Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors


Thursday, December 20, 2007



Center for Biological Diversity, conservation biology with litigation, policy advocacy, and an innovative strategic vision, the Center for Biological Diversity is working to secure a future for animals and plants hovering on the brink of extinction, for the wilderness they need to survive, and by extension for the spiritual welfare of generations to come.

California Oaks Foundation, to preserving the state's oak forest ecosystem and its rural landscapes

Friends of the River, in 1973, Friends of the River is dedicated to preserving and restoring California's rivers, streams, and their watersheds as well as advocating for sustainable water management.

Surfrider Foundation, The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots, non-profit, environmental organization that works to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches.

South Coast Wildlands Project; mapping missing wildlife corridors and linkages throughout California


North Coast Environmental Center, concerned with Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties and South Oregon. Educates, activates, and when necessary litigates on behalf of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. Created in February 1971, the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) is one of the most influential coalitions educating, agitating and litigating on behalf of the environment in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of northwestern California. This nonprofit umbrella for a host of citizen activist groups has been at the forefront of every regional environmental struggle for decades--from ancient redwoods, wild rivers and recycling to toxics, energy and endangered species. Publishes the monthly newspaper EcoNews. Environmental Protection Information Center, concerned with Humboldt County and the 4 National Forests between the north coast and the Sacramento River Valley; formed by community activists more than 29 years ago, and works to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries, and native species throughout Northwest California. EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation. Redwood Forest Foundation; recently purchased a 50,000 acre redwood forest on the north Mendocino County coast from a timber logging company. Save-the-Redwoods LeagueThe League has helped preserve 165,000 acres of ancient redwoods since 1918, on the far north coast, in the Big Sur and Santa Cruz areas, and within Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevadas. For history of the Redwood Parks, click here:

Sanctuary Forest Inc. Working to connect Humboldt Redwoods State Park to the King Range National Conservation Area. Since 1987, Sanctuary Forest has met the challenges involved in protecting and conserving over 10,000 acres of forests and streams, including 1200 acres of old growth forest (total of 4400 acres of land acquired for conservation and 6075 acres of conservation easements on private land). For a map of preserved lands, click here:

Jackson Forest Restoration Campaign, State Forest is a public treasure -- 50,000 acres of beautiful redwood forest located within a few hours drive of San Francisco. The state has been massively logging this public forest, owned by you and me. The profits subsidize the private timber industry. The public forest should not be used for the benefit of the timber industry.Our goal is to restore the forest to old growth for recreation, habitat, and education. 1976, has conserved, in perpetuity, over 9,300 acres of significant lands throughout Mendocino County. For map of preserves, click here:

Sonoma Land Trust, 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has protected more than 17,000 acres of beautiful, productive and environmentally significant land in and around Sonoma County.For map of preserved lands, click here:



BEST MAGAZINE: in Berkeley and founded in 1969, the Center promotes environmentally and socially responsible practices, publishes Terrain Magazine (a comprehensive look at environmental issues in Northern California, published 4 times a year), and sponsors groups working on the Headwaters Forest, recycling and plastics, community gardening, Indigenous permaculture, biodiesel and community water rights. To read Terrain back issues, click here:

Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, Bay Area Ridge Trail ultimately will be a 500-mile trail encircling the San Francisco Bay along the ridge tops, open to hikers, equestrians, mountain bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. So far, we have dedicated almost 300 miles of trail for use by Bay Area residents, now and forever. For map of the completed trails, and proposed trails, click here:

San Francisco Bay Trail,

Marin Agricultural Land Trust, has so far permanently protected over 38,000 acres of land on 58 family farms and ranches by acquiring conservation easements. Click here for map of preserved lands:

Blue Ridge-Berryessa Natural Area Conservation Partnership, 80 mile long by 20 miles wide, 800,000-acre Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area extends from the Mendocino National Forest on the north to the Sacramento River delta on the south. It includes both public and private lands. For map showing the BRBNA in relation to other preserved open spaces, click here:

Napa County Land Trust, protected over 46,000 acres of land, which are either agricultural conservation easements, or lands now owned by the Land Trust or other public agency. For map of preserved lands, click here:

Solano Land Trust, preserved 16,187 acres in the county; owns 10,806 acres and has purchased conservation easements on another 5331 acres. For map of land preserves, click here:
Approximately two-thirds of annual operations funding is provided by assessment districts in Fairfield and the County of Solano. was founded in 2002 as a volunteer advocacy-oriented nonprofit organization that is focused on protecting both the wild and agricultural heritages of the Putah-Cache bioregion, including all or parts of Yolo, Lake, Napa, Colusa, and Solano counties in northwestern California. In 2006, Tuleyome purchased the Ireland Ranch from the Ireland family, who are fifth generation Yolo County residents. The 640-acre ranch is located in the Blue Ridge abutting 9100 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management as the Berryessa Peak unit. The Blue Ridge, a section of the inner coast range in western Yolo County, runs northwest from Putah Creek to Cache Creek. Completely encircled by private land, no one has been able to visit Berryessa Peak for decades. With Tuleyome's purchase of the Ireland Ranch, this wonderful, 9,100-acre wilderness area will finally be open to the public for docent-led hikes, scientific research and other recreational opportunities. with the Rodman Slough Preserve nature center project, the trust is working on developing a strategic land conservation plan, and exploring ways to preserve Mt. Konocti and its Black Forest of old growth Douglas fir, (Lake County’s central landmark). The Trust owns 390 acres at Rodman, the Black Forest and Rabbit Hill in Middletown.

Save Mount Diablo, Mount Diablo is proud of its 35 - year history and its efforts in helping increase open space on and around the mountain from 6,788 acres to more than 89,000 acres.For map showing history of park purchases, click here:, Contra Costa Countythe Muir Heritage Land Trust has permanently preserved over 2000 acres of natural area in Contra Costa County, one of the fastest growing regions of California. For a map of preserves, click here: and for a map of trail connection corridors

Peninsula Open Space Trust, our founding in 1977, POST has helped to give permanent protection to nearly 55,000 acres of land in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — an area one and a half times the size of San Francisco and 12 times the size of Yosemite Valley. For map of saved lands, click here:

Sempervirens Fund (Santa Cruz Mountains) acquiring suitable land in a working partnership with the State of California and other public and private agencies; completing Big Basin Redwoods and Castle Rock state parks; fostering public participation in activities such as reforestation and trail projects;linking parks and open spaces to provide an integrated parkland system. Since 1900, has saved over 21,000 acres of redwood forests. For a map of saved lands, click here:
Committee for Green Foothills, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, 1962, Committee for Green Foothills has been dedicated to protecting and preserving open space and habitat on the San Francisco Peninsula and Coastside, throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. For detailed history of their projects, click here:


NORTH OF SACRAMENTO: in 1998, is dedicated to conserving open space, wildlife habitat, and agricultural land, preserving over 2700 acres with conservation easements. The Trust's current areas of focus are the Cow Creek and surrounding Watersheds in the foothills east of Redding to the pine belt of the Cascades.

