Editors, Daily Planet:
Letters to the Daily Planet criticizing and mourning the destruction of the meadow in Eastshore State Park must have hit a nerve to evoke two heavy hitter articles from the powers that be, among them Mayor Bates, various environmental organizations, and the East Bay Regional Parks District (Daily Planet, Sept. 24-27).
Since I’m one of the critic-mourners, I think what’s at issue is important enough to respond to meadow-destruction rationales advanced in the articles. Please remember that the background is that the meadow was a thriving, blooming natural habitat, home to many bird species (including redwing blackbirds, finches, crows), wild geese, rabbits, ground squirrels, snakes, and an insect universe. It was managed solely by nature. If you go see what it looks like now, bring your hankies.
The spokesperson for the Regional Parks District presents like a mantra the removal of non-native plants in the meadow as a rationale for its destruction. However, nature distributes life forms by any means necessary to wherever a niche for survival can be found. Bird droppings, air currents, animal skins etc. are carriers. Thus on-going disbursal ensures diversity and an invigoration of existing ecosystems.
The standard for the meadow could be, not is it native or not, but does the existing ecosystem provide natural habitat for many species. If this standard is accepted as just as valid, then the argument for “restoring” the meadow falls apart.
Nextly, before the destruction of the meadow, pedestrian and dog traffic through it was limited to the rugged few. Most dog walkers and pedestrians stuck to the adjacent road. The meadow’s natural design protected it from human invasion. That’s why the meadow was teeming with life.
However, the proposed installation of four eight-feet-wide “interior trails” of wheelchair-inaccessible (!) gravel, from each corner of the meadow, and the increased traffic these trails will encourage, guarantee that the meadow will cease to exist as a meadow. We will soon have an imitation meadow, a developed, landscaped area, dominated by people not wildlife, with two information buildings in it at each end, where once a real, live meadow used to be. I can’t understand how e.g. Save the Bay can support it.
We are told though that “nesting locations for the Northern harrier will be protected with fencing.” Pray that the harrier will follow the signs to its designated fenced-in spot. Where is the concern for the plentiful life that lived in the meadow?
Additionally, the hearings on park plans held two years ago are referred to in the articles tellingly without any mention of the large vocal lobby who argued at many meetings against developing the meadow and for leaving it intact as a natural sanctuary. Our participation in the “process” was a charade without any impact whatsoever. The state and city decided what they were going to do from the beginning, and for their own reasons.
Finally, the meta-message coming across is that natural creation wasn’t/isn’t good enough for the decision makers. As far as the meadow is concerned, they argue they can improve on what nature did and do a better job. After all, they are the experts.