Butters Canyon Still Protected

When you look at the Oakland Hills from afar, you see many different canyons whether they are filled with homes or not.  Most of the open spaces are formally protected as parkland by the City of Oakland or East Bay Regional Park District.  Unfortunately, other natural areas like Butters Canyon are at risk unless locals take up the mantel themselves.

Where is Butters Canyon?

Well, the Canyon is nearby.  You head up to Joaquin Miller Park, turn right on Butters Drive and loop around narrow streets until you see the drop-offs.  We ventured over this afternoon, and were suitably impressed by all the open hills and steeps there.

Butters Canyon - View 1- Sept 23, 2009

In this first photo taken today, you can see the undeveloped hillside and trees in Butters Canyon.  You also glimpse a bit of the canyon floor as well as some open land peeking through the trees.

Butters Canyon - View 2 - Sept 23, 2009

This next shot was taken from a different section, where you look straight down from the road to the gully.  Now you have a better sense of the canyon floor.  Doesn’t this place already look like protected parkland?

Butters Canyon - View 3 - Sept 23, 2009

In this last shot, you can also see a clear path running through the canyon.  Keep in mind this trail isn’t actively maintained like those used in Joaquin Miller Park or even Dimond Park, but it’s just as nice.

Butters Canyon is home to the Peralta Creek headwaters, which flow down to the San Francisco Bay.  The open spaces are a little larger than you might expect, and filled with natural growth and wildlife that look familiar to East Bayers.

Conservancy Gets Started

The Butters Canyon Conservancy, formerly known as the Butters Land Trust, grew out of preservation efforts by concerned neighbors who collectively had formed Friends of the Last Wild Canyon – an appropriate cry for help years ago.

By the 1990s, the group had developed maps and understood who owned parcels in the remaining wild canyon.  Fast forward and this group currently owns four parcels, with conservation easements (or equivalent recorded restrictions) for six more parcels.

David Barron, who serves as Conservancy president, reported they have raised about $600,000 cash and $285,000 in land donations through the life of the group.  This amount also includes well over $300,000 from Oakland’s Measure DD funds, which jump-started the efforts and donations.

Conservancy’s Expectations

“For the immediate future, there is still one more creekside property we’d like to obtain, and we’d like to obtain conservation easements over a couple others,” explained President Barron.  “We don’t know how much that might cost us, or whether we’ll be able to obtain them.”

Unfortunately, the group can’t bank on more public funds for land acquisition or ongoing maintenance either.  Although Joaquin Miller Park, Leona Canyon and Redwood Regional Parks are fairly close, the Butters Canyon isn’t contiguous to any of them – and so it’s impractical to expect additional help.

Butters Canyon’s a special case, which was fortunate to receive a little Oakland support.  However the ecosystem depends on what the Butters Canyon Conservancy can do to keep it natural, protected and wild today.

How You Can Help Out

The Butters Canyon Conservancy still needs your financial support.  “We’re trying to raise funds to pay off an existing acquisition loan, and fund the acquisition of (or conservation easements over) the remaining unprotected properties,” explained David Barron.

We can all respond by showing up to the Butter’s happening party next Thursday, October 1st, at the Montclair Bistro.  It costs $25 at the door or $20 for pre-registration, with proceeds to the Conservancy.

Just drop by the Montclair Bistro anytime between 6-9pm on Thursday.  City Council Rep Jean Quan, who helped obtain the original Measure DD funding, will pour your drinks.  The Bistro will cater nice noshes, plus offer a $10 discount for more hearty fare.  In addition, there will be a silent auction and many door prizes.

You must be present for the door prize drawings, but they are definitely a lure from:

A. G. Ferrari Foods – Chabot Space & Science – Claremont Hotel & Spa – Crogan’s Montclair – Dashe Cellars – Farmstead Cheeses and Wines – Italian Colors Ristorante – Lake Chalet – Melt Massage Montclair Bistro – Montclair Physical Therapy & Wellness – re4m – William Gray Designs

So the Butters Canyon Conservancy is rolling out the red carpet to Montclair and other Oakland Hills neighbors.  While we all have our “home canyons” in the hills, the Butters group needs help to service their preservation debts.  Even if you can’t make it, try to donate a little something anyway.

More info:  Bistro RSVP appreciated to Lynette Cravens, BCCEvent@lynettecravens.com or call (415) 694-3004.  You may send $20/person in advance, by making checks payable to:  Butters Land Trust, 3039 Burdeck Drive, Oakland, CA 94602.  You may also pay or donate online, by clicking here.