FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2007
Contact: Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Joan Taylor, Sierra Club, (760) 408-2488
Luxury Golf Course Development Threatens Protected Species
City's Approval Will Scuttle Regional Conservation Plan
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif.- The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed suit today to challenge Desert Hot Springs’ decision to approve a massive, luxury residential and commercial development in an important wildlife conservation area outside the city.
The Palmwood development is planned for the southern edge of the Little San Bernardino mountains. It is surrounded by public land near Joshua Tree National Park and the popular Big Morongo Canyon preserve directly to the north. Close to 2,700 homes, over 1 million square feet of commercial space, a 400-room hotel, and two golf courses are proposed in a sensitive ecological area that’s home to protected and rare species including bighorn sheep, burrowing owls, the Palm Springs pocket mouse, Palm Springs round-tailed ground squirrel, Le Conte’s thrasher, and loggerhead shrike.
Most of the Palmwood site lies within designated conservation areas in the proposed Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. This plan has been supported by local governments, public agencies, developers and environmentalists alike because of its ambitious efforts to balance development and wildlife protection in one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States. The plan, more than 10 years in the making, may be the last opportunity for survival for many rare and endangered species found nowhere in the world except the Coachella Valley.
“The ultimate tragedy of the city’s approval of the Palmwood project is that is will derail the most important regional land use and conservation plan in the history of the Coachella Valley, by annexing land that the County intends to conserve as part of the Conservation Plan,” said Joan Taylor, local Conservation Chair for Sierra Club. “It’s astoundingly shortsighted, especially since Desert Hot Springs has already approved about 10,000 as-yet-unbuilt housing units, which would more than double its population, with no long-term ability to supply adequate water, much less other essential services.”
“Desert Hot Springs was the lone holdout on the Habitat Conservation Plan last year. Now they’re trying to annex land that’s at the heart of the plan,” said Jonathan Evans, Staff Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This project will destroy vital habitat of some our most endangered species in the Valley. It should never have been approved.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with over 32,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and their habitat.
The Sierra Club is a nonprofit conservation organization of over 732,000 members dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth.