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Lawsuit launched against Chico development project, claims endangered species are threatened

In this photo, taken by Charlotte Marks, point 6 is shown looking northwest of depressional perennial marsh from the southeastern portion of the site.

The Center for Biological Diversity said it's filing a lawsuit to stop the 314-acre Stonegate mixed-use project.

Posted: Apr 5, 2021 3:35 PM

CHICO, Calif. —  The Center for Biological Diversity announced Monday it has notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday of its intent to file a lawsuit to stop a Northern California development.

The organization claims that the 314-acre Stonegate mixed-use project in south Chico would destroy vernal pool habitat that is home to vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp and the exceedingly rare Butte County meadowfoam, an endangered flower.

“It’s outrageous that federal agencies would greenlight the destruction of Chico habitat vital to these rare species that are clinging to survival,” Ross Middlemiss, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity said. “We won’t sit by while officials ignore the science and push endangered vernal pool species like the Butte County meadowfoam to the edge of extinction.”

The U.S. Army Corp's approved the project and the Fish and Wildlife Service's found the project will not jeopardize species survival.

challenges the Army Corp’s approval of the project and counters the Fish and Wildlife Service’s claim that paving over and further fragmenting the listed species’ habitat will not jeopardize their continued survival.

The project site has been identified by the Service as a core recovery area for vernal pool species. The Butte County meadowfoam, found nowhere else in the world but Butte County, has only 21 distinct populations remaining, according to The Center for Biological Diversity.

The organization claims that the project would destroy one population and intrude on two others. The area contains suitable habitat for the endangered giant garter snake but the agencies failed to mention the species in reviewing the project, The Center for Biological Diversity said in their letter.

“We hope this action makes the agencies reconsider their approach to development in the area and begin promoting endangered species recovery as the law requires,” Middlemiss said. “It’s all hands on deck to save these imperiled species, and these agencies play a critical role.”

This is a developing story. Action News Now will keep you updated with new information on-air and online.

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