Dedicated to Ecosystem Protection and Sustainable Land Use Planning +++ Vol. 12 No. 2 +++ Spring 2002This newsletter is pub- If you are not a memberlished quarterly to of the Endangered Habi-inform the generous tats League, please joinsupporters and other us in the ongoing effortfriends of the Endan-gered Habitats League ENDANGERED to preserve and protect Southern California’sabout our activties in theecoregion. HABITATS LEAGUE irreplacable plants, animals and places. NEWSLETTERNew EHL Project to Save a Hidden Gem Endangered Habitats League (EHL) has initiated a project toprotect one of Southern California’s least known but importantlandscapes. EHL’s Canyons Project encompasses untrammeledand often isolated lands in western Riverside County—in thefoothills of the San Jacinto Mountains. In these scenic canyonlands, the interface of coastal and desertclimatic zones has created great bio-diversity with many endemic species—species found nowhere else, like theVail Lake Ceanothus. Roughly, the Canyons Project liessouth of Hemet and northeast ofTemecula, and forms an eastern edge tothe rapidly urbanizing Perris Plain. Onealready protected area is the Shipley EHL’s new Canyons Project encompasses untrammeled, often isolated landsReserve south of the Diamond Valley in western Riverside County—in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains.Reservoir, which was part of the mitiga-tion for that project. Dominant vegeta- As is common in conservation, time is of the essence. Protec-tion is rersidian coastal sage scrub (often tion of this largely intact ecosystem needs to start right away.with gnatcatchers) and chaparral. Vail Lake Ceanothus Thus, Endan- Cottonwood riparian areas along Wil- This unique, small- gered Habitatsson Creek are reminiscent of the Sonoran leaved shrub from a dis- League hasDesert. Wilson Creek also ties together tance bears a superficial asked the River- similarity to Chamise.the San Jacinto and Palomar mountains, side Land Con-and thus is a critical landscape linkage for large predators be- servancy, whichtween the San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests. is having great Agricultural land in Cactus Valley, just south of Hemet, success in itswould probably support the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat San Timoteo The Stephens’ Kangaroo Ratif acquisition and restoration were to occur. The lush habitat of State Park pro- Illustration by Dr. Dan HollandTemecula Creek along Highway 79 borders scenic areas in San ject to the north,Diego County to the south. The area around Vail Lake forms the to house this new EHL sponsored Canyons Project, and theyupper watershed have accepted. This story continues on page 2for the Santa The good news is that the River-Margarita River, side County Multiple Species Habi-one of our pre-mier natural tat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) EHL Project Manager for San Diegoresources. seeks to create large core reserve Helps Establish Housing Action Almost all the areas in the Canyons region. Network to Promote “Smart Growth”area is privatelyowned. With some exceptions, like an old sub-division called If our scenic landscapes are to be protected, new develop-“Lake Riverside” and the community of Anza farther to the east, ment must be directed “in rather than out.” Such “smartit is sparsely settled. There are quaint “villages” like Aguana— growth” must also meet high standards of community design.basically just a country store. The area lacks infrastructure, and Endangered Habitats League (represented by San Diego Projectrural residential sprawl has not destroyed the ambience in most Manager Lynne Baker) has become a founding member of theplaces—at least not yet. Unfortunately, the new Riverside new San Diego Housing Action Network (HAN). County Integrated Plan will not HAN is a coalition of business, environmental, affordable what’s inside? change the current zoning, housing, and planning advocates. The group has developed which calls for 5- and 10-acre consensus around ten project criteria to guide endorsement of News from Our lots—a prescription for rural smart growth projects. The Network is modeled on a similar So. Calif. Ecoregion 2 residential sprawl advancing coalition in Silicon Valley that has helped address concerns over Federal and State east from Temecula. Also, one added density in already developed areas. The ten criteria Actions Affecting Indian casino already operates include habitat conservation plan support, storm-water filtra- So. Calif. Ecoregion 2 in the area. tion, jobs/housing balance, and walkable, transit-oriented San Diego River The good news is that the communities.(See chart on page 3.) The result should be the Park Established 2 Riverside County Multiple creation of affordable housing that spares rural and habitat Progress Made Due Species Habitat Conservation lands and is also acceptable to surrounding communities. to Member Support 3 Plan (MSHCP) seeks to create Two projects in the City of San Diego have earned the HAN Sage & Sea Audu- large core reserve areas in the endorsement. The first project will create a “mixed use” village bon Profile of EHL 3 Canyons region. Land is not with 137 new units of market rate apartment housing integrated “MUTTS” Cartoon expensive and the opportunity above an existing retail complex in the Clairemont district. Hits a Home Run 3 exists to capture reserve areas Three-bedroom units are incorporated into the project, meeting Gifts that Honor a encompassing tens of thousands of acres. As an ancillary mea- a rarely provided need for large family-size apartment housing. Friend or Loved One 3 sure, the new Integrated Plan The endorsement calls upon the owner and city to look into EHL in the News 4 may contain an incentive system further set-asides for Section 8 workforce housing programs. Tell a Friend 4 The second project will rehabilitate and reuse an historic 13,000- to rural landowners for devel- “Giant Petrel” (poem) 4 opment rights to be transferred square foot building on Park Boulevard to create a 90-unit to growing urban centers. This story continues on page 3
