July 18, 1992
EBRPD Board of Directors
Attn: Carroll Williams
2950 Peralta Oaks Court
Oakland, California 94605-5369
Re: The "Brush Hog" Mentality, Part 2
I am upset that you completely ignored my letter and all of the supporting material I sent you to pass on to the Board on June 10, but I am even more upset that while my letter sat on your desk, another of our precious regional parks was severely damaged by bulldozers (see the enclosed article about Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline). Even after our telephone conversation, I feel that you don't understand or sufficiently value:
1. The need to drastically reduce the human presence in the parks, in order to allow our endangered wildlife to have a chance of recovering. The budget "crisis" is a true blessing, because many of the parks probably need to be closed for a time to recover from our "management" of them.
2. The particular urgency of reducing the presence of motor vehicles, roads, parking lots, and other forms of worship of the automobile from the parks, as a prelude to a similar movement toward rebuilding livable cities. There is nothing so inimical to wildlife corridors as roads and their 60 MPH wildlife squashers. You say you want wildlife corridors. Then let's start asking for what is needed. There is plenty of money available: millions of dollars are being spend right at this minute to expand I-85, I-87, I-101, I-237, I-580, I-680, I-880, etc. That money is needed to put portions of those freeways underground, so that wildlife can cross them. There is no other solution!
3. The value of fire as a natural and necessary process in indigenous plant and wildlife habitat. "Fire-proofing" the parks will only destroy them. We might as well pave over the whole parks or turn them into subdivisions, if we are going to denature them to such an extent.
4. The importance of removing cattle and other exotic or domesticated animals from the parks, such as house cats and the red fox.
5. The importance of restoring native plants, such as the indigenous grasses that presented a far lesser fire danger than the cattle fodder that replaced them.
You profess concern for wildlife, but your actions tell a different story. I hope to hear the Board's plan to address these issues soon. We can't continue placing human whims above the needs of wildlife, if we want to continue having wildlife at all.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.