Petition Delivered: Thanks to all of you who helped us get more than 2100 signatures on our petition urging the US Fish & Wildlife Service to deny regulatory permits for the expansion project. The petitions were delivered to their offices in Sacramento (with copies to the state Fish and Wildlife agency as well) last week (photos of our dedicated volunteers delivering them are on our website HERE). Now we have to wait and see. But the best thing was hearing so many messages of support. The petition is still open for additional signatures, so if you missed signing it, please do so at https://www.change.org/petitions/save-knowland-park-protect-oakland-s-largest-wildland-park-from-a-destructive-development
We were so moved by the numerous people who took the time to add comments when they signed the petition, including many coming from people elsewhere in the country who grew up here or lived here before and remembered (and loved) Knowland Park. We think you will be inspired by them, too, so we’ve included a small selection at the bottom of this message—it’s easy to see how passionate people are about protecting this special place.
For example, a woman who now lives in Tucson but grew up in California said: “Most of what I loved so much [about California] has been destroyed, for what? The misnomer ‘progress'”. There is always another way to accomplish what we think we need. Please allow the park to be.”
From Illinois: “Seems enlarging the zoo is an entertainment of living animals and this planet needs us to stop entertaining ourselves at the expense of other living things. Our existing wild natural areas are treasures to be preserved.” See more comments at the end of this article and on the petition site via the link above!
Knowland Park is in its dry season now, and to the untrained observer (especially after the goats grazed it down to bare mineral soil), the park may appear a bit desolate and spare. Some people who don’t really look closely say “there’s nothing there.” But hikers now report regularly seeing the coyotes and foxes who are drawn to the easier hunting, and after just a wee bit more rain, we will begin to see hints of the glorious, achingly lovely velvet green that softly blankets the hills during the wet time. Then the tadpoles will reappear in the puddles not yet bulldozed away, the ancient “fairy ring” of puffball mushrooms will reappear, the rare wildflowers will bloom again on the hills and down the ridges. Knowland Park remains alive and wonderful. Help us keep it that way!
Big News! Friends of Knowland Park has just learned that our fiscal sponsor, the California Native Plant Society, will be awarded a grant from the Stout Foundation for our new joint campaign to educate the public about Knowland Park and its many natural resources that are threatened by the zoo’s expansion plans. The grant is substantial, but we still need to raise about $3000 more to launch and sustain our campaign. Can you chip in to help? Every single dollar goes toward our efforts to spread the word. We are heading down the home stretch now in our efforts to save the Park and stave off this terrible expansion plan, because the zoo continues to insist that if it gets the “kill” permits it needs from the wildlife regulators, it will start the bulldozers. We have to mobilize even more public opposition, and fast! Use the Donate button on our website at http://www.saveknowland.org/donate/ or send checks to our Treasurer, Lee Ann Smith, 111 Shadow Mountain, Oakland, CA 94605
More Petition Comments:
From North Carolina: “It speaks to what’s happening in so many areas: development over the health of other species and the land.”
St Louis, MO: “Why would you want to replace a natural habitat with an artificial zoo?”
Even international supporters of open space weighed in! From Colombia: “Necesitamos más parques naturales y menos centros comerciales.”
From closer to home, a Ukiah supporter wrote: “I like zoos and I like Oakland and I like wildland. Oakland needs that wildland a lot more than it needs to have a zoo put on top of it.”
Costa Mesa: “We need to preserve California’s natural flora and fauna. We shouldn’t displace one species to exploit another.”
Hayward: “This plan would destroy native plants and disrupt a very important wild animal corridor for so many creatures whose habitats have been severely compromised by development in what was their habitats.”
San Francisco: “This unexpected piece of rambling undeveloped land in the middle of Oakland blows me away, and feels unlike even the other major East Bay parks. Its pristine and unbroken expanse is invaluable.”
A Berkeley woman wrote: “Zoos are supposed to help us appreciate animals, but if they don’t help us appreciate our local animals as well, then I cannot support them. I was a zoo member as a part of a family membership but let my membership go this last June when it came up for renewal, primarily because of this expansion project and the zoo’s unwillingness to keep the currently non-developed portions of Knowland park for native species.”
Some were even more assertive about rethinking the role of zoos in our times. A Park supporter from San Francisco said, “Stop it!!!! Zoos teach an acceptance of animal slavery– not an appreciation of the animals in their wild habitats. Why displace animals simply to put displaced animals in their place?!?!?”
Palo Alto: “Open space is rare and valuable. All organizations should do their best to minimize impact on natural and semi-natrual spaces. The Zoo is clearly not.”
Oakland: “We can’t afford more loss of habitat, which is the #1 reason species are declining. It’s ironic that the zoo is doing this… destroying the places where animals live naturally to create man-made habitat for them?! Sounds like BS to me.”
San Francisco: “Kill wildlife to make money on penned up animals? Seriously? Stop the ridiculousness now!”
Knowland Park’s rare beauty was appreciated by so many:
Oakland: “I have hiked in Knowland Park – it is an exquisite protected piece of open space – to expand the zoo with the intention of bringing animal awareness by taking away natural animal habitat is absurd.”
Oakland: “I visit this special space often even though it is not especially near where I live. The space was dedicated to ALL of the people of Oakland, not to the Oakland Zoo as a fiefdom. Oakland needs this unfenced, untamed plot of land so we can remember what California once looked like–grass, trees, WILD animals, sky, peace.”
Oakland: “The zoo should use its existing space more wisely and leave the environmentally sensitive open space as it is. There are not many precious grasslands like this left.”
Oakland: “We don’t need buildings and displays to educate us about habitat conservation – we need to do it right here, right now!”
Thanks for all you do for the Park!