For Immediate Release, August 21, 2020

Contact:

Peter J. Broderick, (503) 283-5474 x 421, pbroderick@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Challenges Mega-Resort in Northern California’s Fire-prone Guenoc Valley

LAKEPORT, Calif.— As wildfires rage across Northern California, the Center for Biological Diversity sued Lake County today for approving a sprawling new luxury resort and residential development in fire-prone Guenoc Valley, just north of Napa County.

The site approved for the Guenoc Valley Mixed-Use Planned Development Project has repeatedly burned over the past few years and is currently under an evacuation order due to the encroaching LNU Complex lightning fires. Today’s lawsuit was filed in Lake County Superior Court.

“The massive wildfire currently threatening the site highlights the dangerous absurdity of approving a big development in this fire-prone place,” said Peter Broderick, a staff attorney at the Center. “If this luxury resort were already built, residents would be frantically evacuating right now. By approving this project, Lake County put the prospect of development dollars ahead of the safety of the region’s residents and the fragile environment of this beautiful place.”

The California attorney general has repeatedly raised concerns about the county’s failure to analyze the increased risk of wildfire ignitions from the development and how the project would affect wildfire evacuations in the region. Located in a remote area of the state with a long history of wildfires, the project site is accessible only by a single two-lane road. Many fires are ignited by human sources, so development increases fire risk.

The undeveloped 16,000-acre project site contains oak woodlands, wildlife corridors, and habitat for sensitive wildlife species including golden eagles, foothill yellow legged frogs and western pond turtles.

When built the project will bring thousands of new residents and visitors to this isolated corner of Lake County, resulting in more than 30,000 metric tons of new greenhouse gas emissions every year. The resort will include a golf course, spa, polo grounds, helipad and float plane landing facilities designed to attract “high net worth individuals” looking to escape urban areas, according to promotional materials.

Today’s lawsuit asserts that the county’s environmental impact report for the project repeatedly violated the California Environmental Quality Act and that the project is inconsistent with the county’s General Plan.

(2020-08-20)_LNU_Complex_Fire_Evacuation_Map_Lake_County_CA.png
The Guenoc Valley development site lies inside the purple evacuation zone on this map from Lake County. LNU Complex Fire Evacuation Map (2020-08-20) by County of Lake, California. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.