EHL was quoted on a habitat conservation plan for the Santa Ana River Wash and had a letter on fire hazard published.
Redlands Daily Facts provided detailed reporting on the newly-approved Wash Plan, a federal Habitat Conservation Plan under the Endangered Species Act, for a stretch of the upper Santa Ana River (“Can a new plan for the wash that runs between Redlands and Highland protect flowers, animals and mining?” July 26, 2020). After a long and concerted effort, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District put together this creative plan for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat and other rare plant and animal species. Groundwater recharge and existing sand mining, mostly on degraded land, were balanced with new conservation and restoration. A land exchange with the Bureau of Land Management played an important role, which required the assistance of Representatives Aguilar and Cook. EHL’s executive director was quoted:
“If you see it in the springtime it’s full of these flowers and yucca spikes, and it’s something that’s almost vanished,” Silver said. “The technical term is alluvial fan, and they used to be widespread all along the Santa Ana River, the tributaries that come off the mountains, and it’s all been developed.”
Silver said the plans are well designed.
“It put the developed areas in the least sensitive (places), and it protected the areas that were most important biologically,” Silver said. “That’s something that it did right, which we don’t always find.”
Silver called the washes beautiful.
“This is one of those rare places where you still have these species present,” Silver said, “and it’s really important to protect it as part of our natural heritage, so people can understand their environment and enjoy the beauty, but also for these rare animals who have no place to go.”
In the Sept. 24, 2020 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, EHL responded to an attack on CEQA and on EHL’s litigation over the misguided CalFire Vegetation Treatment Program. Our letter to the editor reads:
Don’t build in fire zone
In his commentary, John King finds it convenient to blame the California Environmental Quality Act for an array of ills, including fire hazard.
Our group’s litigation against CalFires’ Vegetation Treatment Program (VTP) does not seek to curtail prescribed burns in conifer forests, but rather to prevent over-treatment in California shrublands, which have suffered an excess of fire.
Such over-treatment only leads to replacement with flammable weeds. Indeed, CalFire has itself admitted that its VTP is ineffective during the wind-driven fires in Southern California that do all the damage.
Instead, we support more strategic vegetation treatments that do work. The start of a true common sense approach would be to stop expanding new housing into the fire zone.
In a related activity, on October 20, 2020, EHL testified before a committee of the State Legislature and made similar points.