EHL was quoted on Inland Empire issues, including financing the
Riverside County habitat plan, a major potential land acquisition, and
the Delhi Sands habitat plan.
The Riverside Press Enterprise
covered financing issues facing the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Conservation Program, or MSHCP (“Habitat protection falters as landowners push back,” May 17, 2014). The article focused on the recent use by landowners of a little known provision of the plan to force the cash-strapped Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) to acquire low priority lands. Attempts by the agency to modify the provision were rebuffed by its Board of Directors.
Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitats League, described the situation as an unsustainable run on the agency’s limited funds and a threat to its mission. “They are forcing the authority to buy land that is more remote and that is not under the threat of development,” said Silver, who has followed the habitat plan since its inception and is a member of an agency advisory panel. “They are forcing it to spend … unwisely and not strategically,” he said.
Compounding this problem is that fact that the mitigation fees the RCA collects plummeted during the recession, and land anticipated to be set aside through the land use process has not materialized. Thus, even at a time when the regional economic value of the MSHCP to deliver infrastructure permits is being recognized, it finds it more and more difficult to assembly the preserve that justifies the permits.
The good news is that a recently convened stakeholder committee––on which EHL sits––is focused on producing more revenues and is working with RCA Board Members constructively toward this end.
The Press Enterprise
("Prospects of Vail Lake sale worry recreation enthusiasts," July 13, 2014) also reported on a possible sale of the 7,000-acre Vail Lake property to the Rancho California Water District for watershed protection during bankruptcy procedings. A long-standing conservation goal, the property contains vast tracks of Riversidean coastal sage scrub. EHL’s Silver was quoted:
Dan Silver, executive director for the Endangered Habitats League, termed the upcoming bankruptcy sale “both a crisis and an opportunity.” It’s an opportunity, Silver said, because it could protect habitat that supports a wide variety of threatened animals and plants. “It sounds like a good solution to me because over the decades it’s been proven that development on this property is not financially viable,” he said.
In a San Bernardino Sun
story that stressed the economic as well as environmental benefits of Colton’s new plan for its endangered species (“Colton nears solution to endangered species impediment,” July 18, 2014), EHL was quoted:
Dr. Dan Silver, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Endangered Habitats League, said the plan for this endangered species’ survival “is a good one. “We reviewed it and it is biologically sound,” he said.
Silver said that while the effort to preserve this species has been ridiculed by politicians and residents for years, that 50-acre preservation site will “be an amenity to the city. “It will preserve a sense of history and natural place,” he said. It will be a site — in the middle of the city — where schoolchildren can be educated about what the area was like before human settlement. “It will give the city a competitive edge,” Silver said.