Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Oakland Zoo has secured final permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers for its much-anticipated California Trail Exhibit. These permits, following final Oakland City Council approval of a conservation easement for the project, are the last steps to move the project forward.
“Oakland Zoo is poised to deliver on its promise to Oakland and the Bay Area through the California Trail Exhibit,” said Nik Dehejia, the Zoo’s Chief Financial Officer and Project Director for the California Trail Exhibit. “The project is a thoughtfully designed unique nature education project that will allow visitors to experience grizzly bears, bison, and grey wolves. It will also give guests the opportunity to learn about how humans can successfully co-exist with mountain lions and black bears, and understand the remarkable story of the California condor,” Dehejia added. This expansion will provide new opportunities for students, families, scientists, researchers, and others to learn, appreciate, and feel compassion for California’s wildlife.
Following more than ten public hearings, multiple community and neighborhood meetings, an exhaustive environmental review, as well as voter approval and funding for the project, Oakland Zoo is elated to receive final permits for the California Trail Exhibit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on December 10, 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on December 18, 2014, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers on December 24, 2014.
“The conservation easement required by these resource agencies will greatly improve habitat conditions for the Alameda whipsnake,” said Jim Martin of Environmental Collaborative, the lead biologist for the California Trail Exhibit. “The proposed habitat management activities are proven practices for protecting and enhancing Alameda whipsnake habitat and improving habitat values for other native wildlife.”
Through the California Trail Exhibit, the Zoo will continue its leadership role in wildlife conservation. Today, the Zoo operates a state-of-the-art LEED Gold Veterinary Hospital, providing care, conservation, and research of Zoo animals and critically endangered species, such as the California condor, Western pond turtle, and mountain yellow-legged frog. As part of the California Trail Exhibit’s habitat protection and conservation plans, the Zoo will protect the endangered Alameda Whipsnake and other species in Knowland Park, ensuring wildlife is better protected than it is today.
“With more than $60M secured in public/private funding for the California Trail Exhibit, including $7M from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Oakland Zoo is ready to break ground this year,” says Dehejia.
“The California Trail Exhibit strikes the right balance between conservation and recreation, facilitating the future of one Knowland Park. More than 75% (375 acres) of Knowland Park remains open space for dog walkers, hikers, and others who wish to enjoy the Park, while providing access for thousands to view the twenty acres of animal and educational exhibits,” said Ken Benson, Oakland resident and long-time neighbor at the footsteps of Knowland Park and the Zoo.
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 525-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.