Earlier this year, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan introduced AB 1512 and State Senator Steven Glazer introduced SB 799 with the goal of protecting Tesla. Tesla is home to threatened and endangered species and is part of an important wildlife corridor. These bills would direct the State Parks Department to permanently preserve the Tesla area and specifies that $9 million will be provided to the Off-Highway Vehicle Division. The funds have been committed through the Altamont Landfill Open Space Committee in Alameda County and no state funds will be required.
Tesla includes at least 42 threatened, endangered and special status wildlife species, designated critical habitats, 13 special status and over 20 locally rare plant species, 7 sensitive vegetation communities, unusual vegetation assemblages, and a critical linkage habitat corridor along the Diablo Range. Tesla’s unique biodiversity is related to its location at the intersection of biotic zones. These factors make Tesla vital for climate resiliency in a time of rapid climate change that threatens species and habitats. This fact was confirmed again by a 2019 UC Berkeley study identifying the area of the northern Diablo Range where Tesla is located, as a top conservation priority for the entire state. Tesla Park’s irreplaceable natural features are matched by its equally important cultural resources from exceptional Native American archeologic and sacred ceremonial sites to the historic Tesla town site.
In January 2021, a court ruled against State Parks and in favor of the County of Alameda’s challenge to the CEQA approval to open Tesla Park to off-highway vehicle recreation and ordered the State to set aside its EIR and General Plan. With this ruling in place, now is an opportune time to pursue a legislative solution.
FOV joined with many other organizations to send letters and voice support for the bills at the legislative committee hearings. SB 799 (Glazer) and AB 1512 (Bauer-Kahan) were passed out of their respective Appropriations Committees the week of May 16 and sent to the floor for a vote. We do not have the date of the floor vote yet, but bills have to pass out of their house of origin by June 4, 2021 to continue to the next house this session. In the meantime, here is what you can do to help. It is important that the Governor understand that there is strong support for preserving Tesla so that he will sign the bills once they are approved. If you have not yet done so, please sign the petition to the Governor NOW to urge him to protect Tesla. We need as many signatures as possible by mid-June. Your support is critical to this effort!
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