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Un-permitted West Mojave off-road race a threat to endangered desert wildlife & habitat

Race could kill or harm desert tortoise, Mojave ground squirrel and other wildlife

News Alert – for immediate release, Thursday, March 17, 2005

Contact: Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist 520.623.5252 x306

CALIFORNIA CITY – Off-road vehicle racing promoters and California City are planning a Saturday, March 19 race within important habitat area for endangered species, including the desert tortoise, Mojave ground squirrel, Barstow wooly sunflower, and desert cymopterus. Tortoises, ground squirrels, and other wildlife are very active this time of year, placing them at high risk of death, injury, or stress from off-road vehicles.

The California Dept. of Fish and Game (CDFG) previously informed California City officials that such racing would be illegal without biological and public review under the California Environmental Quality Act. No such review has been undertaken by the City, and proper state and/or federal permits have not been obtained for the race through fragile desert habitat.

When questioned by the Center, a California City official said he was not aware of any mitigation plans, or that any biologists would be present to sweep the race course for animals. Off-road racing also creates air pollution harmful to human and wildlife health.

The Center for Biological Diversity calls on California City and race promoters to halt this race until proper review and permitting can ensure no threat to endangered wildlife. We also call on CDFG and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to enforce violations of conservation law.

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