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Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors


Monday, June 28, 2010

East SF Bay parks and development update...

40 Years of work to Save Mount Diablo

from their 2009 annual report...

We successfully purchased Viera-North Peak – a property that had been among our highest acquisition priorities since our founding in 1971.

....Save Mount Diablo considered several acquisition projects this year, with active negotiations on five properties. Some projects span years. Due to the State’s economic situation, state bonds are frozen and no funds are available for state park land acquisition. At the same time, the downturn in the economy has resulted in more properties being on the market at lower prices. Save Mount Diablo continues to evaluate and pursue acquisition projects, particularly properties neighboring the State Park. In 2009, we finalized acquisition of Marsh Creek - IV, 2.65 acres including a stretch of Marsh Creek and a connection underneath Marsh Creek Road to another protected property. Without a doubt, our most important acquisition accomplishment of the year was signing a purchase agreement for the Viera property, 165 acres on the slopes of Mt. Diablo’s North Peak.
SMD’s late Founder Mary Bowerman’s wish to preserve the Viera ranching family’s property is coming to fruition. The Viera - North Peak parcel is one of the highest in the East Bay with an elevation of 2,300 feet. The property is visible for over 200 miles and includes views of the Sierra, Half Dome and Mt. Whitney. Sharing a 2.5 mile border with Mount Diablo State Park and rising between the two peaks, Viera is the very heart of Mt. Diablo.

Land Use Planning in 2009 - Protected 1,112 Acres

On a weekly basis Save Mount Diablo monitors 35 different planning agendas and, in 2009, responded to 42 different development projects around Mt. Diablo - from cell tower proposals and small subdivisions all the way to reuse of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, Los Vaqueros reservoir expansion, and threats to the Urban Limit Line. In addition to such land preservation projects, six other projects were stopped or withdrawn, totaling 1,112 acres. We continue to watchdog the remainder.

• Northgate - A proposal in the Northgate Area of Walnut Creek, to subdivide a steep hillside property covered by a beautiful grove of blue oaks jutting into Shell Ridge Open Space, was withdrawn. The addition of four new houses on this property would have destroyed the scenic value and altered the rural character of the area while also impacting preserved habitat in Shell Ridge.

• Morgan Territory - The proposed subdivision of a property located across Morgan Territory Road from Mt. Diablo State Park, and crossed by a creek tributary, would have impacted endangered species habitat and scenic resources. Save Mount Diablo submitted comments opposing the subdivision and the application was also withdrawn.

• Communication Towers - Each new tower proposal is an opportunity. As newer towers are proposed, Save Mount Diablo urges the removal of old towers no longer in use, resulting in the consolidation and overall reduction of towers on the landscape. In 2009, Save Mount Diablo negotiated the removal of 7 old towers in exchange for the construction of two new ones, providing an overall benefit to aesthetic views while also minimizing threats to bird species.

• Alamo, Antioch & Blackhawk – Even when open space is protected it must be defended. In four different projects last year, SMD defended against attempts to develop or encroach upon homeowner open space.

• Concord Naval Weapons Station – After years of planning and input from Concord residents and the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord, of which SMD is a member organization, the City Council voted to move two alternatives forward, including a minimum of 3,200 acres of parks and open space. The plan should protect Mt. Diablo creek and the Los Medanos hills in a new regional park bigger than Tilden, while also creating a large network of parks around development centered on the North Concord-Martinez BART Station. Years more work will be needed.

• State Park Closures - As a member of the Save Our State Parks coalition, SMD helped block Governor Schwarzenegger from closing over 200 state parks, including Mt. Diablo and 46 other parks in the Bay Area.

• Tassajara Hills - Applications were withdrawn for four subdivisions – totaling 1,102 acres of rolling grassland in the Tassajara hills. These projects would have lead to fragmentation of wildlife habitat and corridors, while also impacting East Bay Regional Park District’s planned Doolan Canyon/Tassajara Hills Regional Park.

• Tassajara Valley - Save Mount Diablo has formed a coalition to defend the Tassajara Valley from development threats like “New Farm” – a proposal to build 186 houses and a cemetery on 771 acres outside of the Urban Limit line. This plan would bust the line, opening thousands of acres of natural lands and sensitive habitat to development threats.

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