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On June 3rd, the Dublin City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Dublin Open Space Initiative! This initiative, created by Dublin Citizens with the help of local environmental organizations including EBCNPS, creates a permanent urban limit line at the City’s existing eastern edge and makes permanent a previously approved western urban limit line. The creation of this urban limit line removes one of the greatest threats to a large section of our East Dublin and Tassajara Botanical Priority Protection Area (BPPA) and is a major conservation victory for our chapter. You can learn more about our East Dublin and Tassajara BPPA at this link: BPPA Guidebook

Not only did the Council show its strong support for the will of Dublin Citizens to protect the remaining open-space and agricultural lands in their region, but it went a step further, unanimously taking a position to formally oppose a competitive initiative which would have allowed for development of approximately 2000 homes in Doolan Canyon (Part of our East Dublin and Tassajara BPPA).

A huge thanks goes out to the citizens of Dublin who volunteered their time to collect signatures and came out in force to voice their support at the City Council meeting. A big thanks also to the EBCNPS volunteers from throughout the region who donated time and expertise to this effort. We could not have done it without you! This win is the culmination of all of your hard work with support from the Sierra Club, Save Mount Diablo, Greenbelt Alliance, Tri-Valley Conservancy, Friends of the Vineyards, Ohlone Audubon Society, Alameda Creek Alliance, California Native Plant Society East Bay Chapter, and Center for Biological Diversity.

We are savoring this success, but our work is not over yet. The competing initiative, the so called “Let Dublin Decide Initiative” will still appear on the November ballot, and we are beginning our plans to counter their campaign this fall.

Our victory has been in the news. Check out the Mercury News story here:

Mercury News Story: Dublin adopts citizens’ initiative to create urban limit line on east side of town

On June 13th, the Independent recently published an editorial regarding this issue

 

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 May 12th, EBCNPS submitted a letter in response to the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Richmond Bay Campus Long Range Development Plan proposed for the Richmond Field Station. Our letter cited inadequate protection for several areas of the site that contained coastal prairie grassland including a large 3 acre section of remnant prairie that was even classified by the University’s own consultants as “high quality” prairie, but which is designated in the plan as a development area. Our letter also questioned the feasibility of the new prairie management plan that was prepared for the FEIR. These questions were based on the lack of funding for any of the prairie management and the uncertain effectiveness of the mitigation actions laid out in the plan. Our letter can be viewed here: EBCNPS Comment Letter for Richmond Bay Campus FEIR 5_12_14

The list of environmental documents for this project including the LRDP and accompanying EIR can be viewed at this link: http://richmondbaycampus.lbl.gov/environmental_documents.html

In spite of our stated concerns, the University of California regents approved the FEIR along with the Long Range Development Plan for this project at their recent meeting on May 14th.

EBCNPS is disappointed by the project planners’ continued disregard for several acres of prairie habitat at the site. In the coming months we will continue to build relationships with the staff at the Field Station as well as the managers for the Richmond Bay Campus project in the hopes of educating them about how to adopt effective management techniques to prevent the spread of invasive species and enhance the prairie as part of this project. We will also continue efforts to preserve the large section of contiguous prairie in the western portion of the site as a unified prairie ecosystem that is not damaged by this development.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/After-inferno-Mt-Diablo-bursts-with-long-hidden-5475899.php#photo-6297796

Map of Oakland Zoo Expansion footprint and proposed mitigation areas (no public access) as of April 2014.

Map of Oakland Zoo Expansion footprint and proposed mitigation areas (no public access) as of April 2014.

The Oakland Zoo is continuing to pursue its expansion into Knowland Park that will greatly damage rare maritime chaparral, native grassland, and habitat for local wildlife, including the threatened Alameda Whipsnake. The Zoo must provide mitigation for the land it is destroying, and it is proposing to take even more acreage in Knowland Park, much of which is not suitable habitat, removing even more of the park from open public use. If the project were in a more suitable place, this would not be necessary.

EBCNPS has written a letter to the regulatory agencies disputing the Zoo’s proposed new mitigation areas. Our letter can be found at this link: 04_21_14 Letter to CDFW re Oakland Zoo

Click here to view a letter from the Zoo to Oakland and the regulatory agencies regarding the most recent project footprint maps as well as their proposed mitigation areas which will be closed to public access(4-21-14). The new mitigation areas have increased the footprint of the project by more than one third! Maps of the project footprint, mitigation areas, and fuels management areas can be found here: EBZS_CATrailMaps_USFWS_CNPSTransmittal.

We are doing everything we can to get the Zoo to consider a plan that would less environmentally harmful, but we need your help:

The Oakland City Council must approve this change. Please sign and send a letter to urge them to preserve the park from this development!

For a ready-to-go letter to the Oakland City Council (for residents and non-residents), go to: http://www.saveknowland.org/5-ways-you-can-help-save-knowland-park/.

Print, sign and mail! Thank you.

Also, please sign the two petitions on the website! Visit the park now – The flowers are out!

 

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

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