Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 12, 2017

Contact:  J.P. Rose, (408) 497-7675, 


Temecula Approves Development That Could Doom California’s Santa Ana Mountain Lions

TEMECULA, Calif.— The Temecula City Council today approved a development that could wipe out the local mountain lion population, disrupt local wildlife corridors and destroy habitat for rare western pond turtles.

“Altair” would add approximately 200 acres of mixed-use development and a highway in the hills above Old Town Temecula. Part of the development sits on a 55-acre parcel known as the “South Parcel,” which is adjacent to the Santa Margarita River, Murrieta Creek and San Diego State University’s Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve.

“The city council just put these iconic predators on a one-way path to extinction,” said J.P. Rose, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Temecula’s decision shows a really reckless disregard for the wildlife and wild places that belong to all Californians.”

The South Parcel is one of the last places that coastal mountain lions — known as the Santa Ana mountain lions — can safely travel from the coast to inland ranges. To survive, these animals need to maintain genetic diversity by successfully breeding with inland lions. These lions already have the lowest genetic diversity of any mountain lion population in California because they’re isolated by existing sprawl and highway developments.

Mountain lion experts including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife have repeatedly informed the city that this development will severely limit the Santa Ana mountain lions’ ability to migrate to inland areas.

Altair will also violate air-quality standards, do little to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and cram houses within a few feet of a highway known as the “Western Bypass.” Studies document higher rates of asthma, lung cancer and premature death for people living next to highways, as Altair proposes.

“It’s hard to understand why the city is hell-bent on scarring the scenic hills above Old Town Temecula with a highway that will endanger the health of residents and wildlife,” said Rose. “People come to California for stunning landscapes and wildlife, not air pollution and traffic jams.”

The Center has repeatedly raised these concerns in comment letters, public hearings, and meetings with the city. Today’s vote leaves the public with approximately 30 days to file litigation challenging Temecula officials’ environmental review of the project.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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