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We don't want to be here, spending our time and effort opposing you. We're all outdoors people who value our parks and open space, and would much rather be improving them for everyone to enjoy. But you're asking for 500 million dollars over and above the money you already receive. That's a lot of money, and you must expect to be held to a very high standard if you want people to vote to give it to you instead of (for instance) California State Parks, which nearly shut down this year for lack of funds -- and runs their public lands much better than you do, for a lot less money.
We'll be blunt. As long as you continue running our public lands for the benefit of trucks and cattle, instead of for people and native species, you don't deserve another $500 million. As long as you keep trashing public land with bulldozers and cattle, you don't deserve another $500 million. As long as cattle have more access to public lands than the second-largest group of parks users, you don't deserve another $500 milion. And as long as you pay yourselves more than US Senators while clinging to a discredited 1950s model of "parks management" that values resource extraction over preservation, you don't deserve another $500 million.
We want to see trails for people, not roads for trucks. We want to see native plants and animals in our parks, not herds of cattle behind barbed wire fences. We want to see reform, not newspaper ads and glossy brochures. And if we don't see reform, you won't see our money.
Here's the remote, little-known, and little used Panorama Trail -- one of the EBRPD's few actual singletrack trails -- as of earlier this year. Since so few people come here, the trail needed some brushing back:
Instead, the EBRPD decided to "maintain" the trail with a bulldozer. Remember, the EBRPD claims that letting people ride bicycles on an existing trail requires an environmental review and a majority vote of the Board of Directors -- whereas this is perfectly normal trailwork:
But wait! It turns out they surveyed their property line wrong, and instead of following the path of the old trail, they dozed a new trail right onto private property!
What to do now? Follow the old trail as it switchbacks down the hill? No, that's too hard: we'll just bulldoze a path straight down the hill. Just imagine the ugly, eroded mess once the rains start.
(Bonus question: The left side of this fence is a "Regional Preserve", purchased and maintained by the EBRPD with our tax dollars at great expense. The right side is a privately-run cattle ranch. Can you spot the difference?)
This sort of incompetence would be laughable if we weren't paying for it, and if the EBRPD wasn't asking for another $500 million to continue ruining our public parks and open space.
Help us stop the destruction...
Vote No on Measure WW!
But Wait...There's More!
Since most of Mission Peak is an overgrazed wasteland, 98% of hikers simply walk straight up the hot, exposed "Ohlone Wilderness Trail" (actually a 12-foot wide road) to the peak. Venture elsewhere, however, and you'll find that it can get much, much worse.
Mmmm...stagnant watering troughs.
Mission Peak is a "Regional Preserve". What is the EBRPD preserving here?
Yes, hillsides are supposed to have plants on them. This is what happens when a parks district prioritizes cows over people.
This doesn't deserve our tax money. Instead, let's support our state and local parks districts that actually care for the public land we've entrusted them to preserve.
Vote No On Measure WW!
Encore: "Use Trails"
This "shortcut" was created by hikers, who don't want to follow the official road to the left and then back up the ridge.
Remember, according to the EBRPD, allowing people to ride bicycles on existing trails would have too much environmental impact -- and if cyclists dare create their own trails because they're banned from existing ones, they're horrible environmental vandals and can be fined or jailed.
But what does the EBRPD do when hikers make their own 30-foot wide, rocky, eroded fall-line scar because they simply don't want to walk a few hundred feet around to the side?
Call it good and put it on the official trail map.
Welcome to Grass Valley, dead in the center of the EBRPD's Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Sadly, it's not very grassy right now.
The EBRPD claims that their grazing program exists to "maintain and improve habitat conditions for resident plants and animals, and to prevent wildfires." (link)
California State Parks claims that "grazing or agricultural leasing is considered incompatible in units of the State Park system", and that "Effective fire hazard reduction is only achieved by overuse through livestock grazing." (link)
So who's right? Let's look at the evidence. These pictures of Grass Valley were taken this month -- September, 2008.
Soon after passing this gate:
you'll notice these "detours", where cattle have trampled off the road in search of forage.
Then the trees open up, and you'll see meadows reduced to bare dirt and cow pies:
No, those aren't dirt clods. Yes, this is the center of Anthony Chabot Regional Park.
Keep walking or riding...it doesn't get any better.
In fact, it gets worse. This entire meadow, nearly a mile long, is entirely covered with bull thistles, an invasive, non-native species:
because, year after year, the cattle eat everything else down to the dirt.
Obviously the cows prefer native grasses and bushes to nasty, spiky bull thistles:
So much for the EBRPD's claim that "Livestock grazing controls the growth of the non-native grasses and herbs so that other desirable plants (wildflowers and native grasses) can regenerate and coexist with them."
Here's the worst part: all this damage was done over just a few weeks -- by approximately nine full-grown cattle and two calves.
The EBRPD maintains over 5,000 cattle, 1,000 sheep, and 1,000 goats in our parks and open space. And now they want another $500 million to continue their abuse of public land.
You can help us stop this.
Vote "No" on Measure WW!
(Want to do more? Click here.)
