Knowland Park Update

We are officially into the summer season, and the Oakland Zoo has yet to begin construction of their proposed expansion in the highlands of Knowland Park (an expansion they claimed would begin in spring 2015). We are closely following new developments on this project and our work continues to educate the public about the wonderful natural resources that the park supports and the threat that the Zoo’s expansion poses to those resources.

Last month the Zoo applied to the City of Oakland for a permit to kill 57 heritage oaks and other native trees in Knowland Park. Many more trees that don’t require a permit to kill will be taken out if the project is allowed to move forward, and the Zoo acknowledges 481 could be impacted during the construction of its proposed development in Knowland Park. In June EBCNPS members joined the Oakland and Bay Area communities in opposing the removal of these heritage oak trees which the city itself is named after. We are hopeful that the City will take this as an opportunity to take a stand to protect its natural resources and to heed the voice of the public who own the land and the trees which are to be fenced off and bulldozed for the Zoo’s proposed development.

Please visit http://www.saveknowland.org/ for the most up to date information on this ongoing effort to preserve Oakland’s finest wildland park.

Tesla Park Update

At the time of this issue’s publication, EBCNPS and our allies, the Friends of Tesla Park will have submitted detailed comments for the Draft General Plan and its accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (CSVRA). This plan proposed to expand off-road vehicle access onto roughly 3,000 acres of wildland known as Tesla Park. EBCNPS worked closely with out vegetation committee to detail our botanical concerns and almost every environmental organization in the region also submitted comments on the plan. Comments were due on June 29th – thanks to all of you who helped and submitted comments during this process.

As it stands, the General Plan and DEIR are shockingly inadequate and in fact claim that there will be no significant impacts to biological resources as a result of opening these 3,000 acres to off road vehicle recreation. We are hopeful that our united environmental front will put pressure on State Parks to revise the plan in a way that properly considers the potential environmental damage of opening Tesla Park to off road vehicle recreation. We also are continuing our work to get State Parks to include an alternative in its plan that would identify Tesla as a wildlife preserve with only non-motorized recreation allowed on its trails.

Conservation Analyst Farewell

This will be my last Conservation Analyst Update. In June, I was offered the opportunity to join an environmental consulting firm in South Lake Tahoe, and I accepted the position.

My time with EBCNPS has been wonderful, and I admit that even with a generous offer from this new job, I struggled to finally make the decision to move on to this new opportunity. I am hopeful that my leaving will allow a new environmentalist the opportunity to learn as much as I did about the ins and outs of environmental advocacy in support of our precious native plant habitats. During the last four years, I learned more about native plants, advocacy, campaigning, politics, and environmental regulations than I had in my entire school and work experience before. The East Bay Conservation Analyst is a special position, and I am hopeful the next Conservation Analyst gains as much from it as I have.

I will miss the wonderful relationships I have built with our incredibly dedicated Conservation Committee, Board and our other dedicated volunteers that help make EBCNPS an environmental force here in the East Bay. I am looking forward to continuing to follow EBCNPS and CNPS issues in general, and I know that CNPS’ strong conservation ethic will guide my actions throughout my future career endeavors.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to all of you who have supported my position, either through your time and effort as an active Conservation Committee member, or through your generous donations toward the Conservation Analyst Fund. It is because of you that this position exists and because of you that EBCNPS is such an environmental force in our area. Without you, none of this would be possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Mack Casterman
East Bay Chapter Conservation Analyst, 2011-2015