Fall 2002 Endangered Habitats League Newsletter


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Fall 2002 Endangered Habitats League Newsletter

  1. 1. Dedicated to Ecosystem Protection and Sustainable Land Use Planning +++ Vol. 12 No. 4 +++ Fall 2002We publish this newsletter four If you are not yet a member of thetimes a year to inform the gener- Endangered Habitats League,ous supporters and other friends please join us in the ongoingof the Endangered Habitats effort to preserve and protectLeague about our activties ENDANGERED the Southern California eco-in the ecoregion. region’s irreplacable plants, HABITATS LEAGUE animals and places. NEWSLETTEREnvironmental documents to be released soonRiverside Documents “Hit the Street” For four years, EHL has served on three Advisory Committeesfor the Riverside County Integrated Project: Multiple Species Habi-tat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), Community and Environmen-tal Transportation Acceptability Process (CETAP), and GeneralPlan. Environmental documents (EIRs and/or EISs) have been, orwill shortly be, released for all three components. CETAP is proposing new north-south and east-west multi-modal transportation corridors. These do not include the con- © MONTE M. TAYLORtroversial route over the Cleveland National Forest to OrangeCounty. Staff has recommended two preferred alternatives fromamong dozens of options. Analysis of the potential effects on wild-life by state and federal agencies is still pending. EHL is closelyevaluating the alternatives in terms of biology, growth induction,and ability to serve population centers with transit. The Riverside The Phainopepla has what is probably the oddest breeding cycle of any of ourCounty Transportation Commission will make a final decision birds. It often has two broods, which is quite usual in the bird world, but the two nests may be separated by several hundred miles!in early 2003. General Plan shaped by EHL and Subject: Beasts & Botany others toward “smart growth” The General Plan was significantly shaped by EHL and Phainopepla has odd nesting habitsother stakeholders toward “smart growth,” including revolu- By Jess Mortontionary—for Riverside County—walkable, mixed One of the pleasures of the world of natureuse, and transit-supportive Community Centers. around us lies in the unexpected ways it makes NOTICE OFWe have thus been bitterly disappointed by the ero- itself noticed. Thus, as I walked out my front ANNUAL MEETINGsion of rural landscapes due to recently approved door the other morning, I was greeted with asprawl development—and are now fighting to pre- The 2002 Annual Meeting of the Endan- gered Habitats League will be held soft rising whistle coming from the purple-vent further loss of rural and agricultural lands as blossomed nightshade that takes up a cornerhundreds of landowners seek last minute changes. on December 15, 2002 at Audubon- California Starr Ranch Sanctuary, 100 of the yard.Yet, if adopted, the plan will finally begin to In a moment, a sleek black crested bird, Bell Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon, CAturn around the old pattern of development, 92679. The meeting will begin at 1:00 roughly the size of a Starling, showed itself. Ifand will also put in place a “Certainty System.” PM. Agenda items will include bylaws I had not recognized him by his distinctive call,Initiated by EHL, this system would prevent amendments, board seats, and EHL the plumage of the male Phainopepla made himpiecemeal amendment of the General Plan, as participation in the Earth Discovery instantly identifiable. He spread his wings,occurs currently. Institute in San Diego, along with the exposing the great white blaze, which sweeps Community Center adoption uncertain standard annual meeting items such across the central part of the wing’s primary as the treasurer’s report. feathers, and flew to the phone line above, Due to fear of higher densities, prospects for Directions where he promptly whistled again.Community Center adoption are very uncertain, Take the 5 Freeway to Alicia Parkway This story continues on page 4however, despite the support—secured with EHL- exit. Go east on Alicia Parkway forled outreach—of the Greater Riverside Chamber approximately 5 miles. Turn right onof Commerce and Hispanic Chamber of Com- Santa Margarita Parkway to Plano Act signed into law by Gov. Davis on September 13thmerce. Hearings before the Board of Supervisors Trabuco Road; go right on Planocould begin in December. Trabuco Road to Dove Canyon Drive; San Diego River Park The MSHCP would set aside 150,000 acres of turn left on Dove Canyon Drive and pro- ceed to the security gate. Present this Conservancy established new, currently what’s inside? private land, in- newsletter to the guard, who will admit With the signing of a key piece of environ- you. Continue on Dove Canyon Drive mental legislation, the San Diego River has a cluding a veri- to Grey Rock Road (watch carefully for new conservancy—and a new future. Saying Smart Growth Report table “wish list” that the creation of the San Diego River Park the street sign; it’s on the left). Turn left gives Inland Empire of conservation on Grey Rock Road and go 100 yards Conservancy would “turn the tide on years bad news on sprawl 2 priorities. While to the Starr Ranch access road on the of neglect,” Governor Gray Davis, whose wife EHL in the News 2 the plan has right. Proceed cautiously and follow