For Immediate Release, Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Contact: Adam Keats (415) 436-9682 x 304, (415) 845-2509 (cell)
Tejon Ranch Seeks License to Kill California Condors:
Development Would Destroy Proposed National Park
LOS ANGELES— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal today to allow the Tejon Ranch Company to kill and harass the iconic and extremely endangered California condor . The condor’s last bastion of wild habitat is threatened by mega-developments in northern Los Angeles and southern Kern counties, planned by the Tejon Ranch Company, a publicly traded company heavily invested in by New York-based funds. Tejon Ranch Company is also seeking a permit to kill and harass 33 other rare species, including our national icon, the bald eagle.
“No corporation should ever request, no government agency should ever consider, and no person should ever approve a permit like the one proposed today,” said Adam Keats, director of the Urban Wildlands Program of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This ‘license to kill’ would be a knife to the heart of the California condor and would destroy California’s rich natural heritage by enabling more urban sprawl to be dumped in southern California’s most valuable remaining wild areas.”
Conservation groups have a different vision for Tejon Ranch: Tejon-Tehachapi Park. “Tejon Ranch is a true gem of California and can never be replaced,” said Ileene Anderson, staff biologist at the Center. “Once these cities are built, there will be no way wildlife can move up and down the state anymore. Coupled with the hit that condor and the other rare plants and animals will take, this would be one of the greatest environmental travesties California will ever face.”
Tejon Ranch covers over 270,000 acres of wilderness at the crossroads of northern and southern California. The Mojave desert, the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, the great central valley and the southern forests all converge on Tejon Ranch — the only place in California where four ecoregions come together. The diversity of plants and animals that occur on the Tejon Ranch is exceptional. Several of the rare plants and animals that Tejon Ranch Company is seeking permission to harm are only known from Tejon Ranch, and have no where else to live.
Besides the California condor, Tejon Ranch is a refuge for a host of wildlife and plants threatened by the proposal, including five other species declared by the state of California to be “fully protected”: the bald eagle, American peregrine falcon, golden eagle, white-tailed kite, and ringtail (the condor is also fully protected). Other species in the permit request include the least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, western yellow-billed cuckoo, Tehachapi slender salamander, little willow flycatcher, tricolored blackbird, California spotted owl, Tehachapi pocket mouse, burrowing owl, yellow-blotched salamander, western spadefoot, purple martin, northern goshawk, coast horned lizard, Cooper’s hawk, yellow-breasted chat, prairie falcon, northern harrier, long-eared owl, two-striped garter snake, round-leaved filaree, Fort Tejon woolly sunflower, Kusche’s sandwort, Tehachapi buckwheat, American badger, striped adobe lily, and Tejon poppy.
“Barely 100 condors fly free in California, and only about 50 near Tejon, the historical heart of their range,” said Keats. “They simply cannot withstand a single death, nor can they withstand the loss of habitat that this permit would enable. As the condor goes, so goes what makes California special. It’s simple: the ranch cannot be developed — not one shovel should touch dirt, not one McMansion should be built. Anything less will be a failure that will be mourned by generations to come.”
Preserving Tejon Ranch as a new national or state park would protect a bounty of native plant and animal communities, cultural and historic features, and scenic vistas. See http://www.savetejonranch.org.