Picture of Joel Devalcourt

Joel Devalcourt

Lifelong Antioch Advocate Reignites Passion to Protect Open Space

Michael Amorosa knows what’s at risk in Antioch. His own story is intertwined with the hills, creeks, bobcats, and even the endangered Alameda Whip Snake.

Soon after moving to Antioch at the wide-eyed age of seven, his family found a home near the hills around Black Diamond Mine Regional Reserve. It didn’t take long for him to do his “Huck Finn thing” with his adventuresome crew of friends. As a teenager, he ran in the hills so much it became his training grounds. He enthusiastically reports that over the years, “I have seen everything out there, but not a mountain lion.”

Michael’s love for the Antioch hills and surrounding parks gave him the passion and dedication to protect this special land early on. In the late 1980’s he fought a garbage dump that was proposed nearby. He went to rallies and dropped flyers. And after a hard-fought battle, his side won.

“I’ve felt such a connection for so many years, it would be a major loss for this area if it was developed.”

But now sprawl development pressure is once again threatening this critical habitat that’s home to some of his favorite trails. Proposals to develop 4,000 housing units on more than four square miles of what’s called the Sand Creek Focus Area is gaining steam, motivating Michael into action once again.

“You can’t mitigate this area. It’s so unique and historical—the mining history [and] there’s riparian oak trees pushing two centuries old.”

For the Amorosa household, the Sand Creek area and Black Diamond Mines are part of the family. It’s where Michael first crossed paths with his future wife when they were both interpretative guides at the Black Diamond Mine Regional Preserve. It’s where he leads scout tours for his children who have been exploring the preserve since they were infants.

“I’ve felt such a connection for so many years, it would be a major loss for this area if it was developed. We’ve developed so much land and so fast; growing too fast for the city’s own good and didn’t think it out properly.”

Michael is willing and ready to protect this land forever. “It would be a gem for the city on so many levels, a possible destination park if protected now, and for all future generations of East County residents!”

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