Hismet Warup, a State Park Reserve: Ten Good Reasons Why

A light crunch, crunch, crunch. My shoes remind me that I am treading on soft earth punctuated with small stones left by long gone streams marking the trail. Soft winds agitate the leaves and trigger a peep from an overhead eagle nest. Urban noise does not interrupt my tranquility, and I keep walking to… where? No goals, just wander among the native gardens, and I am here. This is ‘Hismet Warep, Sacred Earth’, commonly known as Tesla, and my trek is just a Vision, but could be, will be a reality with care and concern.

10 Reasons Why a Tesla Reserve

By Nancy Rodrigue, Friends of Tesla Park

  • A different experience can await visitors to this little-known oasis, a getaway from urban noise, traffic and commerce.  With a Reserve classification, Tesla will provide access for low impact activities such as hiking, birdwatching, nature photography, natural and cultural resource interpretative trails and tours.
  • Numerous Sacred Native American archeological and ceremonial sites spread across Tesla cannot be parsed out from the whole. The total context of the natural and cultural landscape and its relation to neighboring public parks such as Brushy Peak, Morgan Territory and Mt. Diablo must be preserved as an integral part of Native American history. The public experience at Tesla will focus on the relationship and experience of Indigenous People with the land. Protection of the many cultural sites and the entire surrounding natural landscape will be a priority. The Reserve will be named “Hismet Warep”, meaning “Sacred Earth.”
  • There is no greater opportunity to educate school children on the intricacies of Native American life than with real on-site experiences, as a complement book learning. The Tesla Reserve public experience will be organized around the relationship and experience of Indigenous People with the land, and their cultural heritage. Similarly, Tesla will be a field classroom for biological study.
  • The public minimal-impact experience will also provide exposure to exceptional rare natural resources that will be fully preserved for public enjoyment, education and research. Tesla sits at a site where bioregions converge. It is a richly biodiverse area that has drawn naturalists, ecologists, zoologists, and other life scientists to that land for nearly 100 years to study nature and natural systems. It is home to at least 50 special status wildlife species, including the threatened California red legged frog, the Alameda whipsnake, and endangered Foothill yellow-legged frog.
  • Tesla’s location makes it a bottleneck through a critical wildlife corridor from Mt. Diablo south to the Hamilton and the Diablo Ranges. Degradation of the land with high impact recreation would choke off movements of animals and the flow of genes necessary for resilience of their populations throughout the Mt. Diablo habitat region. These small to large animal species are sensitive to noise, fast-moving objects and crowds. Surveys of Carnegie SVRA and Tesla show that tule elk, mountain lions do not range into the SVRA, but are present throughout Tesla.
  • Over 32 rare native plants and many more locally rare plants and sensitive vegetation communities are found in every part of Tesla Park. Tesla’s faunal and floristic richness arises in part from its location at the junction of the Coast Range and San Joaquin Desert influences. A recent UCB botanical analysis for native plant conservation identified the area where Tesla is located as among the top conservation priorities for California. Low-impact uses and careful planning will protect Tesla’s extensive sensitive resources and offer information to the public about their significance.
  • Birders in the Bay area and the San Joaquin Valley will identify, count and preserve the native avian community. Golden Eagles have been spotted here nesting and foraging. Birds have built their nests in the trees of Tesla as it provides a safe and quiet place unavailable in the local urban area and free of dangerous windmills.
  • The historical 19th and 20th century mining town of Tesla will guide visitors to imagine the active life and events of the time matching archive photographs of the historical town to the locations of former buildings, mine structures and roads and rail lines seen on the interpretive trails. An active town in its era, Tesla was larger than its sister town of Livermore, with a hotel, church, school.  Visitor center exhibits will be an inspiration to school children, historians and all visitors.
  • As a Reserve, low impact and educational activities will complement preservation of rare California native plants and wildlife, cultural and historical sites, with respect and stewardship for the entire natural environment. Higher impact activities such as mountain/e-biking, multi-use trails, camping, drones, geocaching, and rock collection can be available in other California State Parks property, including neighboring Carnegie SVRA, other property State Parks owns adjacent to Tesla, Del Valle Regional State Park or Mt. Diablo State Park.
  • Tesla Park wildlands must be protected in their undisturbed natural state for visitors to experience and learn about their wonders and to preserve an exceptionally intact ecosystem emblematic of this part of California. It will be the only Reserve in the State Parks Diablo Range District.  Fully protecting Tesla as a Reserve is an exciting opportunity to provide a unique public experience in a way that encompasses the Native American experience and does not interfere, damage or modify the natural and scenic beauty of this land. It will keep Tesla as Hismet Warup, Sacred Earth forever.

“Hismet Warep Horsetka” means “Sacred Earth in Harmony” in the Chochenyo language of the East Bay Ohlone people. It has been identified by Indigenous leaders as the name for the Tesla Reserve.