiosk panels at the Overlook Trail trailhead were installed recently, after many months of thoughtful work. They have replaced, in some cases, outdated and fading panels, and in others added information that we had decided over time would be useful additions, such as trail descriptions that could help hikers understand what the different trails have to offer. Please take time to check them out when you are next on the trail.

This work was originally led by Lynn Clary, but after he left the stewards group, it was taken up by John Donnelly and brought to completion. Other stewards involved in this work include Lori Parmalee and Priscilla Miles.

The design and production of the panels was very ably accomplished by the good people at ASA Graphics, who also designed our logo. They were excellent to work with, and they came and hiked the trail to better get a sense of what we are about. Rochelle Zatkin, the principal, met with us multiple times, and has made sure that her staff understood us and also only charged us fees appropriate to a volunteer-led non-profit. We simply could not have had a better partner in this journey, in my personal opinion.

Meanwhile, the head of our Communications Team, Jeni Nichols, has already swept into action and created a new display along with the help of Susan Peterson, to create a display for our renewed “Hiker’s Gallery.” Please understand that this area is free for anyone to use. If you have a display you would like to create, just contact Jeni Nichols. We would love to see your contributions!

It Seems Impossible, Until Suddenly It Isn’t

New findings could improve diagnosis, treatment of depression | Berkeley NewsToday, as most days, I was out pulling Italian thistle on the Montini Preserve. This is what I call a “long game,” and if anyone knows how such games are played, it’s me. I’ve even written my own (as yet unpublished) essay about it. Long games are played by long, concerted effort over years and decades, one day at a time. I’ve also called it being gently powerful. I know this. But I still have my good days and my bad. Today was the latter.

I decided to tackle a patch that I figured I could knock out in an hour of concerted effort (think simultaneous two-handed pulling). I was wrong. When I realized how wrong I was, I had to walk away. As I left the trailside to go down the hill, I noticed a rock above Red Quarry that was perfect for sitting — flat and at the right height. I was right, the rock was perfect. I sat down and looked around. I inevitably looked down and that’s when I saw yet even more Italian thistle. The area also looked a bit trampled, as if this was a familiar rock to one or more people who visited it to smoke dope or just hang out.

Since invasive species work can be an obsession, I pulled what I saw and then moved back toward the trail, where I found yet another patch that I mostly pulled. But that’s when the depression really set in. In this one small area, I had a big patch and two smaller patches. I then mentally multiplied it by the size of the two properties (the Sonoma Overlook Trail and the Montini Preserve) where I have committed to do this work. Let’s just say I’ve had better days.

Later, at home, I decided to rewatch the trail movie that I made last year. Not only do I enjoy seeing the trail scenes and all of the flowers, insects, mammals, and birds of the trail I also feel like it naturally lowers my blood pressure (let’s just say it’s a theory). But I made an astonishing (to me) discovery. One of the photos in the movie is from several years ago, and as soon as I saw it, I recognized a spot on the trail that was covered in Italian thistle. THEN. Not NOW. This clear evidence of progress literally brought tears to my eyes. I AM making a difference.

I was then reminded of something Nelson Mandela once said, that I will take the liberty of rephrasing, without changing the meaning: “Something can seem impossible until suddenly it isn’t.” I just had to have my down day, and then move on. As one does, when playing the long game.

All Clear, For Now

Poison oak.

Today I finished inspecting all of the maintained trails of the Sonoma Overlook Trail and Montini Preserve properties. As of today, the trails are clear of Italian thistle and poison oak to about three feet away from the trail. We achieved this milestone more than two months earlier than last season, which now means we can move on to other tasks and goals in our Vegetation Management Program. Trailside can now be moved to “maintenance” status from “attack,” which means we will need to continually check and monitor the trails, as new thistle comes in all the time, and poison oak keeps growing, of course, but we will now begin attacking other areas.

This essentially means a couple tasks: 1) continuing to push Italian thistle away from the trail, and perhaps eradicating it completely in some areas, and 2) being opportunistic in attacking patches that are in danger of furthering the spread of thistle on both properties. In general, the Overlook is in better shape than the Montini, so typically I spend more time on the Montini, although my goal this year is to eradicate thistle from some specific areas on the Overlook where it appears we have a chance to completely eradicate it.

Be sure to let me know if you want to help with this exciting (haha) work!

February 1 is Roy Tennant Day in Sonoma

Roy Tennant receives the Celebrate Sonoma Award in recognition of his uncommon dedication and hard work on the Sonoma Overlook Trail.

Roy Tennant is a stalwart member of the Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards. For over 10 years, Roy has spent literally thousands of hours in his goal to remove invasive species not only on the Overlook Trail and surrounds but also on the Montini Preserve.  He is dedicated, he is persistent and he is absolutely relentless in his efforts. 

Invasive species threaten our ecosystem. They take hold and grow quickly, crowding out native plants that are the source of food and shelter for birds, mammals, insects, and reptiles. Roy intelligently, methodically and organically pursues Italian Thistle, Yellow Star Thistle and Broom not only within 6 feet of the trail but also in meadow areas where these species threaten to take hold. 

Trail walkers and runners are very familiar with Roy, as they see him at work practically every day between January and August removing poison oak that encroaches the trail or attacking his targets and hauling off his thistle and broom winnings.

Roy serves in many capacities as an active Overlook Trail Steward volunteer including trail repair, downed tree removal, answering questions from walkers, and participation on the map and signs committee.  Yet, his passion is the removal of invasive species. Through the website he manages, “overlookmontini.org”, Roy also educates the public about the problems of invasive species and encourages active participation from the public. His work is truly exceptional.

A “Celebrate Sonoma” Certificate of Recognition in honor of Roy Tennant, an outstanding City Volunteer and Overlook Steward extraordinaire will be presented at the City Council meeting February 1 by Vice Mayor Harvey.