No, this isn't Caltrans building a new freeway interchange. This is the EBRPD performing "trail maintenance" in Redwood Regional Park.
Remember, these are supposed to be hiking, biking, and horse trails. If you're left speechless, well, so were we.
The damage goes on and on, literally for miles...
We have a lot more pictures. Sadly, they all look like this.
Then the rain comes, and we get massive erosion and giant water ruts...
You could break an ankle in these ruts! The endangered plants and animals aren't too happy about all that mud, either:
...because it all washes downhill, drowning a meadow under a giant, stagnant mud flat.
The East Bay Regional Park District is destroying the lands we have entrusted them to preserve, and we oppose giving them another $500 million of public money to continue their destruction.
Vote No on Measure WW!
Yes, we can do better! Here's what multi-use trails look like right next door in Joaquin Miller Park, run by the City of Oakland. Wouldn't you rather go hiking or riding here? Shouldn't we be supporting our chronically underfunded local and state parks districts, who provide trails like this, instead?
Remember, this trail is multi-use, and gets heavy traffic from hikers, horses, and mountain bikers. In the EBRPD's bizarre world, riding a bicycle on this trail would get you a $300+ fine -- but destroying it with a bulldozer would be "maintenance". Thank you, City of Oakland, for Joaquin Miller Park.
Back in the winter of 2002-2003, someone in the EBRPD had the bright idea of "maintaining" Pleasanton Ridge trails with bulldozers and other heavy machinery during the middle of the rainy season. The result was predictable: a big, muddy, erosive, environmentally destructive mess. Check out the zig-zags in the middle, where the machine got stuck!
Here's a nice close-up of some high quality EBRPD trail work:
The ground was torn up so badly that they had to put straw down to cover the mud pits! Remember, these trails were mostly singletrack cow paths before the EBRPD's machines got there.
The herds of cattle didn't seem to mind so much...after all, they made the trails in the first place...
But wait a second. Let's take a closer look at that yellow sign. What might it mean?
It means "We've hugely screwed up our responsibility to public lands in a really obvious way. What do we do? Apologize? Restore some of the trails we destroyed? No, that's too much work. We'll BLAME BICYCLISTS! They FORCED us to run our bulldozers through the mud! We'll call a news conference to tell everyone this, and then ban them from the public land that we have somehow got control of."
And that's exactly what the EBRPD did.
Blaming your second-largest group of park users for your own mistakes: not so smart when you're asking them for $500 million. No On Measure WW!
(All photos by "scooderdude". Thanks!)
If you decide to hike the part of the Ohlone "Wilderness Trail" in and near Mission Peak, you're in for a dispiriting surprise.
Let's say you get someone to drop you off on Mill Creek Road, because it's the closest paved access to this end of the trail. You'll find yourself on this dirt road through cattle pasture, between barbed wire fences:
You'll have to deal with several locked gates along the way, some of which you have to climb over (look in the distance):
Finally you've made it to the trailhead! See that lockbox? Ranch and EBRPD trucks can drive right on through...
But you'll need to have a permit to enter this pristine wilderness! Also you can't ride your bicycle here...
...because hiking without a permit, or riding a bicycle, would destroy the wilderness character of these overgrazed cattle pastures, dirt roads, and...huge rusty iron pipes.
EBRPD projects sound good on paper: who could possibly oppose a "Wilderness Trail"? Unfortunately, the ugly reality is that we are paying them hundreds of millions of dollars for dirt roads through cattle pasture.
This is why we oppose the $500 million Measure WW tax. We should be giving our money to our chronically underfunded city and local parks programs, or even California State Parks -- which know how to run and maintain parklands for people, not trucks and cows.
Thanks for visiting!
Q: What's the difference between the "Blog" and "News" sections?
A: The "News" section is for short announcements and upcoming events, and shows up as a sidebar on every page except its own. The "Blog" section is for longer articles, and only shows up on the main and blog pages.
This website gets tens of thousands of hits, from thousands of different places. Guess what single workplace tops the list?
ebparks.org -- the East Bay Regional Parks District's offices!
It's safe to say that our campaign has the attention of the District. So, since you're all listening, let us say this.
Absolutely unbelievable photos from the far side of Mission Peak. We couldn't make this up if we tried. Come read our latest EBRPD Hall of Shame update!
We've received, completely unsolicited, a sobering indictment of the EBRPD's practices from a longtime employee, who has given us permission to post it anonymously:
"As a former employee, I saw and was subject to all abuses. The bad thing was working with a highly paid, but very lazy staff, a management that was bloated and didn't care about the true mission of an open space agency, and an aloof and distant (pompous) board of directors. I believe all the forefathers of this once great agency are spinning in their graves. I WILL VOTE NO [on Measure WW], and tell all my friends. Believe me this isn't sour grapes, but being part of it, I can attest to the waste."
This just in: our worst EBRPD Hall of Shame entry so far! Join us for a tour of Anthony Chabot Regional Park.
We're not accountants, but something is definitely wrong at the EBRPD. Just updated and published: the "Waste" section.
See the "Environmental Destruction", "About Us", and "You Can Help" pages! The rest of our content is under construction, so please pardon our dust.