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A brief update on the Meeting of the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission, taking place at Tracy City Hall, regarding planned expansion project into the Tesla area, as proposed by Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA):

On Friday, February 5th, 2016, many local organizations and members of the public stood up with EBCNPS at the OHMVR Commission Meeting. We spoke out on the Carnegie SVRA General Plan and proposed expansion into the Tesla area. Passion was high at this event, the last opportunity for public comment on this project. Sticker badges of “I Own Carnegie” contrasted with “Save Tesla Park” around the room. Most importantly, a majority of speakers remained adamantly opposed, and submitted succinct opposition comments into public record.

Please read EBCNPS’ submitted comments from the Commission Meeting, stating that this Proposed Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) lacks appropriate consideration of important evidence previously submitted in full. The true effects of the General Plan and Final EIR on botanical resources continue to be misjudged, to the point of failing to satisfy California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements. We asserted, yet again, that these Proposed Final EIR  and General Plan documents should not be certified or approved.

As Conservation Analyst, I represented EBCNPS at this meeting. I spoke to summarize important points from our submitted comment letter. We attached our Corral Hollow Botanical Priority Protection Areas (BPPA) map with description, and a Special- Status Species and Habitat Occurrences on Tesla Expansion Area map, which specifically illustrates a talking point on curly blue grass grassland, a rare natural community. This grassland is recognized by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and depicted as up to 175 acres in size on the special- status map. It is unclear why the coarse vegetation mapping used for their impact analysis overlooks these and other botanical and cultural resources.

In fact, we recommended that the Tesla area is so very significant as to merit a “sensitive area” recognition as defined by Public Resources Code, to serve as permanent mitigation for ongoing impacts of OHV use at the existing Carnegie SVRA. I also reinforced in comments that EBCNPS thinks Tesla should be permanently preserved with no OHV use.

As you analyze these documents for yourself, please keep in mind that delaying the planning of smaller projects as part of a program- level planning process is an over- generalized approach in this case, inadequately accounting for the summary impact of small projects on the whole Tesla area. Where there could be significant impacts to resources requiring legal protection, appropriate steps to analyze those impacts must be taken, and definitely were not taken by this Proposed Final EIR. Any small project would undeniably effect the whole. Steps to ensure complete analysis is performed before action would be taken on the expansion plan are also not outlined. The only impact deemed significant and unavoidable by this Proposed Final EIR is that on air quality, which is not supported by the evidence we and many other groups submitted. We are thrilled that so many others agreed with us.

Reporting on this event included The Independent’s article summary of the “sharp criticism” for the Tesla expansion plan, and, an article on how to understand the fuel tax allocation source of funding for the purchase of Tesla property by Carnegie SVRA in the 1990s.

Small victory that the OHMVR Commission did not vote on the General Plan and Proposed Final EIR at this meeting! What can we do now? Within 6 months, the Commission will decide whether to approve the General Plan and EIR. Hopefully, they will take extensive time to consider the resources needing protection on the Tesla property. Please continue to show your support by keeping your ears open about Tesla topics.

If you have the time, read through the FEIR, comments, or appendices. Many groups also made important opposition points backed by valid evidence.

We will await the Commission’s decision, and report back to you.

Karen Whitestone

 

 

A bird's eye view of the Oakland Zoo's proposed expansion site at Knowland Park - note the rare maritime chaparral in the right side of the picture. photo Copyright, Steve Whittaker

A bird’s eye view of the Oakland Zoo’s proposed expansion site at Knowland Park – note the rare maritime chaparral in the right side of the picture. photo Copyright, Steve Whittaker

Please follow this link to join the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the Friends of Knowland Park and the Center for Biological Diversity in calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect this park from the zoo’s destructive expansion plan!

To follow along with our work to save Knowland Park, please “like” us on Facebook and share this info with your friends and neighbors. You can also visit the Knowland Park Coalition website at saveknowland.org for up to date reporting on the ongoing efforts to gain permanent protection for this wonderful park. Knowland Park has been referred to as Oakland’s best kept secret, but with your help, we are hopeful that it won’t stay a secret much longer.

Field of Lupins at Knowland Park

Field of Lupines in the Knowland Park Grassland Spring 2013 photo: Mack Casterman

In March, the Oakland Zoo submitted a Biological Assessment to the Regulatory Agencies as part of their permit process for their proposed expansion project in Knowland Park. Unfortunately, the Zoo omitted any mention of the rare maritime chaparral plant community that would be impacted by the project. This omission came in spite of the fact that the top state vegetation ecologist visited the site with Zoo personnel and confirmed the occurrence in person. In response to this omission, EBCNPS submitted a detailed report last month, including a legal letter, to the agencies documenting the “denial and disappearance” strategy that the zoo is using to try to gain its permits.

