Buying land isn't enough
The East Bay Regional Park District is very good at raising public money and buying land, but they are shockingly poor caretakers. They ignore basic principles of preservation and sustainability, and don't seem to care if the public can actually use public land. Sometimes they leave parks in worse condition than they got them!
Park system, or highway system?
There are over 1000 miles of ugly, steep, erosive ranch and service roads in EBRPD parks -- but less than 140 miles of foot, horse, and cycling trails. Over 85% of park “trails” are for trucks, not people!
Year after year, the District scrapes away at these roads with bulldozers, graders, and other heavy equipment, and the result is a horrible eyesore as well as massive environmental damage. For example:
(Click here to see more...trust us, it gets worse.)
Yet the EBRPD refuses to replace any of its 1,000 mile highway network with narrow, low-impact, environmentally sustainable foot and bicycle trails. What are they doing with the over $100 million they spend each year?
Park system, or agribusiness operation?
Nearly two-thirds of EBRPD "parkland" is used for private industrial cattle and sheep production -- not conservation or recreation! That's over 5000 cattle, 1000 sheep, and 1000 goats trampling our parks -- including "landbanked" areas, closed to the public but open for private business.
The EBRPD claims that their out-of-control grazing program prevents wildfires and "controls the spread of non-native species". This is simply false. We agree with California State Parks and the Mt. Diablo General Plan, available here:
"State parks are managed for their preservation and public enjoyment, and not for their commercial use."
"Generally, grazing or agricultural leasing is considered incompatible in units of the State Park system."
"The Department does not recognize fire abatement as an adequate justification for livestock grazing: effective fire hazard reduction is only achieved by overuse through livestock grazing."
Here's proof: a picture of the Grass Valley area of Chabot. (Yes, all those dark patches are cow pies.) The only living plants left are invasive bull thistles, which cows won't eat. So much for "controlling non-native species!"
(Click here to see more pictures...this isn't the worst by a long shot.)
If you really want to feel outraged, you can read the story of what happened when the EBRPD bought Sycamore Valley, as told by a Danville resident. Take a deep breath and click here for the juicy part, or here if you have a lot of spare time. (Summary: they immediately fenced the park off, closed it to the public that had enjoyed it for years, and rented it to a cattle rancher. We know this sounds unbelievable, but it's absolutely true.)
The destruction goes on, and on, and on
These pictures aren't just isolated instances of the EBRPD's neglect. If you want to see more, click here for the EBRPD Hall of Shame, and follow the links.
Where's the outrage from the mainstream "environmental" groups?
The Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Regional Parks Association, and other big-money environmental groups pay occasional lip service to these issues -- but when it comes time to actually take a meaningful stand against the EBRPD, they throw local activists under the bus.
Parks are for people, not trucks or cattle
Why should we give the EBRPD $500 million more, when they do nothing but destroy the land we've already given them? The EBRPD is a redundant agency: we already have city and state parks departments, which do a fine job running beautiful parks like Joaquin Miller (City of Oakland) and Mt. Diablo (State of California), and don't trash our public lands with heavy equipment and cattle. We can send them a clear message this November at the polls: