Litigation was filed against the City of Rialto, and a state-of-the-art hydrologic study was provided to agencies deciding whether to permit massive development along Lytle Creek.

Proposed development of the Lytle Creek wash floodplain would send the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat (SBKR) toward extinction and destroy much of the last place where its alluvial fan sage scrub ecosystem experiences natural water flows. Such flows are essential to rejuvenating habitat for the animal, yet it is also vital that “refugia” remain out of the reach of flood events, where the animal can safely survive without drowning.

EHL is fighting for the animal on two fronts. We have now sued the City of Rialto for the second time, for failing to re-open the CEQA process due to impacts being more severe than known at the time of approval in 2011. Since then, for example, the groundwater aquifer has been depleted (the project precludes recharge opportunities) and prior mitigation for the SBKR has failed. EHL and our ally, Save Lytle Creek Wash, are represented by Chatten-Brown & Carstens.

Second, as part of an ongoing effort to provide sound technical information to the federal and state permitting agencies (Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Regional Water Quality Control Board) EHL commissioned hydrologic modeling of Lytle and Cajon Creeks. Studies submitted by the applicant were deeply flawed, using the wrong baseline conditions and a model not designed to show erosion. 

The cbec engineering firm used advanced “sediment transport” modeling and found that an island proposed as refugia during flood events actually becomes inundated, and that the island will erode over time. In other words, the conservation proposed by the project is not conservation at all. This is on top of the immediate loss of habitat to development. A genetic study conducted by the San Diego Zoo shows already severely low population sizes that cannot withstand further depletion

We ask the federal and state agencies to use these facts in making decisions.