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toads in the news

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May 02, 2001 02:43PM
Times Staff Writer

After two days of searching, an endangered toad has been
discovered near
the Santa Clara River where a developer with plans for
4,300 homes said
it had never been seen before.

As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided
to review a
permit it had issued for construction in the river
channel, officials
said. The permit is
critical to at least two residential projects along the
river and its
tributary, San Francisquito Creek. They are the
1,800-home North Valencia
II and the 2,500-home Westcreek projects, both in
Valencia on the east
side of the Golden State Freeway. Ground has not yet been
broken for
either project.

The light greenish-gray or buff-colored arroyo toad is
found in streams
and river basins from San Luis Obispo south to Baja
California. The toad
is an endangered species, and development on land that is
considered its
habitat requires extra reviews and safeguards.

The developer, Newhall Land & Farming Co., had argued
earlier this year that the area near its developments
should be excluded
from lands declared to be federal habitat for the arroyo

Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land, said the
company has not
seen evidence of the toads, nor any documentation of
their existence from
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials. Nor have the company's
own studies and
surveys ever found the toad there, she said.

Fish and Wildlife agreed to exclude the area after
performing its own
field inspection, Lauffer said. Consequently, the permit
allows Newhall
Land to reinforce about 10 miles of riverbank with rocks
and concrete for
erosion control. That permit relied on a finding by
Newhall Land that no
toads were present, said Bruce Henderson, an ecologist
with the corps.

But Nancy Sandburg, a biologist hired by the
environmental group Friends
of the Santa Clara River, said she found the first toad
April 18 and an
additional three last week.

"The toads are buried in the sand where the off-road
vehicles go," she
said. The vehicles "are running amok on top of them.
There are tracks

Rick Farris, senior biologist for Fish and Wildlife, said
the agency now
knows "they are there." Discovery of the toads "takes
precedence over
everything else."

On Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity and the
Friends of the
Santa Clara River said they filed a lawsuit Monday
seeking revocation of
the permit.

toads in the news

free our forests 1692May 02, 2001 02:43PM

Re: toads in the news

Wizard 969May 02, 2001 08:21PM

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