California Condor and Tejon Mountain Village: Planner Unclear on Facts

  • Lorelei H. Oviatt, AICP, Division Chief, Kern County Planning Department

    Lorelei H. Oviatt, AICP, Division Chief, Kern County Planning Department

June 23, 2009
Dear Editor:

Thank you for pointing out that my comments were unclear at the presentation on June 18 regarding the California Condor and an Incidental Take Permit.

I did state, incorrectly, that Tejon Ranch was not seeking an Incidental Take Permit for the Condor.

I was focused on injury and death to the species when the question was asked about the Incidental Take Permit.

As discussed on page 4.4-97 of the DEIR, Tejon Ranch is applying for a Federal Endangered Species Act incidental take permit that would allow up to four nonlethal captures of a condor by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to address habituation over a 50-year period. This permit would not allow the killing of a condor. All interactions with any condors can be only by a qualified biologist trained and approved by United States Fish and Wildlife Service A full discussion of the potential impacts on the California Condor are in the DEIR on pages 4.4-68 through 4.4-98 , pages 4.4-515 – 4,520 with proposed mitigation on pages 4.4-118 to 4.4-139. We look forward to comments regarding this analysis of impacts and proposed mitigation.

Lorelei H. Oviatt, AICP
Division Chief, Kern County
Planning Department

Editor’s Note: Eight (8) California Condor have been critically injured or killed on Tejon ranch in just the past six years—seven of those casualties have been within the last 14 months.

In May 2008, seven (7) California Condor were killed or critically injured on Tejon Ranch Company land—according to a report by the National Audobon Society and the American Ornithologists’ Union. Another was shot by a pig hunter in 2003. This record makes the statement by Oviatt from Kern County’s DEIR (above) claiming "this permit will not allow the killing of a condor" on Tejon Ranch over the next 50 years, appear to be wishful thinking.

If eight (8) California Condor have already been killed or injured in the past six years, before construction activity begins and before 10,500 new residents, golf courses, heliports and 1,500 resort guests are brought into the endangerd species’ historic critical habitat (current plans for Tejon Mountain Village are situated almost wholly within critical habitat for the condor as defined by the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service), how does the planning department explain the notion that the development will result in less impact than already exists?

This mystery tucked into Kern County’s Tejon Mountain Village DEIR couples nicely with the magical disappearance of Tejon / Castac Lake from the project on paper without anything really changing on the ground—together, they read like wishful thinking rather than objective reporting by a government agency tasked with providing the public truthful analysis of impacts.. 

This is part of the June 26, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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