Friday, December 27, 2013

Knowland Park

Since K is going to be out of town for a couple days, yesterday we went for a hike in Knowland Park. I'd been near it, and heard lots about it, but never explored it. It's a lovely open space near I-580, different than other parks in Oakland.

The background of the park is unusual. It's technically a state park, leased to the city of Oakland, and sub-leased to the zoo. There are beautiful views out over the bay (when it's not too hazy from a Spare the Air Day, at least), and there's a variety of wildlife found in the park. We saw several hawks circling overhead.

The western part of the park is crisscrossed with fire roads, but otherwise unimproved outside the zoo. The zoo wants to expand, and the Save Knowland Park group was formed to protect the park. There's nothing quite like it in Oakland, so it's worth preserving. There's no (easy) going back to open space once it's gone.

More pictures from Knowland Park:


Beth W. said...

I only found out about the park recently too – it’s crazy that Oakland doesn’t promote it. Knowland Park is that rare native wild land in an urban area – a legacy of the original California right here in Oakland. The views are spectacular all year round, and the hiking trails lead you into five main plant communities found in the Bay Area, uninterrupted by development.

Less than 1% of native California grasslands remain, and we have a great stand of them here in Knowland Park. They’re not at their best right now after being over-grazed by goats. But after the winter rains, the grasslands will be gorgeous again with wildflowers and large lupine patches. And then there’s the maritime chaparral – rare worldwide – with beautiful manzanitas, chamise, monkeyflowers, soap lilies and fremont’s star lily, among other gorgeous plants.

The park is seriously threatened by a poorly conceived zoo expansion plan. Who rips out rare habitat to put up buildings to talk about preserving habitat? Absurd. If you feel the same way, there are two petitions you can sign to try to save the park.

Anonymous said...

The actual state of Knowland Park is that it was given to the state some decades ago, for use as a park. The state eventually gave it to Oakland under the provision that it remain a public park. The Oakland Zoo is sited on the lowest and closest-to-highways acreage, but they have always wanted to expand their empire to include the whole park, and a sweetheart deal with the city kept the park hidden - not even on park dept. maps - until word started getting out, a few years back. Now a lot of folks see the Zoo's current plans, which include office space and paid-entry animal exhibits up in the beautiful highlands, as going too far, especially since the Zoo's park management contract with a not-for-profit corporation (East Bay Zoological Society) hides finances and planning from public scrutiny. If you care about good government, good stewardship of public trust, and the environment in general, look at the website,, and see how you can help save the park.

tc sayre said...

Thanks a lot for helping spread the word about a Park that's been called the "crown jewel" of Oakland's city parks, yet the public doesn't even know it exists. It does indeed belong to the city, according to the deed of trust, and the city doesn't "lease" it (which would imply the zoo paying to use it--in fact, it's the other way around: the public pays the zoo through county and city taxes AND through admission fees). And the naturalists have a field day in this place which is amazingly unspoiled compared to other big area parks. Believe me, if you open your eyes and discover this secret gem for yourself you will see why people have spent years fighting to preserve it so our kids can see what California once was like--before the developers on the zoo board get it. , , , ,