For Immediate Release, November 23, 2016
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Wildlife Habitat From Off-road Vehicle Park Expansion
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A coalition of environmental and community groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the proposed expansion of an off-road vehicle park in Livermore into a key wildlife corridor and biodiversity hotspot known as Tesla Park. Approved by the Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission Oct. 26, the expansion of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into Tesla would nearly triple its size to 4,675 acres and put threatened and endangered wildlife including California red-legged frogs, California tiger salamanders, San Joaquin kit foxes, Alameda whipsnakes, golden eagles and burrowing owls in the path of off-road vehicles.
“This expansion will destroy habitat for rare wildlife and degrade air and water quality for neighboring communities,” said Aruna Prabhala, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “At a time when climate change, drought and urban sprawl are shrinking habitat for wildlife throughout California, the state should be protecting open space, not allowing it to be ripped apart by off road vehicles.”
The lawsuit was brought by the Center, Friends of Tesla Park and Alameda Creek Alliance. It argues that approval of the expansion and associated environmental documents violate the California Environmental Quality Act by inadequately disclosing, analyzing and mitigating likely negative environmental impacts, including impaired water quality, increased hillside erosion, harm to wildlife, degraded local air quality and damage to cultural resources. Throughout the administrative process, the commission ignored scientific studies and comments from expert agencies urging further analysis and protection of affected wildlife and habitat.
Tesla Park includes 3,100 acres of oak woodlands, grasslands and sensitive habitat for vulnerable animals and plants along rolling hills that drain into Coral Hollow Creek. In contrast, Carnegie consists of barren hills stripped of vegetation and suffering from erosion.
“It would be a travesty to allow Tesla’s incredible wildlands, cultural and historical resources to be destroyed by off-highway vehicle use,” said Nancy Rodrigue, a member of the Friends of Tesla Park Steering Committee. “You only have to look at the environmental devastation at Carnegie to know what will happen at Tesla if OHV use is allowed.”
Many local and regional agencies have pushed for Tesla to be preserved as a park rather than converted into an off-road vehicle recreation area, including Alameda County, the city of Livermore, Livermore Area Recreation and Park District, East Bay Regional Park District and Alameda County Resource Conservation District.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Friends of Tesla Park is a broad alliance working to permanently preserve the area known as the Tesla Park as a non-motorized natural and historic preserve. For more information about Tesla Park and how you can help preserve it go to www.teslapark.org