Conservation

Campaign to Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative

On Thursday, February 8, 2018 the “Antioch Community to Save Sand Creek,” a coalition of Antioch residents and community groups, submitted the text of the “Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative” to the City of Antioch. The initiative is in response to threats of thousands of houses in the Sand Creek area at Antioch’s southern border, the undeveloped area stretching from Deer Valley Road west to Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. The initiative would give Antioch voters the right to vote on Sand Creek Area projects or changes to Antioch’s Urban Limit Line.“Conservation of the Sand Creek Area has long been one of our goals. It contains several rare and unusual plants with the potential for more. It is also an important transitional zone between three major ecoregions. Preservation of this area will allow all species to adapt to changing conditions,” said Lesley Hunt, Outreach Chair, California Native Plant Society, East Bay Chapter.The “Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative” would:

  • Require a vote to allow any major development in the initiative area
  • Limit the extent and amount of development in a 3 square mile (1800-acre) area between Deer Valley Road and Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
  • Protect the existing Urban Limit Line;preserve nature, open spaces, and historic qualities
  • Maintain agriculture; Protect the Sand Creek stream corridor Limit traffic in Antioch;Decrease impacts on schools, water, police, fire, and other services
  • Help focus city investments, revitalization and economic development on existing neighborhoods, downtown and along the waterfront. It would do so by designating the roughly 1800-acre area between Kaiser Hospital and Black Diamond Mines for rural residential, agricultural and open space uses
  • The Initiative Area is contained within our chapter’s Four Valleys Botanical Priority Protection Area (BPPA). It encompasses swaths of Lone Tree Valley and Horse Valley. Currently, the majority of the area remains as undeveloped grasslands on private property historically used for ranching.
  • Check out my previous reports from the Bay Leaf in April 2017 http://ebcnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/April-2017-Bay-Leaf-urls-live2-corrected.pdf and December 2016 http://bayleafnewsletter.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/December-2016-Bay-Leaf-c.pdf

In addition to resources previously reported, a quick search of the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) does reveal rare plant records in the Initiative Area for showy golden madia (Madia radiata, 1B.1) and Brewer’s western flax (Hesperolinon breweri, 1B.2). Some rare plant records are notable for a close proximity to the Initiative Area: large-flowered fiddleneck (Amsinckia grandiflora, 1B.1), Mt. Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum), 1.B1) brittlescale (Atriplex depressa, 1B.2), big tarplant (Blepharizonia plumosa, 1B.1), and San Joaquins spearscale (Atriplex joaquinana, 1B.2). Rare wildlife species with records in the Initiative Area include California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense), Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), and Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), Alameda Whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus), California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii), northern California Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra) and burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia). Clearly, this Initiative Area in southern Antioch is richly biodiverse and worth preserving from development.

This Initiative contains many direct and indirect benefits for native plant preservation, such as

  • Sand Creek buffer 200 feet of centerline preserved,
  • development on wetlands not allowed,
  • continuous grassland corridor preserved,
  • more restrictive hillside ordinance enacted,
  • special status species protected where found.

You can get involved to help support this initiative! Please volunteer to collect signatures for the petition that will place the initiative on the ballot for November 2018. We need 7600 Antioch voter signatures! Join and share our coalition’s Facebook group for additional announcements, such as hikes: www.facebook.com/antiochsavesandcreekandstoptheranch/

Contact us for more information on how to get involved: Outreach Chair Lesley Hunt, at ldhunt@astound.net ; Conservation Analyst Karen Whitestone, at conservation@ebcnps.org


Figure 1. How this area is currently zoned in the City of Antioch General Plan 2003

Figure 2  Four Valleys Botanical Priority Protection Area

Figure 3  Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative

Karen Whitestone
East Bay Chapter Conservation Analyst

May 2018 Conservation Report

Just exactly how “east” IS the East Bay Chapter of CNPS? If we measure by native plant communities to be enjoyed and rare plants to be cherished, we are way way east: for example most of our Botanical Priority Protection Areas (http://ebcnps.org/publications/guidebook-to-botanical-priority-protection-areas/botanical-priority-interactive-map/) are in the eastern third of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties; dozens and dozens of rare plant occurrences show up all through the east, right up to the borders with San Joaquín County (see figure). But if we measure by membership, well, right now we are a western East Bay organization: Fewer than 15 percent of our members live inland, i.e., east of the Berkeley-Oakland-San Leandro Hills.

We are working to increase our eastern membership roster because a chapter is stronger when its membership reflects its entire geographic range (and the additional members wouldn’t hurt). Adding members in the east also will result in a closer balance between the currently small number of local east-counties conservationists and the currently giant number of local east-counties conservation issues (so so many). When we have more members in an area, we have more influence.
Two initiatives this spring are facing us east:

Promoting EB-CNPS membership at east-side gardens at the May 6 Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour (https://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/) . We will have membership tables at Gardens in half the east-counties cities where the self-guided tour touches down. The Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour has been an excellent source of brand-new members for our chapter so it is exciting to deploy this recruitment tool “facing east”.
Gathering signatures for the Antioch Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative. This initiative aims to preserve most of the Four Valleys Botanical Priority Protection Area. The California Native Plant Society East Bay actively supports the “Let Antioch Voters Decide: the Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative” (check out Antioch Community to Save Sand Creek) to preserve nature, open spaces, and historic qualities of the 1800-acre area. As a member of the Antioch Community to Save Sand Creek we are working with residents and other local conservation organizations to promote zoning that would help the City of Antioch prevent suburban sprawl that destroys native plant habitat forever. The immediate goal is to qualify the initiative for the ballot. In fact, if you are interested in joining a fast-moving and well-organized crew of community members who are volunteering in Antioch to collect the signatures needed to place the initiative onto Antioch’s November ballot, while you strengthen your community and have fun, please sign up for as little as one two-hour slot between 10-6 any weekend through May 23 and you will receive training and excellent tips for a successful experience. Some weekday shifts may be available. We’ll match you up with a partner, or you can bring your own. Contact Lesley Hunt ldhunt@astound.net to volunteer.

Sally de Becker
Membership Chair

Every weekend since the first of March, volunteers from CNPS and other members of the coalition to Save Sand Creek have been gathering signatures to qualify our initiative for the November ballot. We’ve been at shopping centers, community events and meetings, and everywhere else we can think of. People react well when they hear we are volunteers.

At the same time as we are gathering signatures for our initiative, we are also reacting to a proposed development in the initiative area. Called The Ranch, it proposes more than 1000 houses with all the usual impacts on biological resources, traffic, public services, pollution, etc. Karen Whitestone, our Conservation Analyst, is writing formal comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, focusing on the biological resources that are our area of expertise. She described what’s at stake in the March Bay Leaf.

Thanks to EBCNPS, the Alameda Creek Alliance recently endorsed our initiative. If you know of any other groups east of the hills that might be willing to do the same, please let me know at ldhunt@astound.net.

Lesley Hunt
Antioch campaign liaison

Figure 1 Rare plant occurrences in eastern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, outlined in yellow.