Oct 14 2007

Recent Developments Burrowing Owl Habitat Project at the Albany Plateau

Published by at 1:11 pm under Homeless,Owl Habitat


City of Albany Report: City of Albany City Council Agenda Staff Report
Background: During the planning process for Eastshore State Park from 1999 through 2002, the demonstration of community need for sports fields led to the designation of the eastern side of the Albany Plateau an “active recreation” land use category. This was problematic because of its proximity to the Albany Mudflats State Marine Sanctuary and because State Parks is not in the practice of operating formal sports fields facilities.

In 2004, the City of Berkeley commenced with a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the Gilman Street Playing Fields project in Berkeley… historical sightings of burrowing owl were found at the southwestern portion of the Gilman site as recently as March 21, 2004, which triggered burrowing owl protocol surveys for three years.

The proposed burrowing owl habitat area consists of ruderal scrub and grassy areas with small concrete debris piles left over from prior use as the City of Albany municipal landfill.

On April 3, 2006, the Albany City Council approved the establishment of an 8.8 acre burrowing owl habitat on a portion of the 20.6 acre Albany Plateau at Eastshore State Park. On May 23, 2006, the East Bay Regional Park District Board granted “Approval of the Albany Plateau Burrowing Owl Mitigation Project, and Authorization to Execute an Agreement to Construct the Mitigation Project and Accept Maintenance Funds from the

City of Albany (Resource Enhancement Program): Eastshore State Park.”

In July 2006, staff presented a report to the City Council informing it of the District Board action, and a determination by Albany staff that the burrowing owl project was categorically exempt from CEQA. A Notice of Exemption was filed with the Alameda
County Clerk.

During the spring and summer of 2007, the staff from Albany and Berkeley worked with
the Park District staff to develop a land use agreement and construction plans for the
burrowing owl habitat project.

Features of the plan include the following:
• 8.1 acres of low-lying grassland enclosed by a perimeter fence located in the northeast portion of the Plateau (Note: The prior plan showed 8.8 acres; size of habitat area was modified to utilize the existing paths, enhance the public’s
enjoyment of the area, and reduce the amount of grading and disruption ofexisting habitat.)
• Perimeter fence – 4’ in height (fence to be raised 4” to 6” off the ground to allow for wildlife passage)
• Four entrance gates for mowing and emergency access purposes
• Three burrows created from salvaged rock and soil as directed by the City’s wildlife biologist.
• A 40-ft wide grassland and service path buffer (located outside the fenced area) for walking and District maintenance/emergency vehicles. Minor grading will benecessary in some areas to improve the road surface.
• Interpretive sign near the main entrance to the Plateau per District specifications. Additional “habitat enhancement” signs will be installed on the fence.

Project costs for constructions, maintenance and monitoring:
Fiscal Year Construction Maintenance Monitoring Total
2007/08 $ 93,600 $ 5,000 $ 1,750.00 $ 100,350.00

Additional costs for maintenance ($20,000) and monitoring (5352.50) through to 2011/2012 for a total project cost of $125,702.50

Other Articles:

Homeless shooed from, owl welcomed in Albany – Contra Costa Times, by Christina Van Horn

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One response so far

One Response to “Recent Developments Burrowing Owl Habitat Project at the Albany Plateau”

  1. chris kleinon 17 Apr 2008 at 9:45 pm

    What road surface? Most of the perimeter is fine as is. “Minor grading will be necessary” is just nonsense. There should be nothing to maintain, and no reasonable need for emergency access. This is just bureaucrat-speak for control where control is not needed.

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