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For Immediate Release, May 16, 2007

Contact: Adam Keats, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 845-2509
Drew Feldmann, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, (909) 881-6081
Ed Wallace, Sierra Club (Big Bear Group), (909) 584-9407
Dan Fowlks, Friends of Big Bear Valley, (818) 753-8558

Also available: Dr. Timothy Krantz (biologist expert on the area), 909-748-8590

Hotel Planned for Big Bear Lake Rejected by Court:
Wetlands, Endangered Plants, and Fire Evacuation at Issue  

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif.– A San Bernardino Superior Court judge today sided with a coalition of environmental organizations and struck down the approval of the Big Bear Lake Hilton Garden Inn, planned near the lakeshore in the city of Big Bear Lake.

Judge John P. Wade ruled that the environmental review prepared for the planned hotel was deficient for a number of reasons, including its failure to properly address the wetlands on the property, to provide adequate mitigation for the destruction of endangered plants on the property, and to adequately analyze the fire evacuation issues associated with building a hotel in the fire-prone area.

“Not surprisingly, the courts have once again held that developers and the government agencies that support them must obey the law and deal with the environmental consequences of their actions,” said Drew Feldmann, president of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society. “If developers and agencies would just be more scrupulous, we would not be forced to litigate.”

“A lot of concerned parties, including other government agencies, environmental organizations, scientific experts, and neighbors, have been trying to get through to the city and this developer that this piece of property is something special, with wetlands and truly precious endangered plants that could be destroyed,” said Adam Keats, staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Hopefully today’s ruling will help bring that message home.”

“This ruling should serve to remind all of us that we are merely stewards of God’s creation, and must always concern ourselves with the health of the environment and the species that inhabit it,” said Judy Granger of Christians for the Earth, a faith-based group and a party to the suit.

The hotel development, a Hilton Garden Inn, was approved by the Big Bear Lake City Council on July of 2006. The nearly four-acre property is home to the state and federally listed endangered bird-footed checkerbloom, an obligate wetlands plant.

The case was filed in San Bernardino Superior Court under the California Environmental Quality Act. Organizations that joined in the lawsuit are the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, Friends of Big Bear Valley and Christians for the Earth. The case number is San Bernardino County SCVSS 140492.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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