State unveils potential expansion plan for Carnegie
by Bob Brownne
Jun 14, 2013 | 5607 views | 7 7 comments | 585 585 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Plans to expand Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area come as good news to off-road motorcycle riders who want more access to the hills southwest of Tracy, and bad news to people who want to prevent the potential ecological damage that more riders could cause.

About 200 people showed up Monday to browse maps and ask questions about three options for the expanded park. One plan allows off-road vehicles limited access to the expansion area, another would create more trails leading through the hills and ridgetops, and another considers the same intensity of use as the existing park.

Both sides of the debate came to a workshop hosted by the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division on Monday, June 10, in Tracy High School’s cafeteria.

The topic was the state’s plan for 3,478 acres in Alameda County, which could be added to the existing 1,540-acre Carnegie off-road vehicle park.

The California State Parks department’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation division bought the Tesla-Alamada expansion area in a series of purchases between 1996 and 1998. The state paid for the land through the OHMVR Trust Fund, which is supported by gasoline taxes and state-required registration fees for off-road vehicles.

The expansion area remains closed to the public even though the state has started, and shelved, two previous environmental studies in 2000 and 2004.

Supporters of new trails said 15 years of waiting is long enough.

Mark Speed of Hayward said the debate between motorcycle riders and environmentalists can go on endlessly.

“It’s going to be a fight for the rest of our lives, to be able to do what we enjoy doing,” he said. “We’ve had to jump through enough hoops with the environmental stuff.”

He added that he and his three sons, now adults, always appreciated having a park set aside for motorcycles and other off-road vehicles.

“They love nature just as much as the next person,” he said. “If you’re a true environmentalist would it not make more sense to have (riders) in one area, and let them stay there where it can be maintained?”

Randy Caldera, acting superintendent at Carnegie, explained that Monday’s meeting is a step in the creation of a state-mandated environmental impact report (EIR).

The study will spell out how new motorcycle trails would affect the flora and fauna on the south side of Corral Hollow Canyon. The report could be ready for public review by the end of November.

“There will be some form of motorcycle use in all the concepts. The EIR should iron that out, to what extent that’s going to be,” Caldera said.

The expansion area includes the site of the former coal mining town of Tesla, which thrived in the decade between 1897 and 1907. Remnants of the town include foundations of the industrial structures, large mounds of the mine tailings and an abandoned mine shaft, sealed off with an iron gate. The state plans to keep that site off-limits to off-road vehicles.

Opponents to the plan include Mark Connolly, who is the fourth generation on his family’s 9,000 acre ranch next to Carnegie. He said the state hasn’t considered other uses for the land, such as the potential for East Bay Regional Park District to manage the land.

“There should be an alternative which is a non-OHV (off-highway vehicle) use park, such as a passive use park -- equestrian, hiking -- and that can be funded by other sources,” Connolly said.

Karen Schambach, coordinator of California Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the state doesn’t seem willing to pursue options that exclude motorcycle trails.

“Then they’d have to admit that they screwed up when they bought the property without doing due diligence or any investigation into whether this was suitable for OHV,” she said.

Ole Stortroen of Danville said he is confident the state can find a compromise that allows motorcycle trails. He was part of the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area Advisory Committee when that park in San Benito County expanded 11 years ago, after settling a lawsuit from neighbors.

“Some people still aren’t happy because they don’t care for motorized recreation,” he said.

“The mission of the Off-Highway Vehicle Division is to provide more opportunities, but also to take care of the land in an environmental way,” Stortroen said. “Hollister Hills is a great place that showcases what can be done to protect that land.”

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or
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July 02, 2013
Preserve the sacred mine tailings??????

Of 280 State parks only 8 allow OHV recreation. It seems more than appropriate to expand OHV recreation opportunities. It's not even a new park, it's expanding an exiting OHV park into an abandoned coal mine/town. OHVs will be a lot easier on the local environment than coal mining was.
June 14, 2013
Correction: The Independent [not Tracy Press], on May 31, 2013 stated: ...

June 14, 2013
Mark Conolly,

Two things:

1. Why should the East Bay Regional Park District to manage the land? The current agreement allows for cleaning up the park. The only reasoning I can see for that nonsense, is if you have planned this as a way to shut the park down? Is that your reason for suggesting this park management change? From 30,000 feet, what you suggested doesn't sound like a good idea. Can you explain? And if not, why?

2. Did Celeste refer to the area as "residential" in a recent article in the Pleasanton paper? If you plan to build homes there why not put the horses away from homes and traffic?

I have a few more questions. Is there any goal to shut the park down? I.e is it, or has it ever been, your goal to build homes? Have you ever approached the San Joaquin County with a proposal (or otherwise) to build a housing development there?

Are you at liberty to discuss here or not?

Thanks in advance for any response!
June 14, 2013
There should be warning signs all throughout Corral Hollow in the canyon: DANGER! DANGER! Do not trust the Connolly's!
June 14, 2013
AppleJak asks: 2. Did Celeste refer to the area as "residential" in a recent article in the Pleasanton paper?

The Tracy Press, on May 31, 2013 stated: ... Celeste Garamendi, a founding member of Friends of Tesla Park, in an interview. “If you bought land in a residential subdivision, that doesn’t mean you could put a gas station there.”

So, NO, AppleJak, Celeste did not refer to the area as "residential" in that paper. Is this intended as disinformation from you, or do you have some other source that raises your question #2, perhaps ?

June 14, 2013
@pfaortp: Why on earth would anyone build a residential subdivision next to motorcycles? Do you think building a residential subdivision is going to make friends of Tesla Park? Why not move residential eastward where there is more infrastructure?
June 14, 2013
I don't read it that way PFAorTP. I think it sounds like a Freudian slip when the spokeswoman for the group that opposes Tesla OHV Park creates a group called "Friends of Tesla Park" and references the same geographic region as "residential"? And what? You disagree?

Another question. How do you get $10,000 state gaming permits (Plural) from the state of CA when your brother is John Garamendi, the ProTem Governor of California?

Any idea?

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