Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

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


Thursday, July 29, 2010

SMMC-MRCA 6/2/2010 to 7/26/2010

Saving Tujunga, Paving of Newhall were on the Conservancy agendas in June-July

Taken from the agendas for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Parks Authority for June and July of 2010



6/28/2010-SMMC--Consideration of resolution authorizing a letter supporting designation of additional wilderness area and wild rivers in the Angeles National Forest. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Comment Letter] [Attachment ] [Map

6/28/2010-SMMC--Consideration of resolution retroactively authorizing a comment letter on the Mitigated Negative Declaration for a RV and contractor storage facility at 890-900 West Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley. [Comment Letter] [Resolution] [Map

7/26/2010--SMMC--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter on the Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the Entrada Project, County Project No. 00-210-(5), Santa Clarita. [Comment Letter] [Resolution] [Map

7/26/2010--SMMC--Consideration of resolution authorizing a comment letter on the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan, Los Angeles County. [Comment Letter] [Resolution] [Attachment 1] [Attachment 2] [Attachment 3] [Attachment 4] [Attachment 5] [Attachment 6] [Attachment 7] [Attachment 8] [Attachment 9

7/26/2010--SMMC--Consideration of resolution authorizing the City of Los Angeles to expend funds from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Trust Fund to assist the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s acquisition of apns 5565-003-036, 037, 038, 039, 040 and 041, located at the southwest corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Mulholland Drive. [Staff Report] [Resolution] [Map 1] [Map 2

6/2/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution adopting FY 10/11 MRCA Workprogram. [Map]

6/2/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing the acceptance of a donation of all or a portion of APN 4493-015-007, adjacent to the Hilton Open Space, Mandeville Canyon. [Map] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

6/2/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of a conservation easement, or fee simple title if maintenance issues are addressed, over APN 5565-025-001 in Laurel Canyon north of Willow Glen Road and acceptance of maintenance funding, City of Los Angeles. [Map] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

7/7/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing the acceptance of conservation easements over portions of of APNs 2172-025-012, 013, and 060, resulting from the vacation of a 20-foot wide public walk by the City of Los Angeles, adjacent to Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy-owned Serrania Ridge section of Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park, Woodland Hills. [Map 1] [Map 2] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

7/7/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing a transfer of an approximately 2,014 square feet permanent street dedication easement at the Confluence Park property (APN 5415-001-900) to the City of Los Angeles. [Staff Report] [Resolution]

7/7/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of a conservation easement over a portion of APN 5570-024-064, not to exceed 0.20 acres, for wildlife movement purposes, adjacent to Briar Summit Open Space Preserve, Nichols Canyon, City of Los Angeles. [Attachment] [Map] [Map 2] [Attachment 2] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

7/7/2010--MRCA--Consideration of resolution authorizing the use of in-lieu mitigation fee funds to acquire 9.56 acres (APN 2552-002-006) in the Big Tujunga Wash, City of Los Angeles. Negotiators: Joseph T. Edmiston, Scott Covington, and David McSwain of the Hoffman Company. Under consideration: price and terms. (This item may be heard in closed session pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8) [Map 1] [Map 2] [Staff Report] [Resolution



WCB 8/2010: Calif. Wildlife Board to save 11,159 acres in August...

Critters Will Be Safe in 13 new State Land Preservation Deals

SUMMARY: The State will buy 2440 acres outright and will also purchase development rights on another 8719 acres in Napa, Mono, Riverside, Plumas, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Orange Counties


August 26, 2010



Quail Ridge Preserve--$310,000--Napa County
--grant to the Regents of the University of California (UC) to acquire approximately 120± acres at the south end of Lake Berryessa, 14 miles west of the City of Winters, in Napa County.

Wheeler Ridge, Expansion 2--$2,000--Mono County
--a private donation of land to the Department of Fish and Game, of 2± acres of fee title property near Crowley Lake, approximately 20 miles northwest of the City of Bishop in Mono County.

