The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected arguments that the California gnatcatcher is not a valid subspecies. EHL and other groups helped marshal scientific evidence.

Listed in 1993 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the California gnatcatcher, a diminutive grey songbird, revolutionized conservation in Southern California. The listing catalyzed large scale State of California Natural Community Conservation Plans and federal Habitat Conservation Plans whose goal is ecosystem rather than single species conservation. These plans also streamline permitting for compatible development and infrastructure. The plans have resolved environmental-economic conflicts in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties.

Despite this record of problem solving, the building industry has relentlessly sought to delist the gnatcatcher. Indeed, this is the second delisting petition to claim on genetic grounds that the California gnatcatcher is not a valid subspecies. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service convened an expert panel to review the evidence and found no basis for delisting. EHL helped bring public and scientific input into the process.

EHL formed in 1991 in order to advocate for listing of the gnatcatcher. We remain dedicated to its beautiful coastal sage scrub ecosystem.