SAVE THE FROGS! Letter In Support Of Tesla Park Senate Bill 1316

Tesla Park California

In an effort to protect the amphibians of Tesla Park, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder submitted the following letter on March 21, 2018:

rana boylii alameda creek sarah kupferberg

The Honorable Senator Bill Dodd, Chair
Senate Governmental Organization Committee
1020 N Street, Room 584
Sacramento, CA 95814
Committee Phone: (916) 651-1530

The Honorable Senator Robert Hertzberg, Chair
Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee
State Capitol, Room 5046
Sacramento, CA 95814
Committee Phone: (916) 651-4116

RE: SB 1316 (Glazer): Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area – Support

Dear Senator Dodd and Senator Hertzberg:

I am writing this letter on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS!, a California-based public charity dedicated to protecting endangered amphibian populations and promoting a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. We work in California, across the USA, and around the world to prevent habitat destruction and the extinction of amphibians.

We wish to state our strong support for Senate Bill 1316 (Glazer) as written. We urge you to support this bill and create a better California, for both humans and wildlife.

SB 1316 would allow the Department of Parks and Recreation (Department) to sell the portion of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (Carnegie SVRA) known as the “Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area” for conservation purposes, if the Department determines that disposing of that land is in the public interest. Proceeds from any such sale would then be returned to the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division.

SB 1316 is an important local measure affecting irreplaceable and highly sensitive natural and cultural resources located in Alameda County. Carnegie SVRA straddles San Joaquin and Alameda Counties, but the entire Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area is located in Alameda County.

The Carnegie SVRA proposal to open the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area (known locally as “Tesla Park”) to OHV recreation use has been actively opposed by our group for several years. Based on our assessment of the State Park’s data and studies on the environmental impacts of OHV use in general, we anticipate that the habitat destruction, noise, and fencing, associated with OHV expansion would contribute to even greater declines of the highly sensitive amphibian species that have been previously documented to occur next door at the Carnegie SVRA. The expansion has been controversial with strong broad-based local opposition for nearly two decades. Scientists and naturalists have long extolled the rare ecological value of the area which is home to abundant, yet vulnerable, natural resources. In addition to the threatened salamander and frog species living in Tesla Park’s vernal pools, ponds, streams, and creeks, the area harbors a unique assemblage of plants and animals, including numerous threatened, endangered, and listed species. The area encompasses designated critical habitat for California Tiger Salamanders and Alameda Whipsnakes (both federally protected species) and a critical linkage habitat corridor for the Diablo Range. The area also holds important historic resources at the Tesla town and mine sites and has cultural significance for Native Americans because of the sacred sites located within the area’s boundaries.

Local agencies, organizations, and a group of renowned natural scientists (signers of a consensus statement) have all identified the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area for preservation because of its value to the public interest. The location of the area at the transition of the Inner Coast Range to the San Joaquin Desert, combined with its cultural features make Tesla Park vital to SF-East Bay Area regional conservation objectives. We ask you to support SB1316 under the ancient legal doctrine known as the Public Trust Doctrine in which water and wildlife resources of the State are held in trust for the benefit of all of the people. Degradation of the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area watershed by OHV-induced erosion of steep hillsides and sedimentation of Corral Hollow Creek would clearly be a violation of the Public Trust.

In 2016, after two prior EIR attempts and over intense local opposition, the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission adopted a general plan and EIR, which incorporated the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area into Carnegie SVRA and identified it for OHV recreation use. The project is now in litigation.

Local agencies and community organizations in Alameda County and the East Bay want to work together to purchase the land from the Department for conservation purposes with sales proceeds to be returned to the OHMVR Division. Instead of continuing the controversy and litigation, SB 1316 would provide a mechanism to resolve this long-standing local controversy in a manner that is wise and fair.

SAVE THE FROGS! Strongly supports Senate Bill 1316 and its intent to develop a pathway to preserve the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area.

Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.,
Founder, Executive Director & Ecologist
March 21, 2018

cc: Senator Steve Glazer,