Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 5, 2021


Ross Middlemiss, (707) 599-2743,

Lawsuit Launched Against Federal OK of Vernal Pool Destruction in Northern California

Stonegate Development Threatens Endangered Species in Chico

CHICO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today of its intent to file a lawsuit challenging the permitting of a Northern California development that would harm endangered species.

The 314-acre Stonegate mixed-use project on the outskirts of Chico would destroy vernal pool habitat that is home to vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp and the exceedingly rare Butte County meadowfoam, an endangered flower.

“It’s outrageous that federal agencies would greenlight the destruction of Chico habitat vital to these rare species that are clinging to survival,” said Ross Middlemiss, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We won’t sit by while officials ignore the science and push endangered vernal pool species like the Butte County meadowfoam to the edge of extinction.”

Today’s notice letter challenges the Army Corp’s approval of the project and counters the Fish and Wildlife Service’s claim that paving over and further fragmenting the listed species’ habitat will not jeopardize their continued survival.

The project site has been identified by the Service as a core recovery area for vernal pool species. The Butte County meadowfoam, found nowhere else in the world but Butte County, has only 21 distinct populations remaining. The project would destroy one population and further encroach on two others. The area also contains suitable habitat for the endangered giant garter snake but the agencies failed to even mention the species in reviewing the project.

“We hope this action makes the agencies reconsider their approach to development in the area and begin promoting endangered species recovery as the law requires,” said Middlemiss. “It’s all hands on deck to save these imperiled species, and these agencies play a critical role.”

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.

center locations