Tesla in Botanical Priority Protection Area

By Erin McDermott, advice East Bay Chapter California Native Plant Society

Heading east on Tesla Road south of Livermore, condom one passes miles of vineyards.  Past Greenville Road, viagra 40mg the cultivation fades away as you are drawn toward the hills that embody days of old California. This is Corral Hollow, and it is wild.  One of our chapter’s Botanical Priority Protection Areas, Corral Hollow is near the northern end of the South Coast Ranges. Regionally this area is part of the Diablo Range Corridor that connects Mount Diablo, in the north, to the Mount Hamilton Range, in the west, and Cedar Mountain, to the south. Corral Hollow also provides an east/west corridor between the San Joaquin and Livermore valleys.

This area is a dry, rocky, and steep place covered with brush, oaks, and scattered pines and rock outcrops. The rolling grassy hills offer sweeps of wildflowers in the spring while accents of lush riparian valleys filled with sycamores and cottonwoods provide shaded respites in the hot summer months. Looking upward, you might encounter a soaring hawk or golden eagle.

Late spring brings dry parched hills with wilting temperatures but also provides the opportunity to find secret gems like the scrub sentinel, Hospital Canyon larkspur (Delphinium californicum ssp. interius), poking its towering inflorescences out of the top of the sagebrush; the armored yet delicate Santa Clara thorn-mint (Acanthomintha lanceolata) in flower on hot dry, steep, loose, talus slopes; and stands of flowering purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) with their twisted awns waving in the wind.

In the not-so-distant past Native Americans inhabited the valley where bedrock mortars are a gentle reminder of their presence here. Corral Hollow contained the hamlet of Tesla and its associated coal mine, which supplied most of the coal used in the Bay Area from about 1902 to 1915.  At one point the town had as many as 1,500 residents. There are flat areas where buildings were once located whose only remaining living residents are the non-native trees that were planted here. Mining spoils and tunnels are still present on the landscape.

For all the botanical wonder and joy tCorral ?Hollow provides there is also disappointment. The Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area is a shared experience. The State purchased adjacent lands including Corral Hollow using funds that were generated by fees paid by OHV users. Now the State wants to expand OHV use into this pristine area. This means that Corral Hollow and Tesla may be open to motorcycle use in the near future, a change which would compromise the solitude and wildness of this natural resource time capsule.

For more information about the flora of the Tesla parklnad area go to the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society at www.ebcnps.org.

Note: This article is an excerpt from the upcoming Guide to the Botanical Priority Protection Areas of Alameda and Contra Costa County by Heath Bartosh, Lech Naumovich and Laura Baker, published by the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and supported in part by grants from the Rose and Tides Foundations.  The chapter has established 15 Botanical Priority Protections Areas in the two-county region.  These BPPAs represent areas of highest botanical diversity which are also threatened by human impact. The guide includes maps, photos, descriptions of sensitive native plant species, and impressions by guest authors who are botanists familiar with each BPPA.  Erin McDermott contributed this guest author piece to the Corral Hollow section. She is the Chair of the East Bay Chapter’s Vegetation Committee and is a member of the State CNPS Vegetation Committee.