Feather River Land Trust, Feather River Watershed, the largest Watershed in the Sierra Nevada, consists of 2.4 million acres and provides water to over 20 million Californians (60% of the state's population). It includes all of Plumas County and portions of Sierra, Lassen and Butte counties. By July, 2004, using both conservation easements and outright purchase, the Feather River Land Trust has protected over 27,000 acres in the Feather River region. About 90% of these 27,000 acres consist of working cattle ranches.

Butte Environmental Council, in 1975, BEC is devoted to environmental education and information referral services, and advocacy; works to halt leapfrog development and groundwater overuse and to protect vernal pools its tenth anniversary in 2001, it had over 2,600 acres of conservation and agricultural easements, wildlife and wild plant preserves, and bird sanctuaries under its care.

Clover Valley Foundation, Loomis, CA, Placer CountyIn the near future, a developer plans to reshape the land and hillsides of this small, 622 acre valley, remove more than 7,000 oak trees, and Clover Valley will be lost to as many as 558 more Rocklin houses. Clover Valley is a 622-acre slice of land with historical roots dating back to 5,000 B.C. according to an archaeological study done in 1998. The study also found 34 Native American cultural sites in the area. Also see and Sacramento CountyThe Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the beauty, character and diversity of the Sacramento Valley landscape. Total Acres Preserved: 7,219For Sacramento County open space vision map:

Martis Valley, north of Lake Tahoe, Watch is actively following through with conservation goals for Martis Valley, and we are exporting our success to similar efforts up and down the Sierra Nevada. In Lassen County, we are providing strategic resources to defend Dyer Mountain. In the southern Sierra, we are working with land trusts and public agencies to permanently protect the slopes of Mount Whitney.

Truckee Donner Land Trust, The 1,400-member Truckee Donner Land Trust has protected more than 11,000 acres in the Truckee-Tahoe region. Their goal is to protect 35,000 acres in the Truckee-Tahoe region

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY: once widespread, giant sequoias now occur only in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California. Past land management policies have proven ineffective in protecting Sequoia National Forest ecosystems, watersheds, and the environmental and social value of these areas. Sequoia ForestKeeper fills this void by acting as the guardian of the forest. SFK works to create solutions to these inadequate land management practices; to promote land stewardship; to enforce existing laws and regulations, including sustainable management mandates; to implement public awareness programs; and to offer assistance to local land management agencies.

WildPlaces, Tulare CountyWorks on ecosystem restoration in Tulare County. Also monitoring the Yokohl Ranch Project which is planned to be a new city of 10,000 homes and a resort area built on the 36,000 acre ranch property owned by J.G. Boswell. The Yokohl Valley, currently zoned agricultural, is a vast area of rangeland surrounded by blue oak woodland habitat and considered by many to be a scenic and open space resource not suitable for accomodating a city larger than Visalia.For a map of Yokohl Ranch, see

Tehachapi Mountains-- Tejon region is an irreplaceable piece of California whose future deserves careful consideration. Linking the Sequoia National Forest with the Los Padres National Forest, the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch is critical to national, state and regional interests for its unique biological values as well as its strategic values for national security. Development projects proposed on the Ranch pose a threat to both of these irreplaceable values. Tejon Ranch spans two counties, Los Angeles and Kern, and lies at the bio-geographic crossroads of five geomorphic provinces and four eco-regions, all within the global hotspot recognized by scientists as the California Floristic Province. The proposed Centennial project along Highway 138 in North Los Angeles County will replace over 12,000 acres of grasslands, juniper woodlands, oak woodlands, chaparral and scrublands with approximately 23,000 homes and 14-million square feet of associated retail and commercial uses. Tejon Mountain Village, located in the secluded hills and canyon areas surrounding Castac (Tejon) Lake, will impact approximately 37,000 acres of oak woodlands, grasslands, chaparral and scrublands, montane hardwoods and conifers, pinyon-juniper woodlands, wet meadows and riparian woodlands.For more info, see the Center for Biological Diversity's page:


EASTERN SIERRA: in 2001, the ESLT is the first and only land trust based in Inyo, Mono, and Alpine counties; has preserved 955 acres with conservation easements that remove development rights from land but keep it in private ownership

Mono Lake Committee, in California's spectacular Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake is an oasis in the dry Great Basin and a vital habitat for millions of migratory and nesting birds. For 25 years the Mono Lake Committee has been working to protect Mono Lake from destruction, to heal the damage done in the Mono Basin, and to educate the public about the natural environment and wise water use.

Owens Valley Committee, to the protection, restoration and sustainable management of water and land resources affecting the Owens Valley

Save Round Valley Alliance Advocates for Smart Growth,, grassroots organization, working to protect and enhance the quality of life in Inyo and Mono counties. Successfully overturned approval of development called “Whitney Portal Preserve” that would have built homes at the base of Mt. Whitney

MOJAVE DESERT: The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) has preserved more land in California with private funds than any other conservation organization. TWC owns California's largest nonprofit sanctuary - the 97,000-acre Wind Wolves Preserve in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. Between 1999 and 2002, the Conservancy funded and brokered the sale of around 600,000 acres of former railroad company lands to the federal government for preservation and inclusion within desert National Parks and wilderness areas.

California Desert Protection League

Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee Desert Report is a 24-page newsletter of vital news about the California and Nevada deserts published 3 times a year.

Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, runs 2 preserves in the Western Mojave Desert, For maps click here



Sempervirens Fund (Santa Cruz Mountains) acquiring suitable land in a working partnership with the State of California and other public and private agencies; completing Big Basin Redwoods and Castle Rock state parks; fostering public participation in activities such as reforestation and trail projects;linking parks and open spaces to provide an integrated parkland system. Since 1900, has saved over 21,000 acres of redwood forests. For a map of saved lands, click here:

San Benito Agricultural Land Trust, to providing financial options to landowners in order to protect the agricultural heritage of San Benito County. The San Benito Agricultural Land Trust currently protects 5,454 acres of working ranches and farms and is actively pursuing additional lands.


Big Sur Land Trust, Big Sur Land Trust has protected more than 30,000 acres of shoreline, wildlife habitat, streams, forests, grasslands and awe inspiring views.

Landwatch Monterey County, the next 20 years, Monterey County is projected to grow by almost 40% to a population of over 500,000 people (an increase of 150,000 new residents). LandWatch will keep the public informed about the status of land use planning in the county.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation are more than 7000 acres of protected lands in the Elkhorn Slough watershed. 3600 acres are protected or managed by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, click for map of protected lands

The Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, a downtown SLO walk-in Environmental Center office, ECOSLO offers information on current issues, county wide environmental services, plus a lending library of books, tapes, and videos. ECOSLO was instrumental in creating the SLO Coast Alliance, a grassroots coalition of 45 organizations dedicated to protecting the county's spectacular coast against excessive development proposals.

