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"The California Trail Project has been vetted by 5 federal, state, regional, and local agencies, all of whom determined that the project would greatly improve conditions for native plants and animals in Knowland Park." - Nik Dehejia
No, that's NOT what they said. The damage that will be caused by this expansion plan is why the agencies are requiring a TON of "mitigation" - land set aside permanently to make up for the damage.
The threatened species will experience a net LOSS of high quality habitat, and the public will lose access to the best 77 acres of their park.
The "Open Space" that Mr. Dehejia refers to will NOT be accessible to the public.
The project does NOT "meet or exceed" environmental expectations of the community. That's why serious conservation organizations oppose the project.
Zoo execs have yet to take care of the park within their grounds properly (tons of invasive weeds), and now they say they're going to improve high quality habitat?!
There's a reason that people with a vested interest in this project want to keep the "details" quiet, because when the public learns more about it, they're appalled.
We're talking about the destruction of rare habitat, the loss of public access to the best part of our wildest park (more than 53 acres gone forever), and the harm to our wildlife that depend on the park now. All this for a project that was sold to the City Council as "having no significant impact" on the park. And the worst part? It's all avoidable.
The Oakland Zoo sits on the lower 100 acres of Knowland Park, but they've developed less than half of that land (for comparison, the San Diego Zoo is only 99 acres). A conservation-minded zoo would find a way to fit a 21-acre "California Trail" exhibit into their unused 55 acres, or at worst, expand onto already degraded land next to the zoo.
Meanwhile, closed-door city council meetings are held to discuss the issue, the city council is being told that they're not "allowed" to discuss it with the public, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee has had its vote on this issue moved up to next Wednesday.
There's a lot of pressure on our public officials to get this done now, before the public can say "No way!" You don't have to be an Oakland resident to go to Knowland Park or the Oakland Zoo, or to contact the Oakland City Council and Mayor Quan. Speak up NOW and tell them there's a better way: Expanding BELOW the ridgeline saves the park for the public and wildlife, and the zoo gets the space it needs.
Two interesting statements from Zoo execs in the above article should be carefully examined:
(1) " 'The zoo is not taking anything,' Parrott said, arguing that it is federal and state regulators that are requiring land be set aside for conservation."
The agencies are requiring 52 acres of land to be set aside to mitigate for the loss of valuable habitat, but they're NOT requiring that the land be IN Knowland Park. That's the zoo execs' cheap solution to the problem they created - take even more land from the public rather than pay for mitigation off-site.
(2) "Dehejia further argued that the society is adding important protections to parts of the park and that the conservation plan aligns nicely with the institution's broader mission: 'It is a wonderful idea. It's going to protect the species. ... To have an endangered species is something we are very excited about. We are a zoo after all.' "
If zoo execs were so excited to have a threatened species on-site, why did they apply to the US Fish & Wildlife for an incidental take permit (= a kill permit) for the threatened species? They don't talk about that, do they?
The presence of a threatened species on-site is a potential obstacle to their development, not something they're celebrating. They can talk the talk but they can't walk the walk.
The Oakland public and wildlife have been excluded from any debate about whether to give up the best part of their wildest park for a zoo expansion.
The saddest part is that it doesn’t have to be like this – there are non-destructive options - but zoo execs want nothing less than taking the best park of the park for themselves, even if that means excluding the public and harming wildlife.
Zoo execs want to put up a monument to wildlife that were driven out of the Bay Area by development, but they want to do this by developing a wild area. It’s hard to teach kids about conservation when you don’t understand even the most basic conservation principles. Real conservationists don’t build on rare habitats as zoo execs want to do, they preserve it. Real conservationists don’t exclude the public and wildlife from wild lands, as zoo execs have proposed doing. Real conservationists don’t apply for a take permit (= kill permit) for a threatened species, as zoo execs have already done.
If you have a choice between saving what’s real and rare for future generations – a real bit of wild California that still exists right here in Oakland – or putting up a monument to wildlife that have vanished because of development, which do you choose? Do you save the present for future generations, or do you ruin it to talk about the past?
Thank you - good reference article!
"This is the worst assault on the public's right to know I have seen in my eighteen years of doing this" -Jim Ewert. I couldn't agree more. We should be strengthening transparency laws, not gutting them. The cost of *not* providing the information is far greater than the cost of complying with the current law. Don't let the politicians and special interests hide their secret dealings from the public! With the free press in decline in the US, we need more access to information, not less.
The very best treatment for breast cancer would be prevention. Unfortunately, we know very little about why most cases occur. While I'm grateful for the treatments we have for breast cancer patients, thanks to the efforts of research scientists, doctors and patient volunteers, I wish we would invest more in understanding the causes of breast cancer.
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