The Endangered Habitats League is dedicated to the protection of the diverse ecosystems of Southern California and to sensitive and sustainable land use for the benefit of all the regionís inhabitants. The EHL Newsletter is published quarterly to chronicle our plans, activities, and successes.
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find a home in Dana Point
In January 2004, the California Coastal Commission approved a revised
development proposal on the scenic and highly contentious Dana Point
Headlands. While unfortunately not resolving controversial beach issues,
the outcome is excellent for critically endangered Pacific pocket mice,
California gnatcatchers, and rare plants.
Almost everything possible in land use disputes has transpired on the
Headlands, a defining landform along the coast. A ballot measure overturned
a disastrous development approval, only to be followed by a lawsuit
overturning the City of Dana Point’s subsequent model planning
process. A multitude of legal uncertainties stemming from decades of
past land use decisions has created fertile ground for protracted litigation.
In the wake of a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) that failed
to permanently protect the pocket mice – found only on the Headlands
and Camp Pendleton – EHL resolved to do all it could to remedy
the situation. At the time of the recent Coastal Commission hearings,
interim protections for the Headland’s mice were approaching an
end, and failure to reach a solution posed high risks for a population
that, according to recent surveys, was plummeting.
Working with the City and a new developer,
EHL made good progress toward a permanent reserve, with state-of-the-art
management and extensive habitat restoration. However, it ultimately
took the Coastal Commission’s leverage to expand the reserve
to meet scientific objectives. There will be public access, with
a scenic perimeter trail and visitor center.
The Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation vigorously opposed the rebuilding
of an existing sea wall as inconsistent with the Coastal Act. Nevertheless,
in this difficult case, it is our judgment that the Commission seized
the best opportunity to save the exceedingly fragile plants and animals
of the Headlands.