the hails from Santee, signed the enabling bill on shortcomings, signs. Call Starr Ranch at 949-858-0309 October 13 in San Diego. News from around So. Calif. Ecoregion 2 failure to adopt if you need help finding your way. The objectives of the conservancy are to it would be provide recreational opportunities, open space, San Diego affordable catastrophic. wildlife habitat, species restoration and protection, wetland housing project gets millions in tax credits 3 EHL has endorsed a ballot protection and restoration, and protection and maintenance of measure to renew sales tax the water quality of the San Diego River. Its creation will bring Grants funded to $12 million in state funds to river protection in San Diego. preserve part of EHL has endorsed a ballot The Endangered Habitats League’s Michael Beck, Chair of the Ramona grasslands 3 measure that would renew a San Diego River Lakeside Conservancy (SDRLC), was instru- House passes bill transportation sales tax, cause mental in gathering the many geographically diverse river groups to increase pipeline the region’s cities to join the together in 2001 to focus their labors on a comprehensive strategy. safety, raise fines 4 County in implementing the Their efforts, combined with the work of key elected officials— “Covenants of MSHCP, and direct mitigation Assemblywoman Chris Kehoe, Supervisor Diane Jacobs and Motion” (a poem) 4 monies toward the plan. Mayor Dick Murphy—made the new conservancy a reality. This story continues on page 4 This story continues on page 4
  2. 2. Smart Growth America Report gives EHL in the NewsInland Empire the bad news on sprawl Endangered Habitats League Director of Policy and Pro- grams, Dan Silver, was quoted in several newspaper articles this In a report that verified what most Inland Empire residentsalready know—that sprawl in the region is out of control—a team Summer and Fall. In the July 31 Los Angeles Times, he commentedof academic researchers has identified the Riverside-San Bernar- on the importance of a scientifically sound outcome in southerndino area as having the worst sprawl in the U.S. The report, which Orange County to the future of the Natural Community Conser-embodies three years of research, was written by professors at vation Planning program. “This piece of land is a blank canvasCornell and Rutgers universities and was released October 18 by where the departments can show what the program will do andits sponsor, the Smart Growth America environmental coalition. what it will not do.”It ranked the Riverside-San Bernardino area as having the worst In the September 26, 2002 Riverside Press Enterprise, Dansprawl of the 83 largest metropolitan areas of the country. stressed the need for the new Riverside County Integrated The Riverside-San Bernardino area is followed, in the overall Project to protect open space and rural areas from developersnational ranking, by Greensboro–Winston-Salem, NC, Raleigh– and landowners seeking speculative upzoning. “If the commis-Durham, NC, Atlanta GA, Greenville–Spartanburg, SC, West Palm sion and board of supervisors can’t say no, this will become aBeach–Boca Raton, Florida, Bridgeport–Stamford, Connecticut, $30 million embarrassment.”Knoxville, Tennessee, Oxnard–Ventura, California, and Ft. Worth– On October 18, 2002, the San Bernardino Sun reported on aArlington, Texas nationwide study that showed sprawl in the Inland Empire to be The areas with the lowest level of sprawl were New York,Jersey City, Providence (RI), San Francisco and Honolulu. the worst in the entire nation. On a positive note, Dan noted that The Smart Growth America study uses four quantified factors at least some new developments in Ontario and Chino are buck-to rank sprawl. These are density of development, mix of land ing the trend and creating higher density, walkable communities. EHL Executive Director Philip Lohman was also quoted by the Los Angeles Times on the same study. N ews from Around Our Southern California Ecoregion Orange County Fate of Rancho Mission Viejo Debated The South Subregion Natural Community Conservation Plan includes the remaining 23,000 acres of the historic Rancho Mission Viejo. One of California’s premier landscapes, and at the center of a global biodiversity “hotspot,” it has been proposed for massive and devastating development of 14,000 houses. Steelhead trout,Southern California: Photo by Joe Munroe/Ohio Historical Society arroyo toads, gnatcatchers, golden eagle, and mountain lionuses, centering of activity, and connectivity of the street network. are all at stake.The Riverside-San Bernardino area scored badly on all four. On October 23, 2002, Supervisor Tom Wilson’s South County Low development density is probably the most familiar aspect Outreach and Review Effort (SCORE) delivered a preliminaryof sprawl in the Inland Empire, especially in such Inland areas as report. EHL participated in SCORE, and commends this prece-the Moreno Valley, where low-density suburban settlement spreads dent-setting forum for early community input into planning forfrom the 91 freeway literally to the horizon. Mix of land uses is also the Rancho. SCORE is slated to reconvene after receiving morelow in the Riverside-San Bernardino area. Homes are separated detailed input on reserve design from the state and federal agen-from jobs and services, forcing residents to drive long distances to cies conducting the Natural Community Conservation Planplaces of major