You can view a copy of EBCNPS’s report to the regulators here: EBCNPS Letter to Agencies RE Oakland Zoo 2013 Biological Assessment

And a copy of the accompanying legal letter from our attorneys here: Legal Letter to USACE and CDFW re Oakland Zoo expansion

Included in EBCNPS’s report package to the agencies was an extensive review by wildlife biologist, Dr. Shawn Smallwood, of the highly flawed Alameda whipsnake portion of the zoo’s Biological Assessment.

The Center for Biological Diversity concurred with this analysis and submitted a letter of its own to the agencies, urging that they withhold permits from the project.

We will be following up our letter with actions in which the public can become involved.  Stay tuned to this website in the coming weeks for our next steps.

Grading Map of Proposed Project

Grading Map of Proposed Project

On May 29th, EBCNPS submitted comments on the DEIR for the proposed James Donlon Boulevard Extension in Pittsburg. This roadway extension would involve the filling of multiple drainages and require more than 2 million cubic yards of grading (2,165,000 cubic yards) including areas of native grassland, oak woodlands, and riparian areas. Our letter commented on the inadequacy of the alternatives analysis, the need to consider the growth-inducing impacts of this project, the need to plan for weed management measures, and the importance of using local ecotypes of native species for landscaping and revegetation.

A copy of our comment letter can be viewed here: EBCNPS 2013 Donlon Extension DEIR Letter Final

From the EBCNPS Conservation Committee 05/30/13:

California residents continue to move into the urban-wildland interface, much like residents of other western states.  “Urban-wildland interface” came into media use in coverage of western states’ wildfires. Western wildfires, in turn, have claimed more media spotlight because of lives and homes lost by residents at the urban fringe.

Several years ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) solicited fire prevention grant proposals from managers of public lands in the East Bay, including City of Oakland, East Bay Regional Parks, and UC Berkeley.  Unfortunately, early efforts to present a coordinated, transparent grant proposal by all of the agencies did not materialize.  FEMA is now considering separate proposals and draft environmental impact statements (EIS) submitted by each of these agencies.

In March 2009, local chapters of the California Native Plant Society, Golden Gate Audubon and the Sierra Club jointly issued a Green Paper on Fuels Management in the East Bay Hills to reconcile ecological values of the East Bay hills with realistic fire management.  These environmental groups agreed in this policy statement that removal of exotic, invasive trees and understory plants can fulfill both the goals of reducing catastrophic fire risk and maintaining native habitat.

Groves of Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum trees) have had a century’s head start on fire control efforts.  Many residents moved into Claremont and Strawberry Canyons before local planning agencies grasped the fire/Eucalyptus connection.  Beginning in the 1930s, East Bay Regional Parks acquired some of the remaining open land in the East Bay hills, which continue to present a mosaic of native and exotic plant species.  Now, population density in these hills makes the use of prescribed burns almost impossible.

In Australia, land managers discovered that prescribed burns best manage healthy populations of Eucalyptus and Acacia, provided that nearby residents take proper care in home construction and maintenance.

For an Australian perspective on Eucalyptus and fire management, see current information available at www.csiro.au/en/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Ecosystem-Sciences/BushfireInAustralia.aspx.

The East Bay Chapter of The California Native Plant Society cannot deny the pressure on land managers to choose tree removal over prescribed burns.  However, the proposals of different agencies present different methodology for removal. For that reason, the conservation committee recommends the tree removal program as presented by UC Berkeley for its lands in Strawberry and Claremont Canyons.

However, among the detailed comments that EBCNPS plans to submit to FEMA on its fuels management plan, we will be urging both FEMA and the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) to use the current survey standards of the Manual of California Vegetation, 2d edition, to update EBRPD’s fuel management plan vegetation surveys for all its “recommended treatment areas” (RTAs), including those RTAs subject to the FEMA fire management plan (and FEMA funding conditions).

From Berkeleyside.com: Eucalyptus trees in Claremont Canyon: Cal is seeking federal funds to cut down many such non-natives. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Please read this recent article posted on Berkelyside describing the ongoing FEMA process to fund fuels management plans in the East Bay Hills: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/05/17/uc-berkeley-seeks-funds-to-cut-down-22000-non-native-trees/

EBCNPS is working to review the FEMA EIS and will be submitting comments on the report. Those comments will be posted on this blog as soon as they are completed.

