Dutch Slough Project Area from CA Dpt. of Water Resources

On March 7th, EBCNPS submitted comments on the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Draft Supplement EIR. The SEIR was created to address the potential environmental impacts of proposed changes to the tidal wetlands restoration project in the Dutch Slough area at the mouth of Marsh Creek in Eastern Contra Costa County. EBCNPS’s letter raises concerns about the removal in this most recent document of plans to restore areas of upland and interior dune habitat as part of this project. The project area contains sandy soils and remnant Stabilized Interior Dune Habitat that is exceedingly rare today and which should be protected and managed for native habitat values.

You can read EBCNPS’s letter here: EBCNPS Comments for Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration SEIR 03_07_14

native nassella grassland2

Native Stipa pulchra grassland intergrading with upland habitat at Pt. Molate
photo: Lech Naumovich

On February 14th, EBCNPS submitted a letter to the Pt. Molate Community Advisory Committee and members of the Richmond City Council regarding goat grazing at Pt. Molate. This topic was brought to our attention due to a recent Pt. Molate Community Advisory Committee meeting where goat grazing for habitat management at Pt. Molate was discussed. Pt. Molate is one of EBCNPS’s Botanical Priority Protection Areas due to its coastal prairie grassland and intact native habitats that intergrade from the bay shoreline into highland areas. Four years ago, Pt. Molate was the subject of national news when the Richmond City Council decided to abandon plans to build a Las Vegas -style casino resort at the site. EBCNPS was active in the effort to prevent the casino development and we have kept a close eye on the future of the area ever since.

EBCNPS is pleased to see an effort being made to manage the native habitat at Pt. Moalte and to stem the spread of invasive weeds such as French broom (Genista) that are shading out areas of native grassland. However, we are urging caution during the planning of these actions to ensure that sensitive habitat areas are not affected by any well-intentioned but poorly planned activities. Goat grazing in the East Bay has a history of doing more harm than good. An example of the potential damage goats can do when improperly managed can be seen at Knowland Park, where goats were allowed to graze several acres of rare native grassland down to bare soil last summer. We are hopeful that the City of Richmond will take the proper steps (including detailed botanical surveys of the areas being considered for grazing) to ensure that any action is properly planned so as to have minimal unintended impacts to the sensitive native habitats at Pt. Molate.

A copy of our letter can be found at this link: EBCNPS letter to Richmond RE Goat Grazing Pt Molate

Doolan Canyon

Doolan Canyon -Photo credit: Scott Hein (www.heinphoto.com)

Doolan Canyon makes up a central portion of our East Dublin and Tassajara BPPA. It is recognized for priority protection due to its alkaline soils that run the entire length of the canyon’s valley bottom, and its vernal pools. The area is also designated critical habitat for the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. Currently, the canyon provides a natural buffer between Dublin and Livermore. Unfortunately, Dublin does not have an Urban Growth Boundary on its east side, leaving much of our Priority Protection Area at risk of development. In fact, a 2,000 unit development is proposed for Doolan Canyon right now. However, a group of Dublin residents has filed a notice of intent to circulate an initiative that would establish an urban growth boundary on the eastern edge of the city, thus protecting the canyon. It would also make the city’s western urban growth line permanent. You can read about the initiative here.

How You Can Help: Volunteer to collect signatures so an east side Urban Growth Boundary in Dublin can be voted on by the people. With 3,500 signatures the initiative will be added to the ballot and we can help to protect this habitat.

No prior experience is necessary to collect signatures. Training will be provided. The only requirement is that you be eligible to vote in California, that is: a California resident, U.S. citizen, and at least 18 years old. You do not need to live in Dublin.

You will be paired up with another volunteer for a two-hour shift in front of a grocery store or other high-foot-traffic area in Dublin. No door-to-door soliciting will be involved. All you have to do is ask shoppers as they enter or leave the store if they are Dublin registered voters and will sign the petition to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Collecting will occur on Saturdays and Sundays in Dublin throughout February and March.

