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The Oakland Zoo recently submitted a request to the City of Oakland for a permit to kill 57 heritage Oaks and other native trees in Knowland Park.  Many many more trees that don’t require a permit to kill will be taken out, and the Zoo acknowledges 481 could be impacted during the construction of the Zoo’s proposed expansion development in the highlands of Knowland Park.

Please join us in writing a formal letter protesting the issuance of this permit. The citizens of Oakland must speak out to make sure that the publicly funded Oakland Zoo is not allowed to destroy these native heritage trees on public park land. These trees make up part of Oakland’s natural heritage and indeed lend their name to the city itself.

The Friends of Knowland Park have made it easy to let your concern be heard by sending the one click letter available at this link:

The comment deadline is June 23rd.

Thank you for your help!

View of Mt. Diablo from Tesla Park

View of Mt. Diablo from Tesla Park


Compare the above picture with this one showing the ongoing unmitigated habitat destruction occurring in the existing Carnegie SVRA.

On April 23rd, the California State Park’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicular Recreation Division released its new Preliminary General Plan for and accompanying Environmental Impact Report for Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (CSVRA) . This plan includes the expansion of Carnegie onto 3,400 acres of wildland in eastern Alameda County (an area commonly referred to as Tesla Park). The General Plan and EIR can be found at this link:

EBCNPS is preparing to submit detailed comments on the plan. We are working to establish Tesla Park as a non-motorized low impact historic and natural resource park and preserve. We believe that such a designation would provide the best protection for the rare native habitats and critical wildlife corridor encompassed by the Tesla Park land while still providing recreational and educational value to the general public.

To learn more about Tesla Park and its wonderful natural resources, please visit: . While you’re there, be sure to sign up to the mailing list, like the facebook page, and consider making a donation to the effort. Also, be sure to check out our Corral Hollow Botanical Priority Protection Area description on page 12 and 13 of our BPPA Guidebook at:

We need all the help we can get to show strong support for a non-motorized alternative land use for this area. Please, review the documents and submit comments before the deadline on June 29th. We will be sending out more info shortly so stay tuned!

On April 3, 2015, EBCNPS submitted comments to Caltrans regarding the DEIR for the Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project. Our letter expresses concern that Caltrans has designed this project as an overbuilt highway widening project with little regard for the sensitive natural resources of Niles Canyon that will be permanently damaged as a result.

The DEIR examines several project scenarios, all of which would result in the removal of between 284 and 414 native trees in the riparian area of the canyon.

EBCNPS’s letter also noted that Caltrans is attempting to segment the Niles Canyon Corridor Project into several different projects that will all be subjected to independent environmental reviews. The cumulative effects of this entire project, the Niles Canyon Safety Improvements Project, Niles Canyon Short Term Improvements Project, and Arroyo de la Laguna Bridge Project must be properly considered as part of a total environmental review to ensure that cumulative impacts are properly quantified and understood.

EBCNPS’s letter can be found here: EBCNPS letter re: Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement DEIR 4_3_15

In 2011, the Alameda Creek Alliance had to sue Caltrans to halt its original project in the canyon due to inadequate environmental review. Unfortunately, Caltrans had already cut down nearly 100 native trees along the creek by the time the courts stopped the project. Caltrans has yet to mitigate for that damage.

FEMA Fuels Management Areas for Oakland and UC Berkeley

FEMA Fuels Management Areas for Oakland and UC Berkeley

On January 21st, EBCNPS submitted a letter to FEMA in response to the recently released Final Environmental Impact Statement for their East Bay Hills Fuels Management Plan. EBCNPS’s concerns are focused on changes FEMA has made to the Final EIS – specifically, modifying the projects proposed by Berkeley and Oakland which planned to remove Eucalyptus and restore native habitat. FEMA is now requiring that UC Berkeley and Oakland adopt a plan that is similar to that proposed by the East Bay Regional Park District, where Eucalyptus stands would be thinned and managed rather that removed. This raises an issue with the regulatory process since both UC Berkeley and Oakland’s projects were determined to be self mitigating due to the native habitat restoration that would have been achieved.

EBCNPS’s letter can be viewed here: CNPS FIES Response Letter 1_12_15 FINAL

The release of the Final EIS has raised more questions that it has answered. EBCNPS plans to continue following this issue as it develops.

The 2015 CNPS Conservation Conference is coming up in a few weeks. Join over 1,000 conservation and native plant enthusiasts in San Jose! Attendees include scientists, conservationists, CNPS chapters, university professors and students, policymakers, professional and amateur botanists, landscaping professionals, and land-use planners from California and beyond. The Conference will take place on January 15th 16th and 17th and there are pre-conference workshops and field trips occurring on January 13th and 14th. Visit the conference website for more information and to register to attend:

This event only happens once every three years, and with the location so close to our chapter area, this is one not to miss!

