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Berkeley Musters Foxtail Brigade

Toni Mester
Friday March 27, 2015 - 02:19:00 PM

Volunteers will gather on Saturday morning March 28 in an effort to abate the foxtail menace at the Cesar Chavez Park off-leash area. This first attack on the noxious weeds that endanger the health of dogs will be held from 9 AM to noon. 

No prior experience is required, as trainers will be on hand to instruct all comers who report at the entry of the OLA near the bulletin board. Please wear gardening clothes, a hat, and sunscreen, and bring gloves, water bottle, and garden snippers. Volunteers must sign a Volunteer Waiver Form. 

On hand to direct the work will be Alonzo Chess, Landscape Gardener Supervisor, and biologist Jim Martin of the Environmental Collaborative, who submitted a Biological Resources Assessment describing the problem and alternative solutions. Leaders of the OLA who have participated in special training will assist. 

The primary weed to be attacked is a variety of wild barley, hordeum murinum, subspecies leporinum, commonly known as foxtail barley. Now is the perfect time to trim or pull this grass, because the arrow like seed heads called awns are fully formed, but not yet hardened. Special care must be taken not to spread any viable seed or to unduly disturb the ground where seeds could sprout. 

The plant detritus will be collected and bagged for special disposal. Although this first attack will not eradicate the plant, each volunteer effort will reduce the seed bank and the danger to dogs, who can suffer not only external but also horrific internal injuries if the awn enters an orifice. In such an event, the animal will require expensive surgery. Every defeated foxtail means less risk of such an occurrence. 

Dog park users had asked the City to mow more area of the park, but the weeds grow in small clumps or larger swathes that are no conducive to mowing. 

For further information, please contact Roger Miller, Acting Waterfront Manager, (510) 981-6737, or by email at