employment. The region has few true civic centers and as sprawl takes the (NCCP) and associated Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) balance of housing farther for aquatic resources. Members of the EHL-sponsored Heart and One bright spot in this and farther away from them, Soul Coalition, including San Juan City Councilman John Gelff grim picture is Riverside they become steadily less and Laguna Beach Councilwoman Toni Iseman, voiced their County’s update of its relevant to the average resi- support for good planning through SCORE. general plan. dent. Street networks in the On October 30, 2002, a public workshop has held in which the region are broken up by cul- agencies presented a dozen reserve alternatives. A huge turnout de-sacs and haphazardly laid of more than 400 citizens voiced strong support for protecting theout as afterthoughts to housing developments. The result is an Rancho’s great resources, making a major impression. Friends ofincreasingly bleak and dispiriting landscape with growing traffic, the Foothills/Sierra Club are to be thanked for getting the wordpollution and congestion. out so effectively. EHL testified at the hearing, provided impor- One bright spot in this grim picture is the Riverside County tant letters from independent scientists to the wildlife agencies,update of its general plan, called the Riverside Integrated Project and will submit additional written comments from biologic and(RCIP). The RCIP is a truly innovative concept: an attempt toaddress related issues—transportation and public services, wildlife hydrologic experts.habitat conservation and land use planning—together rather than News flash: Two of the nation’s largest conservation groups,separately. It envisions a greater concentration of development, the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife,with mixed-use community centers connected by public transit and have endorsed The Heart and Soul Coalition. We welcomewith substantial open space and wildlife habitat. The RCIP has them to our effort to protect the Ranch Mission Viejo throughbeen underway for several years and is nearing implementation – “win-win” solutions.and not a moment too soon: the County’s population is expected todouble to 3 million by 2020. Having already achieved several important conservation victo- San Diego Countyries in Riverside County, the Endangered Habitats League has been Countryside the Key Issue in General Plan Update We areactive in the RCIP since its inception. We have convened stake-holder groups to promote key features of the Project and, while we pleased to report steady progress on the “2020 Update” on thehave worked to achieve win-win solutions, we have also taken the San Diego County General Plan. Most importantly, a new mapposition that the RCIP’s progressive features must not be watered has been created that reflects input from the Interest Groupdown or pre-empted by hastily granted building approvals. advisory committee on which EHL serves. The new map shows Sprawl is not destiny. We can turn it around! increased protection for the beautiful and defining backcountry landscapes of the county while directing growth to towns. EHLTwo Acres of Farmland Lost to Sprawl Each Minute, New Study Says and other environmental representatives spent long hours creat-The United States is losing two acres of mostly prime farmland every ing overlays of needed changes. While by no means final, if thisminute to development, the fastest such decline in the countrys his- map can be a vehicle for reaching consensus with communitytory, a new study has found. That loss has been on the edge of the groups, it will prove very valuable. The Interest Group is alsoouter suburbs, where some of the countrys best fruit farms are being wrestling with a complex set of standards, ranging from steepreplaced by houses on large lots, linked by new roads, highways and slopes to floodplains and wetlands. EHL continues to supplymalls, the study by the American Farmland Trust said. Elizabeth Becker/New York Times/October 4, 2002 This story continues on page 4
  3. 3. Grants funded to preserve central News of the Southern California Ecoregion section of the Ramona grasslands A key EHL habitat focus area in the Ramona grasslandsSan Diego Housing Action Network–endorsed received funding for acquisition in October. A U.S. Fish & Wild-project receives Affordable Housing tax credits life Service grant of $660,000 coupled with a $165,000 grant of The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee has an- the state Wildlife Conservation board will help preserve thenounced that Metro Villas, a new affordable housing project in central section of the 5,000 acre Ramona grasslands. EHL isthe City Heights neighborhood of City of San Diego, will receive working to provide further protection for these lands in several arenas.an allocation of $18.8 million in federal and state tax credits. One of two grants awarded by the federal agency under theMetro Villas, the housing component of the Metro Center year-old Recovery Land Acquisition program, the gift will beproject, is the only affordable housing development in San Diego used by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a down paymentto be awarded tax credits. toward the purchase of the 420-acre Cagney Ranch in the grass- The project was endorsed by the Housing Action Network lands area south of the Ramona airport. The Ramona grasslands(HAN), co-chaired by the Endangered Habitats League’s Lynne are a key site for preservation since they are relatively undisturb-Baker. HAN is a broad-based coalition that works to foster ed and retain connectivity to area habitat plans and preserves.