An updated proposal for the expansion of Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area shows a new network of trails for motorcycles and other off-road vehicles surrounding parts of the Corral Hollow Creek watershed that the state hopes to protect.
The proposed plan, on display at the state’s general plan booth at Carnegie SVRA Saturday, Nov. 16, rejects the more intense uses previously proposed, such as open access to off-trail riding, which is allowed on some parts of the 1,540-acre park on the south side of Corral Hollow Canyon.
Instead, the state would establish trails for intermediate and advanced riders in the 3,478-acre expansion area. Some places, including about 500 acres of streams that flow into Corral Hollow Creek and the remnants of the 110-year-old Tesla town and coal mine, will be off-limits to riders.
State Department of Parks and Recreation maintenance chief Randy Caldera, acting superintendent of Carnegie, was at the department’s general plan booth Saturday to explain the plan and get feedback from the public.
“If we’re completely off base, then we’ll probably regroup and come back to the table and see where we missed the target,” Caldera said.
Caldera acknowledged that some people, including folks who commented at a Nov. 12 workshop at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, want to restrict access to back-country trails.
Bill Parker of Castro Valley said he’s been riding at Carnegie for more than 40 years, ever since it was privately owned land before the state’s purchase of the property in 1980.
“They’ve done a really good job of taking care of the real estate, making sure the drainage is proper, making sure the trails are properly marked,” Parker said. “The people who ride here regularly … know that if we don’t use it properly, we could lose it.”
Gary Hoover of Martinez also has seen activity at the park change in the 44 years he has ridden the back-country trails.
“Having ridden out here my whole life, I do miss just going where you want to go, but I understand that if we’re going to have more land available to us, it’s good progress,” he said.
He said that riders want more trails to keep existing trails from getting too crowded.
“If the trails are not one-way, if they’re two-way traffic, there can be some pretty bad accidents,” he said.
Any plan for more off-road vehicle trails will run into opposition. Ayn Wieskamp, vice president of the East Bay Regional Park District and commissioner for the district’s Ward 5, said she regularly gets phone calls and emails from her constituents stating their opposition to off-road vehicle uses in the expansion area.
The East Bay Regional Park District refers to it as the Tesla site in its master plan, and it is identified in the plan as a potential regional preserve that would see little if any development.
“It has been on our master plan for a long time, and we definitely target it as one potential site,” Wieskamp said, though she added that the district has no money to even offer to buy the land from the state.
She said that park district staff has been involved in environmental and archeological assessments on the land, noting its role as a wildlife corridor through the hills, as well as evidence of Native American activity in the area.
“The whole site is just amazing. From our perspective, we’re making sure everyone knows of our concerns because of these issues,” Wieskamp said. “I feel it’s a very wrong place for an off-road vehicle park.”
Caldera expects these issues to be studied in detail once the state begins to prepare an environmental impact report required by law. He said that the review process will be a chance to explain how the parks department will treat the expansion site.
The parks department will take comments on the project until Dec. 13. A proposed plan will go to the state’s Off-Highway Vehicle Commission for review in early 2014. The state could begin work on the environmental impact report in the spring and have the report ready for review and possible approval by the end of 2014.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.