For Immediate Release, Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Contact: Adam Keats (415) 436-9682 x 304, (415) 845-2509 (cell)
Tejon Ranch Development Permit Request Tainted by Poor Environmental
Review, Should Be Withdrawn to Avoid Harm to Condors
LOS ANGELES— The Center for Biological Diversity today called for the withdrawal of Tejon Ranch’s request for a permit that would allow the development of a huge resort community in critical habitat for the California condor. The permit request should be delayed to allow adequate review by the Obama administration, the scientific community, and the general public.
The Center has formally requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdraw the Draft Tehachapi Uplands Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The documents represent the first step in the public review and permitting process for the sprawling Tejon Mountain Village; the current deadline for submission of comments is May 5.
“This is a huge project, with massive and dire consequences to the California condor, 26 other endangered and sensitive species, and the people of California,” said Adam Keats, director of the Center’s Urban Wildlands Program. “It’s imperative that this behemoth, prepared in the waning days of the Bush administration and rushed to publication, get adequate review by the Obama administration as well as the general public and the scientific community.”
The draft documents were released in an unusual and confusing manner on January 23, 2009, with several conflicting statements released by the Fish and Wildlife Service. For much of the day, the general public and members of the press were told that the documents were accidentally released by the Environmental Protection Agency and that release would be delayed to allow for a required review by the new administration. But late in the day the documents were released to the public after all.
Further complicating the release of the documents was a lack of notification to the members of the public who had previously been active in the comment process on the proposed plans. The documents appear to have been released before the Fish and Wildlife Service had completed (and made public) its own analysis of the use of Tejon Ranch by California condors — a critical omission of a key piece of information for the agency, the scientific community, and the general public.
“We’ve been saying for a while that this is a terrible project with severe impacts, and our first glance at the released documents confirms that,” said Keats. “The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to take control and stop this train until a real review can be had of Tejon’s work product. A project of this scale and impact should not be rubberstamped.”
Preserving Tejon Ranch as a new national or state park would protect a bounty of native plant and animal communities, cultural and historic features, and scenic vistas. See http://www.savetejonranch.org.