South Park Drive is closed to automobile traffic from November 1 at 7 a.m. to April 1, 2014 to protect migrating and breeding California newts that make their way to streams and ponds to mate when it rains. Visitors can still drive through the park by using Grizzly Peak Blvd., Wildcat Canyon Road and Central Park Drive.
“We are doing what we can to help protect these tiny, slow-moving park residents,” said Tilden Park Supervisor Sergio Huerta. “Pedestrians and bicycles are allowed, and we ask everyone to proceed slowly and carefully to avoid newts crossing the road.”
Dogs must be on a leash on South Park Drive at all times, including the November through April closure: the road is considered a developed trail, and runs through a special protection area. Dogs also should be wary of the newts, because they have a substance on their skin that is mildly poisonous to people and other animals. If you accidentally come in contact with a newt you should always wash your hands.
The newt is a type of salamander that is five to six inches long, brown on top and a gold-bronze color below. It remains dormant in the dry season living in woods and other sheltered places.
Hundreds of newts each year rely on crossing the road as a means to reach Wildcat Creek for breeding. Although not an officially threatened species, the overall newt population has decreased over the past several decades primarily due to loss of habitat. Road kill is a major contributor to adult mortality in areas with an urban wildlife interface.
The newts are protected by law; it is illegal to collect them and remove them from the wild. And they don't live long outside their natural habitat.
Tilden Environmental Education Center offers many programs throughout the season to observe this migration. For more information on Regional Parks programs phone 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757) option 2.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why does my dog need to be on leash?
During the road closure, South Park Drive functions as a paved, multi-use trail and is considered a developed area. Dogs are required to be on leash in developed areas, including paved multi-use trails.
Am I still allowed to walk my dog on South Park Drive?
Yes, you will still be able to enjoy walking your dog on the closed South Park Drive, as long as your dog is on leash.
Has the EBRPD law changed?
The Park District is enforcing the existing ordinance to be consistent with other paved, multi-use trails throughout the Park District and the overall regulations under Ordinance 38.
Why are you enforcing the dogs-on-leash law?
As with other paved, multi-use trails, keeping dogs on leash provides safety for the dogs and for other trail users.
Where can I take my dog off-leash in Tilden Regional Park?
There are many miles of trails that allow dogs off-leash in Tilden Regional Park. Good options include the Mineral Springs Trail, the unpaved sections of the Seaview Trail, and the Quarry/Big Springs trail loop, which is directly accessible from South Park Drive.