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Spring 2003 Endangered Habitats League Newsletter


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Spring 2003 Endangered Habitats League Newsletter

  1. 1. ENDANGERED We publish this newsletter four times a year to inform our generous supporters — and the many other friends of the Endangered Habitats League — about our plans, H A B I TAT S activties and successes throughout the ecoregion. LEAGUE If you are not yet a member of the Endangered Habitats League, please join us in the ongoing effort to preserve and protect the Southern California ecoregion’s irreplacable NEWSLETTER plants, animals and places. Form is on page 3. Dedicated to Ecosystem Protection and Sustainable Land Use +++ Vol. 13 No. 2 +++ Spring 2003EHL files CEQA suit to block two Subject: Beasts & Botanydevelopments in Trabuco Canyon Range Expansion Despite letters from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the By Jess MortonCalifornia Dept. of Fish and Game stating that the Saddle Crestand Saddle Creek development projects would “preclude” a Everyone who reads theseNatural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) in Orange pages is already familiar with theCounty, the Board of Supervisors approved the projects. County wildlife-associated problems ofstaff also took the opportunity to lower the protections of the habitat loss and the resultantFoothill-Trabuco Specific Plan, the result of years of commu- range contraction of many nativenity-based outreach. species. What may not be so This project had gained notoriety in the press for its wanton evident is that other native speciesdestruction of 500 mature oaks and sycamores, with indirect have done well by human-in-impacts to hundreds more. Local activists had led protests, but in duced changes to the environ-the end, EHL was forced to file a suit under CEQA. We expect to ment. Some like the mourningbe joined in the litigation by other environmental groups. Similar Great-tailed grackle: Can this recent cloak butterfly and house finch avian interloper be called “native?”issues are at stake in our litigation over the neighboring Saddle- are so much a part of our worldback Meadows project. we hardly notice them. Both are species that have always been widespread in southern California MAY MEMBERSHIP DRIVE and are doing very well today. But there areProgressive ideas receive unanimous support of key Throughout the month of May, others whose range is expanding in southerncommittee at recent hearing on new General Plan EHL will be sponsoring our annual California that make us ask, “What does it membership drive. We want to means to be a native species?”Riverside County moves closer reach everyone in the region who Examples of “native” species with expanding shares our interest in preservingto historic change of direction Southern California’s natural heri- ranges can be drawn from every group of plants Walkable communities of higher density tage. As the scope of our work and animals. Let’s look at a couple of them—therather than tract homes and strip mall parking continues to grow we are work- great-tailed grackle and giant swallowtail butter-lots? A transit framework within the worst ing to improve our organization fly. The great-tailed grackle is a large blackbirdsprawl in the entire nation? Assurance through and expand our membership. “native” to Mexico, Texas and parts of the south- Through the use of technology west. As its name implies, the tail is spectacu-a “Certainty System” that rural areas won’t be we are building an ”action alertreplanned for development except on a five- system” and creating efficient new lar—a v-shaped bloom of tail feathers that givesyear, comprehensive cycle? All these ideas got ways to work and communicate. me the impression that the male is draggingthe unanimous support of the General Plan anchor when it flies. RENEWAL NOTICES COMING A glance at past field data is instructive. TheAdvisory Committee (GPAC) at supervisorialhearings in March on the new General Plan. Personal renewal notices will be species is not mentioned in books on California sent to our members within a birds from the 1920’s. Field guides from the 60’s EHL a key participant in new plan couple of weeks. These notices will include the opportunity for you to show its range extending into Arizona, but still EHL has been one of the key participants east of the Colorado River. By the 1980’s the join our e-mail alert system andin GPAC, developing many of the progressive to indicate your specific areas of lower Colorado was heavily colonized andfeatures of the plan. Along with building indus- interest or concern. You will also today, the great-tailed grackle is common intry, affordable housing advocates, and other have the chance to apply part of coastal wetlands, much to the dismay of vet-environmental groups, we presented decision- your membership contribution as eran local birders, who view these birds as nestmakers with a strong consensus for change. a gift membership. We ask every- robbers and a threat to many uncommon marsh-EHL also pointed out last minute policy one to give some thought as to land species.changes that would reduce protections for others you know who may be Yet by some measures, the great-tailedstreams and floodplains, and submitted com- interested in joining EHL. Your support and the support of grackle has to be considered a “native” species. ments with As the US Fish and Wildlife Service points out, others like you are very impor- what’s inside? alternative tant for our continued success. the bird did get here on its own. At least partly. language. We look forward to another year! Its rapid range expansion has been facilitated by Staff told human activities. This grackle is