The endangered California least terns that nest on the old airfield at Alameda Point are well protected during their April to August nesting season. Fencing keeps people away from the 10-acre sandy nesting site, but it won’t stop other birds and mammals from getting to the eggs and the helpless chicks. Only a well-armed and outfitted predator management officer can effectively deter other animals.
Every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hires a wildlife biologist from Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Typically used for protecting crops and livestock, the agency is also hired to protect dozens of endangered species every year. The most recent field report available for Alameda Point is for 2019, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
The report describes a variety of methods used to deter or eliminate threats to the nesting terns. First, loud noises and bright flashes of light are fired from a gun to frighten away an avian predator, called hazing. Second, the wildlife biologist drives a vehicle toward an avian predator, another form of hazing. Third, predators are trapped. And fourth, as a last resort, the biologist is left with no other choice than shooting the predator with a shotgun or rifle or euthanizing.
Continue reading “Guns and Traps Used to Protect Least Terns at Alameda Point”
Despite the city’s attempts to curb large unauthorized car events on the west side of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, wimpy gates and lax security have not stopped abuses or muscle-car madness.
On October 19, 2021, the City Council voted to block off most of the auto traffic at the future De-Pave Park area. In November, yellow-painted concrete blocks were placed around the area next to the Seaplane Lagoon shoreline, which is intended for the quiet enjoyment of cyclists and walkers.
Continue reading “Security Firm Is Failing Alameda Point”
A recently released Navy document reveals that an implausible last-minute health-risk theory killed the Navy’s plan for upgrading and expanding wetlands at Alameda Point where a regional park is planned (“Navy To Create New Wetlands,” Jan. 3, 2019).
A 60-acre cleanup site, known as Site 32, was on track to include 15 acres of seasonal wetlands, along with a doubling of watershed drainage into the wetlands. The regulatory agencies overseeing cleanup — namely, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Water Board, and Department of Toxic Substances Control — had signed off on the plan in 2018. But nothing has been done since the tons of clean soil for the project were delivered there in 2019.
A support agency, the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH), interjected claims that trees, other vegetation, and burrowing animals could compromise the proposed soil cover underneath the 15 acres of proposed new wetlands, exposing people and animals to radiological contaminants from paint residue on scattered objects that have been buried there for 65 years.
Continue reading “Navy Forced to Destroy Wetlands at Alameda Point”
It was an unsightly mess that motivated concerned residents to spring into action.
About 20 volunteers showed up on Sunday morning, October 17, to pick up the blanket of litter along the western shoreline of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point. This area is a popular destination for recreational visitors, many of whom leave their trash on the ground. The city recently took steps to stop side-show activity there.
Continue reading “Volunteers clean up trash on shoreline of future De-Pave Park”
Sideshow activity and drag racing at Alameda Point has now become a weekend routine. Despite community outrage and being given a host of ideas on how to curb the activity, the city appears to be doing nothing about it. Even the private security detail is absent when needed.
The sounds of screeching tires on the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon can be heard a mile away, as plumes of white tire smoke drift away. And an afternoon of wine tasting at Building 25 on Monarch Street now comes with car-racing ambience. The sight of families riding bikes through the area has given way to cars, whose drivers prefer loud exhaust systems.
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Everything is looking up at Alameda Point rocket manufacturer Astra. Contracts to launch small satellites are up, partnerships are up, and capital investments in the company are up. And now the company is ready to expand its facility.
Astra is headquartered at 1900 Skyhawk Street in Building 360, next to the Main Street Soccer Field. The building was formerly used for repairing jet engines and is still owned by the Navy due to groundwater contamination that is undergoing remediation. Astra renovated the southern portion of the building in 2018 and 2019 under a license agreement with the City of Alameda to begin manufacturing rockets. Its rocket engines are tested in a facility across the street that was formerly used by the Navy to test jet engines.
In April 2021, the company received the go-ahead from the Navy and regulators to finish renovating Building 360 to expand rocket production. On May 25, the city issued a building permit for the northern portion of the 180,000 square-foot building.
Continue reading “Astra Rocket Factory Expanding”
Political favoritism may have affected the decision.
The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has denied the city’s request for a planning grant for DePave Park at Alameda Point (City to Seek Funding for Wetland Park at Alameda Point, Sept. 24, 2020). This ecological wetland park is proposed for the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon. The rejection letter and the agency’s ranking of applicants raise questions of fairness in awarding grants.
The Alameda City Council did not help matters when it rejected calls to include funds for a DePave Park master plan in the recently-adopted two-year budget.
In the recent round of grant awards from the Restoration Authority, Alameda’s request for $1.165 million for DePave Park planning was denied, while the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) was awarded $500,000 for designing the Hayward Marsh Restoration Project. Whether or not a 2016 campaign contribution from EBRPD to the Restoration Authority’s ballot Measure AA gave them a bump in the rankings is unclear. But the optics are not good.
Continue reading “Bay Restoration Agency Denies Funding for DePave Park”