The Yucca Valley Town Council and Planning Commission spent nearly three hours last night discussing wildlife corridors, or, more specifically, whether a map showing wildlife corridors should be included in the Town’s General Plan Update. Arguments ranged from lowering property values to scaring off developers to Big Government sticking its nose in Town business, to the validity of the reports. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the meeting and files this report…
The Town Council and Planning Commission were divided on whether a map showing wildlife corridors should be included in the General Plan Update. Those opposed contended it would scare off builders and developers from developing their property if they knew they might have to do a study to determine if additional measures would need to be taken to mitigate any impact on sensitive habitat and wildlife areas,. (Such measures could include clustering the development; shielding lighting; avoiding sensitive biological resources; providing buffers between development and riparian areas; and encouraging the use of fences that allows wildlife to pass through.)
The Town Council and three members of the Planning Commission who were present (Vickie Bridenstein and Tim Humphreville were absent) all agreed that property rights are important.
Dawn Rowe listed some of the species protected in wildlife corridors. “The pallid bat. The spotted bat. The western yellow bat. The pocketed tail bat. The big free-tail bat. The pallid San Diego pocket mouse. The bighorn sheep, and the American badger. I have a hard time thinking we are adjusting our General Plan for any of those species, requiring clustering or fencing designs to allow for that.”
The Council and Planning Commission, and most of the 14 speakers, also questioned the validity of the state reports by CalTrans and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the boundaries of the corridors. Bob Leone spoke for everyone when he said the requirement to list wildlife corridors in the General Plan Update was about “government control. We have the national park that abuts YuccaValley. The development of YuccaValley has little impact on species. Everyone is a little over-concerned.”
Those in favor of including the map in the General Plan update argued that developers who owned property in a wildlife corridor would not be prohibited from building on the parcel. They also urged that the map be included in the General Plan Update for transparency, since under the California Environmental Quality Act, the map must be included in the Environmental Impact Report, a very technical report that accompanies the General Plan Update. Ramon Mendoza of YuccaValley chastised the Council and commissioners, telling them he never saw them at any of the meetings were the wildlife corridors were discussed.
Ultimately, because the Council had no other choice, it approved putting the map in the EIR (the California Environmental Quality Act requires the wildlife corridor be included in the EIR), but the issue of whether the map should be in the General Plan Update, was continued to another meeting set for February 4. For a map showing the wildlife corridors, go to page 25 of the General Plan Update at a link in this story at Z107.7FM.