In addition to its rich history, Tesla Park has rich natural resources. Tesla Park is located in the upland Coastal Mountain Range between Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton. As part of the Diablo Range from the north and Mount Hamilton Range from the south, Tesla Park is an important link in the preservations efforts in the region. The area is primarily Blue Oak woodland, mountain savannah grassland, scrub sage and riparian woodlands with scenic ridge tops and dramatic canyons feeding into Corral Hollow Creek which drains into the San Joaquin River system. Tesla Park includes land along the Tri-Valley watershed and a portion of the park drains into the Arroyo Seco and Alameda Creek. Its ridge tops provide commanding views of the Central Valley, Sierras, Mount Diablo and the southern coast range toward Mount Hamilton. In its own right it is truly a naturally scenic area that should be preserved.
Tesla Park supports an unexpectedly wide range of sensitive wildlife and plant species, many of which are threatened, rare and managed such as California Red Legged Frog, Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog, California Tiger Salamander, Western Spadefoot Toad and Tule Elk. The level of biological diversity is unique with 50 LISTED species documented on site and over 80 more LISTED species expected based on known habitats and sightings on neighboring property. The area, for example, is considered to support one of the most diverse vertebrate populations in the region and has been a field study area for UC Berkeley and other universities since the 1940s.
The geologic zone where the Tesla coal mines were located is special to paleontologists as well. Referred to as the Tesla Formation, the coal, sand and clay deposits were laid down during the Eocene when the area was a tropical forest. Numerous hardwood and evergreen fossils dating back millions of years have been found at Tesla and are housed at the UCB Paleontology Museum. One specimen, a palm frond fossil, is dated at 45-50 million years old.
There are many factors that promote the biological diversity in Tesla Park and the Corral Hollow Canyon. Tesla Park is in the transition area between biotic zones where many species exist at the outmost extent of their range. Tesla Park is in the large Corral Hollow Creek watershed, the primary water source feeding its plant and wildlife diversity. As part of the Diablo Range, Tesla Park serves as a critical east-west and north-south habitat corridor along the upland Coastal Mountain Range. Tesla Park represents a large intact native landscape and wild land that has been softly touched, except for grazing and historic mining activity of over 100 years ago.
The important natural diversity of Tesla Park has been identified by many other govenrnment and preservation organizations. Land use in the Corral Hollow Canyon is now focused in preservation not development. Expansion of Carnegie SVRA would damage these regional preservation efforts.
Some of recognition Tesla Park has received as a priority preservation area includes:
- The East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has designated Tesla Park as one of its top Botanical Priority Protection Areas.
- All conservation priority for Zone 10 of the East Alameda County Conservation Strategy is contained and represented within Tesla Park.
- There is a high concentration of California Tiger Salamander and California Red Legged Frog sightings in Tesla Park, plus other important species, as documented in the California Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB)
- The State Natural Resources Agency has identified Blue Oak woodlands, of which Tesla Park is largely comprised, as one of its targeted preservation objectives.
- Conservation Lands Network has identified the Tesla Park area as a Critical Linkage habitat corridor.
- Tule Elk range in the Corral Hollow Canyon and on Tesla Park with CDFW oversight, including under the Private Lands Management Program.
- Tesla Park is within the Diablo Mountains (Ohlone) Golden Eagle range which has the largest concentration of Golden Eagle nesting pairs in the United States
- Tesla Park serves as an important raptor migratory corridor and foraging buffer for the Altamont Pass Wind Energy Resource Area.
- Department of Fish and Game and Contra Costa Water District have established preserves and conservation easements in the Corral Hollow Canyon.
- Several private land owners have established conservation easements for San Joaquin kit fox and other threatened species in the Corral Hollow Canyon area.
- USFWS is undertaking a reintroduction project for the federally endangered Large Flowered Fiddle Neck plant which is located only in Corral Hollow Canyon.
For more about the important natural resource conservation goals Tesla Park serves, see the following links:
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