Wildlife conservation goes beyond simply creating open space by protecting and enhancing native habitat and wildlife from human activity, and offering migratory pathways for wildlife within the shadow of our urban environment.
The protection and enhancement of wildlife and its habitat is a core purpose of SPRAWLDEF. Wildlife flourishes in ecosystems where vegetated landscapes and soils sustain a wide range of species in open spaces within and beyond our urban boundaries. Wildlands must be kept from disturbance by intense human activity so that native plants and animals can thrive.
SPRAWLDEF envisions a 25-mile Altamont Hills Wildlife Corridor (AHWC) connecting ecosystems providing habitats for mountain lions, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, and many other native species. A fully realized Altamont Hills Wildlife Corridor will connect Mt. Diablo with Mt. Hamilton, and with the Central Valley.
SPRAWLDEF has protected part of this corridor in a settlement of its lawsuit against the State of California’s Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Commission’s proposal to expand an existing off highway vehicle (OHV) park in the Corral Hollow-Tesla area in eastern Alameda County. We also support legislation facilitating transfer of the property to local public ownership as a protected park, and continue to oppose the proposed OHV expansion project.
The foundation for an Altamont Hills Wildlife Corridor was set in motion by settlement of a lawsuit opposing expansion of a landfill east of Livermore in 1998, creating a Wildlife Habitat and Open Space fee that has raised over $25 million to date. The wildlife habitat fee was successfully negotiated by SPRAWLDEF co-founder David Tam, and the group’s two other directors also played a role in the landfill settlement.
Over 20 years later, the Altamont Open Space Committee (AOSC), which SPRAWLDEF follows closely, has already made grants of almost $7 million for 13 wildland acquisitions. AOSC is actively considering underwriting purchases of both the Corral Hollow-Tesla area, on the northern end of the envisioned corridor, as well as a portion of the sprawling N3 ranch, which comprises 80 square miles in Alameda and three neighboring counties, on the corridor’s southern flank.
Wildlife and people won a great victory recently. Read the S.F. Chronicle story here. We saved Corral Hollow or what is called the future Tesla Park from the treads of the off-road vehicle community and a State Parks administration that was more interested in coddling to the well financed Off Road Vehicle community than endangered species. After literally 40 years of campaign and litigation the Governor signed the bill that transferred Tesla to State Parks as a park or preserve and out of the clutches of off road vehicles. SPRAWLDEF had a focused but critical role in this campaign. It focused on preserving a wildlife corridor through the park and got State Parks to agree to that protection, blocking off acres and acres of the site from off road vehicles.
The next step will be to plan for the Park!! Rest assured SPRAWLDEF will be actively involved in that phase.