Land Conservancy of SLO County, Land Conservancy was created in 1984. Since our formation, we have permanently protected over 9200 acres of land in San Luis Obispo County. The largest property is 5000 acres west of Paso Robles and is protected with a conservation easement and is owned by the Bonnheim Family which donated the easement


Environmental Defense Center, nonprofit, public interest organization that provides legal, educational and advocacy support to advance environmental quality. EDC primarily serves community groups on California's South Central Coast.

Community Environmental Council, evolving family of programs that changes and adapts with the environmental challenges faced on the South Coast. While our scope of work deals mainly with San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, our influence and the bi-products of our innovation has and will be felt on state-wide, national and global levels.

Santa Barbara County Land Trust,, 1985, the Land Trust has worked with willing landowners, the community and public agencies to protect over 13,000 acres in Santa Barbara County.

Save Open Spaces and Agricultural Resources, to making Ventura County a better place to live by limiting urban sprawl, protecting open space and agricultural lands, and promoting livable and sustainable communities in Ventura County. Since 1995, SOAR urban growth boundary initiatives which mandate voter approval of sprawl have passed in all major cities in Ventura County, and also on a countywide basis throughout Ventura County. No other county in the United States has more effective protections against urban sprawl. None!

The Nature Conservancy's L.A.-Ventura Project:The Nature Conservancy launched its L.A.-Ventura Project in 1999. As of spring 2002, the project had acquired and protected lands totaling more than 1,100 acres, all along the Santa Clara River. We will acquire some 6,000 acres of land along the river to protect, restore, and enhance native riparian and alluvial habitats. In addition, working with partner organizations and agencies, The Nature Conservancy plans to establish a Big Sky Ecological Reserve in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The reserve would encompass up to 10 contiguous properties totaling approximately 30,000 acres. Santa Clara River Parkway is a project of the California State Coastal Conservancy, in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy's LA-Ventura Project, Friends of the Santa Clara River, private landowners and local governments, to acquire and restore floodplain land along the lower Santa Clara River for habitat, flood protection, and recreation.



Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, County has approved projects which would effectively double the population of the valley in the next decade, and looming on the horizon is the largest single development proposal in Los Angeles County history: The Newhall Ranch Project.

Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, and Education to Protect the remaining Open Spaces of the Ballona, Baldwin Hills and El Segundo Dunes ecosystem since 1993. In 2007, successfully sued to halt the massive 110 acre Playa Vista phase 2 project, returning the land to agricultural zoning.

Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, with the City which recently purchased most of the remaining open space on the south side of the Peninsula. This led to the creation of the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve, 1200 acres in Rancho Palos Verdes now managed by the Conservancy. In addition to the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve, the Land Conservancy owns or manages the Linden H. Chandler and George F Canyon Preserves in Rolling Hills Estates and the White Point Nature Preserve and habitat restoration on the Defense Fuel Supply Point in San Pedro.

Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust, the San Gabriel River meets the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, with 776 acres remaining available for restoration, the Los Cerritos Wetlands' one-of-a-kind coastal ecosystem struggles to remain the vital link in protecting some of Southern California's most precious and diverse resources.

RIVER GROUPS: Emerald Necklace is a vision for a 17 mile loop of parks and greenways connecting 10 cities and nearly 500,000 residents along the Río Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers nestled in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, unifying more than 1,500 acres of parks and open spaces along an interconnected greenway around two major urban rivers.

Friends of the L.A. River, founded in 1986 to protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education and wise stewardship. River Project organized the Coalition for a State Park at Taylor Yard and led the successful fight to establish the first state park on the Los Angeles River. We have undertaken a comprehensive study of the Tujunga Wash subwatershed, and are actively engaged in the design and development of several river greenway parks in the San Fernando Valley.

Baldwin Hills Conservancy, agency that acquires open space and manages public lands within the Baldwin Hills area to provide recreation, restoration and protection of wildlife habitat

San Gabriel and Lower L.A. Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, agency that preserves open space and habitat in eastern Los Angeles County and western Orange County.

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, by the California State Legislature in 1980; Since that time, it has helped to preserve over 55,000 acres of parkland in both wilderness and urban settings. Through direct action, alliances, partnerships, and joint powers authorities, the Conservancy's mission is to strategically buy back, preserve, protect, restore, and enhance treasured pieces of Southern California to form an interlinking system of urban, rural and river parks, open space, trails, and wildlife habitats that are easily accessible to the general public.


Spirit of the Sage Council, non-profit biocentric grassroots coalition of environmental organizations & American Indians dedicated to defending & conserving Native Plants, Native Animals & Native Sacred Lands.

ORANGE COUNTY: saving the 8,700 acre “Missing Middle” we will link 4,000 acres of preserved open space in Whittier with 13,000 acres in Chino Hills State Park east of Brea.

Friends of Coyote Hills, West Coyote Hills is currently owned by Chevron, which is proposing adding a 760-unit housing project for an area that has already seen the rapid growth of several thousand new homes in the last few years. acquire, restore and preserve the entire 1700 acres of the mesa, lowlands and wetlands of the Bolsa Chica. Since its founding in 1992, the State has acquired over 3/4ths of the land???? are a coalition organized to Save San Onofre State Beach from the proposed Foothill Toll Road. Its founding members include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Endangered Habitats League, Laguna Greenbelt, Surfrider Foundation, Audubon California, and the California State Parks Foundation.

For list of preservation groups in San Diego County:

Anza-Borrego Foundation, and augments the education, interpretation, and research within the 650,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the other five parks that together comprise the Colorado Desert District. These parks include Salton Sea Recreation Area, Picacho State Recreation Area, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Indio Hills Palms and Palomar Mountain State Park.

San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, organization helping to implement the vision of the San Dieguito River Park and its Coast-to-Crest trail. The San Dieguito River Park stretches over 55 miles from Volcan Mountain near Julian to the ocean between Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation, 1988, the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation, in cooperation with private organizations, public governmental agencies and principal landowners on the mountain, has been able to preserve over 4,000 acres in public ownership stretching from Lake Henshaw to the Anza Borrego Desert.

San Diego River Conservancy, of the proposed park

Riverside County, Eagle Mountain Landfill, Campaign to Return 29,775 Acres of Land in the Eagle Mountain Range to Joshua Tree National Park and Designate the Defunct Kaiser Mine and Townsite a National Historic Landmark, instead of becoming a trash dump for Los Angeles County.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Humboldt County's Biggest Developer Uses His Daily Newspaper to Push Highway 101 Widening Through Ancient Redwoods

"Big Trees or Big Trucks"

From EcoNews, the monthly newspaper published by the NorthCoast Environmental Center.