N ews from Around Our Southern California Ecoregion Riverside County A preliminary draft of the Multiple Species Habitat Conserva- tion Plan (MSHCP) was released to Advisory Committee mem- bers. Endangered Habitats League submitted comments detail- ing the shortcomings of the proposal, such as an over-allowance of new agricultural clearing, but feels that the potential conserva-Orange County tion benefits are large. Very importantly, the County is succeed- The South Subregion Natural Community Conservation Plan ing in enlisting the participation of the various cities in the(NCCP) incorporates the 23,000 acres that remain of the historic MSHCP, and we commend them for this crucial effort. EHL isRancho Mission Viejo (RMV), now proposed by the landowners also working to make early habitat acquisition funds available toand their investors for massive development. However, Supervi- the program.sor Tom Wilson decided to take a longer view, and has convened County staff, developing the General Plan and transportationa broad-based Land Use Advisory Committee under his South components of the comprehensive Riverside County IntegratedCounty Outreach and Review Effort (SCORE). EHL sits on this Plan, will release draft documents in the coming weeks. EHL will concentrate on ensuring that critical features of the plan, such ascommittee, which already has set precedents for community transit-supporting community centers, don’t get lost as the pro-involvement. Thus far, we have been given presentations of cess advances. Litigation on the French Valley and Domenigoni-biology, land use planning, transportation, and urban services. Barton development projects is advancing toward hearing dates. The Land Use Committee expects potential developmentfootprints to be forwarded from the simultaneous NCCP process San Bernardino Countysometime in May. In order to make progress in the potentially In order to implement our settlement agreement with thecontentious NCCP, The Nature Conservancy has retained a City of Ontario (see Winter 2002 Newsletter), the City, EHL, andfacilitator to convene stakeholders on an informal, ad hoc basis. Sierra Club have formed an Advisory Committee to choose a landProgress is being made; a range of reserve designs will be drawn trust to receive mitigation funds. We are pleased that a respectedup and given to the wildlife agencies for their review in April. community leader has agreed serve as the “neutral party” on theInitial discussions have been constructive, and EHL will continue committee. Elsewhere in San Bernardino County, litigation againstto try to find common ground around an alternative that protects the Lytle Creek North project, a totally misconceived project im-the key core landscapes in an ecologically sound manner. pacting alluvial fan habitat and negating the possibility of a Please check out the beautiful and informative web page of successful multiple species plan, has been filed by EHL.“The Heart and Soul Coalition” that EHL and others have form-ed to advance land protection. It is found at: www.ocheartandsoul.org. F ederal and State Actions Affecting Our Southern California Ecoregion Federal Bush administration targets wetland protections. Regulations have been issued that step back from the historic “no net loss” standard. For example, upland buffers could now be considered as compensation. State of California Proposition 40 passes. Giving our conservation efforts a major boost, voters passed the park bond, with greater than a two- thirds majority. The park bond addresses multiple state needs, from active recreation to wildlife habitat. Department of Fish and Game review of environmental impact reports in jeopardy. In response to State budget cutbacks, the Department of Fish and Game has proposed the virtual elimina- tion of staff review of EIRs prepared under CEQA. Conserva- tionists, including EHL, are trying to restore this vital Depart- ment of Fish and Game function. This small, Holly Springs Ranch acquisition funded. The State of colorful bro- California’s Department of Fish and Game’s land acquisition chure is titled arm, the Wildlife Conservation Board, approved funding to “Saving the Natural Trea- purchase this important component of the North County sures of Orange Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan. EHL furnished a letter County for Our of support. Children.” EHL will send as many brochures as you want, to promote San Diego River Park Established www.o The Heart and Over the past two years, EHL initiated the establishment of the cheart Soul Coalition. San Diego River Park-Lakeside Conservancy and also formed the andso ul.org San Diego River Park Foundation to assist with funding support. With the active involvement of environmental colleagues, wild-San Diego County life agencies and elected officials, EHL has made significant pro- The County’s General Plan 2020 Update has made slow gress with this “model” river conservation project. EHL’s successprogress, with goals and policies undergoing scrutiny and a has resulted in the consideration of a State of California chartered conservancy for this important riparian and community resource.new land use map almost ready for review. For the MultipleHabitat Conservation Program (MHCP), which covers theNorth County cities, Endangered Habitats League has submit- Canyons Project (from page 1)ted written comments. EHL also has submitted comments on Using funds solicited from interested donors by Endangeredtraffic modeling to the San Diego Association of Governments, Habitats League, the respected and highly experienced parklandso that an innovative transit system under development gets a consulting firm of Dangermond and Associates will staff the“fair shake” compared to automotive travel. An update on project, and match willing-seller landowners with state, federalEHL’s “Smart Growth” work in San Diego is found on page 1 and local funding sources. We will keep you informed as EHL’sof this newsletter. Canyons Project progresses.
