Center for Biological Diversity - Friends of the Santa Clara River - Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper

Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 654-5943
Ron Bottorff, Friends of the Santa Clara River, (805) 498-4323
Mati Waiya, Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper, (805) 658-1120, cell (805) 794-1248
Teresa Savaikie, Santa Clara River Alliance Coordinator, (661) 263-9624, cell (661) 857-0750

February 14, 2006 10:00 a.m., in the parking lot behind Chi Chi’s Pizza on the banks of the endangered Santa Clara River, 23043 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, California.

Plaintiffs for the case and conservation groups in support of their efforts to protect the endangered Santa Clara River will gather on the river – one of the most important natural resources in the state. Please come listen to the plaintiffs discuss the suit filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to address the cumulative impacts their permits are having on this important resource. Hear the plaintiffs’ supporters speak on behalf of the river. Groups attending include: Audubon California, Los Angeles Audubon, San Fernando Valley Audubon, California Native Plant Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Santa Clara River, Sierra Club, the River Project, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment and the Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper. Event will conclude with a blessing from Mati Waiya, Chumash leader and Executive Director of the Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper.

For Immediate Release:



Los Angeles, Calif. (February 14, 2006) – Today three conservation groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Santa Clara River and the Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) in U.S. District Court, Central District-Los Angeles. The suit charges the ACOE with failing to protect the critically endangered Santa Clara River – one of southern California’s last major living rivers. The river and its tributaries are facing devastating impacts to biological, hydrological and cultural resources. The ACOE has repeatedly disregarded the long-term consequences of its actions and has failed to address the cumulative impacts of its permits on the river’s resources.

The Santa Clara River is one of the most important river systems in California, providing clean water to communities and habitat for nearly a dozen threatened and endangered species including amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, plants and birds. The Santa Clara also offers a rare glimpse of what all of our rivers looked like before bad planning, greed and concrete destroyed them. The river is one of the most culturally rich areas in southern California, and many tribes can locate ancestral villages within the river valley. Destruction of the river habitat used by the ancestors of the Tataviam, Chumash and Serrano people is harmful to tribal cultural maintenance and revitalization efforts. The ACOE needs to recognize the value and importance of the Santa Clara River and uphold its federal responsibilities of no net loss of wetlands and protection of critically endangered species and cultural resources.

“This river is a network of villages, gathering areas and ceremonial places. It has been a life source of survival for native people for thousands of years. When the Corps allows these developments they are chipping away at our culture and our ability to maintain our traditions one project at a time” said Mati Waiya, executive director of the Wishtoyo Foundation and Chumash ceremonial leader.

“In the last few years the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rubber-stamped hundreds of permits on the Santa Clara River and its tributaries without looking at the cumulative effects,” said Ileene Anderson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This piecemeal approach is quickly rip rapping and concreting the Santa Clara River to death.”

“We urgently need to take action now to force the Corps of Engineers to obey the law if we are to save the river,” said Ron Bottorff of Friends of the Santa Clara River. “We have no choice but to take legal action to protect the river from further degradation.”

The ACOE continues to ignore the best available science. Audubon California’s Important Bird Areas lists the river as having critical biological resources and further references the river as “teetering on the brink of disaster.” American Rivers designated the Santa Clara as one of the “most endangered rivers in the nation.” The Southcoast Missing Linkages Project identifies the river and several of its tributaries as critical movement corridors for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. The National Marine Fisheries Service has listed the Santa Clara River Watershed as a core watershed for recovery efforts of southern steelhead trout.

Over 95 percent of California’s rivers and wetlands have been lost and countless cultural resources destroyed. The Santa Clara River is home to rare species that once flourished in Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa Ana Rivers, all of which have been channelized to a large extent, and no longer function naturally. The Santa Clara River is part of America’s natural and cultural legacy and must be protected for future generations.

The plaintiffs are represented by:

John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity: (312) 237-1444
Daniel Cooper, Lawyers for Clean Water: (415) 440-6520, cell (415) 819-3626
Martin McCarthy, Lawyers for Clean Water: (415) 440-6520

Contact info for other speakers and conservation groups attending press event:
Lisa Fimiani, Board Member, Audubon California: (310) 339-2737 cell
Jennifer Robinson, Sierra Club: (213)387-4287, ext. 204
Kris Ohlenkamp, San Fernando Valley Audubon: (310) 455-1827
Melanie Winter, The River Project: (818) 980-9660
Snowdy Dodson, California Native Plant Society: (818)782-9346
Barbara Wampole, Friends of the Santa Clara River: (661) 257-3036
Lynne Plambeck, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning & the Environment: (661) 255-6899


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