EHL is working on multiple fronts to protect the last of the alluvial fans.
The Environment Element, a stakeholder group convened by San Bernardino County and co-chaired by EHL, continues to make progress on habitat planning. Late last year, the Element moved forward to create a Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) under a new state program. An RCIS identifies conservation priority areas and issues mitigation credits within them. These provide a voluntary, non-regulatory conservation framework.
The San Bernardino RCIS will tackle both the Valley and West Mojave regions. The former contains the washes and rivers supporting the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat (SBKR), Santa Ana sucker fish, and Santa Ana wooly star. After stakeholder input, a list of “focal species” for analysis has been adopted.
EHL continues to monitor permitting by federal agencies for the proposed Lytle Creek Ranch development. If built, it would devastate the best remaining stronghold for the SBKR. The USFWS has shown that the project would cram the animals into a highly active floodplain in which they would drown during floods. EHL met with the Army Corps – the main permitting agency – to discuss the project. And in cooperation with our local partner, Save Lytle Creek Wash, we submitted new information to the City of Rialto to compel reopening the CEQA process. We are represented by Chatten-Brown & Carstens.
EHL’s litigation over the operations of Seven Oaks dam along the upper Santa Ana River is ongoing. We are seeking reopening of consultation between the Army Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over water releases needed to rejuvenate habitat for the SBKR and other species. To protect their interests, two local water agencies concerned with water recharge have intervened on our side of the litigation while the flood control districts that operate the dam have intervened in opposition.
Finally, EHL made a site visit to a 4,000-acre group of properties – including rare and important alluvial fan – that the City of Rancho Cucamonga seeks to annex. We submitted early comments to the City and hope to work with it on a good conservation-development outcome.