EHL in the News Member Support Makes Progress Possible (continued from page 3) On April 7, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported on the statusof the highly endangered Pacific pocket mouse, which survivesin just three locations in northern San Diego and southern Or- In 2002, with your help, EHL will:ange County. Two locations are on the Camp Pendleton Marine √ Continue our work on the San Diego County GeneralBase. The third is on the Dana Point Headlands. plan and save the San Diego “backcountry” from sprawl. The Times said, Environmentalists argue for the species to recoverit’s necessary to save as much of their habitat as possible. “They’ve been √ Expand the San Diego National Wildlife Refugethere for a long time and they’ve survived a lot of neglect,” said Dan near Jamul.Silver, coordinator of the Endangered Habitats League. “Hopefully, √ Ensure a sound Natural Community Conservationwith proper management, they will rebound. We look upon it as vital. Plan for South Orange County’s globally import naturalThere are so few of these animals left that you have to keep every one of resource “hot spots.”these places going.” √ Promote “Smart Growth,” throughout the ecoregion, Efforts by EHL and others to by cooperating on model community developmentprotect the population on the projects that are environmentally friendly alternativesHeadlands yielded a “qualified” to sprawl.success. Here is the background: √ Move ahead with the “Canyons Project,” to save foothillsIn 1996, in a failing of the NCCP in Riverside County that link two National Forests.program, the Orange CountyCentral-Coastal NCCP providedno permanent protection for theDana Point population. How-ever, due to enormous citizen Giant Petreleffort, the housing development Ocean running beneath us,that would displace the mice Pacific Pocket Mouse the southern seas surge onward,was overturned by a ballotmeasure. A new planning effort Photo: Shana Dodd immense ultramarine watersensued, in which EHL and local groups jointly proposed a strapped to the roaring wind“Nature Park” on the site, to protect the pocket mouse, Califor- that strips foaming tattersnia gnatcatchers, and rare plants. out of our milky wake. Ultimately, following litigation by the developer, the City ofDana Point approved a compromise plan. While EHL argued for Scudding clouds heap gray upon gray,expansion of the proposed mouse conservation area in its testi- and under them a pale form has risenmony, the new plan’s permanent protection is a major improve- out of the bristling foamment and has excellent management built-in. It now goes before to swing over the frigid sea,the Coastal Commission for review. a bird moving without wingbeat The Times article noted that surveys have shown declining across our turbulent wake.mouse populations on the Headlands. Over the years, EHLhad repeatedly pointed out that any one of the populations Ceaselessly, the giant petrel hangs,could “blink out” or suffer a natural or man-made disaster, crossing behind, and crossing behind,making each population essential as a refugium. Transplanta- letting its rigid wings slide downtion, according to scientists, would only be defensible in the the endless Antarctic windcase of excess individuals. then, on end, turning, turning, turning upon the huge leash of our headlong wake. Tell a Friend about EHL And when the lion rolls on his back, and the Milky Way glides up out of darkness, Endangered Habitat League’s regional environmental perspec- there, pivoting on the sinking moon’stive allows us to focus on those battles that are critically important silver hinge of light,to the ecosystem we all cherish! the silhouette of that somber cross We truly need your assistance to continue this work. Please help still cleaves to our glittering wake.us spread the word about EHL’s activities by telling a friend aboutour work or by sharing this newsletter with an acquaintance.Your ideas —Jess Mortonand efforts to help EHL expand its support base are always welcome.Endangered Habitats League 8424-A Santa Monica Blvd., #592 Stamp Los Angeles, CA 90069-4267