Details: For more info or to volunteer contact Mack Casterman by email or (510) 734-0335

 

Native Coastal Prairie Grassland at the Richmond Field Station  Photo: Richmond Bay Campus 2013 LRDP

Native Coastal Prairie Grassland at the Richmond Field Station Photo: Richmond Bay Campus 2013 LRDP

On January 21, EBCNPS submitted a letter commenting on the DEIR for the Richmond Bay Campus Long Range Development Plan. This plan, which was created by the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (UC/LBNL) sets the groundwork for a new UC/LBNL campus at the Richmond Field Station – part of our Richmond Shoreline BPPA. Please follow this link if you’re interested in viewing any of the planning and environmental documents associated with this project. EBCNPS’s concerns lie in the characterization and proposed avoidance measures for the remnant coastal prairie grassland at the site. We remain hopeful that UC/LBNL will challenge themselves to envision a project that values the natural resources and ecological context of their proposed site while at the same time achieving their goals for a state of the art research campus.

You can view a copy of EBCNPS’s comment letter by clicking this link.

Our past comment letter that we submitted as an attachment to our January 21 letter can be viewed here: EBCNPS Vision Statement for Richmond Bay Campus_2013.

In related news, on January 17th, EBCNPS submitted comments in response to the “Draft Removal Action Workplan” (RAW) associated with this project. Our comments in that letter focus on the need to protect and avoid the native grassland areas during implementation of clean-up projects for toxic materials that remain in sections of the site due to past industrial uses. Our RAW response letter can be viewed at this link.

Field of wildflowers in the Tesla Park grasslands.

Ranunculus californicus (buttercups) blooming in the Tesla Park grasslands. -photo Mack Casterman

On Monday January 13th, EBCNPS joined several other local organizations in making comments and submitting a letter to the Livermore City Council asking them to support the preservation of the Tesla Park land as a non-motorized park and preserve.

The comments from EBCNPS and the other “Tesla Groups” were submitted during the “Citizens Forum” period to raise awareness about and to urge the council to comment on the Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area General Plan and to take a stand to preserve Tesla Park (EBCNPS’s Corral Hollow Botanical Priority Protection Area).

This effort was undertaken to show the unified support of the environmental community in the Livermore Area for permanent protection of Tesla Park.

You can view a copy of BCNPS’s letter by clicking this link:  Tesla Letter to Livermore 1_13_14

As a result of the outpouring of support for protection of Tesla Park, the City Council directed staff to review the DEIR when it is published and to provide information about it to the council. We are hopeful that the City of Livermore will take note of the support in the Environmental Community for a non-motorized alternative for Tesla Park and that they will be involved in this process in the future.

The Livermore Independent wrote an article about the meeting which can be viewed here: http://www.independentnews.com/news/article_18d21f60-7ee6-11e3-86f5-001a4bcf887a.html 

Chaparral in the hills of Tesla Park - photo Mack Casterman

California sagebrush scrub and a stand of desert olive scrub (a sensitive natural community) in the hills of Tesla Park – photo Mack Casterman

On December 13, EBCNPS submitted comments in response to the Preferred Concept Public Workshop held on November 12, 2013 which presented the draft preferred concept for the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) General Plan. These comments come in advance of the State’s publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Carnegie General Plan Revision which will consider whether to open the State’s 3,400 acre Alameda-Tesla property (Tesla Park) to off road vehicles for recreation.

The property in question is of concern to EBCNPS because it makes up the core of our Corral Hollow Botanical Priority Protection Area due to the migration corridor and habitat it provides for several valuable plant species and communities.

Our letter can be viewed here: FINAL_EBCNPS Response to Preferred Concept Public Workshop 12_13_13

The presentation packet from the Preferred Concept Meeting can be viewed here: http://carnegiegeneralplan.com/system/assets/57/original/preferred_concept_public_workshop_infopacket_final_20131108_web.pdf

An early proposal for Radio Beach as part of the Bay Bridge Gateway Park Project. image: October 2, 2013 ABAG Regional Planning Meeting Presentation

An early proposal for Radio Beach as part of the Bay Bridge Gateway Park Project. image: October 2, 2013 ABAG Regional Planning Meeting Presentation

On December 6, EBCNPS submitted comments for the Bay Bridge Gateway Park NOP. A copy of the NOP can be viewed at this address: http://baybridgegatewaypark.com/pdf/NOP-BATA_10-30-13.pdf.