a bird of marsh News from Around to adopt and riparian wetlands. Hence, the long stretches Our Southern Cali- new course of desert that once existed in the southwest were effective barri- fornia Ecoregion 2 On April 8, the Board of ers to its spread. Now, as we have dotted the desert with cities Supervisors gave direction to and towns, the barrier Conference: Planning staff that embraces this change has disappeared. Great- and Building More Livable Communities 2 of course. Innovative “Com- tailed grackles moved munity Centers” and density westward, leaping from New EHL Institute bonuses, in exchange for open place to place. to be located in space, were green-lighted. Another relatively San Diego County’s While supporting most aspects new species to southern Crestridge Reserve 3 of the five-year Certainty Sys- California is the giant Membership and tem, the Board (on a 3:2 vote) swallowtail butterfly. This Gift Membership acceded to pressure from the is our largest lowland Opportunity 3 Farm Bureau and unfortunately butterfly, with a wingspan reduced the cycle from five stretching well over five EHL in the News 4 years to two years for some The giant swallowtail butterfly is “native” inches. The wings are farmlands. EHL is still fighting to the southeastern US, where it is occa- “On Water” (a poem) 4 bright yellow below. to regain the stream and flood- sionally a pest species. Known there as the plain protections. “orange dog,”its larvae feed on citrus. This story continues on page 3
  2. 2. N ews from Around Our Southern California Ecoregion final basis for the “MSCP-North” plan. A new factor for North County will be the habitat value of some agricultural areas—studies indicate that some endangered species thrive in the riparian area groves established along the floodplains in North County. Where habitat has become frag- mented, agricultural areas offer opportunities to create corridorsRiverside County that would otherwise belost. EHL looks forward to new partner- EHL seeks improvement of Riverside habitat plan ships with farmers who are passionate about the land’s life force. Endangered Habitats League has submitted comments to Coalition to save regional aquifer formed with EHL helpthe County of Riverside outlining improvements to its draft In Borrego Springs, EHL has been working to help organizeMultiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). These a grassroots group concerned about the overdraft of the aquifer.improvements arose from the “Bio Working Group,” a group ofbiologists convened by EHL to review the adequacy of the pro-posed plan. Their technical report recommended that alreadyfragmented areas be eliminated, that important regional linkages Planning and Buildingbe added, and that the two main core habitat areas be expanded More Livable Communitiesand strengthened. Remarkably, this biologically superior con-figuration would also be more cost-effective than the original June 27-28, 2003proposal. EHL has met with County staff to discuss the practical U.S. Grant Hotel • San Diegoaspects of implementing these changes. On June 27-28, 2003, the Local Govern- Legal settlement adds to French Valley open space ment Commission will present a statewide multi-disciplinary Smart Growth conference The failure of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors entitled Planning and Building Moreto rein in new General Plan amendments while revising the Livable Communities.old General Plan has meant that the new General Plan will With California’s population expected to grownever achieve all it might have achieved. Due to these concerns, significantly in the near future—putting addi-EHL began filing litigation against some of these General Plan tional pressure on our water supplies,amendments. agricultural land, open space, air quality, hous- In the case of one project, we were able to work with the ap- ing supplies, transportation system, energyplicants to protect more open space between the French Valley supplies, and public health and safety. The Juneand Menifee areas while simultaneously providing a wider 2003 conference will bring the burgeoningrange of housing products on smaller lots. It is still incumbent support groups for planning and building moreupon the County to accept this beneficial solution, however. livable communities together. The conference will examine the barriers to working togetherSan Bernardino County and determine how to overcome them. Con- EHL helps Chino adopt progressive land use plan ference sponsors, to date, include the Califor- nia Department of Transportation, Califor- On March 25, 2002, the City of Chino approved a land use nia Department of Health Services, U.S. EPAplan for its annexation of thousands of acres of land in the Region IX, and the Irvine Foundation.former San Bernardino County dairy preserve. Due to water To receive more information about thisquality problems and other factors, the land is going out of dairy exciting event, please contact Michele Kelso,use. Over the last several months, EHL was able to work with Sr. Program Manager at 916-448-1198 orthe City and Lewis Homes on a beneficial outcome. While EHL’s mkelso@lgc.orgfirst priority is infill and redevelopment, these environmentallydegraded lands are adjacent to existing infrastructure and rela-tively appropriate for development. Furthermore, the proposalfor a higher density, mixed use town center would produce a Save Our Aquifer Coalition (SOAC) was formed and has begunmodel for less land-consumptive and more pedestrian-friendly advocacy in Borrego Springs and across the larger San Diegocommunity designs in the Inland Empire. Region. The Union-Tribune has printed SOAC letters and recent- At EHL’s suggestion, strong land use controls were placed ly published an