The six month anniversary of Carnegie Freedom Day is fast approaching. This anniversary is something that we can’t afford to forget because it is a reminder of what we can do with a little organization and planning. We are a formidable force because we share a common trait. We love our sport and we love Carnegie. Non-riders can’t understand the passion that motivates us and few can really describe the exhilaration that comes from riding a light weight, powerful machine over challenging terrain.
It all began last December when my husband and I were out riding at Carnegie. The rangers called a meeting and informed us that a lawsuit had been filed in Alameda Superior Court. The judge had issued an order closing the park until the state submits and gets approval for a waste discharge report from the regional water board. A waste discharge report is normally required from industrial polluters discharging toxic waste into the water supply. The judge agreed with the petitioners that heavy metal contamination caused by off road use was killing fish and it had to stop.
There is only one problem. There are no fish. The creek-bed is bone dry except during periods of heavy rain. In drought prone California, there is typically water trickling though the creek-bed only a few weeks a year (if that). But, to reiterate, there are no fish, never have been. Even during the wettest of rainy seasons the stream doesn’t go anywhere. It is absorbed into the flood plain and then lost to evaporation.
Also, the judge ignored the countless other potential sources of the supposed heavy metal contamination in the so-called creek (which wasn’t flowing that rainy afternoon). Those sources include Lawrence Livermore Labs, a Federal Superfund Site, and which operates a firing range where lead bullets are pumped into the hillside above the creek and where explosives are detonated nearby; abandoned coal mines; a former brick making factory with abandoned slag heaps from coal fired kilns; and illegal tunneling by Hetch-Hetchy.
We were incensed and organized a protest for December 28, 2009 which we called Carnegie Freedom Day. We also set up a website carnegieforever.org where anyone could sign a petition to keep Carnegie open. When I say “we” I am talking about Dave Duffin (our fearless leader), Gunnar Östergren, Hamid Majidy, Pete Krunich, Mark Speed, Mark Martinez and others.
With Dave Duffin (creator and director of Oasis for Kids Inc.) as moderator, thousands of off-road riders attended Carnegie Freedom Day in the rain on a weekday. Representatives from CORVA, Dirt Diggers, AMA, BRC, Oakland MC, and Club Moto were there, along with others. A diverse crowd of outdoor enthusiasts came to support our cause.
The rally featured a large contingent of children seated on and around the stage. Speakers included such notables as Suzuki’s Rodney Smith, who observed that Carnegie was the most challenging place he had ever ridden; Scott Dunleavy, owner of Berkeley Honda/Yamaha, who donated $200 dollars to the cause; and Pete Krunich, who gave the microphone over to the youngsters and let them say what they liked about riding at Carnegie. They all said that they enjoyed spending time with their families.
Also included on stage were Skip and George Horne (Carnegie Hill-climb promoters), who forcefully reminded us to keep up the fight and to vote the “so and so’s” out of office. Two local young up-and-comers, Pete Krunich, Jr. (Widow-Maker Hill-climb Champion) and Kacy Martinez (KTM sponsored WORCS Woman’s Cross County Champion and AMA Woman of the Year), who spoke to the crowd of growing up together riding at Carnegie with family and friends, and who expressed sorrow and loss at the possibility of loosing their favorite off road riding area.
There were many other speakers including Dave Picket from District 36: “We need your help. All you parents out there…You can do it…Use your vote”. “Mr. Hangtown”, Ed Santin, took the microphone and reminded us that “Carnegie is managed, all the trails are managed, and it is our place to ride”. It is maintained with our green-sticker money.
It is said that the hero of the day was a nine year old young man who grabbed the microphone and said what everybody was thinking and nobody dared say; “Screw the judge…It’s the place to be… I want the judge no longer”. A few weeks later he received a gift certificate donated by Carnegie riders.
Then Don Amador, representative of Blue Ribbon Coalition, fake fishing pole in hand, jumped on stage and announced that they had made a mistake. “They had awoken the sleeping giant”. No truer words were ever spoken. To date the petition has been signed by over fifteen thousand riders.
OHV Division Deputy Director Daphne Green and Division Chief Phil Jenkins addressed the crowd to reassure them that Carnegie wasn’t going to close and if it did, it would not be closed for long. They discussed things that they were doing to protect Carnegie, such as filing a water discharge report.
After the speakers had finished, everybody got together for the Carnegie Freedom Day Ride. Hundreds of motorcycles and mini-bikes stormed quietly out of the parking lot and rode the access road from one end of the park to the other and back again. Mud flying up with the spray splattered riding gear and boots, but everyone seemed to enjoy the experience of solidarity as the day’s event came to a close.
Predictably TV crews weren’t able to find the creek. This lawsuit is retarded. There is a huge difference between mainstream environmentalists like those of us who ride at Carnegie who truly care about the environment, and the pseudo environmentalists who hate our sport and will do anything to shut us down. In the past, in theory at least, I supported groups like Blue Ribbon Coalition, but like so many others I put off joining. Instead I continued riding not giving much thought to overcrowding caused by recent land closures.
This was a wake up call and after attending Carnegie Freedom Day my husband and I joined Blue Ribbon and got involved. We discovered a lot of things by reading Blue Ribbon’s on-line magazine and visiting their web-site. One of those things is that we must stick together. We are under attack. Check out the National Monuments Act and the resurrected Road-less Initiative.
Although Carnegie is still open (we won the appeal), this has not ended the lawsuit. The battle will not go away anytime soon. We also need to form and join local groups like the non-profit that Dave Duffin and his friends at Carnegie Forever are putting together to represent our interests at Carnegie, and most importantly, we need to stay informed, vote, get involved and fight for our rights. “These are our rights”. ”We aren’t hurting anyone”. “We can’t let them take away our place to ride”. As Jason says, “Together we ride: Divided we walk”.