For Immediate Release, April 3, 2008
Contact: Ileene Anderson (323) 654-5943 or (323) 490-0223 (cell)
U.S. Army Corps Revokes Shadowrock Permits:
Large Development Halted in Chino Canyon
PALM SPRINGS, Calif.— In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has revoked authorization to begin work on the Shadowrock development in Chino Canyon. The action halts the development project indefinitely.
“We hope the revocation of the Army Corps authorization will be the final nail in the coffin of this ill-conceived project,” said Ileene Anderson, staff biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The least Bell’s vireo and bighorn sheep will still have their home habitat in this important canyon.”
In March 2007, the Army authorized the Shadowrock developer to start grading in critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep and alter and fill in stretches of pristine Chino Canyon Creek, home to the endangered least Bell’s vireo, in order to construct luxury houses and golf courses. The Center for Biological Diversity challenged the authorization and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion in federal court in April 2007. That May, the Army Corps suspended the authorization and re-initiated consultation. Finally, this week, the Army Corps revoked the authorization.
The Shadowrock project was proposed for an area of Chino Canyon that supports rare desert riparian woodlands that are home to the threatened least Bell’s vireo and critical habitat for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep. By the time of listing, the San Jacinto population of bighorn had declined to only a fraction of its historic numbers and is making a slow comeback. In order for the bighorn to recover, the species must have an unimpeded movement corridor across desert canyons. The Shadowrock project would have blocked one of those crucial canyon connections.
The focus of numerous lawsuits, the Shadowrock project is a poster child of poor planning. In May 2007, after a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club, a court enjoined the Shadowrock developer from grading critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep. Shadowrock was also the focus of a local referendum in 2007, in which Palm Springs citizens overwhelmingly voted to deny a 10-year extension on the development agreement, overturning their city council’s approval of that extension. Another lawsuit challenging the developer’s back-door attempt to extend the development agreement through the so-called force majeure clause is still moving forward.