| LEGAL CHALLENGE TO DANVILLE
WENDT RANCH PROJECT JEOPARDIZES ENDANGERED SPECIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 18, 2002
Jamie Jefferson, Esq. (510) 548-0296
Shapell Industries plans to build 323 homes/condominiums on 165 acres at the site, which harbors a seasonal wetland and provides critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. Shapell owns 5,700 acres in the Tassajara Valley and plans have already been drawn up for development of an additional 1,387 homes on 766 acres of open space at Camino Tassajara adjacent to the Wendt Ranch site. The proposed developments will eliminate valuable wetlands and riparian areas along East Alamo Creek, contribute to soil erosion, contaminate water resources, and potentially extirpate sensitive species such as the red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, vernal pool shrimp, and the San Joaquin kit fox from the Tassajara Valley.
"The regulatory agencies improperly issued permits for this development based on weak or non-existent studies and on mitigations that will generally be unworkable," said Jim Blickenstaff, Director of Save Our Danville Creeks. "The net effect will be the taking of invertebrate species and red-legged frogs and their habitat." "The sprawl developments planned here are going to decimate a red-legged frog population that the Fish and Wildlife Service has identified as part of an essential core recovery unit for the species," said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The cumulative impacts will be quite damaging to Alamo Creek and wildlife habitat in the Tassajara Valley."
The lawsuit challenges a Biological Opinion ("BO") issued by the USFWS claiming that the Wendt project would not jeopardize the red-legged frog or adversely modify its critical habitat. There is no evidence in the record that supports this BO and the mitigations proposed for harming frog habitat are inadequate and unworkable. The suit also contends that the issuance of Nationwide Permits ("NWPs") by the Corps for filling wetlands on the site violate the ESA and Section 404 of the CWA. The Corps failed to consult with the USFWS, as required under the ESA, on the potential impacts to listed species of vernal pool fairy shrimp. The Corps permits also failed to consider the cumulative impacts of adjacent developments along Alamo Creek which share common infrastructure with the Wendt project. The proposed Camino Tassajara project by Shapell and the Intervening Project by Braddock & Logan will further fragment red-legged frog habitat in the Tassajara Valley.Save Our Danville Creeks is dedicated to the protection, conservation, and enhancement of Danville's creeks and watersheds, including the Alamo Creek and its tributaries, ecosystems, endangered species, and other natural communities. The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit environmental organization devoted to the protection of endangered species and wild places of western North America and the Pacific through science, policy, education, and environmental law. The Center for Biological Diversity's Golden State Biodiversity Initiative has won ESA Protection for more than 80 California species. The Alameda Creek Alliance is a community watershed group working to protect and restore the natural ecosystems of the Alameda Creek watershed, which includes Alamo Creek.