Now highly motivated political forces, including the Sierra Club and Friends of Tesla Park, are trying to prevent the opening of the Alameda/Tesla expansion of the Carnegie State Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park. Friends of Tesla are spreading their lies on the internet, to the media and to influential politicians. It never stops. These are some of the same people who unsuccessfully filed suit a few years ago to shut down Carnegie. They failed but they never give up. See http://www.independentnews.com/environment/lawsuits-to-challenge-off-road-expansion/article_a8f01802-b239-11e6-abbe-b3e3e6fe7fdf.html
The instigators, Mark Connolly and his wife, Celeste Garamendi (Friends of Tesla); have about a nine thousand acre cattle ranch next our OHV park. They raise cattle to sell as organically certified beef and most likely meet the requirements for certification. They probably adhere to all the rules and regulations related to cattle ranching; but does that mean they have less of an adverse effect on the environmental than the OHV park across their border?
I remember hearing that when Mark Connolly was inspecting the new property, back when the rangers let cattle graze in the Alameda/Tesla expansion, Connolly complained because the park’s the cattle were “destroying the environment”. Mark observed that they were tramping down all the grass and getting into the little pond. But then one of the rangers pointed out that Connolly’s cattle were doing the same thing just thirty feet away on his side of the fence. There was only one water hole for the cattle in the dry summer months. It was where they all congregated.The guy is such a hypocrite. And now when we are opening up the new property for off road recreation he and his wife are crying bloody murder.
It is semi-arid region and especially dry in the summer meaning that the cattle live in a fragile ecosystem. Hay and water have to be supplied depending on the season. After the cows have finished grazing and exposed the topsoil in the summer, the rains bring the soil down into the canyons eroding the hillsides. How is that different from what the rain does to our trails? It is a lot different because most of our trails are hard and do not wash out like exposed topsoil. They can be maintained because bikes stick to the trail and cattle don’t. Cattle amble along an endless staircase of single track along the contours of the hillsides. That too becomes eroded and devoid of native life.
Native plants and animals are not adapted for survival in conditions where cattle are raised. Cattle are large mammals with four stomachs and big appetites. They follow each other around and their hooves cut grooves in the soil. They also like to stand in the streams. It has been documented that manure contains pathogens that gets into the water supply.
“The harmful environmental effects of livestock production are becoming increasingly serious at all levels — local, regional, national and global — and urgently need to be addressed”, according to researchers from Stanford University, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other organizations.
The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.” And here experts have concluded that soil erosion associated with overgrazing is an important issue in many dry regions of the United States and the world.
In essence, cattle destroy the very native flora and endangered species which Connolly and Garamendi claim they are trying to protect from off road recreation. The hills all around Carnegie suffer the destruction and desecration of cattle ranching. The Lawrence Livermore Weapons Lab across the street fares no better and was declared a super fund site. But ignoring the true perils to the environment, they filed suit against Carnegie which is the only place in the Bay Area where we can legally ride our bikes.
A huge buffer zone is incorporated into Carnegie where we can’t ride so as not to affect our neighbors’ property. This is not enough for them and they want to get rid of us entirely. When Connolly’s father was alive, he helped create Carnegie so that we had someplace legal to ride our bikes. Everywhere else has been developed and without our official off road parks we have no place to ride without driving a much longer distance.
Garamendi has been busy behind the scenes organizing the attempted takeover of our state park and other actions aimed at destroying off road recreation in California. Her methods were brought to light by looking at the public records.We did an Open Records Request a year or so ago directed at East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) and found numerous communications between Celeste Garamendi and various park supervisors concerning her goal to have EBRPD take over the Alameda/Tesla expansion and run it for passive (non-motorized) activities. EBRPD still has our park in their master plan included in their map of future acquisitions. Garamendi comes from a very influential family and most people think that she is using her political connections for her own devious purposes.
The Petitioners in the law suit are asking the court to stop our three thousand acre expansion from opening even after the Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) and New General Plan were unanimously approved by the OHV Commission. Our opponents contend that the commission just rubber stamped the EIR. But that is far from the truth.
According to the legislation that created the Commission; “The nine Commissioners are appointed to staggered four-year terms”. They are appointed from a diverse set of political leaders from the Governor, to the Assembly, and the Senate. “The Commission membership is intended to represent a broad range of groups including OHV recreation enthusiasts, biological or soil scientists, rural landowners, law enforcement, environmental protection organizations, and non-motorized recreation interests”.
The EIR for the Tesla/Alameda expansion plan includes a thousand acres which is slated to be shut down entirely to off road recreation and the other two thousand acres are planned for the creation of highly maintained trails routed to avoid sensitive areas. It is not my favorite option (obviously chosen to placate our opponents) and I can’t understand what there is not to like if you against off road recreation at Carnegie. The plan does not look like a plan for an OHV park. It seems more concerned about pure conservation rather than off road recreation in an environmentally responsible manner.
Our opponents claim that we represent a threat to nature. This is more than the kettle calling the pot black. Connolly’s love of nature extends to selling tags to kill Elk for $10,500.00 a pop. He says that he does this to cull the herd because there is not enough for them to eat. I wonder why – maybe because his cattle have eaten up and tramped down everything else? He claims that the elk are afraid of humans but they wander around Carnegie and show only curiosity towards the public. We all know why they are afraid of Connolly and his minions and not us regular folk.
When Garamendi was running for mayor of Tracy (she ran and lost twice) one resident in a letter to the Tracy Press said the following:
“I can’t believe that the Connollys are once again telling the residents of Tracy what is good for them. I must have missed the memo where God made them the king and queen who make the decisions for the poor peasants in Tracy…” and it goes on “Mark Connolly lives high on his hill, yet believes he knows what is best — for Mark Connolly and Celeste Garamendi, that is. He has brought lawsuits against anyone he can think of. Les Serpa tries to build some beautiful homes in Tracy by offering to assist in building a long-needed swim center, and Connolly sues”.
This is the same rancher and his wife (from a wealthy political family) who attempted to close us down a few years ago by supporting the previous lawsuit against Carnegie. They failed but they will never quit until they get what they want (follow the money). Again it comes down to the interests of the wealthy against the public. It is the only public off road riding park within a reasonable distance from the Bay Area and we take our responsibility to protect our land very seriously. In fact elk and other wild life are prevalent inside our park. Maybe that is because they have no place else to go due to the degradation of the surroundings hillsides. Go figure…