| For immediate release: June 28, 2006
Conservationists Dis-Invited to River Conservation Meetings
San Bernardino, Calif. – In a surprise move, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pulled its invitation for the Center for Biological Diversity to participate in planning meetings for the Santa Ana River Wash Multiple Species Habitat Management Plan (MSHMP).
The Corps’ move is an abrupt departure from its earlier request to have the Center participate in the planning process. According to the Corps, undisclosed participating agencies requested that the Center be barred from the meetings.
The Santa Ana River Wash MSHMP is a long overdue conservation plan to offset massive environmental impacts resulting from construction of the Seven Oaks Dam. The plan is supposed to protect and recover three endangered species – the Santa Ana River Woolly Star, the slender-horned spineflower and the San Bernardino kangaroo rat – as well as unique natural habitats located below the dam.
Agencies participating in the planning process include the Army Corps of Engineers, the County of San Bernardino Flood Control District, San Bernardino Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District, East Valley Water District, Riverside County, Orange County, and the cities of Redlands, Highland and Loma Linda.
“We’re mystified by this turn of events,” said Ileene Anderson, ecologist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It seems like the agencies are turning their back on a great opportunity to build consensus on managing the river for the benefit of both nature and people. Are they afraid of dissenting opinions or do they just have something to hide? The Corps claims that it will hold future public workshops, but those will likely come long after important decisions have already been made – from behind closed doors.”