Center for Biological Diversity

Last Chance to Stop Tejon Mountain Village's Sprawl

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The California condor needs your help.

On Monday, October 5, the Kern County Board of Supervisors will decide the fate of the condor in the southern San Joaquin Valley. The majestic and endangered California condor and more than 60 other rare plants and animals are threatened by Tejon Ranch Company's proposal to stick a high-end luxury megaresort in the middle of the last bastion of unfettered wilderness between Northern and Southern California. Please send the letter below to the Kern County supervisors asking them to deny the Tejon Mountain Village proposal and send it back to the drawing board until the Tejon Ranch Company pulls out of all California condor critical habitat and avoids the 83 rare species and communities that occur within the proposed project area.

The Tejon Ranch Company still hasn’t secured permits that could allow for development, yet they are plowing ahead to try to get Kern County to approve this ill-conceived urban-sprawl development in the middle of wilderness. This proposal is a poster child for poor planning — not only guaranteeing impacts to a host of rare and endangered species, but fragmenting habitat, increasing fire threats, increasing smog in the most polluted area in the United States, and substantially increasing greenhouse gases by plopping down a new city in the middle of what is considered the wild heart of California — currently home to more California condors than people.

Tejon Mountain Village, like all large-scale urbanizing projects located far from population centers, is a "dinosaur development" that has no place in current smart planning. Please voice your opposition to this development to the Kern County supervisors. Ask them to deny the plan as proposed and get the development out of condor critical habitat.

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Please take action by October 5, 2009.

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California condor photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chuck Szmurlo under the GNU free documentation license.

The California condor is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act, where, through a careful breeding program, the birds have rebounded from a low of 25 birds in the 1980s to more than 300 birds today. More than half of those are free-flying in the wild, a quarter of them in California. This success is due to significant investments of time, money, and resources from both private entities and the public taxpayers. Critical habitat for the condor was designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decades ago to safeguard habitat and ensure recovery for this iconic bird, yet now the Tejon Ranch Company wants to sacrifice this crucial area for urban-sprawl housing and industrial developments miles from any public services and jobs.

The Tejon Ranch Company, backed by New York hedge funds, is moving forward to try and develop their uber-rich luxury development — Tejon Mountain Village — in the heart of California condor critical habitat. They propose to build opulent houses, hotels, commercial space, and golf courses on lands that have seen little human encroachment and retain all of the habitat values that the condor and 61 other rare species rely on. Even in these times of unprecedented mortgage defaults, a downward-spiraling economy, and bank bailouts, the Tejon Ranch Company is trying to destroy these lands by proposing to build a completely inappropriate, speculative development. Getting development entitlements will line the pockets of hedge-fund investors while destroying the last best functioning ecosystem at the heart of wild California.

In addition to the condor, this proposed development will affect populations of 19 rare plants, 42 special status wildlife species, and 22 sensitive vegetation communities — and that's just the rare ones. The project site supports incredible biodiversity of rare and common species  — more than 1,500 plants and animals were documented there. The integrity of this fully functioning ecosystem will be destroyed by bulldozers and urbanization. Because of its remoteness, just getting residents and clients to the development will add huge amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The proposed Tejon Mountain Village development needs to be sent back to the drawing board and reworked to substantially downsize the new city to a more environmentally friendly size. All development must be pulled out of condor habitat and impacts to the other 83 rare species and communities in this incredible biodiversity hotspot must be avoided at all costs.