editorial calling attention to the groundwaterover more thousands of acres of environmentally valuable lands crisis in Borrego and pushing the State of California to updatein the 200-year floodplain of Prado Dam. These agricultural and its archaic groundwater law. The County of San Diego is cur-natural open space uses can be a bridge to a permanent conser- rently forming a working group to consider aquifer rechargevation area. In addition, modeled after our agreement with the issues in the backcountry as well as the groundwater well per-City of Ontario, mitigation fees will be collected from new mitting process. SOAC and EHL will host a legislative summit ondevelopment on a per acre basis. These fees can be applied to groundwater in May. The meeting will bring together concernedoff-site or on-site habitat acquisition, restoration, and manage- east and north county community leaders—including agricul-ment. A prime acquisition target is a linkage connecting the tural interests—to discuss various legislative, conservation, andChino Basin to Chino Hills State Park. A restoration and man- regulatory strategies to address this important issue. If you areagement priority is long-term habitat for the burrowing owl. interested in this issue or statewide groundwater legislation, contact Lynne Baker at Diego County Land use map protecting countryside is paramount Habitat Planning for North County advances Of all the components of the San Diego County 2020 General The San Diego Association of Governments approved the Plan Update, the map containing designated land uses is para-framework and programmatic EIR for the North County Mul- mount. EHL’s goal is to preserve rural landscapes from estate lot and other residential subdivision, and focus growth in towns.tiple Habitat Conservation Program, or MHCP, on March 28, The map that came out of the “Interest Group” of stakeholderscovering the cities of Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, achieved this goal. County staff then produced a compromiseOceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido. Also, Carlsbad map, called the Working Copy, that reflected community input.recently approved their subarea plan after finalizing changes While not as good as the Interest Group map, it still made greatrequired by the Coastal Commission that set a new standard strides in preserving the countryside and was endorsed by thefor protecting sensitive resources in the coastal zone. These Interest Group as a basis for further analysis.changes are undergoing final review by the state and federal After extensive public hearings in March, the Planning Com-wildlife agencies prior to permitting. Escondido’s plan is likely mission asked staff to review numerous property owner requeststo be next in line for processing. for changes, but nevertheless unanimously recommended using Meanwhile, in the unincorporated area, the County of San the Working Copy as the basis for an Environmental ImpactDiego recently issued a draft habitat map for discussion and Report. This vital step forward will be considered by the Boardcomment for their North County area—covering Bonsall, Twin of Supervisors in May.Oaks, Fallbrook, DeLuz, Rainbow, Pala, Pauma Valley, Valley Much work remains to be done on resource protectionCenter, Palomar Mountain, Rancho Guejito and Ramona. standards, rural design guidelines, and landowner equityComments and ground-truthing will follow to help form the mechanisms, but we are encouraged by the progress to date.
  3. 3. ✄The preservation of Crestridge has been a high priority for EHLEHL’s Earth Discovery Institute will be Membership Signuplocated in the MSCP Crestridge Reserve If you are not yet a member of the Endangered The Earth Discovery Institute (EDI) is a project of the Endan- Habitats League, please join us in the ongoinggered Habitats League located on the 2,800 acre MSCP Crest- effort to preserve and protect the Southernridge Preserve in the community of Crest in eastern San Diego California ecoregion’s irreplacable plants,County. This project will include the development of a nature animals and, research field station and environmental education pro-grams. EHL will also be responsible for oversight of preserve Fill out the form below and mail it withmonitoring and management in partnership with the California your donation. Please print.Department of Fish and Game. The preservation of Crestridge has been a high priority for I/we are enclosing a donation in the amount ofEHL and due in large measure to our efforts, became an MSCPacquisition several years ago just ahead of the proposed develop- $______________________________ment of a 92-lot subdivision. As a primary and strategic objective Your Name (s) Address 1 Address 2 City/State/Zip Home phone Fax Office phone Fax E-mail Gift Membership I/we would like to give an EHL membership in the amount of $______________________________ To: Name (s)EHL’s Earth Discovery Institute will include a nature center, research fieldstation and education programs. Crestridge will also become a model for the Address 1development of environmental education, community involvement, and sustain-able building design. “Green” structures will be integrated into the landscape. Address 2in San Diego, EHL is using Crestridge as a model to establish “gold City/State/Zipstandards” for MSCP monitoring and preserve management. Home phone Fax Crestridge will also become a model for the development of environmental educa- Office phone Fax tion programs, com- munity involvement, E-mail and sustainable build- ing design. By setting Please mail this form with your donation(s) to: such standards, EHL intends to influence the Endangered Habitats League quality of long-term 8424-A Santa Monica Blvd., #592 MSCP monitoring, Los