On November 14th, EBCNPS submitted comments to the East Bay Regional Park District regarding their Notice of Preparation for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for their Albany Beach Restoration and Public Access Project. Our comments focused on the importance of making sure the eelgrass beds that exist just offshore of the project area are protected both during construction and during recreational use of the beach after the project is completed. A copy of our letter can be viewed here: 11_14_14 NOP Comment

Ancient oak within the proposed Oakland Zoo expansion area

Ancient oak within the proposed Oakland Zoo expansion area

On November 18th, the Oakland City council voted 6-2 to approve the Oakland Zoo’s proposed conservation easement – taking the final step in approval for the Zoo’s proposed expansion project that would remove public access to roughly 77 acres of public wildland in Knowland Park. With this vote, the Oakland City Council sent a message that public land in Oakland is up for grabs to any private entity that wants to profit from it.

The most heartening part of the challenging night was that supporters of the park packed the council chambers and were eloquent to a person in their support for protecting the park. It was clear that had the audience voted, the easement would have been crushed. And the divide between what the public wants and what it got from this city council is manifest. On the zoo’s side I can recall only zoo staff, a few zoo volunteers, and zoo board members speaking. We also know that hundreds of e-mails were sent to CC members, and one of our petitions hit 17,000 signatures. So, the outpouring for the park, for the native plant and wildlife resources was overwhelming. Four reps from Sierra Club spoke, one from Defense of Place, and letters came in from the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental organizations. Not a single local environmental organization supports the Zoo’s project.

Councilmembers Councilmembers Kaplan and Kalb were the dissenting votes. Kaplan gave no reasons for her vote (although we know from our talks with her that she is a park user, was deeply offended by the removal of public access to benefit a private entity). The person who nailed the reasons for opposing the conservation easement was Councilmember Kalb who made it clear that the easement on already protected public park land is double-dipping–regardless of what the zoo’s paid biological consultant said–and that easements like these shouldn’t be used. He also made plain that the city—regardless of whether it was a successful legal strategy–should have required the Zoo to complete a full EIR with the implication that the mess that the city is facing is because it never did the Alternatives Analysis which would have been required in an EIR document. Although Dan doesn’t lose his temper, he scolded the city and the Zoo for dodging this critical step. “It’s not something that a good nonprofit should’ve done,” Kalb said to Zoo representatives, adding, “The city made a mistake in not pushing you to do it.”

While we obviously failed to win the vote (which we knew was a long shot), we succeeded in getting this issue out in front of the public after a long uphill fight. Those of us who remember the meetings in 2011 recall the challenging efforts to inform decision makers and the public about the native plant species and communities in the park. CNPS was often cited in the discussions and certainly vilified by the opposition, which if anything has helped us in the eyes of the public. I don’t think we’ve ever had more media attention, and the environmental community did join our cause in full force.

The Knowland Park Team will be de-briefing and assessing next steps, so stay tuned. We cannot adequately thank those who have poured their hearts into this effort. For now, let’s get out to the park and continue to enjoy and learn from it while we can.

Dublin voters made their voices heard in yesterday’s election! Measure T, written and supported by developers was defeated in a landslide of more than 4 to 1 with 83% of voters voting NO to development outside of Dublin’s Urban Limit Line.

The defeat of this measure ensures continued protection for Doolan Canyon (Part of EBCNPS’s East Dublin and Tassajara Botanical Priority Protection Area), and sends a strong signal to developers that Dublin residents value their open space areas and deem them worthy of protection.

Thanks to the many residents of Dublin who volunteered their time and energy to ensure that this misleading measure was soundly defeated. Thanks also to the local environmental groups who joined EBCNPS in opposing this measure: Tri-Valley Conservancy, Save Mt. Diablo, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Vineyards, Greenbelt Alliance, Alameda Creek Alliance, and Ohlone Audubon.

A report from the Contra Costa Times can be found here: Landslide defeat for Measure T in Dublin

On October 7, 2014, EBCNPS sent a letter (linked below) to the Oakland City Council regarding their closed session meeting to discuss the Oakland Zoo’s proposed 53 acre Conservation Easement in Knowland Park.

Letter_re_legality_of_closed_session_10_7_14 Final

Oak- Grassland Interface at Knowland Park  photo: Mack Casterman

Oak- Grassland Interface at Knowland Park photo: Mack Casterman

The East Bay Express just reported on the results of a recent poll by the Save Knowland Park Coalition that found that 77% of Oakland Voters oppose the Oakland Zoo’s current expansion proposal. We are hopeful that Oakland’s elected officials and Zoo executives will view the results of this poll as a wake-up call and that it will inspire them to consider alternatives to their current environmentally destructive proposal.

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