Imagining Synergy of Refuge and Parkland  


A Visit to the Refuge

Our recent visit to the Alameda National Wildlife Refuge (A Visit to the ANWR) was an enlightening experience that taught us much about the refuge and the people concerned with its future. We were fortunate to be able to spend enough time there to talk to many people and also see many areas of the site. Towards the end of our tour we visited the northwestern corner of the refuge and here saw something that when combined with what we had learned about the refuge really sparked our imaginations.

San Francisco Skyline

What immediately impressed us was the magnificent view of the San Francisco skyline available from this vantage point. The quality of this view would make this part of Alameda Point a popular destination for visitors to the Bay Area.

We had learned that among the plans for the refuge was creation of an interpretive center to be used to acquaint visitors with the surrounding habitat and wildlife as well as introduce them to the primary purpose of the refuge, preservation of habitat for the California Least Tern. As we stood in this beautiful place taking in the view we both realized that here was a wonderful location for such a center.

And then looking north of the refuge boundary we saw something interesting: an area that had previously been developed for use as parkland.


Imagining the Possible

But soon it was time to go. We said goodbye to our new acquaintances and made our way towards home. On the way we talked about what we have seen and learned. There was much to think about and over the days that followed we exchanged numerous emails about our ideas.

During that time I decided to see if I couldn't make some graphical representations of how the areas we saw might look if developed for the purposes we had in mind. While Richard kept up a steady stream of ideas I continued working on the images.

North of the Refuge Imaginary Park

Above is a view of the former parkland that lies just north of the Refuge boundary. It doesn't take much to imagine how it might look if it were reclaimed as a public park.

Looking West Gerald Stone

Here is a view of the Bay looking west from where an interpretive center for the Refuge might be some day. I decided to paste a picture of Gerald Stone, a refuge volunteer I'd met on our visit, into the reworked version imagining how pleased he might be with such a development.

Putting It All Together


After a period of exchanging ideas and developing graphics all the elements of a concept begin to fall into place. What took form was an vision of a multi-use public resource:

  • To the north a new public park which would integrate seamlessly with the interpretive center to the south.

  • Next would be the ANWR Interpretive Center complex.

  • South of the Interpretive Center it might be possible to provide public access to the West Wetland area. Such a facility might easily be designed to accomodate access for the disabled thus providing a wonderful regional resource.


This concept achieves wonderful synergy through combined development of public parkland in conjunction with development of a refuge interpretive center. Advantages include the possibility of sharing infrastructure costs and also use of the existing runway to provide ready-made road access and public parking. Finally a combined use strategy would enhance the attractiveness of all the elements of the plan. Such a complex could become a regional focus for recreation and education that would draw visitors from all over the world. Another benefit that has direct bearing on the goals of the refuge is that concentration of public attention in this area would tend to focus it away from the sensitive Tern Nesting Area in the south- a very important consideration.


As with any idea that is the basis for a public proposal there are issues:

  • Conflicts with the proposed golf course design. Rather than having a string of small parks running through the golf course why not instead create a single public park of true regional significance and return the other proposed lands to the golf course plan?

  • Pollution analysis and mitigation. As mentioned in our previous report much remains to be resolved as far as pollution analysis and mitigation issues are concerned. The issue is a particularly sensitive one as it has direct bearing on the full transfer of ANWR from the Navy to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The pollution issues must be resolved before further development of ANWR can be planned.


More Information

CAGP Report prepared by Richard Bangert and Chad Chadwick of the City of Alameda Green Party.

Return To Homepage