Western Riverside County MSHCP (2006)--$35,000 Expansion 2-6 --Riverside County
--acquisition of five properties, totaling 820± acres, south of the City of Murrieta, in Riverside County.

Whitewater Floodplain, Expansion 1--$5,000 Riverside County
--acquire a total of 142± acres located west of the City of Palm Springs, in Riverside County.

Goodwin Red Clover Valley Ranches--$1,993,500 Plumas County
--acquire a conservation easement over 3,904± acres of rangeland for the protection of rangeland, riparian and wet meadow habitat, and conservation of critical wildlife migration corridors. The property is located approximately 45 miles north of the Town of Truckee in the Red Clover Valley area of Plumas County.

Wildlake Ranch Conservation Easement--$6,020,000--Napa County
--acquire a conservation easement over 3,029± acres of land to protect oak woodland, conifer forest, chaparral, and riparian habitats located 20 miles northeast of the City of Napa, in Napa County.

Marks Ranch--$2,195,000--Monterey County
--acquire 624± acres of coastal range habitat with native grasslands, oak woodlands, riparian habitat and seasonal wetlands which serve as an important wildlife corridor, located adjacent to the Toro Regional Park, near the City of Salinas, in Monterey County.

Alamo Creek Conservation Easement--$2,220,000--San Luis Obispo County
--acquire a conservation easement over 1,767± acres for the protection of oak woodlands, riparian habitat, and conservation of critical wildlife migration corridors, located approximately 10 miles northeast of the City of Santa Maria in San Luis Obispo County.

Los Cerritos Wetlands--$5,180,000--Orange County
--acquire 100± acres of land in the City of Seal Beach

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve,--$145,000.00 Tenaja Corridor, Expansions 1 -10 in Riverside County
--accept a donation of fee title to seven properties totaling 73± acres, conservation easements over two properties totaling 19± acres, and the acceptance of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Planning Land Acquisition grant to acquire 39± acres

Vail Lake--$965,000--Riverside County
--acquire 520± acres of native upland and wetland habitat to support threatened and endangered species, 20 miles east of the City of Temecula, in the unincorporated area of Aguanga, in Riverside County.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Merced Voters may stop urban "sprawl"

Merced growth initiative progresses--
'Save Farmland' impact up for study

Read more:

6/26/2010--MERCED — An initiative aimed at curbing development in Merced's unincorporated lands is one step closer to possibly becoming law.

The Merced County Board of Supervisors voted this week to accept the county registrar's certification of the "Save Farmland" initiative and to begin a 30-day study of the measure's impact on county government and development.

The initiative, if passed by voters or enacted into law, would amend the county's general plan and apply to land designated for either agricultural or open space use. Such land could be converted to residential use only by a public vote. The initiative would lock in such rules until 2040.

More than 7,620 signatures in support of the measure were gathered by the initiative's supporters. The study is intended to help the board decide whether to enact the law or send it to the public for a vote. The study can't keep the initiative from appearing on voters' ballots.

Once the study is completed, supervisors can vote to enact the initiative into law within 10 days or put it on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Purchase of 871 acres on Sonoma coast is finished...

Groups Celebrate Purchase of Historic Sonoma County Property: Stewarts Point Ranch

6/30/2010--This week the Pacific Forest Trust and Save the Redwoods League completed the initial purchase of Stewarts Point Ranch, one of the most important unprotected coastal redwood tracts along the Sonoma County coastline.

Transfer of the land to interim ownership by Save the Redwoods League is an important next step in our efforts to conserve the oceanfront property and its heritage as a productive, sustainably managed working forest that was part of the historic “Rancho German,” one of the last Mexican land grants.

