| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2006
Conservationists Call for Large New Park Near Los Angeles
Los Angeles – A large coalition of conservation organizations representing close to 2 million citizens is calling on state and federal officials to balance conservation and development by protecting Tejon Ranch as a new national or state park.
Located between Los Angeles and Bakersfield along the Interstate 5 “Grapevine,” the 270,750-acre Tejon Ranch embodies a diverse, natural California landscape and is home to the critically endangered California condor. From ancient oak groves to forests of Joshua trees and Pinyon pines, the Tejon Ranch contains California’s richest tapestry of natural habitats, wildlife and plants due to its location at the convergence of four “eco-regions” – the Great Central Valley, Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada and South Coast. These wild lands provide crucial habitat for mountain lions, deer and numerous other animals between the Sierra, Coast Range and desert. Tejon also contains many Native American cultural and sacred sites and is steeped in California history.
The current property owner, Tejon Ranch Company, is aggressively pursuing construction of a series of large-scale developments that would become the cornerstone for unchecked urban sprawl from Los Angeles to Bakersfield to Lancaster. The massive Mountain Village, Centennial and Tejon Industrial Complex projects would include approximately 26,000 houses, 34 million square feet of industrial space and up to six golf courses. If constructed as planned, the developments would carve out Tejon’s natural heart, jeopardize the California condor, and bring bulldozers, smog and gridlock to one of southern California’s last, relatively untouched rural landscapes.
A letter from the coalition to state and federal officials calls for protecting 245,000 acres of Tejon Ranch as a new national or state park based on the results of a recent study by the Conservation Biology Institute and South Coast Wildlands (http://www.consbio.org/cbi/pubs/reports.htm). The letter rejects piecemeal development, calls for comprehensive conservation and development planning, and requests that Tejon Ranch be elevated to one of the state and federal government’s highest priorities for protection of private wild lands.
“This is our last chance to protect a huge and sublime example of California’s natural heritage from suburban sprawl,” said Ileene Anderson, ecologist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protection or development of Tejon also means the difference between recovery and extinction of the California condor.”
“Only comprehensive planning for the entire property will avert a sea of tract homes and strip malls from Los Angeles to Bakersfield,” said Dan Silver, Executive Director of the Endangered Habitats League. “The creation of a new national or state park will guarantee protection California’s beloved natural and cultural values.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.
Endangered Habitats League is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 500 members dedicated to the protection of the diverse ecosystems of Southern California and to sensitive and sustainable land use for the benefit of all the region's inhabitants.
Environment Now! is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to create measurably effective environmental programs to protect and restore California's environment.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a non-profit conservation organization with 250,000 members in California that is dedicated to safeguarding the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.
The Planning and Conservation League is a non-profit conservation organization with 3,500 members in California that is dedicated to making California a better place to live by lobbying the California State Legislature on a full range of environmental issues and by sponsoring environmental initiatives.
The Sierra Club is a non-profit conservation organization with 180,000 members in California. The Sierra Club is dedicated to four guiding principles: exploring, enjoying and protecting the wild places of the earth; practicing and promoting the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; educating and enlisting humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and Using all lawful means to carry out these objectives.