Los Angeles Times
Inland Valley July 19, 2001
Rene Luna / email@example.com
Project draws fire over habitat loss
- Environmental group threatens to sue over development in Rancho
RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- An environmental organization vowed Wednesday
to sue the developer of a 248-acre gated, upscale residential development
at the top of Etiwanda Avenue after the city approved the project.
City Council members unanimously approved the 632-home project
late Wednesday. The Pasadena-based Spirit of the Sage Council is
the environmental organization threatening to fight the project
Federal biologists say the site's sage is a "critical habitat"
for the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, a small gray-blue
songbird. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering declaring
the property a critical habitat for the endangered San Bernardino
kangaroo rat. The project's backers plan to set aside one acre for
each acre of sage destroyed and $110,000 for the management of the
preserved land. Fish and Wildlife officials have asked that five
acres be preserved for each one cleared of sage.
"I think it's really nice that Fish and Wildlife wants to
claim all the foothills a critical habitat but they don't want to
pay for it," project manager Ben Anderson said.
Anderson argued that four years of studies showed neither the gnatcatcher
nor the kangaroo rat use the site.
Of added concern to area biologists is the North Etiwanda Preserve
just north of the project. The preserve was established to replace
a natural habitat was destroyed to make way for Highway 30.
In comments submitted on the project, biologist Robin Ikeda of
Chaffey College wrote that an equestrian center planned for the
development would increase horse traffic in the North Etiwanda Preserve.
And keeping horses out, she said, would be "virtually unenforceable"
and lead to the propagation of nonnative plants throughout the preserve.
She added that a million-gallon water storage tank proposed for
the project might drain water from underground tunnels that supply
a bog on the preserve, further damaging the preserve's plant life.
She encouraged more study before the project goes forward. But
Anderson argued that Ikeda's concerns are unfounded.
Since the proposed neighborhood is gated and private, it will discourage
public access to the preserve, Anderson said.
"We have a very small portion which is next to the preserve,"
he said. "It's only a couple of hundred feet."
The Rancho Etiwanda Estates project was part of the massive 1,111-acre
University/Crest project approved by the county in 1991. The county
combined two projects -- one owned by the Regents of the University
of California and one by Caryn Development Company -- to ensure
comprehensive planning, documents on file with the city show.
The city sued the county to challenge environmental studies of
the project. The suit was settled but the combined project languished.
The remaining University/Crest project was separated into two plots
and sold. Irvine-based Suncal purchased the University part of the
Rancho Etiwanda project, which is under construction.
A & J Resources Inc. of Alhambra bought the Crest portion that's
north of the university property. A & J's land is in the county
but the city took over reviewing it after the city moved to annex
the property on behalf of the developer, said Sal Salazar, associate
planner for the city.
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Published Thursday, July 19, 2001 12:00:00 AM
Chris Ehrlich (909) 483-9347
Housing development approved by council
The City Council on Wednesday approved a major housing development
adjacent the North Etiwanda Preserve.
The council voted 5-0 to approve the 240-acre, 632-home development
by Alhambra-based A&J Resources generally north of 25th Street
between Day Creek Channel and East Avenue.
Representatives of the environmental groups Spirit of the Sage Council
and The Habitat Trust gave testimony opposing approval. The groups
plan to sue the city, in part, for inadequate circulation and distribution
of environmental impact report documents.
Sal Salazar, a city associate planner, said that the city properly
mailed various environmental impact report documents by certified
Councilman Paul Biane said he supported city staff's recommendation
for approval and stated that the council could not deal with issues
of litigation Wednesday.
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin © 2001
Published Friday, June 8, 2001 12:00:00 AM
By Chris Ehrlich, Staff Writer
Sides debate over Rancho Cucamonga housing plan
RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- Environmental advocates Thursday denounced conservation
measures recommended for a major proposed housing development bordering
the 760-acre North Etiwanda Preserve.
