Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 5, 2017

Contact:  J.P. Rose, Center for Biological Diversity, (408) 497-7675,
Adam Keats, Center for Food Safety, (415) 430-9403,

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox From 8,000-acre Grapevine Development

Project Would Destroy Wildlife Habitat, Worsen Air Quality

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit today challenging Kern County's approval of the sprawling 8,000-acre Grapevine project. The development will straddle Interstate 5 and create a new city of 12,000 dwelling units and up to 5.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. The project will destroy habitat for 36 rare plants and animals — including the San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel — while blocking the last best wildlife corridor between the San Joaquin Valley, the Tehachapi Mountains and the Coastal Range.

“California's wildlife, especially those already flirting with extinction, don't need yet another sprawling development that will destroy their habitat,” said J.P. Rose, a staff attorney with the Center. “It isn't just wildlife that will be hurt. This project will pollute Kern County's air, worsen the climate crisis and drain billions of gallons of water from the overstressed Kern River.”

The lawsuit argues the project's approval violates the California Environmental Quality Act. Because the project is located dozens of miles from employment centers in Bakersfield, Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, the project will increase air pollution and traffic. The project's car-dependent location also will frustrate California's climate change goals by generating approximately 500,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year.

“The residents of San Joaquin Valley already suffer from some of the worst air pollution in the country,” Rose said. “The project will increase this air-pollution burden by adding a billion miles of automobile trips per year to the area.”

Despite its location in drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley, the project will take up to 10,000 acre feet (3.25 billion gallons) of water per year from the Kern River.

“At a time when people, wildlife and farmers are struggling to make do with less water, the county should not be greenlighting a massive project without fully demonstrating that it has a reliable, long-term water supply,” said Adam Keats, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. 

San Joaquin kit fox
San Joaquin kit fox photo courtesy USFWS. Photos are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Food Safety is a nonprofit, public interest advocacy organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production technologies and promoting sustainable agriculture, including reducing impacts to water resources.

More press releases