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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 

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.

Grove of buckeye trees at Tesla Park -photo Mack Casterman

Grove of buckeye trees at Tesla Park -photo Mack Casterman

On July 15, 2013, EBCNPS submitted a letter in response to the alternatives that were presented by the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of State Parks for the future use of the Alameda/Tesla Parcel also known as Tesla Park.

Click this link to view our letter

EBCNP’s letter adresses the need for adequate vegetation mapping before a general plan for this entire area that will determine future use of the land is created.  We also express concern that none of the three Concept Alternatives presented by OHMVR demonstrate optimization for protection of natural resources. We have asked State OHMVR to craft a new alternative that provides for optimal natural resource protection, especially in light of the diverse array of native habitat and rare plants known to be present on the site.

We will keep you updated on our ongoing work to gain permanent protection for this important area (part of our Corral Hollow BPPA).

In a great bit of conservation news, the East Bay Regional Park District has announced that it will buy the 1,885 acre Roddy Ranch south of Antioch in Eastern Contra Costa County. This property makes up part of EBCNPS’s Four Valleys Botanical Priority Protection Area and we are hopeful that with Park District ownership, this land will remain protected and preserved in the future. Before the EBRPD’s announcement that they were purchasing the land, this parcel was under great pressure from developers. You can view EBCNPS’s past comment letter regarding development plans for this area here: https://ebcnps.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/ebcnps-submitts-comments-for-recirculated-roddy-ranch-deir/

The Contra Costa Times has reported on this purchase and you can view that article here: http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_23489648/east-bay-regional-park-district-buy-roddy-ranch

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

EBCNPS is working with Friends of Tesla Park to establish the Tesla Park land in eastern Alameda County as a natural and historic park and preserve for low-impact recreation. The State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR), however, continues on its EIR march to turn this botanically rich spot into a haven for off-highway vehicles.

Long recognized for its biodiversity, our East Bay Chapter identified the Tesla Park area in Corral Hollow as one of our Botanical Priority Protection Areas. These rolling hills along corral Hollow Creek are home to a large variety of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and wildlife species and are a migration route for many bird species, mountain lions, and tule elk and more. They contain Native American artifacts (some at estimated at over 5,000 years old) and hold the site of the abandoned historic coal-mining town of Tesla. It’s a perfect site for a low-impact park and nature preserve managed to protect the ecological resources.

We need your help throughout the EIR process.  The OHMVR Division recently issued three Concepts for Tesla Park that all provide for OHV use from Intensive Use to Less Intensive Use. Public Comments must be submitted by the July 15, 2013 deadline.

Now is the time to speak up for Tesla Park and reject the Concepts for OHV use in this important native landscape.

Workshop materials can be reviewed at http://carnegie.engage-sites.com/. You may submit your comments online at the Carnegie general plan web site, or email your comments to carnegiegp@parks.ca.gov  If you use the online OHMVR Comment Card to reject the 3 Concepts, take care when completing it as it is structured to force support of the OHMVR Concepts.

The 3 OHV Use Concepts for Tesla need to be REJECTED because:

  • Biological and Cultural Resource Guidelines, Constraint Map and Recreation Suitability Map which are the basis for the Concepts are inadequate and not supported by scientific data
  • There should be NO OHV Use in Tesla Park whether in free ride areas (now called distributed riding areas) or on trails
  • A Non-OHV Use Alternative must be evaluated in the General Plan development and DEIR stage because it is the only Alternative that can protect Tesla Park’s sensitive resources.

If you are planning to submit by email, feel free to use the form letter below:

Dear planners:

The proposed Concepts for the Tesla site are all totally unacceptable. All three Concepts must be rejected because they all provide for OHV use in the sensitive Tesla park land and do not protect its natural resources. You must study an alternative–not a no-action alternative–that excludes off-highway vehicles from the site and actively preserves its natural native landscape and historic values for non-motorized public enjoyment, research and education.

Please share this Tesla Park Alert with all of your contacts and ask them to email OHMVR to oppose the OHMVR plan for Tesla Park.  We need to provide overwhelming support to protect Tesla as a Non-OHV park and preserve throughout the EIR process.

Please email Mack Casterman at conservation@ebcnps.org for more information or if you have any questions.  Thank you for your continued help to Save Tesla Park.

FEMA EIS Project Area

FEMA EIS Project Area

On June 17, 2013, EBCNPS submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for FEMA’s East Bay Hills hazardous fire risk reduction project.

The University of California, Berkeley (UCB), City of Oakland, and the EBRPD are all responsible for management of forested public lands in the East Bay. These agencies have submitted grant applications for fire risk reduction projects to FEMA via the California Emergency Management Agency. In order to evaluate these applications, FEMA has prepared a draft EIS. This draft EIS evaluates the potential environmental effects that could occur if these projects that are intended to reduce wildfire hazard and risk are implemented. For more information about this project, please visit FEMA’s project website: http://ebheis.cdmims.com/Home.aspx .

EBCNPS published a public response for this planning process several weeks ago on this blog. It can be viewed here: https://ebcnps.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/public-response-from-ebcnps-regarding-fema-fuels-management-eis/

EBCNPS’s DEIS comment letter can be viewed here: 2013 EBCNPS Comment for FEMA DEIS

We are looking forward to following this process and its accompanying projects in the hopes that the final plan will help keep residents of the Oakland Hills safe and increase native habitat values in our public lands.

Thanks to a united opposition by EBCNPS and other environmental allies including Save Mt. Diablo and The Greenbelt Alliance, the “New Farm” development project in the Tassajara Valley (Part of our “East Dublin and Tassajara” BPPA) has been withdrawn. In its place, the developer has proposed a smaller project that is being called “Tassajara Parks.” EBCNPS is reviewing the details of the proposed project and will have more to report in the coming weeks. You can view a Contra Costa Times article on this environmental victory here: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_23015616/tassajara-valley-housing-plan-shrinks-again .

You can also view an article that ran in The Valley Sentinel that makes note of EBCNPS’s involvement in the effort: http://valleysentinel.com/news/county/developer-asking-for-30-acre-adjustment-of-urban-limit-line/

Oak-Grassland Interface at Knowland Park  photo: Mack Casterman

Upper Knowland Park – site of the proposed zoo expansion photo: Mack Casterman

On April 2, EBCNPS submitted this letter: [ EBCNPS Letter to USACE 4_02_13 ] to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the recently prepared revised Biological Assessment for the Oakland Zoo’s expansion project into Knowland Park. We received the Biological Assessment from a Public Records Act request and were frustrated (but not surprised) to find that the Zoo had once again failed to identify the rare Maritime Chaparral plant community that will be impacted due to their proposed visitor center and gondola. This blatant mischaracterization of their project site comes even after a letter from the CDFW identifying the chaparral at Knowland Park as Maritime Chaparral and a site visit where CDFW biologists directly told Zoo executives and contract-biologists that the chaparral did indeed represent a rare plant community. We are hopeful that CDFW will require an accurate Biological Assessment of the project site before this process is allowed to move forward.

Also attached are the documents referred to in our above letter: CDFG_Letter_to_Joel_Parrott_5_2_12 ; VegMou_11.07.01; briefingMOU;

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