Protect Frogs, Salamanders and Toads From Dirt Bikers

yellow-legged-frog-by-usda

Target: Lisa Mangat, Director, California State Parks
Goal: Save vulnerable frogs, salamanders and toads from destruction by dirt bikers and other off-highway vehicles.

The State of California is going to turn 3,100 acres of critical amphibian habitat at Tesla Park into a publicly funded off-highway vehicle park if we don’t stop them. Three-wheelers and dirt bikes have no place in one of the state’s most biologically rich areas, but the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) of California State Parks is planning to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into nearby Tesla Park, which contains some of the state’s most important amphibian habitat.

Tesla Park is home to our official state amphibian the California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii); California Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma californiense), Foothill Yellow-legged frogs (Rana boylii); Spadefoot toads (Spea hammondii), as well as more common species like California Newts (Taricha torosa) and Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla). The OHMVR wants to let intensive OHV use destroy the upland habitats of these frogs and salamanders. Please make your voice heard and help protect Tesla Park’s amazing amphibians.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Mangat,

I am writing to urge all relevant decision makers to deny the approval of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) Draft Environmental Impact Report and Preliminary General Plan (DEIR/GP). I oppose the expansion of Carnegie SVRA into the Tesla area as off highway vehicles pose a significant threat to California’s wildlife and scenic beauty, and taxpayer dollars should not be allowed to fund the destruction of our state’s natural resources. The DEIR/GP should not be approved or certified as written.

The DEIR/GP is not in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the operations of the existing Carnegie SVRA are not in compliance with the Public Resources Code. The DEIR’s conclusion that there will be no significant impacts from converting 3,100 acres of agricultural grazing and natural resource conservation land to OHV use is flawed and lacks scientific credibility. It does not require a science degree though to know that off-highway vehicles cause irreparable damage to hillsides, wildlife and the nearby streams that subsequently fill with erosion. The DEIR/GP offers vague and un-measureable guidelines for required mitigation and does not consider any non-OHV use alternatives.

Opening the 3,100 acre Tesla expansion area to OHV use would result in the death and outright destruction of habitat of our official state amphibian (the federally protected California Red-Legged Frog), as well as other sensitive species such as the California Tiger Salamander, Western Pond Turtle, Yellow-legged Frog, Western Spadefoot Toad, Golden Eagle, Tule Elk, Alameda Whip snake and Townsend’s Big-eared Bat. Scientific studies have demonstrated the negative impact OHV use has on California Tiger Salamanders. The land use changes proposed by the DEIR/GP will adversely change the ability of salamanders to disperse, and will decrease the abundance of ground squirrels, whose burrows frogs, salamanders and turtles rely on.

The DEIR does not set adequate buffer zones around ponds and streams and it fails to protect upland habitats. The impact minimization measures described in the General Plan are insufficient to protect the ecosystem from harm and do not align with scientific research. The DEIR is flawed in concluding that no mitigation or set aside lands are required to compensate for the loss of habitat when amphibian breeding ponds will fill in with sediment eroded from hillsides torn up by motorcycles.

Under no circumstances should CA State Parks condone such blatantly destructive activity as OHV use in such a biologically important area. California law governing State Parks allows for Alameda-Tesla parcel to be designated a sensitive area and managed as a nature preserve. Please revise the DEIR/GP and then recirculate it for public review, with the entire Tesla expansion area designated as a permanent preserve area where no OHV use is allowed.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: USDA

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