Stewarts Point Ranch is a stunning, 871-acre property situated along a full mile of scenic bluffs adjoining the Pacific Ocean. It also contains a significant stretch of the South Fork of the Gualala River, considered critical for its salmon habitat. Its other outstanding features include 750 acres of well-managed coastal redwood and Douglas-fir forest — with notable remaining old growth — sustained by its longtime owners, Arch and Jack Richardson, through a family trust....

for the full story:

For a map and photos:

USA data on loss of open spaces...

from the

Latest Data on Land Lost to Development
The 2007 National Resources Inventory has been released and provides the latest statistical data about land cover and use, soil erosion and prime farmland and wildlife and wetlands. The report is used to support agricultural and environmental policy development and conservation programs.

Where is All the Protected Land in the U.S.?
Learn more about federal, state and locally protected areas with the newly updated Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US). The USGS Gap Analysis Program has just published version 1.1 of this national GIS dataset. The national dataset, organized by state, is available for download at the GAP PAD-US website.

Get the latest on Sucking the Delta dry for developers...

New Improved Restore the Delta website:

All their email news archived here:

A look at the language used by water hogs in their press releases:

an excerpt from:,0,2161458.story

Californians should use less delta water, report says:
The State Water Board study provides new ammunition in the battle over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a source of water for roughly two of three Californians.

7/22/2010--The draft report, released Wednesday, acknowledges that the delta's many environmental problems extend beyond water diversions. But it concludes that restoring the delta's collapsing fisheries and hydrologic rhythms are "fundamentally inconsistent with continuing to move large volumes of water through the delta for export."...

New website to stop SF Bay wetland filling & urbanizing

Sign the petition to stop wetlands destruction in Redwood City

Cargill's development plan is the biggest threat to San Francisco Bay in 50 years. These 1,436 acres of salt ponds should be protected and restored to wetlands to benefit wildlife, water quality and the region's quality of life. I urge the Redwood City Council to reject this destructive Bay fill proposal and promote full restoration of the site.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Feds Get Sacramento River land in trade near Shasta Lake...

BLM Acquires Land to Improve Public Recreation Opportunities Near Sacramento River

7/8/2010--The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has acquired 275 acres near the Sacramento River that will improve public access to recreation areas and trails north of Redding.

Acquisition of the three parcels between Keswick and Shasta dams will enable the BLM to complete six miles of new trail. A new three- mile loop from the Walker Mine Road Trailhead and a three-mile trail to Moccasin Creek will cross the newly acquired land, according to Steve Anderson, manager of the BLM Redding Field Office.

“Getting the property into public ownership also improves our ability to protect sensitive cultural and historic resources, improve wildlife habitat, and allow us to better manage fire-prone vegetation and reduce wildfire risk,” Anderson said.

The BLM acquired the parcels in a land exchange with property owner Jaxon Baker who acquired from the BLM about 100 acres within the urban expansion area of the City of Shasta Lake.

Anderson said BLM and its partners will soon begin developing the recreation trail segments on the newly acquired parcels, continuing improvement of a rapidly expanding recreational trail network in the Redding area.

Meanwhile, feds shift lands between departments to help Forest Service and Off-Roaders

One small step for good government

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hey, this won't make a noticeable dent in the trillion-dollar deficit, but Rep. Wally Herger alerts the world that his HR 689 has passed both houses of Congress -- and will bring new efficiencies to one small corner of the federal government in the north state.

The measure is a land swap that would consolidate the management of the Chappie-Shasta OHV park under the Bureau of Land Management's, um, management, while shifting some 5,000 acres in the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. Makes sense for both agencies -- as if the checkerboard of public and private land weren't confusing enough, it only gets worse when you throw in adjacent lands owned by the federal government, but under two separate Cabinet departments.

But what will it mean for users? Local BLM chief Steve Anderson explains in an e-mail:

"Many of the special use permits involved regional users (ie: Oregon, Southern California, Nevada) along with local users. For organized events the reality of one permit simply makes planning more direct. We receive OHV grants from the State of California and while the grant process wont change, there should now only be one grant application for the 52,000 acre, Chappie Shasta OHV area. We would hope that one application would be a benefit to the State OHV Commission and the approval process.

