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Message for LBNL: Consider Alternatives to Creek Infill

Tuesday July 29, 2003

The following letters were addressed to Jeff Philliber, environmental planning coordinator, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: 


I am writing on behalf of the Ecology Center in Berkeley to provide comments on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Notice of Preparation, Draft Focused, Tiered Environmental Impact Report on the Construction and Operation of Building 49 and G-4 Parking Lot. 

The Ecology Center strongly objects to this project in its current form. Particularly problematic is the portion of the project that would dispose of excavated soil by filling in the riparian corridor known as “Cafeteria Creek.” The project appears to be in violation of Berkeley’s Creek Ordinance and would destroy sensitive riparian  

habitat for wildlife such as deer and bird species, and remove large, mature native trees. Cafeteria Creek is a rare and valuable stretch of unaltered riparian habitat and an important and natural tributary to Strawberry Creek. 

We believe that the proposed building site would produce excessive amounts of soil because of the steep slope on which the building would be constructed. We suggest that LBNL choose another, flatter site that does not require excavating a hillside, and that would generate less soil. Further, we suggest choosing a different method for soil disposal, such as delivering it to a disposal company for reuse as clean fill. 

Additionally, the area to be filled by the parking lot includes several coast live oaks, supports considerable bird life and is threaded with deer paths. We would suggest that LBNL find alternatives to building another parking lot. Rather than relying on increased parking capacity and increased single occupancy vehicular traffic to meet transportation needs, we would suggest increasing carpooling efforts and providing increased shuttle services. 

Since there are feasible alternatives to destroying this riparian corridor, we ask that you revise your project plan accordingly. 

Martin Bourque 

Executive Director 

Ecology Center 



I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Baxter Creek (FOBC), a 950-member-plus organization whose mission is to preserve, restore, protect and advocate for Baxter Creek and neighboring watersheds. FOBC believes that protecting creeks is essential to the livability of our community. Our Web site can be found at  

FOBC objects to the proposed project to construct an office building and parking lot and dispose of the fill from construction by burying a natural-flowing creek. People who know the creek say that it runs much of the year, that its banks are densely vegetated with riparian plants and mature coastal live oaks, and that it supports abundant wildlife by providing water, shade and food, and creating a natural habitat corridor. As we understand it, the project is proposed on a steep slope that would necessitate substantial grading and fill, and could likely create soil instability and drainage problems in the area.  

Environmental analysis of the project should emphasize the many benefits to wildlife that creeks and the surrounding natural areas provide. To cite just a few examples, migrating songbirds use creeks in urbanized areas to stop and refuel. In its Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay (Region 2) published June 21, 1995, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region, states that the two most important types of wildlife habitat are riparian and wetlands habitats. According to the California Oak Foundation, many species of animals rely on oak woodlands for their sustenance.  

FOBC believes that alternatives exist to the proposed construction and fill in the creek and destruction of adjacent oak woodlands. Sites that have existing buildings capable of being renovated or expanded, or sites that would involve less grading and destruction of vegetation and wildlife should be chosen over a site with a natural-flowing vegetated creek and surrounding habitat corridor.  

Caitlin Smith 

El Cerrito