Local and regional conservationists attended a meeting of the North
Etiwanda Preserve District at West Valley Superior Court where they
called for fewer homes in the proposed 632-home Rancho Etiwanda
Estates project and a larger buffer zone between the county-owned
preserve and development.
The conservationists claimed such changes are needed to reduce human
disruption of the preserve's natural habitats.
"We don't think that environmental concerns have been adequately
addressed on this development," said Kate Kramer, a regional
botanist with the California Department of Fish and Game. "We
don't oppose projects; we just want to have impacts addressed."
San Marino-based A&J Resources will put its Rancho Etiwanda
Estates general plan before the city's Planning Commission next
A&J and the city ultimately want the development land to be
annexed, said Ben Anderson, spokesman for A&J Resources. The
land is presently unincorporated and in the city's sphere of influence.
The development's distance from the preserve varies, said city associate
planner Sal Salazar. The development touches the preserve at one
corner and is up to about 450 feet from the preserve at other points,
The development plan includes a fully gated, private community and
would move the proposed Day Creek Boulevard south, farther from
the preserve, Anderson said.
"I don't know what adverse effects there are on the preserve,"
Anderson said. "We don't circulate anything up there, and unless
somebody wants to jump the fence, we're not going to provide any
access to it (the preserve)."
Conservationists insisted development would destroy 247 acres of
Riversidean Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub, one of California's rarest
plant communities, according to Diana Cosand, a biology professor
at Chaffey College and Preserve District board member.
"It will increase the devastation of native habitat on the
preserve, if the development is built," Cosand said "The
preserve contains a really rare plant community."
A&J Resources would purchase approximately one acre of land
to set aside for preservation for each acre of land it develops,
or 250 acres, Anderson said. A&J would turn over preservation
land to governmental or nonprofit bodies and fund the land management,
Conservationists at the meeting said they believe the environmental
impact report on the development recently conducted by Riverside-based
LSA Associates does not provide enough environmental impact mitigation
The city commissioned the independent party to conduct the report
that is a part of the development's general plan, Salazar said.
Anderson said no endangered animal species are on the preserve and
that A&J has conducted a series of such environmental surveys.
Interior's HCP 5-Point Policy Plan
by LEEONA KLIPPSTEIN
Conservations Program Director
Spirit of the Sage Council
May 4, 1999
Chief LaVerne Smith
Division of Endangered Species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Rm. 452
Arlington, VA 22203 VIA FAX (703) 358-1735
Re: Federal Register, pps 11485 - 11490, March 9, 1999.
Docket No. 981208299-8299-01. HCP 5-Point Policy Plan
Spirit of the Sage Council (Sage Council) is a non-profit grassroots
project and coalition of Native Americans, wildlife advocates, scientists,
educators, businesses and citizens dedicated to defending and conserving
Americas Natural Heritage.
Since 1991, the Sage Council and our members have actively been
involved in conserving plants, fish and wildlife, including the
ecosystems upon which they depend. We have been intimately involved
with numerous Habitat Conservation Plans and Incidental Take Permits
(HCPs/ITPs), as well as Multi-Species/Multi-Habitat Programs and
the State of Californias "Natural Communities Conservation
Planning" (NCCP) program." Such involvement by the Sage
Council in the "HCP Process" has not necessarily been
welcomed by representatives of the State of California, Resources
Agency, Department of Fish and Game or by local governments, resource
extractive industries and private interest groups. We are not welcomed,
primarily because we seek the conservation of threatened and endangered
of species through the enforcement of the ESA and implementation
of sound scientific methods.
Our seven years of on-the-ground experience with HCP/ITPs has revealed
to us that Section 10 of the ESA (HCPs/ITPs) has little or nothing
to do about the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
Rather, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have abused this section
of the Act by conceding to the desires of Captains of Industry and
private profiteers that are robbing our nations ecological
A clear example of how the Department of Interior (DOI), Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS), including the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS), succumbs to the political pressures and threats
by industry lobbyists and private interests is reflected in the
exparté meetings that were held in D.C. regarding the Services
proposed "No Surprises" rule (see the attached meeting
While representatives of DOI/FWS and DOC/NMFS meet privately with
industry thugs and their legal counsel, the government ignores expert
commentary by hundreds of world renowned conservation biologists,
scientists, academia and others that have warned that No Surprises
will further the risk of species extinction.