BLM continues to acquire land in the OHV area with federal, state, and settlement (Iron Mountain Mine Superfund ) land. It may make land acquisition more straightforward. Sometimes private parcels offered for purchase would be split between management agency jurisdictions. The parcel(s) may have value for trail connectivity and long term management but we would try to select those lands of most importance within our jurisdiction."

A Current map of the Chappie Shasta off-roader park --CLICK ON IT TO ENLARGE

Wind Power plan on BRBNA ridgeline?

Windmill Farm proposal East of Clearlake has Enviro's worried

7/6/2010--Walker Ridge in western Colusa County may be the home of a future wind farm.

Calgary-based AltaGas hopes to embrace wind turbine technology in the Mendocino National Forest, and has proposed a wind park on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, located on the border of Colusa and Lake counties.

AltaGas — a $2.6 billion natural gas generating company — hopes to have the wind power project under construction by 2012, but fears the growing trend in alternative power could bog the company down in red tape.

"BLM is swamped with renewable energy applications," said Peter Eaton, project development director.
If all goes well for the company, 29 to 42 turbines will twirl on about 80 acres of a 8,157 acre row, and generate up to 70 mega watts of renewable energy.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Place to Play in Malibu...

Malibu's Trancas Canyon Park opens in July

LOCATION: Trancas Canyon Road a half mile north of Pacific Coast Highway in west Malibu 

7/2010--The City of Malibu celebrated the opening of the new 13.5-acre Trancas Canyon Park this month. The park features a multi-use sports field, dog park, picnic area, tot lot, restrooms, parking and other features. Located on property donated to the City in 2003, the Trancas Canyon Park provides much-needed space for sports and recreation. In addition, it will help contribute to a healthy lifestyle, foster a sense of community, protect wildlife habitat, and help to clean urban runoff. It is one of two new parks the City of Malibu will be opening this year, including Legacy Park in the Civic Center area, which is slated to open this fall.

The Controversial Park Planning Process:
excepted from:

7/7/2010--The planning of Trancas Canyon Park was a long, laborious process that began in 2007 with the initial public input meetings and didn't end until December 2009. The park's final form and function represent compromise by many parties, and the outcomes of lawsuits, appeals and city council votes, planning meetings with local residents and grassroots opposition efforts.

The first major controversy, which nearly resulted in the park not being built at all, was whether league sports play should be allowed. When the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to recommend league play to the city council in 2008, many nearby residents of the park became outraged. They said the “Trancas Park Fact Sheet” the city had sent to residences in Malibu West, Malibu Park and Broad Beach when the project was first proposed didn't mention anything about league play. They said they were led to believe this would just be another “pocket park.” Many parents and their children, as well as City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, were in favor of sports league play at the park.

Malibu West residents, in particular, were upset by the additional traffic, noise and trash they felt would accompany league play in their neighborhood; as well as safety concerns about fire risks and the ability of fire trucks to get through traffic congestion before and after games on the narrow and winding Trancas Canyon Road. The city council voted to ban league sports at Trancas Canyon Park in June 2008.

The other major controversy in the creation of the park was that park construction would involve flattening a ridgeline. The jagged ridge, christened “Trancas Ridge” by residents, rises almost 28 feet above the flat part of the park property. The ridge and its outline comprise part of the overall view of some homes; plus its crevices and coastal scrub vegetation were known to provide native wildlife habitat. Two Malibu West residents filed appeals against the Trancas Park Environmental Impact Report. A grassroots “Save the Ridge” movement was organized. Residents discovered that ridgelines, large rock landforms, defining views and coastal scrub are actually protected by city code as well as the Local Coastal Plan.