December 2007

By Greg King, Executive Director

The November 23 issue of the Eureka Reporter con­tains an editorial that condemns the NEC’s comments to CalTrans on the agency’s plan to widen Highway 101 through Richardson Grove. That’s on page four. On page five, taking up the entire right column, is an incoherent and fallacious hit-piece against me by former Pacific Lumber president and current mayor of Fortuna, John Campbell.

The one-two punch was unexpected, but its origins are clear.

My comments to CalTrans challenged the agency’s unfortunate plan to widen Highway 101 through what is the first ancient redwood grove seen by anyone heading to Humboldt from the south. I had asked the agency to produce an Environmental Impact Report, rather than the planned “negative dec­laration,” in order to more fully explore the unknown environmental impacts to the grove, as well as to Hum­boldt County as a whole, by widening the road. CalTrans’ sole justification for the widening project was to allow longer trucks into Humboldt County (You can find the NEC’s comments at

Click here to read Greg's letter to CalTrans,

And for the Eureka Reporter's articles:

Why the need for longer trucks? Why threaten the very existence of these rare Southern Humboldt ancient redwood trees just for an extra seven feet of trailer space?

The answer, it turns out, is development.

About four months ago I spoke with someone close to operations at the county level who told me that big box stores and chain franchises were hesitant to com­mit to developing both the Balloon Track, owned by Robin Arkley,Jr., and his Security National Company, and the former Pacific Lumber mill in Fortuna and other large, flat spaces unless they could get their big trucks through Richardson Grove. Their profit margins were that slim. Then, a couple of months later, a state official told me, “Wid­ening 101 through Richardson Grove is about a lot more than cattle trucks. It’s about development. It’s about strip malls and box Stores. It’s about port development. They don’t need the rail to develop the port. They need the big trucks. The governor’s behind it.”

On November 26, I called the Reporter’s new editorial page edi­tor Peter Hannaford. Hannaford is a curious addition to the Hum­boldt County community. He’s been here a month, fresh from a failed attempt to resurrect the ultra-right-wing Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) which is pushing for a US invasion of Iran. Apparently, in 2004, Hannaford was forced to resign just one clay after taking up the CPD’s chairman po­sition, because, according to the Center for Media and Democracy) he had “lobbied for the Austrian Freedom Party which is headed by nationalist Joerg Haider. Haider once commended the ‘orderly employment policy’ of the Third Reich and paid a ‘solidarity visit’ to Saddam Hussein in 2002.” He worked for Ronald Reagan when Reagan was governor and later when Reagan was president. What’s he doing at a Eureka newspaper?

I asked Hannaford why the Reporter never ran an article on the NEC’s Richardson Grove comments. “Because they had ‘obstruc­tionism’ written all over them,” he said. “Why don’t you come up with a solution to get Our trucking problem solved?”

I told him I didn’t think there was a problem. And if there was, it wasn’t up to me to solve it, it was up to people like State Senator Pat Wiggins, who two months ago apparently already solved the prob­lem by passing a bill that allows oversized cattle trucks through Richardson Grove.

The real problem, it seems, is the Richardson Grove roadblock that disallows sending more profits out of Humboldt County. We need, and in large part already have, a sustainable economy that keeps profits in the community. Why jeopardize our economy and the health of Richardson Grove by bringing in big trucks?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mendocino's Jackson State Forest is Saved from Clearcutting


I have good news!
When I last wrote in July 2007, I was urging you to write the Board of Forestry opposing open-ended clearcutting on our publicly owned Jackson State Redwood Forest.
You and others resoundingly told the Board of Forestry that you opposed clearcutting and supported the consensus plan for Jackson State Forest developed by a group of environmental and timber interests (the Mendocino Working Group). The Board received over 2000 letters with this message.

During this same period, the Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, where Jackson State Forest is located, unanimously voted to write to the Board of Forestry in support of the Mendocino Working Group's consensus plan and opposition to unrestricted clearcutting. This was a landmark action by the Supervisors. Please give them your thanks.

In the latest development, the consensus plan, including strong safeguards on clearcutting, has now won the support of the California Board of Forestry, the body with the final say over management of Jackson State Forest. By six to two, with one abstention, the board voted in October 2007 to support in principle a new “Alternative G” for Jackson State Forest. The alternative includes major reforms proposed by the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, the Sierra Club, and the Mendocino Working Group.

No longer will timber production be the primary purpose for our publicly owned 50,000-acre redwood forest, as it has been ever since the state began managing the forest in the 1950’s. In the future, the forest will be managed for research, habitat, restoration, and recreation. Timber production will take place to provide the funds necessary to operate Jackson and, possibly, other state forests, but where and how it will occur will be decided in the context of the higher public values of the forest.

Very importantly, the Board of Forestry agreed to the establishment of an outside advisory committee. This committee is a key element in the consensus plan for Jackson Forest developed by the Mendocino working group. It will review harvest plans during a three-year interim period of restricted harvesting, and it will work with the forest managers during this interim period to develop a long-term landscape plan and a revised management plan.

These actions by the Board bring us close to the goal that the Campaign set out to accomplish in 2000 – but a number of outstanding issues remain to be resolved before we can stop campaigning and begin to work cooperatively on managing the forest for the public interest.
A potential major sticking point is the resolution of two timber contracts awarded by the state in 2001 for the cutting of 35,000 of the oldest trees in the forest from the center of the prime recreation area. The Campaign went to court to halt these devastating logging plans, and we won. The plans have been enjoined by court order and stipulated agreement ever since.
The Campaign is adamant that these contracts be renegotiated in a way that will satisfy the contract holders while preserving these valuable older forest groves at least until a coherent, consensus long-term plan is developed for the forest. So far, the state has been unwilling to commit to this.

As I write, the Board of Forestry is scheduled to consider in January, 2008, the revised environmental and management documents for Jackson State Forest. The Campaign and members of the Mendocino Working Group are working hard to ensure that these documents fully reflect the consensus plan before being brought to a vote. Everyone is anxious at this point to honor the hard work that has brought us close to a solution that can be embraced by all parties, and I am hopeful that the remaining few, but important, issues will be resolved prior to the final vote.

If the board approves the documents, as expected, the Campaign will have 30 days to challenge them in court. We are strongly committed to reaching a solution without litigation, but we stand ready to take such action if it appears the only way to protect irreplaceable values in our forest.
We are nearing success in our eight-year fight to save our redwood forest for our children’s children. My deep and sincere thanks to every one who helped bring us to this point. Please keep the forest in your thoughts and hearts this holiday season.

Donations to support our continuing efforts are welcomed. You can donate either by credit card online or by mail. We do our best to make sure that every dollar is spent effectively on your behalf.

