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MEDIA RELEASE: Richmond Residents and Animals Protected from Destructive Disc Golf Course at Hilltop Lake Park

MEDIA RELEASE: Richmond Residents and Animals Protected from Destructive Disc Golf Course at Hilltop Lake Park

Richmond, Calif. (May 6, 2021) – In Defense of Animals, the international animal protection organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is celebrating the rejection of a disc golf course installation in Hilltop Lake Park in Richmond, which would have displaced and killed wild animals.

“The East Bay Disc Golf Club has been relentlessly pushing a disc golf course on the residents of Richmond of every species, pretending to bestow upon them a gift, while fully deaf to what Richmond residents want — their park left alone,” said Anita Carswell, Communications Manager for In Defense of Animals. 

In October 2020, over 5,000 In Defense of Animals supporters wrote to Richmond City Council members and Richmond Parks and Landscaping Division calling on them to stop clearcutting at Hilltop Lake Park, which is a near-hidden oasis in the bustling city of Richmond. 

The 36-acre low-lying park cannot be seen from most of the roadways surrounding it, and offers a peaceful place for nature lovers, bird watchers and dog walkers to enjoy when they need an escape. More importantly, the lake in the center is surrounded by reeds, willows and olive trees, while eucalyptus and pine trees grow outside the path that circles  it. They all exist together to provide vital habitat for wild animals who are otherwise surrounded by an unforgiving urban landscape. Squirrels, skunks, jays, crayfish and many other wild animals rely on this space. 

In March, The Richmond Standard revealed plans to construct a disc golf course in the park. Work had already begun without the Richmond City Council’s knowledge or approval, except for possibly Mayor Tom Butt and his son, Andrew, who is a disc golfer active with the East Bay Disc Golf Club. Several members of the Council were furious and ordered the construction halted. A vote last night by the Richmond Recreation and Parks Commission made the halt permanent and now the park can begin to heal.

”Last night, finally our voices were heard and this peaceful oasis for animals and local people has been protected. We are relieved that this important habitat was saved and grateful for all our local supporters who spoke on behalf of wild animals,” said Carswell, after representing the views of thousands of Bay Area members in several meetings, including last night.

Disc golf is played by throwing discs at high speeds into metal baskets. The course would have required installing multiple cement “tees,” baskets and signs, in addition to constructing stairs in some places. Many of these installations would have been built less than 100 feet from nearby homes, creating a hazard and a nuisance for residents.


Planned disc golf course for Hilltop Lake Park. Credit: East Bay Disc Golf Club

Disc golf courses have been associated with soil erosion and compaction, destruction of undergrowth and vegetation, and harm to trees; even small nicks made by discs and other damage can kill them.

Animals were an afterthought, and park users, and local residents were not considered or consulted, even though they would be most impacted by players and high-speed flying discs, which have been known to seriously injure people and spark lawsuits.

Richmond is a Guardian City where animals are cherished as more than mere property, so this decision to reject the disc golf course is in line with previous Richmond City Council decisions

“Nat Bates and Tom Butt, along with the entire Richmond City Council, elevated the status of animals beyond that of mere objects by voting in favor of Richmond becoming a Guardian City in 2012. Their forward-thinking pledge a decade ago is more important than ever because habitat destruction has led to a mass extinction crisis. We encourage all Richmond stakeholders to remember Richmond’s special status as a Guardian City and recommit to respecting all of Richmonds residents by nixing future plans to develop wild habitat,” added Carswell. 


Contact: Anita Carswell, anita@idausa.org, (415) 532-9242


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org


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