Knowland Park, Oakland Hills

Last month, we posted a news item on our Facebook page about the Oakland Zoo. See here for the posting: https://www.facebook.com/EastBayDaily/posts/164745393718040

We made a Facebook connection with Elise R. Bernstein who commented on the posting but started a discussion about the Oakland Zoo’s apparent expansion plans. Ms. Bernstein is a proponent of Knowland Park and is opposed to the zoo’s expansion because she believes expansion will harm the wildlife.

Ms. Bernstein was reasonable in her arguments, invited us to visit Knowland Park and even graciously offered a guided tour.

We ended up visiting Knowland park on our own. Here are our pictures of Knowland Park which is in the hills of Oakland, California:

At the risk of losing Ms. Bernstein as a Facebook “friend”, we must say that Knowland Park is in dire need of development or at least a dramatic restoration.

We found Knowland Park to be a barren wasteland with not much wildlife.

This was not what we expected when we visited, so we were quite disappointed with this difficult to access “park”. No parking, restrooms etc.

However if you take a look at the pictures, the true value of Knowland Park is in its beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay Area! From Knowland Park we could see Oakland and even San Francisco. We saw the Oakland airport on the clear Saturday of our visit.

Once we reflected on this, we tend to now believe that the residents of the surrounding community would not want their views obstructed by zoo or any other development for that matter. The zoo would probably present some unique challenges for the residents because any reasonable family that paid for such great views from their backyard would probably not want to smell the stench of elephant dung during dinner. And we are sure that the noise from caged wildlife could be problematic.

So this is a difficult situation for the homeowners whose home values could be affected as a result of zoo expansion. But it would be a huge boost for the zoo as they upscale their visitor base.

To say that an expansion into Knowland Park would elevate the Zoo to a prime time venue is an understatement.

To say that any development of Knowland would endanger wildlife is an overstatement. There simply is nothing there. Knowland, no water, no squirrels, no foxes and definitely no snakes.

Only one skittish deer passing by and two or three small lizards with no place to hide…

With all this said, we are not advocating the expansion of the Oakland Zoo as their board of directors seem to not have garnered the support of the surrounding community. Certainly zoo officials should open up dialog and propose an expansion plan that solicits the input of area residents. This process may have been started already, but according to Ms. Bernstein, consensus was achieved many years ago and the new plans do not match today’s reality.

In all fairness to the proponents of SaveKnowland, Knowland Park was probably razed of any vegetation in order to avoid fire hazards. East Bay area residents know, all too well, about the devastating fires of years past in the Oakland Hills.

And the residents who may want to preserve their luxurious views, certainly do not want wildfires destroying their homes. Open spaces like Knowland Park certainly could use development or at least some green restoration. But as it stands right now, it is quite unattractive and not adequately suited for visitation by humans… and apparently wildlife.

Here is a link to the Save Knowland website: http://www.saveknowland.org/

All the best to the residents of the area surrounding Knowland Park. We like it when true environmentalists slay money hungry goliaths.

2 thoughts on “Knowland Park, Oakland Hills

  1. Elise R. Bernstein

    I thank you for following up our East Bay Daily FB discussion with a visit to Knowland Park and for sharing your impressions. Yes, indeed, in the heat of summer, when maybe 2000 goats have grazed every bit of greenery, including the roots of grasses and flowers, it is a wasteland. Save Knowland Park volunteers are participants in a group of city-wide park volunteers talking with the Oakland Fire Department about managing the goats better so as not to destroy the native vegetation, and I’m hopeful. And yes, the bare, mineral soil provides no shelter for any wildlife. As soon as any little animal tried to make a run, a hawk or owl would be right on them. But off to the side of the meadows, down the trail to the right which also houses a cell-phone building, there is thick and beautiful evergreen sheltered brush. There the most significant area is the rare imperiled marine chaparral which does still shelter little critters, including the Alameda Whipsnake, a protected species. Occasionally we still see coyotes, fox, deer, and evidence of mountain lion kills to remind us of their continued hunting along the skyline ridge to adjoining parks. Nighttime cameras work amazingly to document the animals’ hunting at night.
    It’s interesting that you should mention “no water”. Yes, it’s dry in the summer. But in the spring there is a flooded oasis area where I’ve even seen a Great Blue Heron. I understand that there used to be a watering hole at a main intersection of trails, but the Zoo bulldozed it in, to allow their trucks easier passage, I guess. The Zoo has responsibility for managing Knowland Park, but they seem to see it only as future expansion space and provide no care.
    Knowland Park clearly needs improved care. The only Knowland Park maintenance and control of weeds is done by Save Knowland volunteers. From March through July 2013, 14 individuals spent a total of over 135 hours wrenching invasive weeds form the trails bordering the rare imperiled maritime chaparral. We also removed about 25 large trash bags of invasive plant seed pods when it was too dusty to wrench them out by the roots. We will continue to provide this basic weed control to allow the native plants a better chance of survival.
    Visit SaveKnowland.org and https://www.facebook.com/saveknowlandpark.
    Both sites have wonderful photos of the green, flowering seasons. I hope that you return after the rains begin and certainly in the first few months of the year for the full display. I love your final comment. “We like it when true environmentalists slay money hungry goliaths.” This wild open free space is for all of us to cherish and enjoy.
    Thank you.

  2. Madame X

    I read your ignorant article about visiting Knowland Park that was posted Sept. 2013. From which concrete jungle do you come? You have know idea what treasures Knowland Park holds. you don’t live around the area so you have absolutely no idea the variety of animals that exist and the poplulations of these animals. Those that live near and around the park see all kind of animals (large – small, mammalian, avian and reptilian. You’re so smug. YOu make me sick whoever the hell you are.

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