The Independent printed an article entitled “June 10 Meeting To Explore Future of Carnegie, Tesla Off-Road Sites. The tone of the article (slanted against our state off road vehicular park) was evident from the very beginning. It shows how much political influence “Friends of Tesla” have in Northern California. http://www.independentnews.com/news/article_45f76902-c954-11e2-a988-001a4bcf887a.html
The website, “Friends of Tesla”, was created by Celeste Garamendi to oppose the opening of the Alameda/Tesla property that was purchased fifteen years ago to expand Carnegie SVRA.
This property was purchased by State Parks and Recreation with money withdrawn from the OHV Trust Fund (funded by fees and taxes paid by the off road community) and appropriated by the legislature for the acquisition of land for off highway vehicular recreation.
The Alameda/Tesla expansion is adjacent to an area where our neighbors, the husband and wife team of Mark Connolly/Celeste Garamendi, have their nine thousand acre cattle ranch.
Celeste Garmendi has spent years organizing conservation groups to get support for her efforts to torpedo the opening of the Alameda/Tesla expansion. See: “Group Envisions Tesla park, Not Carnegie Vehicle Playground” at http://www.livermorehistory.com/Archive%20-%20Newspapers%20-%20Independent/IND%202008-01-03.pdf
Her husband, Mark Connolly, is the cattle rancher who filed a declaration that was included in the lawsuit against Carnegie attempting to close it down.
“Mark Connolly of the Connolly Ranch is a member of California Sportfishing Alliance and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, court records show, the two groups that filed a lawsuit Sept. 17 against the state parks department.” See: http://www.tracypress.com/pages/full_story/push?article-UPDATE- Carnegie to remain open &id=5351931&instance=home_most_popular#ixzz2Uzv8TrB
The latest article in The Independent of May 31, 2013 prints the “facts” that Celeste Garamendi has been promoting for years in her effort to wrestle our park away from the off road community: Carnegie SVRA is described as “a site with scarred landscapes”.
Funny I go to Carnegie almost every weekend and I fail to see the “scared landscape”. Maybe she is referring to the trails running through the hills or the few areas that have not been renovated but are due for renovation when the work can be done in the rainy season. Google can show images you never see from the ground and which give a distorted view.
“Next door to the west is Tesla, a 3,400-acre site where 1,500 residents lived a century ago, mining one of California’s richest coal seams. Today, it is the quiet home of a wide range of wildlife, including species that are protected under state and federal law.”
This bucolic description of the land purchased to expand Carnegie SVRA is hardly an accurate description of the Tesla site. The 1,500 residents worked in the coal mines and lived in the factory town as essentially indentured servants. Working with coal is hardly a healthy lifestyle. Even today coal is the cheapest and most widely used source of energy in the world (it is also the dirtiest).
The wildlife found at Tesla includes species that can be found throughout the Eastern slopes of the Coastal Range in Eastern Alameda and San Joaquin counties. It is essentially the same protected wildlife that can be found at Carnegie. The OHV Division of State Parks has a mandate to protect endangered species in state OHV parks.
Cattle were allowed to graze on the Tesla property for a few years. If you think that grazing cattle is less destructive to wildlife than allowing a few off road vehicles ride around on trails cut carefully through the area to avoid natural and cultural resources then you haven’t been doing your research.
According to noted environmentalists, cattle ranching results in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. Although Connolly controls the size of his herd, you can see the effects of erosion created by cattle in the hills upstream of Carnegie (not Connolly’s). You can’t ignore the greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – more than transport. We have photographs of our neighbor’s cattle doing their business in Corral Hollow Creek. Can you say pathogens?
The OHV Division of State Parks “did due diligence” when it bought the Tesla property. They did this by asking its neighbors if they had any objection to the property being used to expand Carnegie SVRA. At that time nobody raised any objections including Connolly and his wife.
Now years after Alameda/Tesla expansion was purchased one of the owners of the nine thousand acre cattle ranch bordering our property is feeding the media with the so called “facts” that went into this article. She has been doing this for years. Her husband has also been talking to the media in an attempt to turn the Tesla property into a “passive use” non-OHV park. See: http://www.tracypress.com/pages/full_story/push%3Farticle-Big%2Bhill%2Bto%2Bclimb%2Bat%2BCarnegie%2520%26id%3D2763665
The OHV Division of State Parks is not trying to avoid the environmental reviews necessary to open the Alameda/Tesla expansion. This is the whole point of this meeting on June 10th.
The idea that Tesla is unsuitable for off road recreation is just another drop of poison which they are using to taint the process.
The “conservationists” say they merely want to keep Carnegie from expanding into and damaging the pristine Tesla area.
This “pristine” area was the site of a major coal mine and the talus piles are still in evidence on the site today. It is hardly pristine. The abandoned mines in the hills above Corral Hollow Creek (including the Tesla mine) are a threat to the water supply.
The burnt, steep slopes in this part of the coastal range are hardly unique. The fauna and wildlife found in our little park can be found throughout the surrounding hills.
The Alameda/Tesla property was purchased to expand Carnegie SVRA. According to the Public Resources Code; “in California no new cultural or natural preserves or state Wildernesses shall be established within state vehicular recreation areas.”
The wealthy play golf, sail in their yachts, and ride horse back. A few of them hate to see us playing in the hills with our off road vehicles. We care deeply about the environment (especially where we bring our families to recreate) and will ensure that the dirt trails are designed to avoid impacting natural and cultural resources.
Carnegie is one of only a couple of OHV parks close enough to the Bay Area where the 28,000 non-street legal OHVs registered in Contra Costa and Alameda counties can be operated legally. It is certainly the closest OHV park to where we live in Western Contra Costa County even though it is over an hour and a half’s drive to get there. Over a million people have come to Carnegie in the last thirty years.
Nature lovers have 272 non-OHV state parks in California (versus only 8 state OHV parks) and there are 112,000 acres in the Bay Areas owned by East Bay Regional Parks District where off highway vehicles are not welcome. Most of the time on the weekends Carnegie is a lot more crowded than these other parks.
For their part, Friends of Tesla Park deny simple logic. Garamendi compares developing Tesla as an off road vehicular park as being the same as buying land in a residential subdivision and putting a gas station there. That is a bad comparison. The land was bought legally to expand a state off highway vehicular park and now the state is complying with the law by getting an Environmental Impact Report. Again; let me emphasize, that is the whole point of the meeting.
The meeting is going to be packed by people who do not ride or support our park in any way. They are the “conservationists” recruited by “Friends of Tesla”. It is more important than ever to attend the planning meeting on June 10th to promote our vision of Alameda/Tesla expansion project as an expansion or Carnegie SVRA for off road recreation in a manner that will protect natural and cultural resources.
Some of our opponents spend a lot of their free time attending meetings, writing letters and meeting with officials. We don’t. Most of us spend our free time riding off road with our friends and families. However, now is the time to make our voices heard. We need to go to this meeting and let park officials know that we want Alameda/Tesla expansion opened for OHV recreation. Bring the kids (they have the most to lose if our opponents win). Don’t let the contingent who want to turn the Tesla expansion into a passive use (non-OHV) park have the last word. We own Carnegie!