In 2020, after years of advocacy and planning, both houses of the state legislature passed legislation to preserve the biologically, culturally, and historically important Tesla land east of Livermore for non-motorized park use. Then Governor Newsom vetoed the bill with a brief statement implying that use of Tesla as an off-highway vehicle park was “for the benefit of all Californians.” However, advocates, local agencies and governments, and state legislators who understand the importance of Tesla’s biological resources have not given up: two new bills that will conserve the Tesla property have begun their journey to become state law.
CNPS has long supported protecting Tesla as parkland. The area’s unique Inner Coast Range location and topography support diverse native plant communities and species. Desert shredding primrose (Eremothera boothii ssp. decorticans) and the desert olive scrub plant community have migrated here from the hotter San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert, while the rare big tarweed (Blepharizonia plumosa), more often found in the southern Inner Coast Range, has been found here too. Tesla lies within our CNPS East Bay Chapter’s Corral Hollow Botanical Priority Protection Area, one of 15 areas in Alameda and Contra Costa counties recognized because their rich native plant diversity is threatened by current or potential land use decisions.
This April 15, California State Senator Steve Glazer’s new bill to protect Tesla, SB 799, passed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Similar to last year’s Tesla bill, SB 799 directs State Parks to permanently preserve Tesla, also called the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area, for conservation and low impact recreation purposes. Representatives from many organizations spoke in support of the bill, including Beth Wurzburg, our CNPS East Bay Chapter’s lead on Tesla. California State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s companion bill, AB 1512, passed the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife on April 26. Both now head for their respective appropriations committees.
California State Parks intends to use Tesla’s ecologically diverse landscape for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation. To preserve Tesla as a non-motorized park, SB 799 provides that $9 million will be transferred to the State Parks OHV Trust Fund. Accordingly, local governments in Alameda County have set aside mitigation funds for this purpose.
Last year, Senator Glazer’s and Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan’s bills to protect Tesla passed both houses only to be vetoed by Governor Newsom. This year, it has become even more evident that permanent preservation of Tesla meets state and local priorities around biodiversity, climate resiliency, access to nature, and good governance. Since his veto of the 2020 Tesla bill, Governor Newsom has issued an executive order with a goal of conserving 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030. Conserving Tesla and its biodiversity will advance that goal, and both the statewide CNPS organization and our East Bay chapter are continuing to help these two bills progress to the governor’s signature so Tesla can be preserved.
Here’s what you can do to get Tesla conserved as a protected natural area:
- Please write or call Governor Newsom’s office and ask that he redesignate Tesla as a state park, without motorized recreation:
https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/ and 916-445-2841.
- If you live in State Senator Nancy Skinner’s district (refer to this map of Senator Skinner’s district), please call her local office or send an email and ask that she do whatever she can to help save Tesla as a state park without motorized recreation: https://sd09.senate.ca.gov/email-senator and 510-286-1333.
—Jim Hanson, Conservation Committee Chair, CNPS East Bay Chapter
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