Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 27, 2016

Contact:  Aruna Prabhala, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7122
Andrea Jones, National Audubon Society, (415) 388-2524
Blake Matheson, Monterey Audubon Society, (831) 596-9990
Larry Silver, California Environmental Law Project, (415) 515-5688  

Legal Action Launched to Protect Western Snowy Plovers From California Beach Resort

Construction of Sprawling “Eco-Resort” Will Likely Kill Threatened Shorebird

SAND CITY, Calif.— Environmental groups today sent a formal notice of intent to sue Security National Guarantee, the developer behind the Monterey Bay Shores Resort, a sprawling resort planned along the Monterey Bay that will bring thousands of visitors and harm a rare bird species, the western snowy plover. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly criticized the development and argued that “take” — that is, the death or injury — of western snowy plovers will likely result from construction and use of the resort.

“This so-called ‘eco-resort’ will dramatically transform this stretch of California coast and could put one of the state’s rarest birds directly in harm’s way,” said Aruna Prabhala, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Before construction begins on the development, SNG needs to do a lot more work to ensure that western snowy plovers won’t be hurt or killed during construction.”

Originally proposed in 1998, the current version of the development covers a 40-acre site and includes 184 hotel rooms, 184 condominiums, restaurants, spas, swimming pools and a conference center. Extensive new infrastructure and related development of the site are expected to attract thousands of residents and visitors to the fragile and sensitive beachfront that western snowy plovers rely upon for nesting and foraging.

“Enough is enough,” said Andrea Jones, director of bird conservation for Audubon California. “We are long past the time when putting a development on our sandy beaches and dunes makes any sense. Western Snowy Plovers are already listed under the Endangered Species Act because of habitat loss, and this project specifically takes away more habitat where the birds have been known to breed, forage, and spend the winter.”

Since 2008 the Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly criticized the developer’s failure to protect listed species on the site and determined that if construction of the resort moves forward, the project will result in “take” of plovers. One of the most threatened shorebirds in North America, the animals were protected under the Endangered Species Act as threatened in 1993, but their population has continued to decline since then.

Today’s legal notice warns that if SNG fails to follow the course laid out by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Coastal Commission — to prepare a “habitat conservation plan” in support of an application for an incidental-take permit — the developer will be subject to litigation under the Endangered Species Act for harming the rare and vanishing birds.

Today’s notice of intent was filed by Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and Monterey Audubon Society.  

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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