Update: The Claremont Canyon Conservancy (http://claremontcanyon.org/) is circulating a petition in support of the findings of the FEMA EIS and the fuels management measures outlined in the plan (removing flammable and invasive eucalyptus). You can view their petition here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/support-east-bay-hills?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=7897161 .

On October 3, 2012, EBCNPS submitted comments for the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Roddy Ranch Project in Antioch.

This project involves development of 540 acres of land for residential homes in the southern area of Antioch. The development area is part of our “Four Valleys” Botanical Priority Protection Area and is thus of major concern to our chapter. This area is recognized by CNPS for priority protection because it represents a transition zone between the eastern flanks of the northern Diablo Range, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Los Medanos Hills. This area contains both sandy and alkaline soils which support a wide variety of rare and unusual plant species that are worthy of protection. The Recirculated DEIR predicts significant environmental impacts (including impacts to rare plants and unique native plant communities) due to this project, even after proposed mitigation efforts are completed.

A copy of our comment letter and its attachments can be found at the below links:

EBCNPS Comment Letter for Roddy Ranch DEIR 10_3_12

Attachment 1_CNPS transplanting policy

Attachment 2_Navarretia nigelliformis radians

SOD infected leaf.          source: wikipedia commons

Please see below for some great opportunities to learn more about and assist in documenting Sudden Oak Death in the East Bay.

NOTE: SOD Field Treatment Meeting at Knowland Park (one of our Botanical Priority Protection Areas) on October 6th below.

Results and Training Meetings

EAST BAY (BERKELEY/OAKLAND/ORINDA)SOD BLITZ RESULTS MEETING

Date:  Thursday, October 4, 2012                                               Time:  6-7pm

Where:  159 Mulford Hall, UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA.

Google Map: UCB Meeting Location

Come hear the results from the SOD Blitz from April, 2012.  The meeting will last about one hour and will include:  1) the results of SOD Blitz testing in our local communities 2) The latest information and recommendations for SOD management.  3) Treatment options and strategies for your area.   You will also learn about the SODMAP, the most comprehensive map of SOD in North America showing the spread of the Sudden Oak Death pathogen.

Details and further information can be be found at http://www.matteolab.com, or contact Shelagh Brodersen garberparkstewards@gmail.com.

SUDDEN OAK DEATH FIELD TREATMENT WORKSHOPS

Attend a 2-hour field treatment session offered by Dr. Matteo Garbelotto, UCCE Specialist in Forest Pathology and Mycology, UC Berkelely,  and learn about methods aimed at the prevention and spread of Sudden Oak Death.  Dr. Garbelotto will cover the latest information on SOD, integrated pest management approaches to help manage SOD, selection of ideal candidate trees for treatment, when and how to treat trees, as well as fire issues, including how and when to protect your home from SOD-related risk, when to perform yard work such as pruning so as not to increase the risk of infection, and how to safely dispose of infected plant material.

In order for treatments to be effective, a number of factors need to be considered.  Dr. Garbelotto will address these factors and demonstrate application techniques in an outdoor setting.

Listed below are the SOD Field Treatment Meetings being offered by Dr. Garbelotto this Fall in several communities in the East Bay.  Dr. Garbelotto recommends that you attend the results meeting prior to the field meeting and, if possible, attend a field meeting in your community.

FIELD TREATMENT MEETINGS

Friday, October 5, 10 am.  Garber Park:  144 Evergreen Ln, Berkeley (near the Claremont Hotel).  Contact: Shelagh Brodersen – garberparkstewards@gmail.com

Saturday, October 6, 10 am. Tilden Park:  Spillway Picnic Area, near the Lake Anza parking lot, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, CA .

 

Saturday, October 6, 2 pmKnowland Park:  Oakland. Contact Laura Baker – lbake66@aol.com   Map Link.

 

Sunday 10/14/12 10 am, Lafayette/Orinda Community Center, 500 St. Mary’s Rd., Lafayette, CA  Greg Travers – GTravers@ci.lafayette.ca.us

UC Berkeley Campus, SOD Treatment Training WorkshopsWednesdays, 1-3:  9/5, 10/17, 10/31, 11/14.  Under the Big Oak Tree at the Tolman Hall Portico.  Registration: This workshop is FREE, but registration is required. To register, email your name, date you’d like to sign up for, and affiliation (if applicable) Register by Email or call 510-847-5482.

Further details and information can be found at http://www.matteolab.com

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conservation@ebcnps.org

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