Vince Taylor, Executive Director

12/5/2007 From California Wilderness Coalition,

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office has begun preparing a management plan for the 130,000 acres (203 square miles) it manages in a region that stretches from Santa Clarita in the north to the border with Mexico in the south and includes Los Angeles, western Riverside, western San Bernardino and western San Diego counties. The management plan will guide the agency's approach to a variety of important issues including mining, cattle grazing, off-road vehicle use, land sales and land acquisitions for the next decade or more. Wild places affected by the plan include Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in Riverside County and Otay Mountain and Hauser Mountain in San Diego County among others. Many small parcels that serve as critical open space for recreation and plant and wildlife habitat will also be affected by the plan. The South Coast BLM lands provide habitat for a variety of rare plants and animals like Munz's onion, Tecate cypress, slender-horned spineflower, least Bell's vireo, Stephen's kangaroo rat, coastal California gnatcatcher, arroyo toad, and Quino checkerspot butterfly, and include such important features as Native American cultural sites and 15 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. It is essential that people who care about wild places get involved in the development of this plan and make their voices heard! This is especially true given that in the aftermath of the recent fires some pro-development interests are trying to foment a backlash against habitat protection.


Please attend one of the following public hearings hosted by the BLM:

12/5/07 in CAMPO from 4 to 8 P.M.Mountain Empire Community Center, 976 Sheridan Road

12/6/07 in SAN DIEGO from 4 to 8 P.M.Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 1895 Camino del Rio South

12/10/07 in TEMECULA from 4 to 8 P.M.Mary Phillips Senior Center, 41845 Sixth Street

12/12/07 in SANTA CLARITA from 4 to 8 P.M.George A. Caravalho Activities Center, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway

In addition, please send a letter to the BLM by 1/9/08 (letters must be postmarked by this date and e-mails or faxes must be received by this date).Your letter should be addressed to:John Kalish, Field ManagerBLM, South Coast-Palm Springs FOAttn: South Coast RMPP.O. Box 581260North Palm Springs, CA 92258.Fax: (760) 251-4899.E-mail:

At the public hearings and in your letter, please express in your own words why BLM lands are important to you. If you are familiar with specific places like Otay Mountain, Beauty Mountain, Hauser Mountain or others, tell them why you like those areas.

Also, please request that:--All currently roadless South Coast BLM lands regardless of size be managed for habitat restoration and non-motorized recreation;

--The Beauty Mountain Wilderness Study Area, all nearby BLM lands and all future acquisitions in the Beauty Mountain region be managed for habitat restoration and non-motorized recreation. Please explain that Beauty Mountain is one of the most important wild places in southwestern California, that it serves as a critical habitat bridge for plants and wildlife by linking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the Coast Range and therefore it deserves as much protection as possible;

--The Hauser Mountain Wilderness Study Area, all nearby BLM lands and all future acquisitions in the Hauser Mountain region be managed for habitat restoration and non-motorized recreation. Please explain that Hauser Mountain and the newly-acquired BLM lands nearby serve as important habitat corridors between Mexico and the Cleveland National Forest, and includes such key features as the Pacific Crest Trail;

--The BLM lands adjacent to or near the Otay Mountain Wilderness, as well as all future acquisitions in the area, be managed for non-motorized recreation and habitat restoration; and,-

-That the BLM identify the Beauty Mountain, Hauser Mountain and Otay Mountain regions as high-priority areas for future land acquisitions. Thank you.

For more information, please contact:Ryan Henson/California Wilderness Coalition, 530-246-3087

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Water Crisis Approaching: Do we accept endless population growth as a "given" and just let developers and water agencies continue to build with no limits?
Is there really more water out there that all we need to do is capture it somehow?
Dry winter underlines water need

By Dan Walters -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – It's almost December, but anyone driving in the bone-dry Lake Tahoe basin is more likely to encounter blowing dust than drifting snow.

Northern California, it's becoming more evident every day, faces the scary prospect of a second dry winter that will not refill its badly depleted reservoirs. How depleted? Shasta Lake, at the head of the Sacramento River system near Redding, can hold 4.6 million acre-feet of water but contains just 1.8 million. Lake Oroville, with a capacity of 3.5 million acre-feet, has just 1.3 million. Folsom Lake is scarcely one-quarter full.

On Monday, the state Department of Water Resources told the water agencies that serve two-thirds of Californians that they can expect just 25 percent of their normal allocations next year, down from 60 percent this year. Several cities in Southern California have declared water emergencies. The fire danger remains high, as this week's Malibu fire underscores. Within a few days, a judge's order that curtails water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to save endangered fish will take effect.
This is the immediate crisis, and there's very little that politicians can do to avert it. But it's part of a longer-range crisis that's been developing for decades in a political vacuum. It may worsen if the warnings about global warming prove true, because winter snows will lessen, and more of the state's precipitation will come in the form of rain.

Against that background of immediate water shortages and long-range peril, are the Capitol's politicians rising to the occasion? Not noticeably.

Yes, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are talking about making a multibillion-dollar investment in water conservation and storage. And talking. And talking. But the philosophical and partisan conflicts that have stalled water policy for decades are as strong as ever. Tellingly, on the day that state water officials delivered the bad news to Californians, Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders met again to discuss the long-stalled water plan and failed again to reach agreement.

The pivotal point is whether the state should build new reservoirs as part of its water plan or rely on conservation and other forms of non-storage water management to meet its needs, such as shifting more water from farmers to residential, commercial and industrial users.
Schwarzenegger proposes reservoirs, but Democrats, under intense pressure from anti-reservoir environmental groups, have been reluctant. The lead Democrat on the issue, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, finally agreed to place $3 billion in the proposed water bond for reservoirs. Republicans, however, are insisting that the money be appropriated permanently, fearing that environmentalists would block its use if it remains subject to legislative appropriation.

Their fear is well-founded. Environmental groups see water supply as the key element in land use and other development issues and believe that restricting supply will somehow slow growth – disregarding the simple demographic fact that California's population growth stems almost entirely from immigration and babies. Thus, the never-ending debate over water really isn't about water so much as it is about how and if California will continue to grow.

There is no small irony in that conflict. Those on the political left who oppose new reservoirs generally oppose immigration restrictions and universally believe in global warming scenarios that imply the state needs more storage to capture winter rains and offset the loss of snowpack.
Storage could be in some form other than traditional reservoirs, perhaps, such as replenishing underground aquifers – but anyone who thinks we don't need it in some form is intellectually dishonest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Initiative to reverse ban on nuclear plants statwide is withdrawn

Insufficient public support for new nuclear plants in California prompts sponsor to shelve the plan

11/27/2007 By David Sneed

An initiative to lift the state’s ban on new nuclear power plants will not appear on the June 2008 ballot.

State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, has withdrawn the ballot initiative he submitted to state elections officials, after public opinion polls found lukewarm support for new nuclear power plants in the state.

His initiative would have overturned a 1976 state law prohibiting construction of new nuclear reactors until a permanent solution for the storage of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is found.

About 14 percent of California’s power comes from nuclear plants. The state has two nuclear power plants in operation: the San Onofre plant near San Diego and the Diablo Canyon plant near Avila Beach.

“This was certainly a controversial initiative,” DeVore said. “If we pushed this thing to the ballot, we were likely to lose.”

