Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 25, 2018

Contact:  Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 490-0223,
Joan Taylor, Sierra Club, (760) 408-2488
Wayne Brechtel, Worden Williams LLP, (858) 755-6604

Lawsuit Challenges Development Next to National Monument in California Desert

RIVERSIDE, Calif.— Conservation groups filed a lawsuit challenging the city of Desert Hot Springs’ approval of the Mission Creek Trails development, which would build nearly 2,000 houses adjacent to the Sand to Snow National Monument.

“Our surrounding mountains and sensitive public lands are what make the Coachella Valley such an amazing place to live, work and play,” said Joan Taylor, chairwoman of the Tahquitz Group of the Sierra Club. “Resurrecting a 25-year-old, high-density plan doesn’t fit with the values of today’s residents, who are fiercely protective of our national monument.”

The 480-acre project of close to 2,000 units has been controversial in the community because it is proposed far from existing neighborhoods on the edge of several conservation areas. They include the Mission Creek Preserve, areas protected under a regional habitat conservation plan, and the Sand to Snow National Monument, which was designated in 2016.

“Californians deserve better than this kind of sprawl development that paves over crucial wildlife habitat,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need new homes close to schools and jobs, not far-flung subdivisions cutting off access to public lands.”

The project area is home to imperiled wildlife, including the burrowing owl and Palm Springs pocket mouse.

Mission Creek Trails is part of the plans for a larger development of more than 8,000 residential units called Rancho Royale that was approved in 1993 but has stalled for decades. Last year the city denied a request from the developer to extend approvals of the tract maps from a previous version of the development. The expiration of these decades-old approvals is at the heart of today’s lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, which are represented by Wayne Brechtel of Worden Williams.

Mojave poppy bee

Sand to Snow National Monument courtesy BLM. More images are available for media use.

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.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters.

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