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The main entrance to the Oakland Zoo.(Photo by Ron Burda)

The Jan. 3 My Word, "Oakland should leave the open space near Zoo open," demonstrates a blatant disregard for facts and unwillingness to move forward in cooperation and compromise with the Oakland Zoo.

The zoo's California Trail Project, approved and funded in part by the voters of Oakland and the California State Parks, will actually protect and enhance Knowland Park and its plant species in perpetuity by removing non-native invasive species and replanting native grasslands.

The zoo engaged in years of dialogue with the community, underwent a lengthy public process, and defended and won a lawsuit brought by opponents.

The multiyear, rigorous environmental review resulted in approval by Oakland City Council in 2011.

Even the Oakland Tribune opinion piece of July 8, 2011, read, "They have had their fair hearing. It's time for zoo opponents to respect the democratic process and allow the project to move forward." It's disappointing to see the same mistruths published nearly two years later.

The My Word author refers to Knowland Park as "my space." In reality, the park is owned by the city of Oakland for the benefit of everyone, and the zoo serves as the park steward. In designing the project, we worked with biologists to create a Habitat Enhancement Plan, our voluntary, long-term commitment to benefit the park and its plant and animal habitats.

This plan requires, among other things, measures for invasive species control and grassland protection and enhancement. The zoo has begun this effort by removing the invasive French broom and collecting and replanting local native grass at the veterinary hospital.

The project will result in even more careful land management, while opening Knowland Park to the more than 700,000 guests who come to the zoo every year, many of whom have mobility issues and would otherwise not have park access.

We encourage others to join us in this effort to create something wonderful for all of Oakland and the Bay Area.

Joel J. Parrott is president and CEO of the East Bay Zoological Society.