Lifting the state’s nuclear moratorium is relevant to San Luis Obispo County because most proposals for new nuclear plants call for adding reactors to existing plants.

Officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which owns and operates the Diablo Canyon plant, say they are interested in more nuclear power but are not proposing adding new reactors to Diablo.

PG&E spokesman Pete Resler said Monday the utility had no comment on the De- Vore initiative.

There is renewed interest nationally in nuclear power and federal regulators expect to process applications for about 30 new reactors along the East Coast and in the Southeast in coming years.

A group of entrepreneurs has proposed building a new nuclear plant in Fresno.

Unless it is overturned, the state’s nuclear moratorium will prevent new nuclear plants for the foreseeable future. Completion of a planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, is at least a decade away—maybe longer if Nevada legislators succeed in their pledge to keep the repository out of their state.

Lacking support

In addition to lifting the nuclear moratorium, DeVore’s ballot initiative would have prevented nuclear plants from being built in earthquake-prone areas and along ecologically sensitive parts of the coastline.

In October, DeVore got permission to begin gathering signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. No signature gathering was done, however, because several opinion polls showed that 52 percent of the public supports more nuclear power while 42 percent is opposed.

That was not enough support to justify moving ahead given the fact that environmental and some consumer groups were gearing up to fight the initiative.

“That’s very modest support,” he said. “You want to be in the mid-60 percent range before you start on something that controversial.”

Rochelle Becker, who heads the San Luis Obispo-based Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, said she was delighted by DeVore’s decision to stop the campaign. The state Energy Commission is doing a cost-benefit analysis of nuclear power and it would be premature and irresponsible, she said, to change the law before that analysis is finished.

Becker was working with other groups, including the Sierra Club, to fight the initiative. They want the state to pursue renewable energy sources rather than nuclear power.

“When Mr. DeVore introduced this initiative,” she said, “he brought many more people together on our side than he anticipated.”

DeVore said he hasn’t given up on the idea of new nuclear power plants in California as a way of meeting ambitious state goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He plans to submit a bill next year that would lift the nuclear moratorium legislatively and said it may take several years to generate enough public support to change the law.

DeVore submitted such a bill to the state Legislature last year, but it was voted down in committee. The new bill has not been written yet, so De- Vore is not sure how it will differ from the previous one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fate of Last Chunk of Orange County's Bolsa Chica Wetlands is Decided by Coastal Commission

(above) Tract Map Approved by the Commission

Staff-Recommended Tract Map (Rejected by Commission)

Shea got some of what they wanted, we got some of
what we wanted; and it looks like maybe this was
a true split decision:

Shea is now estimating they have 25 acres to build on,
once you factor in the NTS out of a buffer and the VFPF.
That would leave 25 acres open, though not all of it
conserved (the NTS & VFPF aren't leaving
the land fallow).

Is that enough to make the project "viable" in
Shea's eyes? Will be interesting to see...
--Julie Bixby

To read more:

More details emerge on HB Parkside decision

Bolsa Chica Land Trust representatives said they still won a good chunk of wetlands but are now seriously considering legal recourse.

The Orange County Register

HUNTINGTON BEACH Now that the dust has started to settle, it appears that the California Coastal Commission will allow Shea Homes to build on about half the land they own, the developer's representatives reported Thursday.

The decision made late Wednesday leaves both the developer and environmental activists opposed to the project disappointed and pondering their next move.

Shea officials said the Coastal Commission essentially granted them 25 acres to build on.

The developer had planned to build a 170-home community called Parkside Estates on a 50-acre parcel of land near one of the county's last wetlands.

After Wednesday's decision, it's now unclear how many homes Shea will construct, said Shea Homes spokesman Laer Pearce.

"It was a big mistake," he said of the commission designating some of the land wetlands.

After a more than six-hour hearing in San Diego, both sides were left wondering how much they truly lost or gained for their cause because commissioners voted separately on certain sections of the land and designated some areas wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas while determining others were not.

What is clear is that some of the commissioners disagreed with a November report prepared by their staff. The staff recommended slashing a proposal to 19 acres, stating that a good portion of the Shea Homes land is wetlands or environmentally sensitive areas for habitat that is protected.

Probably the two most contentious areas were two sections – a 0.95-acre patch and another 4-acre swath of land. Environmentalist and the commission's staff said the areas were wetlands. The developer vehemently disagreed.

Commissioners voted that the 0.95-acre portion was not a wetland and open to development.

"I went out there today to kind of say goodbye," said environmental activist Julie Bixby, who visited the area Thursday morning. "It was a bit sad."

Commissioner Dan Secord wanted the rest of his colleagues to vote against calling a separate 4-acre parcel a wetland, opening it up for development. None of the commissioners, however, agreed to take it up for a vote, killing the motion.

The 4-acre swath, protected by a 100-foot buffer is a major win for environmental activists -- most members of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

"We're happy that the … wetland was able to survive the slash-and-burn approach that the coastal commission took to staff recommendations. That's a major benefit," said Flossie Horgan, the land trust's executive director.

One of the biggest losses for Shea opponents, however, was when the Coastal Commission voted to reduce a 100-meter buffer to a 160-foot minimum variable buffer to protect what staff called an environmentally sensitive area for birds of prey.

The major source of debate at the hearing was whether Shea Homes moved large portions of dirt around the land to intentionally cover up wetlands under the guise of farming.

Those allegations were also raised by an environmental watchdog group in a lawsuit filed against Shea in Orange County Superior Court. A judge delayed the case until December, hoping the commission would decide the matter first.

Shea Homes Vice President Ron Metzler told commissioners that the farmer who rented the land was following normal farming practices.

Horgan said the land trust will meet soon and consider legal action against Wednesday's decision.

"Absolutely, because you can't destroy wetlands and you can't make them disappear under the guise of farming," Horgan said. "You cannot use farming to destroy wetlands."



While over 1,200 acres of the wetlands have been saved from development, the adjacent upland areas are quickly vanishing due to residential development. The view is admittedly stunning. However, the devastation of the fragile ecosystem - as a result of urban runoff, household pets, and house and garden chemicals - will be permanent. The assault on Native American burials and gathering spots will be horrifying. The loss of habitat for native and migrating wildlife is irreplaceable. This treasured "Little Pocket" of old California culture and history will be lost forever.

While a broad-based community effort has held off this invasion, a final resolution is needed. The only way to permanently safeguard this last vestige of old California is to purchase the property for preservation. While the purchase of the Lower Bench of the Bolsa Chica Mesa was accomplished in 2005, acquisition efforts continue on the 50-acre Upper Bolsa Chica Wetlands, proposed for development by Shea Homes; and on the 6-acre Sacred Cogged Stone site, proposed for condominiums by its owner.

In 1973, as part of a controversial land swap, the State of California acquired approximately 300 acres of wetlands adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway. A portion of this was restored by the state in 1979 to become the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The remaining acreage was retained in private hands. Planning for the construction of a massive marina, commercial and residential development was quickly underway. The plan was drastically reduced in 1989 through the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Amigos.