“smart growth” projects to increase the supply of both marketrate and affordable entry level housing. For EHL, such projectsare an essential complement to the protection of wildlife habitatbecause they direct growth inward, to underutilized urban coreareas, and link growth areas by public transit rather than bybuilding more freeways. Metro Center a model redevelopment project “The Metro Center is a model redevelopment project,” saidCouncilmember Toni Atkins, whose Third District includes thesite of the proposed project. “This $44 million project combinesquality, affordable family housing located next to a park andtransit services, combined with public facilities to help workingfamilies improve their lives.” The Metro Center, to be constructed on University Avenueadjacent to and just west of Interstate 15, includes: • A four-story, 81,000-square-foot office tower, which will be the future home of the Workforce Partnership One-Stop Metro Career Center San Diego County grasslands/Photo courtesy of Bird Friends of San Diego • a 5,000-square-foot childcare center Ann Van Leer of TNC said the group hopes to raise the rest of the nearly $2 million needed to purchase the ranch, which is • a community meeting facility dotted with vernal pools and pockets of undisturbed native • the Metro Villas housing complex that will include grasses, from private donors and through other grants. Janet two “tot lots” Gilbert, spokeswoman for a group called Ramona Grasslands, • a 489-space parking structure to be shared by the said purchase of the Cagney ranch will be a major achievement. housing and office complex. Other organizations instrumental to obtaining the grants include the Wildlife Research Institute and the Vernal Pool Association. Complex will include 120 affordable housing units The ranch is a key component of the proposed preserve because The Metro Villas complex will include 120 affordable housing it is in the heart of the grasslands. The Ramona grasslands repre-units made up of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. sent a picture of San Diego County’s past because they lookThese units will be made available to families and individuals much the same as they did more than a century ago.who make less than 65 percent of the area’s median income. Acquisition and management of the Ramona grasslands is ”We have a critical need for decent, affordable, dignified key to ensuring the long-term preservation of important habitatfamily homes for City Heights residents,” said Atkins. “This for numerous native California plants and animals.project provides two tot lots, exceeds the open space and parking Completion of thisrequirements, and is located within yards of the busiest transit purchase will protect © SAN DIEGO NAT. HISTORY MUSEUMcorridors in the city, including the new MTDB bus service, the creatures such as thePremium Express ‘jobs routes’ to Downtown and UTC.” federally endangered The City Heights Community Development Corporation San Diego fairy shrimp,and San Diego Interfaith Housing will be partners in the hous- arroyo toad, Stephen’sing project. kangaroo rat and the threatened California Three organizations added funds to tax credits gnatcatcher. The area In addition to the $18.8 million in tax credits, funding was south of the Ramonaprovided by the San Diego Housing Commission, Centre City airport is also home toDevelopment Corporation, and the City of San Diego Redevel- wintering raptors and Arroyo Toadopment Agency. The Metro Career Center is a partnership of the serves as a stopover forSan Diego Revitalization Corporation—the development arm migratory waterfowl and songbirds. The ultimate goal in theof Price Charities—and the City’s redevelopment agency. The Ramona grasslands is to purchase about 5,000 acres and border-Metro Career Center is scheduled to open by December 2003, ing terrain and join it with the San Dieguito River Park andwhile the housing component should be completed six to eight Multiple Species Conservation Program lands to the south.months after that. The property was owned by William J. Cagney, the brother “This project is a perfect example of how redevelopment of movie star James Cagney. “I can reiterate that the Cagneycan be used to create liveable neighborhoods along with public Trust is very happy that this is going to happen,” said theirfacilities to benefit working families in our older, urban com- realtor. “They think this is a positive step for Ramona andmunities,” said Atkins. for their family’s legacy.” The Endangered Habitats Dan Silver ........ Director of Policy and Programs Jane Block ............. Director, Riverside County League is a non-profit organi- Jack Bath ........... Director, San Bernardino County Pete DeSimone .... Director, Orange County zation. All contributions are and EHL Secretary Jess Morton .......... Director, Los Angeles tax-deductible to the full extent Michael Beck ... Director, San Diego County County and EHL Treasurer allowed by law. Phil Lohman ...... Executive Director