As a result, in April 2009, the city council voted to spare most of the ridgeline and outcropping from grading, as well as preserve a knoll next to the ridge. This required a redesign of the park that resulted in a smaller overall area of development. It reduced the size of the picnic area, playground and dog park; and reduced the number of parking spaces, picnic tables and shade structures. The number of cubic yards that had to be graded was also cut significantly. In addition, because of privacy concerns from some nearby residents, a 720-foot, heavily vegetated retaining wall was added to the plan.

Later that same month, other concerns about the EIR still caused the Malibu West Homeowners Association, later taken over by the Malibu Township Council, to file suit against the city and seek an injunction to park construction. The lawsuit claimed that part of the dog park was being built on an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. A biologist hired by the city disputed the ESHA claim, saying the park site's ecology was already ruined when it was graded and filled in the 1960s to accommodate residential development.

A legal settlement that had nothing to do with building on an ESHA was finally reached in December 2009. The MTC claimed that the ban on league play at Trancas Park could possibly be reversed by a future city council. To settle, the city wrote league play prohibition into the property title for the park. If a future city council ever wants to change the rule, they're now legally required to obtain MTC's consent.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another 215 acre farm is saved in Marin...

Mazzucchi Ranch Becomes MALT Easement 66

7/9/2010--Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) has purchased an agricultural conservation easement on the 215-acre Mazzucchi Ranch located in Marin County just south of Valley Ford. Owners Stan Mazzucchi and his sister Loretta Bidaurreta currently live on the property, which has been in their family for generations. Located near the border of the Estero Americano, the property has been a family-run sheep ranch as long as Stan can remember.

MALT paid $424,000 for the easement based on an independent appraisal, with all of the funds raised from MALT supporters. The sale of an agricultural conservation easement to MALT will enable Stan, his wife Sally, daughters Emily and Jodie, and nephew Casey Mazzucchi to continue to run 300 head of sheep on the ranch, and to make improvements to expand the operation and maintain the high quality of the ranch infrastructure.

The ridge tops of the ranch afford exemplary views of the Estero Americano, with reports of visions of Mount Saint Helena on clear days. The significant scenic value of the property might have made the ranch a prime target for a developer for subdivision into estate ranchettes. Under the Marin Agricultural Land Trust conservation easement, the development rights have been extinguished, and the land can never be subdivided; the ranch is permanently protected for agricultural use.

More on MALT's agricultural preserves:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mendo County Forest may be opened to the public...

Redwood Forests Foundation seeks $5 million state grant to open 50,000 acre former Georgia-Pacific forest to limited public access.

The forest was purchased by the Foundation in 2007 with a loan from Bank of America. The land continues to be operated as a "working forest" by the Foundation. Read more:

Another Beach saved in Mendocino

On January 5, 2010, the Mendocino County Land Trust completed the purchase of this 5.6 acre jewel in Fort Bragg.  The Land Trust intends to permanently manage the property.  In 2010, the Land Trust will write a management plan for the property and begin working towards opening the beach to public access.
This acquisition was made possible by a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy and a generous matching donation from a local Fort Bragg resident. To learn more about the acquisition, click here.

Sonoma County saves more land...

247 acres of Ag land are protected in 3 Sonoma deals

Agreement Protects 165 acres Natural Area along Sonoma's Highway 12
Conservation easement keeps land “forever wild” and preserves historic agricultural use

2/2/2010--SANTA ROSA, Calif.–In an area surrounded by existing or planned residential development and vineyards, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District will purchase an easement over the 165-acre Danielli property which will keep approximately 148 acres natural and provide for 17 acres of agricultural use.
Today, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting as the District’s Board of Directors, approved the $1.48 million agreement between the District and Lola Danielli. The purchase price represents a 10% or $164,500 reduction of the appraised value, and the agreement eliminates the potential for development of five parcels and provides for continued agricultural and existing residential uses on the property....The property has been in the Danielli family since the 1940s and will adjoin two existing open space easements that will create 420 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat. Forever protected are the oak woodland, conifer forest, meadows, chaparral, and seasonal creeks that characterize the property.


