Eye on the Hills: Former TV anchor Tokuda helping Oakland prevent fires

Heat advisories continue to dominate the news this week as firefighters remain vigilant — especially in the parched East Bay hills. A one-woman force of nature is on duty too, organizing work parties to help mitigate the fire danger along Oakland’s Skyline Boulevard.

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Beloved former television news anchor Wendy Tokuda is using a grant from the Diablo Fire Safe Council to help with her passion project — removing invasive plants from parklands and open space. Most recently, she rallied a group of volunteers to tackle a thicket of brush and non-native saplings near Chabot Space & Science Center.

“This area we worked in is close to homes in Piedmont Pines in a high-fire-risk area,” she said, adding the area was a tangle of brush and invasive acacia trees that had fallen downhill on top of each other. “It was a mess. For a moment, I wondered if it was simply hopeless. Then I realized you could easily pull the saplings with a weed wrench. I thought, ‘What the heck — let’s just do what we can.’ ”

After several sessions of “weeding the forest,” as her daughter calls it, volunteers pulled out the saplings and removed branches. Then an arborist came in and cut down a number of acacias, leaving the stumps for a future work party endeavor. The goal is to restore the area and plant oak trees, a long-term project that will take several years.

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“Cleaning up our open spaces doesn’t just make our homes safer,” Tokuda said. “We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful area, and these parks are little green oases — treasures, really. But they need stewardship to keep them healthy and to keep us safe.”

Around town: Montclair’s Sliver Pizzeria will soon make margaritas. We’re not talking margherita pizzas, but rather the frosty tequila-based beverages that go so well with summer. Sliver’s model is to make one meatless, vegetable-driven style of pizza each day. The liquor license will augment their current list of drinks, including beer and wine.

Also, the Temescal Street Fair is back — it’s this weekend on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Telegraph Avenue event hasn’t been held since 2019 but is a neighborhood favorite for showcasing the food scene and creativity of North Oakland. See temescaldistrict.org/temescalstreetfair online for more information.

BART’s July Christmas: The region’s BART commuter rail agency has just unveiled its new line of holiday merchandise, including ugly sweaters with antler-adorned BART cars along with matching beanies, scarves and vests. The website railgoods.com also includes train swag for Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor route.

Harbor tours: Free local boat trips are making waves this summer. The Port of Oakland is offering once-a-month 90-minute harbor tours through October.

The Blue & Gold fleet tours board at the Jack London terminal and take riders past the port’s busy marine terminals. Online registration for the Aug. 16 tour will open at 8 p.m. Aug. 5 and is expected to sell out in minutes. Find out more online at portofoakland.com/community/harbor-tours.

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Ginny Prior can be reached at ginnyprior@hotmail.com and followed on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook and at ginnyprior.com.

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