As you are aware, the Sage Council has brought forth legal challenges
to the No Surprises policy and the No Surprises rule. Our nationwide
educational campaign regarding HCP/ITPs and No Surprises assurances
has successfully brought to light the Services failure to implement
Section 10 appropriately.
The Sage Council is greatly disappointed by the Secretaries and
Services latest ploy and scheme. The proposed "HCP 5 point
policies" as referenced can not even be considered a concession
to the conservation community and the conservation of our nations
Because these "policies" are not legally enforceable,
the Sage Council is not going to waste our limited time and funds
in providing the Services with any lengthy commentary. Rather, we
encourage you and your superiors to "get real." Throwing
a bare bone (policies) to an angry dog will not appease it anymore
than giving a hungry shark a bunch of carrots (incentives).
The Sage Council reminds you and the Services that you have the
responsibility to uphold the public trust by conserving our nations
plants, fish and wildlife, including the ecosystems upon which they
depend (public trust resources and lands). It is the Service "duty
to conserve." It is not the Services duty to negotiate the
law or dispose of it through "policies."
The Sage Council would like to bring to the Secretaries and Services
attention to the fact that corporate land holders do not have constitutional
rights in regards to "takings" of private property. "[c]orporations
may not possess fundamental rights." (Pro-Eco, Inc. v. Board
of Commissioners, 57 F.3d 505, 26 ELR 20445 (7th Cir. 1995))
When the Secretaries and Service cowtail to the threats of corporations,
industry groups and their legal counsels (e.g. The Irvine Company,
National Reality Committee, International Council of Shopping Centers,
Weyerhauser, Plum Creek Timber, American Forest and Paper Association,
Beveridge & Diamond, Perkins Coie and others), the Secretaries
and Services are betraying the "public trust" of "
We the People." Corporations have at the very most privileges,
but they "may not possess fundamental rights. Constitutional
rights are "reserved" for "We the People."
The Sage Council also reminds the Secretaries and Services that
our nations plants, fish and wildlife are not "privately"
owned. The only land "owners" in the United States are
"We the People" and Sovereign First Nations (Native Americans).
The federal and State governments have been given the "duty"
and "public trust" by "We the People" to conserve
our plants, fish and wildlife. The purpose of U.S. Department of
the Interior is conserve public trust lands and public trust resources.
As you may be aware, § 10.05 The Public Trust Doctrine was
successfully applied in California in order to protect Mono Lake
(National Audubon v. Superior Court).
The Sage Council expects that the Service may receive some commentary
by conservation organization on the referenced "HCP 5-point
policy plan" as to "fixing" section 10. The opinion
of the Sage Council is that Congress must rescind Section 10 HCP/ITPs
by amending the ESA. Until such time, the Service must implement
the ESA without skipping any administrative procedure (i.e. the
Service must designate critical habitat, provide and implement a
recovery plan PRIOR to accepting or approving ITP applications and
HCPs. Section 10 HCP/ITPs are an exception from section 9 ONLY and
not section 4 recovery requirements. Regardless of the section 10
exception to "take," the U.S. Supreme Court in Babbitt
v. Sweet Home has still upheld the previous decision in TVA v. Hill
that the goal and purpose of the ESA is,
"[t]o halt and reverse the trend towards species extinction,
whatever the cost."
In conclusion and in closing, the Sage Council finds that the Secretaries
and Services are committing fraud and deliberately misleading "We
the People" in putting forth the referenced HCP 5-Policy Plan
and continuing to issue ITPs to corporations. To correct such violations
of the public trust, the Sage Council recommends that the Secretaries
and Services immediately revoke ALL ITPs that have been issued to
corporations and those individuals that have not demonstrated a
"hardship" pursuant to §17.63.
For the Wild Earth