Angeles, CA 90069-4267 management, and implementation. ✄ Renowned artist and architect James Hubbell and his son Great-tailed grackle now “native” (continued from page 1)Renowned artist and architect James Hubbell and Drew Hubbell de- The upper surface is dark brown, with broad stripes of yellowhis son Drew Hubbell designed the Institute. signed the buildings running from wingtip to wingtip and angling from back to front.that will house the Earth Discovery Institute. These “green” First recorded in California in 1963, its range has been expandingstructures, integrated into the landscape and sitting lightly on steadily. It is now common along the coast from San Diego tothe ground, will be built within the footprint of several build- Los Angeles (where it was unknown ten years ago). This speciesings that previously existed on site. is “native” to the southeastern US, where it is occasionally a pest Environmental education programs are under development species—the “orange dog’s” larvae feed on citrus.with Granite Hills High School under the leadership of Leslie Is this a native species? As with the great-tailed grackle, theReynolds, EDI program manager. Ground breaking on the first answer is yes and no. Both arrived here on their own, so are “native”.component of the Earth Discovery Institute will commence this But both were materially assisted by human intervention. The black-Spring. Future editions of this newsletter will focus on specific bird by man-made desert oases, and the butterfly by the introductionaspects of the Earth Discovery Institute project as well as con- of widespread citrus farming. Whatever answer one may choose,servation on the Crestridge Preserve. both species are here and their populations are growing. The Endangered Habitats Dan Silver ........ Board Member & Executive Director Pete DeSimone .... Board Member League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Jack Bath ........... Board Member & Secretary Karen Messer ....... Board Member organization. All contributions Michael Beck ... Board Member & San Diego Director Jess Morton .......... Board Member & Treasurer are tax-deductible to the full Jane Block ......... Board Member Lynne Baker ......... San Diego Project Manager extent allowed by law. NicaKatherine Knite ......... Communications and Development Director
  4. 4. EHL in the News On Water In a March 2, 2003 article titled, “Housing Action Network seeksto build public support,” the San Diego Union Tribune described As if walking on water, on airthe Network’s efforts to foster high quality, infill development, by canoe on the blue skin of earth;thus providing an alternative to sprawl. EHL’s Lynne Baker, our paddles stilt into the brown depths,co-chair of the Network, was quoted as saying, “The region storm-stirred and relapsing from the light.needs more compact housing development.” The rank flowers of water primrose EHL’s Dan Silver was the subject of a feature article in the climb through heat to seat the dragonfly.Wall Street Journal on February 12, 2003. It chronicled Dan’s The leaves and stems brake our sliding inyears of work with building industry stakeholders in Riverside as the great egret stills his golden blade.County to change development patterns to reduce sprawl and, Lucid and shining this cross-eyed atman.through the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, to Thoughts tangent on spheres of awareness,save endangered species. the silence braids our eyes to each other. We should make much with such pure feathering. On March 3, 2003, Dan Silver was quoted in the San DiegoNorth County Times, criticizing a proposal for a new growth- But we are scavengers in this world,inducing freeway east of the I-15. “The problems would be lifting those joys to be found in weeds: the build of leaf, the density of lifeoverwhelming,” he said. amid the flotsam from distant streets. During the first week of March, both the Orange County The heron turns, wisdom unsafe with us,Register and the Los Angeles Times reported on EHL’s law- and the lope of legs and golden toessuit against the Saddle Crest and Saddle Creek projects. stride him away toward the sun-tuned reeds,Approved by the Board of Supervisors, these projects would primrose scarcely dipping to his weight.bulldoze hundreds of oaks and sycamores and block a criticalwildlife corridor. Jess Morton Southern California wildflowers are in full bloom in April and May © DAVID HOGAN Red Rock Canyon State Park (Western Mojave) Eroded rock formations rise from the brilliant carpet of wildflowers below, and surround the Red Rock Canyon State Park with walls of green, lavender, white and vibrant red. As if that were not enough to send senses reeling, nature added crimson blossomed beaver tail cactus and forests of white blooming Joshua trees and yuccas. The area offers so much to do and see that (you) couldWildflowers and California Poppies in the Antelope Valley between Gorman and Palmdale … Head inland, away spend the entire spring at this site without anyfrom the southern coast, to California’s rolling hills, interior valleys and deserts … between March and June, risk of boredom. Take Highway 14 to Mojave andthey are awash in colors of every hue and shade … Nothing quite outshines the golden fields of California’s state go north on 395. You’ll spot it from the highway.flower, that native Americans said warmed the hills and drove out winter’s chill … We know (it) today as the For more information call the Mojave Desert StateCalifornia Golden Poppy! Photo and text courtesy of Park Information Center at (805) 942-0662. Endangered Habitats League This newsletter is printed on recycled stock 8424-A Santa Monica Blvd., #592 with a high level of post-consumer content. Los Angeles, CA 90069-4267