May 1997, SAN DIEGO JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF LAWSUIT PROTECTING BOLSA CHICA. Filed by the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, the Sierra Club, the Surfrider Foundation, Huntington Beach Tomorrow and the Shoshone Gabrieleño Nation, the suit claimed the Coastal Commission erred in approving development in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, allowing Warner Pond to be filled, and approving the moving of the eucalyptus ESHA to the Huntington Mesa, and the court agreed.

(editor's note: The now-famous Bolsa Chica decision changed the way the Coastal Commission dealt with wetlands along the entire California Coast. Where previously wetlands could be filled-in and built upon as long as other wetlands were restored, the law was clarified to prohibit virtually any destruction of coastal wetlands. This has shifted the battle for wetland advocates to disputes over what is a wetland, as the battle over the remaining 50 acres at Parkside Bolsa Chica has shown. A similar battle occurred at the Ballona Wetlands in 2002 at the Marina Freeway)

In 1997 the state acquired 880 acres of Bolsa Chica wetlands and another 41 acres was acquired in 2005, bringing public ownership of the Bolsa Chica to over 1200 acres. Wetland restoration of nearly 600 acres of Bolsa Chica was begun in 2004.

In the summer of 2006 seawater flowed into the restored wetland for the first time in over 100 years. The Bolsa Chica wetland restoration was the largest coastal wetland restorations ever undertaken in Southern California.

Monday, November 19, 2007

L.A. City Council votes 13-0 for New EIR for Development Project on East L.A.'s Elephant Hill

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Councilmember Huizar won a unanimous City Council vote to stop the issuance of development permits for the proposed Elephant Hill new home project until a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report has been completed. The vote is a major community and environmental victory for El Sereno residents. Councilmember Huizar has led the charge to halt work on the development until new concerns, including water runoff and potential sinkholes, have been fully addressed. The Council voted to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report in June.
Gaviota Coastline Threatened with Westward Expansion of Santa Barbara/L.A. Sprawl

Taken from the Santa Barbara County Planning department's webpage on this project:

also see the 11/14/2007 summary of the project:

The Santa Barbara Ranch Project consists of amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, Coastal Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance along with a variety of subdivision and entitlement applications that would collectively permit a residential estate development on the Gaviota coast, two miles west of the City of Goleta. Several different development scenarios are under consideration involving between 54 and 72 new residential dwellings, an equestrian center, agricultural support facilities, a worker duplex, public amenities (including access road, parking and restroom, hiking, biking, equestrian trails near the coastal bluff, an educational kiosk and a coastal access stair structure), and creation of conservation easements for permanent protection of open space and agriculture.


November 13, 2007 – Recirculation of Revised Draft EIR

December 10, 2007 – Public Meeting on Revised Draft EIR

January 2, 2008 – End of Public Comment Period on Revised Draft EIR


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

$874 Million is in California Parkland and Habitat Budget for 2007-2008

In the State Legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger’s Budget signed August 24th for July 2007-June 2008 there is a total of $874 Million for Parkland and Wildlife Habitat.


Resources Agency---$20.5 million River Parkways

Department of Conservation--$14.9 million CA Farmland Conservancy Program

Department of Forestry--$4.5 million

Department of Water Resources--$99.6 million-- Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plans

State Coastal Conservancy--$3 million
Capital Outlay--$2,000,000
SF Bay Conservancy Program--$1,000,000

Tahoe Conservancy--$11.1 million Conservancy Grants -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wildlife Conservation Board--$383.2 million total
Capital Outlay--$135,000,000
Forest Conservation--$180,000,000
Natural Community Conservation Plans--$25,000,000
Oak Woodlands Program--$14,300,000
Rangeland, Grazing Land, Grasslands Program--$14,300,000
Ecosystem Restoration on Ag Properties--$4,600,000
San Joaquin River Conservancy--$10,000,000

State Coastal Conservancy--$114.7 million total
Capital Outlay--$37,000,000
Ocean Protection Council--$28,000,000
SF Bay Conservancy Program--$23,700,000
Monterey Bay--$9,700,000
San Diego Bay--$6,700,000
Santa Ana River—$9,600,000

Department of Parks and Recreation--$15 million
Opportunity Acquisitions

Department of Water Resources--$34 million total
Flood Corridors Program---$25,000,000
Urban Streams Program--$9,000,000

Department of Forestry--$2.8 million Urban Forestry

Tahoe Conservancy--$27.4 million Capital Outlay

Rivers and Mountains Conservancy--$25 million Capital Outlay

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy--$17 million Capital Outlay

Sierra Nevada Conservancy--$17 million Capital Outlay

Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy--$11.5 million Capital Outlay

Baldwin Hills Conservancy--$3 million Capital Outlay


Wildlife Conservation Board--$30 million Habitat Conservation Fund

Department of Transportation--$10 million Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program

Department of Parks and Recreation--$29.8 million total
Recreational Grants-$11,800,000
OHV Trust Fund-$18,000,000

Chula Vista Wetland Restoration Hinges on 1500 Condos and Shopping Center

Developer is working on bayfront land swap
By Tanya Mannes
STAFF WRITER, San Diego Union-Tribune

October 9, 2007

CHULA VISTA – San Diego-based Pacifica Cos., which has been working since 2000 on a plan to build condos and at least one hotel on the Chula Vista bayfront, has agreed to scale down the project and move it to a new site – across from the Chula Vista Marina – to protect wetlands.

Permits are still years away, but company President Ash Israni said he is encouraged by the progress made in discussions with the Port of San Diego, environmental groups and labor unions.

Israni holds an option to develop 97 acres near a wildlife preserve. He hopes to swap that for 32 acres owned by the port and build a “walkable neighborhood” of 1,500 condos, a 250-room hotel and 450,000 square feet of commercial and office space.

“What we want to do is a 24-7 type of community that is active, vibrant and environmentally sensitive,” Israni said. “You have to make sure that everything is agreeable and everybody likes what I'm doing.”

Public attention has focused on Gaylord Entertainment's plan for a hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista bayfront. Fewer people have heard of Pacifica, which is the other big private-sector player in the 550-acre Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan. Both companies intend to invest more than $700 million each in their projects.

The Port of San Diego is working on an environmental impact report for the master plan area. Permits are at least two years away for Tennessee-based Gaylord and three years away for Pacifica.

Israni got involved in the bayfront master planning process years before Gaylord arrived on the scene.

“But we've been very low-key about it,” Israni said. “A lot of people don't know who Pacifica is.”

Pacifica is a $2 billion asset company with a portfolio of condos and apartments throughout the United States and India. One project is in Imperial Beach, where Israni is seeking permission to build a resort on the Seacoast Inn site.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said she's aware of “very general” information about Pacifica's plans but has not seen any design renderings. She noted that the Citizens Advisory Committee for the bayfront envisioned housing as an important component of the master plan.

