Sonoma Agrees to Look Out for Salamander

Good news for the Tiger Salamander.  Sonoma County agreed to provide online public notice of development permits under consideration within the California Tiger Salamander habitat area, according to a federal court order.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed an environmental lawsuit by River Watch Thursday saying the allegations did not specify any particular permits or projects but contained only broadly worded vague challenge to the loss of the endangered salamander.

River Watch “should be able to solve the ripeness problem and bring concrete controversies rather than abstract propositions,” Alsup said.

He did leave open the option for the group to file an amended complaint.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the SonomaCalifornia tiger salamander as endangered in 2003.  SonomaCounty and the city of Santa Rosa developed a plan for conservation of salamander habitat in 2005 but the lawsuit argued that the county blocked conservation plan from implem3entation and took no action to ensure mitigation guidelines were followed.

In 2011 the Fish and Wildlife Service designated 47,000 acres in Sonoma as critical habitat.  River Watch sued in 2013 alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act, but did not specify a particular development.  Instead, the suit sought a broad injunction to prevent all land development permits without surveys and mitigation to protect the salamander.

Alsup said the River Watch failed to provide the county sufficient information to identify or attempt to abate the alleged violation.

Instead the county will provide the public with added notice of all development permits under consideration in the salamander habitat and list all permits issued.  The new system will be implemented in 90 days, according to the court.

Case: CaliforniaRiver Watch v. Sonoma, No. C14-217WHA

 

 

 

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