Original Crane Melon Property Protected Forever--48 acres
District works with the Crane family to protect agricultural legacy

4/20/2010--SANTA ROSA, Calif.–The 48.53-acre farm where the original Crane melon was developed is now protected in perpetuity as the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting as the District’s Board of Directors, today approved a $365,750 purchase of a conservation easement that eliminates the potential for development of two parcels. The purchase price represents a 5% or $19,250 reduction of the appraised value.
The Crane Home Ranch is located on the north side of Crane Canyon Road, east of Petaluma Hill Road, just outside of Rohnert Park. The easement will protect the agricultural uses on the farm which include the production of melons, hay, and 11 acres of pinot noir grapes, as well as the riparian corridors associated with two seasonal creeks that traverse the property....The District has protected nearly 300 acres in the surrounding area that continues to experience agricultural land conversion to rural residential estates. Currently, the District leases out 148 acres in that vicinity for agricultural use. In total, the District has protected 33,000 acres for agriculture—nearly half of all the land protected by the District since its creation by Sonoma County voters in 1990.

Sonoma Land Trust protects scenic Bennett Valley property and wildlife corridor

(SANTA ROSA, CALIF., Feb. 9, 2010) — A stunning 34-acre property on the northern flank of Sonoma Mountain is now permanently protected with a conservation easement thanks to a generous donation by landowners Peter and Kathy Drake. Located at the southern end of rural Bennett Valley, the property boasts sweeping views of the Mayacamas Mountains and Annadel State Park, and is situated in an important wildlife habitat corridor between Annadel and Jack London State Parks, a priority for conservation.

3200 Acres preserved from development in Humboldt...

Six Rivers to the Sea conservation easement finalized
The Eureka Times-Standard
Posted: 01/29/2010

Owners of the Chalk Mountain Ranch in Bridgeville granted a forest conservation easement on a 3,200-acre working ranch to Cal Fire earlier this month. The easement will have no effect on property taxes. It will ensure the property remains a single large parcel and conserves the economic potential of forestry, grazing and natural resource-based recreation on the property, according to a Cal Fire press release. It also creates a stream-side forest preserve on major perennial streams throughout the ranch.

The Northcoast Regional Land Trust was involved with developing the project and will be monitoring the easement. The California Wildlife Conservation Board provided the real estate research and expertise for Cal Fire. The Barnwell family, owners of the property, helped create the Six Rivers to the Sea project in 2002, and the Chalk Mountain Ranch tract is another in a string of perpetual conservation agreements designed to keep productive resource property on tax rolls and working in private ownership in Humboldt County, according to the press release.

The Barnwells donated a significant portion of the value, and the sale was funded by the Federal Forest Legacy Program. Les Barnwell said in a statement, “My grandpa, my father and I have given our heart and soul to Chalk Mountain Ranch. This conservation easement will help ensure our legacy will go on forever.”

Since 2002, 14,450 acres of private ranchlands have been similarly protected in the Six Rivers to the Sea project in Humboldt County, with landowners contributing about one-quarter of the easement's value.

Santa Cruz buys 32 miles of Railroad tracks...

State releases funds so Santa Cruz County can buy 32 mile beach rail line, between Pajaro and Davenport

7/1/2010--Future possibilities include hiking and biking path, although State officials are insisting that rail service continue, too

Tejon Ranch stock is in the toilet....

The Condor's revenge?

Editor's note: a little over 2 years ago, after Tejon made a deal with 5 groups to not oppose their developments, the company's stock was trading at $45 a share. Times change...

Friday, 09 July 2010 03:24 Tejon Ranch Co. (TRC) [Chart - Analysis - News] established a new 52-week low yesterday at $22.90. Clearly investors are not enthusiastic about the firm's prospects. The decline was accompanied by higher than average volume, which adds to the momentum behind yesterday's move.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bush regime attack on L.A. Rivers is overturned...

