Looking back on my tenure so far as chair of our small-but-mighty conservation committee, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part. I appreciate our collaborative efforts, as no one person can do it all. It takes much energy and many different kinds of skill sets to do conservation work.

Sometimes we are hugely effective, other times much effort leads to only modest gains. I prefer to be contributing however I can, rather than doing little and bemoaning the state of things.

In addition to keeping our conservation projects moving along, a huge accomplishment of our committee and board this year has been to hire and train our new conservation analyst, Karen Whitestone. I am pleased to be working with Karen. She has been learning how to do the important work of the conservation analyst, which includes speaking up at public meetings and getting to know the players in our group as well as in collaborating organizations and agencies. She has visited many of our Botanical Priority Protection Areas (BPPAs) and current conservation targets, and has become acquainted with many of the sensitive natural communities unique to the Bay Area. She has been on the job for about 4 months now, and is learning her work and doing it well.

Thank you to everyone who contributes to the Conservation Analyst Fund, which pays Karen’s salary. The conservation analyst is a key member of our team, helping to get much more work done for conservation of native plant habitats in our two county area than can be accomplished by volunteers alone.

I want to let you know about a great short video called “Bringing Back the Oaks–Managing Vegetation to Reduce Fire Risk in the East Bay Hills” check it out here: https://vimeo.com/163235836 It’s just under 8 minutes long–easy to watch and informative.

Something easy that you can do (optimally this week or next week), in support of our chapter’s conservation efforts is to send an e-mail (or write a letter) to the Director of California State Parks, Lisa Mangat: Lisa.Mangat@parks.ca.gov and also to the California Secretary for Natural Resources, John Laird: secretary@resources.ca.gov regarding preservation of the Tesla lands in Eastern Alameda County, in the Livermore area.
Our current strategy (in collaboration with Friends of Tesla Park) is to flood these two smart and capable folks with e-mails and communications reminding them of the importance of the Tesla property as a key wildlife corridor, containing sensitive resources that aren’t compatible with off highway recreational vehicle use. Here is a sample letter that you could use; shorten, edit and personalize it as you see fit (written by Friends of Tesla Park):

Dear [Secretary Laird/Director Mangat]:

I am asking that you take action now to permanently preserve the Tesla Park land in eastern Alameda County with no Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use by placing a hold on final certification and approval of the Carnegie SVRA EIR and General Plan, and supporting legislation to permanently preserve Tesla by establishing it as a natural and cultural preserve.

Tesla has numerous sensitive biologic and cultural resources important for the region and the State. It is a vital wildlife corridor. It contains threatened and endangered species. It is the location of the historic Tesla town site and mine and sacred Native American sites. It is productive cattle grazing land. Creating a nearly 5,000 acre off-highway vehicle park by expanding Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area and opening Tesla to OHV use conflicts with all local land use plans and policies. Tesla is simply not appropriate for OHV use.

You must not turn a blind eye to this OHV expansion plan that will forever damage Tesla’s unique and sensitive resources. We all have the duty to preserve Tesla with no OHV use so that this unique and irreplaceable natural and cultural landscape is permanently protected now and for future generations.

[Your name, address]

Jean Robertson
Conservation Chair