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For Immediate Release, May 12, 2010

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Dr. Leonard Nunney, Friends of Riverside’s Hills, (951) 313-5386
Drew Feldmann, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, (909) 881-6081

Third Lawsuit Filed to Protect Riverside County Wildlife Area From Development
Plans for Industrial Warehouses Threaten Preserve

RIVERSIDE, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, and Friends of Riverside’s Hills filed suit today challenging a Riverside County industrial warehouse project for its failure to protect endangered species and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The development, named the Alessandro Commerce Centre, threatens to sever the last remaining natural connection between Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and the March Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Preserve.

“Protecting the connections between wildlife areas is absolutely critical,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sacrificing our natural heritage for another vacant warehouse is a bad deal for wildlife and all Southern Californians.” 

This lawsuit follows a series of legal challenges to development proposals on western Riverside’s few remaining natural places. One legal challenge recently resulted in a settlement agreement that overturned a decision to develop the 1,100-acre March Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Preserve. Another legal challenge was filed last month to block another proposal for industrial warehouses located nearby in the city of Riverside. The lawsuits were prompted by the failure to follow the Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Habitat Conservation Plan originally proposed to balance protection and development.

“This development will destroy essential areas that should have been purchased over a decade ago when the habitat plan came into being,” said Dr. Leonard Nunney of Friends of Riverside’s Hills. “Funding was identified, so why was this purchase never made?”

Numerous threatened and endangered species live in these areas of western Riverside County and are threatened by unchecked development, including the Stephens’ kangaroo rat, bobcat, burrowing owls, least Bell’s vireo, and coast horned lizard.

“It always amazes me how public officials basically ignore the requirement that a preserve is a preserve, and see preserves as opportunities for even more sprawl that will enrich only a chosen few,” said Drew Feldmann, conservation chair of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.

In addition to the harm caused to wildlife, these industrial warehouse projects would result in extensive diesel truck and vehicle traffic that would significantly worsen regional air quality and exacerbate global warming.

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