Feds Restore protection to the L.A. River

Plus State officials announce the purchase of 4 acres along a tributary to the L.A. River known as Compton Creek

The deletion of protection for all but 4 miles of the L.A. River by the federal regulators was in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that weakened wetlands protection laws, and locally it was part of an attempt to help landowners in the canyons that ring the L.A. basin to develop and fill in these canyons. Rare Earth News reported on this in 2008, concerning landowner Wayne Fishbacks's plans to develop the top of Browns Canyon in Chatsworth:


7/8/2010--U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday declared the entire concrete-lined Los Angeles River channel "traditional navigable waters," a designation crucial to applying Clean Water Act protections throughout its 834-square-mile urban watershed.
...Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas would not argue with any of that. At the news conference he announced the purchase of a four-acre portion of the Compton Creek riverbed devastated by decades of storm runoff and illegal dumping.


Rex Frankel Says:

I thought it was up to the Army Corps of Engineers to declare whether the river is navigable or not. I don’t know if the river is actually protected yet until the Army Corps makes this declaration. They are the ones that always issue permits to fill in “waters of the USA”, so I’m a little concerned that this isn’t the end of this battle.
  • Joe Linton Says:
    Rex – The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for the initial designation (which they did and determined that only 4 miles of the L.A. River were, in their determination navigable.) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can override the USACE. Once the EPA overrides the USACE, then the USACE issues permits, based on the EPA’s determination. The USACE and EPA stood together today and said the river is navigable, so it doesn’t look like there will be any more “battle” specific to that.
    There may still be some issues to work out relative to tributaries. Protected waters must have a “significant nexus” to a protected waterbody… EPA guidance on this is a bit vague. I seem to recall them saying that within 5 miles there’s definitely a nexus, and further than that, it’s not a clear call… so if a party wants to alter a small tributary at a point 5.5 miles from the L.A. River… it’s unclear (probably subject to legal dispute) whether that portion of that tributary is actually fully protected by the Clean Water Act.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Water Case seeks to halt giveaway to big-Ag...

Private takeover of State Water "bank" challenged

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. July 2, 2010 - A coalition of farmers, sportfishing interests and environmentalists filed suit today seeking to have the Kern Water Bank returned to state control. The water bank, a massive underground reservoir in Kern County built by the state's Department of Water Resources, was illegally gifted to powerful corporate agribusiness interests and real-estate speculators as part of the controversial "Monterey Plus Amendments" to the State Water Project system.

"The Kern Water Bank is an integral part of our State Water Project and crucial to the future health of our farms, our cities and our environment," said Adam Keats, urban wildlands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It was built and paid for by the people of California and should remain the property of the people of California, not handed over to a small group of powerful private interests."

California's state constitution expressly forbids any agency giving away or "gifting" of state assets to private interests. The current lawsuit asserts that the Kern County Water Agency gifted the Kern Water Bank to the Kern Water Bank Authority, a public-private joint powers authority controlled by Paramount Farming Company (one of the world's largest agricultural and holding companies) and Tejon Ranch Company (the massive landholding corporation seeking to develop several new cities north of Los Angeles - including the largest development ever proposed in California).

The suit is the coalition's second in the last month over the State Water Project. The first targeted the Department of Water Resources for approving the Monterey Plus Amendments – a huge set of structural changes for how the State Water Project is managed. In one of those changes, the department transferred the Kern Water Bank to an entity called the Kern County Water Agency. That agency then quickly handed over the water bank to the newly formed Kern Water Bank Authority. The latest suit seeks to bring the Kern Water Bank back into state control.