In 2002, before she was elected mayor, Cox worked as a consultant for Pacifica on an issue involving National City's hotel tax. In 1996, she worked with Pacifica to help it get a more visible sign for its Holiday Inn Express in Chula Vista.

If the land swap is approved, Pacifica would begin a one-year process of seeking coastal development permits. The Chula Vista Redevelopment Corp. will have the authority to approve them.

Chris Lewis, chairman of the Chula Vista Redevelopment Corp., remembers Pacifica from his work on the Citizens Advisory Committee but said he hasn't heard much since.

“I know very little about it,” Lewis said. “They kind of took a back seat when we started working on Gaylord.”

Gaylord got involved in the Chula Vista bayfront planning process in 2004. The national company hopes to build a hotel with up to 2,000 rooms and a 400,000-square-foot convention center. In July, the company reached an impasse with labor unions and for a time said it would drop the project.

So far, Israni has managed to avoid a combative relationship with labor unions. Pacifica has begun preliminary talks with the San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council, the union that butted heads with Gaylord. Israni said the talks have been “very cordial, very friendly.”

Israni has also taken steps to appease environmentalists who objected to his 2002 plan for 3,400 condos and three hotels for the site bound by wetlands. He has scaled back the project and accepted the idea of a complicated land swap.

To help build alliances, Israni hired former Mayor Steve Padilla's coastal/environmental coordinator, Allison Rolfe, as the project coordinator. Rolfe served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for about two years before joining Padilla's staff in September 2005.

This year, Rolfe helped Pacifica reach a tentative pact with local environmental groups, including the Environmental Health Coalition and the San Diego Audubon Society, to not oppose the project. Israni agreed to build a “green” project that would meet national standards for nature-friendly design. He also agreed to contribute an estimated $7.5 million into a new community benefit foundation for affordable housing, natural resources protection, environmental education and other projects. The agreement is not yet signed.

The land swap will require approval from the port and then from the State Lands Commission. The bayfront master plan will also go to the Chula Vista City Council and the California Coastal Commission. The earliest the plan could clear all hurdles is mid-2009, according to the port's timeline.

Israni said he never anticipated that the project would take this long.

“It has been a real trying project for me. I would never take on a project like this again,” he said. “But we are so far into it that it has become a challenge I need to pursue.”


Environmental group seeks to limit mining near protected lands

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Riverside Press-Enterprise

An environmental group is pushing for federal legislation that would restrict mining within 10 miles of a national park, wilderness or other protected lands, a change that could affect thousands of California mining claims.

Congress is considering updates to the nation's 135-year-old mining law.

In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, 525 mining claims lie within 10 miles of Joshua Tree National Park, which straddles both counties, according to the Environmental Working Group. Of those, 207 claims have been filed since 2003. At Mojave National Preserve in eastern San Bernardino County, 2,486 claims are within 10 miles; 670 have been filed since 2003.

Statewide, 21,365 claims are within 10 miles of federal public lands, the group said.

Bill Walker, vice president of the environmental group's West Coast office in Oakland, said Monday that the group analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees mining activity.

Legislation has been introduced to update the Hardrock Mining Law of 1872, and the group wants the buffer zone to be included and land managers given power to weigh whether the mines would be harmful to the environment. The buffer zone is needed, Walker said, to protect the landscape and reduce the chance of damage to wildlife habitat and water sources from toxic waste.

The House Resources Committee is scheduled on Thursday to mark up the legislation, introduced by the committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W. Va.

Joe Zarki, chief of interpretation at Joshua Tree National Park, said park officials aren't aware of any current claims that are a threat. He said the Bureau of Land Management typically allows the National Park Service to comment on anything nearby.

"We're always concerned about issues along our borders that might possibly impact resources, whether it's the air, wildlife or vegetation," he said.

Robert Waiwood, geologist with the bureau for the California desert district, said most claims are for gold and that most don't become active mines. The district's only large, open-pit operation, he said, is in Imperial County.

Walker said he's concerned about the few claims that do become active.

"If just a few did," he said, "they would have quite an impact."

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added the Formosa Mine in Oregon to the nation's Superfund list. Mining activities released copper, zinc and other metals into the headwaters of two creeks and severely degraded 18 miles of stream habitat, the EPA said.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Palm Springs Voters Reject Project at Base of Mt. San Jacinto Aerial Tramway


We did it!!

Tuesday, the voters of Palm Springs went to the polls and put an
absolute whammy on the Yes on C folks. We received more than a 60% NO
vote in a full landslide over the opposition that put $650,000 into a
campaign that got them just 3846 votes. That’s almost $200 per yes vote.

I will not single out any individuals for special thanks, as each
contributed in his or her own way. We had volunteers who made calls,
contributed money, showed up at events, placed signs, handled our
website, walked door-to-door and all of the other tasks that make for a
successful campaign. Collectively, we demonstrated that not only can you
fight City Hall, you can win!


We will soon have a new City Council who we believe will be more
responsive to our concerns. You can be assured that Save Our Mountains
will not rest on our laurels from this victory, but will continue to
press for the responsible stewardship of our awesome natural resources.

Thanks again for supporting those of us who were in the thick of this
campaign. We hope that we can count on your support continuing into the


Jono Hildner, Chair
Save Our Mountains

November 6, 2007 marks a critical turning point in the fate of Chino Canyon, our magnificent alluvial fan located at the historic entrance to Palm Springs and the gateway to the Aerial Tram and San Jacinto/Santa Rosa National Monument. In 2006, the City Council voted 3-1 to rubber-stamp a 10-year extension to the 1993 Shadowrock Development Agreement for building a massive development in the heart of Chino Canyon. In doing so, they ignored the Planning Commission’s unanimous vote to deny the extension, and betrayed the public trust. A NO vote on Measure C rejects the 10-year extension to this flawed and outdated development agreement.

What’s at stake?

A NO! vote on Measure C
rejects a development agreement that... --Fails to require an assessment to pay for necessary additional police and fire services. --Permits mass grading and over two million cubic yards of cut and fill. --Fails to require a hotel and its promised revenues. --Violates current Chino Cone Ordinance. --Allows above ground utility lines, sewer and water pipes. --Permits ripping out part of the Chino Canyon Oasis.

What’s it going to take? Like the Measures B and C campaign in 2005, the Shadowrock Referendum promises to be a difficult fight. We anticipate that there will be many attempts to confuse and deceive voters and a lot of money spent by the developer and his allies. Two things we know for certain: We need you to vote NO on Measure C We need your personal involvement to win this fight.

Money is always welcome and critical to getting our message out. Volunteering your time or opening up your home to host a coffee for neighbors and friends will also be of immeasurable help to this campaign. Please join in by contributing what you can.

Photos are by Tom Brewster and Greg Day


E-Mail the editor:

rexfrankel at

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