For Immediate Release, September 15, 2015
Contact: April Rose Sommer, (510) 844-7115, ASommer@biologicaldiversity.org
Prime Wildlife Habitat in Bay Area Spared From Urban Sprawl
Livermore Council Rejects Project to Build on Biologically Rich Grasslands But Future Fights Loom
LIVERMORE, Calif.— More than 30 acres of biologically rich grasslands, including critical habitat for the endangered vernal pool fairy shrimp in the Bay Area, won’t be developed — at least for now — following the Livermore City Council’s unanimous vote to deny the Garaventa Hills housing development. The council’s decision on Monday not to certify the final California Environmental Quality Act approval of the development plan came after the Center for Biological Diversity urged that the project be denied based upon adverse impacts to many protected species, and the destruction of critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
“Just because an area is zoned for residential development doesn’t mean it should be developed or even that it can be,” said April Rose Sommer, staff attorney at the Center. “This relatively small parcel of land is a biodiversity powerhouse that’s home to a stunning array of wildlife, from owls and eagles to toads and tiny shrimp. It deserves to be protected and Livermore should be thrilled to be home to such a special place.”
Situated along Altamont Creek between the Brushy Peak Regional Preserve and Garaventa Wetlands Preserve, this land is known habitat for many species protected under the Endangered Species Act including California red-legged frogs, California tiger salamanders, San Joaquin kit foxes, and vernal pool fairy shrimp as well as a host of species protected under state law such as burrowing owls, peregrine falcons, western spadefoot toads, and golden eagles. Local residents cherish the area’s iconic knolls and enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and other passive recreation in the golden hills.
The Tri-Valley area has seen an astounding 20 percent population increase over the past decade, resulting in urban sprawl. This project is just one of several development proposals for this land denied by the Livermore City Council and will not be the last: On Monday the city council directed the Garaventa Hills developer to work with the city planning commission to amend the project.
“We realize this fight to protect the region’s irreplaceable biodiversity isn’t over,” said Sommer. “But we’re in it for the long haul — the Center will continue to advocate for the protection of this land and to fight against future attempts to destroy habitat for endangered species.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.