"We're not going to stand aside and allow a few very powerful and wealthy water barons to illegally privatize a publicly funded facility worth hundreds of millions of dollars so they can reap vast profits from growing nut trees in the desert and building thousands of speculative McMansions in the wilderness," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "All while our rivers and streams are dewatered, farms fallowed, and fish and wildlife plunge toward extinction."

The sportfishing and environmental groups are joined in the suit by two delta water agencies, the Central Delta Water Agency and the Southern Delta Water Agency, whose constituents are dependent on in-delta flows to irrigate their farms.

"A properly managed Kern Water Bank could benefit the entire state, providing backup water during drought years for farms and urban areas, while helping to ensure that water is available to keep the Delta ecosystem healthy," said Carolee Krieger, executive director of the California Water Impact Network. "But instead, as a result of this giveaway, both the State Water Project and the Delta ecosystem are on the brink of destruction while the water barons hoard water they don't own and use it for their own maximum profits, no matter what the consequences."

For more information on the Monterey Plus Amendments, see

Friday, July 2, 2010

Facts about California's Mountain Lion Protection law...

Big Cat Protection saves habitat for all critters

Fact: In addition to banning the trophy hunting of mountain lions, Proposition117 directs the California State legislature to allocate a minimum of $30million annually for thirty years towards the acquisition of critical habitat
for all of the state's wildlife. Since the Mountain Lion Foundation is not in the land acquisition business, none of these funds benefit our organization.

To date, Proposition 117 has helped acquire and protect over 2 million acres of critical habitat. Below is a breakdown of those acquisitions:

305,183 acres for the protection of mountain lion and deer habitat.
337,744 acres for the protection of special status species and significant habitat areas.
267,261 acres for protection and restoration of wetlands habitat.
1,170,649 acres for protection and restoration of fisheries and riparian habitat.
143,221 acres of corridors, trails, and for interpretive programs.

2,224,058 Total Acres Protected

Eastern Sierra Trail access lawsuit...

Pleasant Valley Trails Lawsuit ----- Information Needed

6/29/2010--Alpine County--Sometimes the only access to public lands is across private property.

It is a long-settled principle of law that public use of a path over private property for a specified period of time creates a public easement that is permanent and cannot be revoked by subsequent owners. We recently received the following notice from a citizens group in the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe regarding access issues. If you have information that might help them and are interested in helping out, please get in touch with the people mentioned in the alert. Thanks.

Pleasant Valley is a beautiful meadow south of Lake Tahoe that for well over 100 years had served as a major access point into Alpine County high country, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Mokelumne Wilderness Area. Access to Pleasant Valley was gated shut by a private landowner in 1999 who no longer
wished to have hikers, anglers, and others cross his land. In the years following the trails' closure, Friends of Hope Valley (FOHV) worked hard to persuade the landowner to voluntarily reopen these trails for public use, but after eight years of working for an amicable resolution this gateway to public lands remains closed. With no other recourse, FOHV has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in an effortto reopen the trails.

FOHV is working to find members of the public who accessed the Pleasant Valley trails in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Potential witnesses will be interviewed by FOHV's legal team, possibly deposed by the defendant's lawyers, and may be asked to testify in court in Sacramento. The deadline to discover witnesses is fast approaching and is essential to building the case for the trail's historic use.

The public's right to access public trails, even if people have to pass through private land to reach them, is firmly grounded in California state law. Any land in California that was used by the public for five continuous years before March 1972 cannot lawfully be closed to public access at the whim of the landowner. There is ample evidence demonstrating lengthy historical use of Pleasant Valley for hiking, fishing, and other recreational uses, including prior use by the Washoe tribe for more than a century.

Securing trail users from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s as witnesses is crucial to asserting the public's legal right to access these pristine trails. Hikers, anglers and others who used Pleasant Valley from 1950-1980 are asked to contact Friends of Hope Valley by emailing or to call FOHV's lawyer, Matthew Zinn of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP, at 415-552-7272 as soon as possible. For more information about the Friends of Hope Valley lawsuit,visit


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