Monday, August 04, 2008

The East Bay hills from Coyote Hills

Coyote Hills
Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
This photo reminded me that I need to start doing posts about places that spark memories and bring about an emotional response. I took this photo on my way back from Coyote Hills, in the East Bay Regional Parks system, last February. Coyote Hills is just north of the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza, in Fremont. It's now a fairly well-developed wetlands park, with habitat for raptors, grassland mammals, deer, and everything that lives in marshes, including muskrats, fish, and birds such as bitterns. I saw a Chilean flamingo there, once, but I think it was an escaped exotic.

On this, the eastern side of the park, there has been huge fuss about development. How close can the houses come to the park? Just to the southeast of these houses, less than a quarter mile away across the road, is a big business park full of half-occupied buildings built just before the dotcom boom of the late nineties crashed. Not much farther away are condos and new subdivisions. Where will the wastewater go?

When I first visited Coyote Hills, Gerald Ford was in his waning days as president. It was hot that day (by bay area standards) and very windy, and there weren't big roads around here. There was no big highway 84, the Dumbarton Bridge was still a water-level toll bridge, and we rode our bikes from the very western side of Newark all the way up to around around the Coyote Hills, where there was almost nothing at all. It was hot and windy and I was out of shape and exhausted. It colored my experience of those hills so strongly that I resisted going back until about 1998, when I moved to the Fremont area, and re-discovered them.

I love them now, their bird life and the muskrats and the sunset view, and how the Coyote Hills are what remains of ancient mountain ranges, and are (along with the related Albany Hill) among the oldest hills in the bay area.

The houses on the hill in the far distance weren't there, when I first visited. Parts of the east bay hills are still getting paved over with streets, and houses are being sprinkled here and there, but mostly, the remaining hills are part of our green belt tradition, and I work to protect that, too.


Thomas said...

There's still a Flamingo at Coyote Hills. It's probably the same one you saw. I saw it today (5/4/09) in salt pond 3A.
Tom Goodier

Art and Lyn Cipriano said...

I saw the Flamingo today while bike riding along the levee of the salt ponds. 2/5/2010.
BTW I've been exploring Coyote Hills since the early 1970's. I'm 60 now and still enjoy hiking and biking around the hills. It will be a shame if development is allowed up to the gates of the park.