EBCNPS’s main concerns  with this project are related to the increased access and restoration proposed for Radio Beach. The beach and its adjacent dune habitat provide habitat for several rare plant species. We are hopeful that the eventual plans for this area include phased restoration and effective protection for the dune habitat to ensure that any increased access via a new trail system does not degrade the ecosystem.

Our comment letter can be viewed here: Final EBCNPS Comments for Gateway Park NOP 12_6_13

EBCNPS plans to continue to follow this ongoing project and any updates will be posted here.

Tri LInk Study Area and Potential Alignments. image:

TriLInk Study Area and General Road Alignments. image: Draft Feasibility Study

Since 2012, the Conservation Committee has been following and participating in a two year scoping study for a proposed roadway between Tracy and Brentwood. This roadway is being dubbed “TriLink” or State Route 239, and it is being considered due to a $14 million federal earmark grant to study the feasibility of such a project. As part of our participation as a member of the NGO stakeholders study group, EBCNPS has submitted comments regarding the rare and unique natural resources that could be impacted by the proposed roadway, and we have provided the planners with our BPPA files so that they may consider our BPPAs as planning proceeds for potential roadway alignments. The study area for this roadway includes sections of our Altamont and Byron BPPAs.

On September 12th, the Draft Feasibility Study was released for public review. You can view the Draft Feasibility Study HERE. EBCNPS reviewed the information presented and submitted a comment letter on November 1. Our letter notes specific species and communities in the study area that require avoidance in any construction plan, as well as the importance of considering regionally significant/locally rare plants during any pre-construction surveys and project design considerations. A copy of our letter can be found here: Final EBCNPS Comments for TriLink Feasibility Study 10_31_13.

EBCNPS plans to continue to follow this ongoing project and any updates will be posted here.

 

Native Coastal Prairie Grassland at the Richmond Field Station  Photo: Richmond Bay Campus 2013 LRDP

Native Coastal Prairie Grassland at the Richmond Field Station. Photo: 2013 Richmond Bay Campus  LRDP

Last week, EBCNPS submitted a letter to the planners at LBNL and UC Berkeley regarding the Long Range Development Plan for the proposed “Richmond Bay Campus” that is to be built at the Richmond Field Station. Our letter was a collaborative process that several Conservation Committee members participated in. It details EBCNPS’s “vision” for the site and the development. The intent of this letter was to get a strong statement on the record of how this project should be built in order to ensure the rare natural resources of the site remain intact and thriving. We also note where the existing shortcomings of the plan are. We are hopeful that our comments will be considered as part of the planning process in order to create a plan for the Richmond Bay Campus that celebrates and protects the natural resources at the site.

EBCNPS is currently working on a more detailed letter that will specify the areas of highest native habitat value that must be protected.

Our letter can be viewed here: EBCNPS Vision Statement for Richmond Bay Campus_2013

EBCNPS's Warm Springs BPPA

EBCNPS’s Warm Springs BPPA

The City of Newark is currently working on a General Plan Revision. Among the proposed changes to the general plan are land-use changes that pave the way for the development of an 18-hole golf course and nearly 500 houses on 550 acres of historic baylands. The area in question, referred to as “area 4” overlaps a section of our Warm Springs BPPA.

On September 26th, I submitted a comment letter in support of preserving this as-yet undeveloped area of tidal marshands and uplands as part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge rather than developing it into a golf course and housing units. Our letter echoes the concerns and recommendations of other environmental groups who have weighed in on this issue including Save the Bay, the Sierra Club, Ohlone Audubon Society, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the USFWS.

You can view a copy of our letter here: EBCNPS Letter to Newark RE Area 4 General Plan

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