  4. 4. A Phainopepla visits (continued from page 1) News of the Southern California Ecoregion Though I could not make out its color in the dull light of the overcast morning, I knew he was watching my every move throughSan Diego River Park (continued from page 1) striking scarlet eyes. The leaden sky also masked the sheen of the black feathers, so evident in full sunlight. The Lakeside Conservancy is already working to restore a The Phainopepla is one of the few North American birds that hastwo-and-a-half mile segment of the river that runs adjacent to identical common and scientific names. In this case, the name is mostHighway 67. This effort will be bolstered by the creation of the appropriate. It comes from the Greek and means “shining robe,”new River Park Conservancy, according to SDRLC Executive which certainly fits the adult males very well. The female is gray,Director Deborah Jones. “We’re raising money, and it’s going to though, and only shows a light gray, not white, wing patch. If herbe facilitated by the signing of the act,” Jones said. The SDRLC feathers are more drab than those of the male, she still shares hisis currently working on a nature-centered redevelopment project, scarlet enquiring eye.which will include an educational and recreational facility, in- This species has what is probably the oddest breeding cycle of any ofspired by architect James Hubbell, that will grace a restored our birds. It often has two broods, which is quite usual in the bird world,sand and gravel mining site along the river banks. The facility but the two nests may be separated by several hundred miles! Not only must the bird adapt to the rigors of breeding in one locality, but mustis intended be a major contribution towards the master an entirely different place wellrevitalization of the North shore of this commu- enough to raise young there, too.nity. The budget for the project is approximately Covenants of Motion In the Sonoran Desert region of$50 million. Eastern California, the Phainopepla is Conceiving that motion persists found wherever there is mistletoe in surprises, like finding the tops of the palo verde and mes-SD General Plan update (cont’d from page 2) a castle in the forest pennants flying in the spring breeze quite. The mistletoe provides food forthe Interest Group with ideas for an agreed- the adults and shelter for the shallow (and night colors with stars)upon package of standards. We also commend nest the male makes for the two orthe San Diego County Deptartment of Plan- moving in an air three eggs the female lays. After thening and Land Use for their leadership in this that catches the willow leaf early spring brood is raised, the adultsmomentous effort to replace the completely throws it aside only to see it return move north and westward for a sec-broken old General Plan, that has, until now, (each leaf to its green point) ond round of nesting. One of thecarved up the countryside into estate lot sprawl. and the silver willow habitats favored for this nesting is the stands in its rough skin riparian (streamside) willow thickets (others say how smooth it feels, of Southern California.Riverside documents (cont’d from page 1) though sensations are fleeting) Although Phainopeplas do eat berries, such as those in my night- Through the comment and hearing process— stands at the foot of crenelled ledge where rainfall tumbles shade bush, their main sustenanceslated to continue into 2003—EHL will attempt to comes form the insects they hawk into the clear poolfix problems, such as a loophole for the clearing from the air. Indeed, they are most (reflects moon through leaves)of habitat for agricultural purposes. Meanwhile, frequently to be observed perchedstate and federal funds are moving toward key there the dappled trout high in trees, waiting to fly out afteracquisitions, even including the Potrero Valley has his deep ways some passing bug.near Beaumont, an intact landscape with prime the water moving The profile of the bird is charac-grassland habitat for the endangered Stephens’ (always water moving) teristic. Although there are severalkangaroo rat previously proposed for massive but not the trout crest-ed birds in the United States, thedevelopment. whose tail is like flags or leaves two best known, Northern Cardinal weaving in the spring breeze and Blue Jay, are both eastern species. (though the seasons We have one common crested species, House of Representatives go slower than stars). the Cedar Waxwing, often seen in passes pipeline safety bill Jess Morton flocks of 20 to 150 birds, especially inWASHINGTON/November 18, 2002—The U.S. May and June, just before they migrate northward to their nesting grounds.House of Representatives has passed legislation While Phainopeplas may be seen in treetop perches, a flock of 50to strengthen federal safety programs for the 1.6 million miles of crested birds can be relied upon to be waxwings.pipelines that transport oil, petroleum products and natural gas So the next time you walk outside and hear a pleasant little risingacross the United States. The measure, which had already cleared whistle, don’t automatically assume it’s the guy down the streetthe Senate, requires more safety inspections of pipelines and… getting fresh. Take a look around. Perhaps it will be one of nature’sincreases, from $25,000 to $100,000 per day, the fine against unexpected bonuses, a Phainopepla stopping by for a brief visit as itcompanies that violate the pipeline safety rules. REUTERS makes its way to some coastal canyon to continue its hectic life cycle. Endangered Habitats League 8424-A Santa Monica Blvd., #592 Los Angeles, CA 90069-4267