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OPFN SPACE: One-third the state's of can oakspecies be foundon Tejon Ranch

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flatlands of Angeles and fertile basin the theLos flocked where Okies Valley the Central theGreat of Bowl days andIhe Gropes hill at Tejon Ranch is to be at once humbled, f du r i n gh e DusL enthralled, and saddened by banned)vast surprisingyears past defined California vistas that in a and set Wrothwas (and and the west pastutes, granite- by their plenty rather than their dearth. The Broad thrives wilderness still United Nations has recognized the region lakes mountain all encompassing much of the ranch as one of and st u d d eh illsides icyb lue d 25 ofbiodiversity in drive f L A smog con- theirreplaceable hot spots reserved for just o and an li ew i t h i n h our's world-a designation
2.4 percent ofthe earth's surface. The ranch's owners want to build a city there. C al l ed C entenni al , i t w oul d hav e 23,ooo homes and at l east 64, 000 res i dents. They also plan to create a resort and shopping malls, alongwith industrial parks, cargo terminals, and a system for delivering water no one in this drought-ridden state can spare. Where cattle grazing and hunting have been the main activities for The Iandscapehasbarelychangedforthousandsofyears,whichis the last 15o years, the Tejon Ranch Company and its investors want to construct the largest master-planned community California has ever seen. This is the rough equivalent of dropping a Boulder, Colorado, into the Arctic National wildlife Refuge or a couple iterations of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, down into Yosemite. After years of preliminaries, an initial environmental impact statement and a habitat conservation plan-federally mandated

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whymore than 80 rare orendangered species continueto prey, roam, roost, flower, and reartheiryoung here. The nearly extinct California condor comes to forage in small numbers where long ago colonies nested inthis last Southern californiawilderness, this blank spot on the map 18 times the size of Manhattan. There is no other place like it in California and few to rival it on earth. To stand on a windswept

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studies that must be hashed out before a patch of grass can be disreleased for public comment in January. The docu-

dustrial parks, and all other development on the remaining 1Opercent of the ranch, no matter what form it took. The greens would have to remain on the sidelines instead ofdigging into those recently released reports. Five of six environmental organizations that had been allied to fight the ranch development have removed themselves from contention by signing the conserwation agreement. It was a brilliant move by the Tejon Ranch Company, a publicly traded corporation with wall Street money behind it-rhird Avenue Management being the biggest investor, with nearly 30 percent of the company's shares and a seat on the board. S ums as monumental as the landscape are at stake, The raw land alone was reportedly valued at $1.s billion in 1999, and if developed as envisioned, the ranch would be worth up to 30 times that amount, perhaps much more when all is said and done. More than 37,ooo jobs could be added to a struggling Iocal economy. Completing the projectwould demand, on average, the construction ofa new house every eight hours, 365 days a year, for 20 years. To those who see progress in a bulldozer's blade and beauty in the taming of nature, Tejon Ranch is an irresistible plum: 270,ooo conti guous acres Iyi ng 6O mi l es from dow ntow n Los A ngel es , a straight shot up Interstate 5-the Golden State Freeway transformed i nto the ul ti mate dri vew ay to the ul ti mate bedroom community. The New York Times admiringly described the plan as "P l ayi ng S i mC i ty for R eal ." The i nvestors know the ec onomi c downturn won't last forever, and they want their plans and per-

ments were pushed out the door three days after Barack Obama took office and before new administration appointments had been made, despite the new president's memorandum to delay all environmental reports so they could be reevaluated. N o r m a l l y t h i s w o u ld h a ve cr e a te d a n u p r o a r a m o ng C al i forn i a e n v i r o n m e n t a l o r g a n iza tio n s. In ste a d th e r e h a s b een si l ence. That's because a number of the biggest environmental players in the state-Audubon California, the Sierra CIub, and the Natural Reonce opposed the projsources Defense Council among them-that

ect as an ecological disaster are now working with the Tejon Ranch company. Facing the Iikelihood of years of Iitigation, the owners of the Tejon Ranch last year agreed to something so extraordinary that it fractured the environmental opposition. They offered to dedicate up to 9o percent ofthe ranch Iand to conservation, giving environmental groups equal control ofthe property. In one stroke, the single largest development in state history would also become the single largest wilderness preservation project in the state. "This is one ofthe great conservation achievements in Californ i a h i s t o r y , " s a i d J oe l Re yn o ld s, se n io r a tto r n e y a n d di rector of the NRDC's urban program, when the deal was announced, "This agreement is the Mount Everest of conservation." There was a catch, however. Those same environmental groups would have to drop public opposition to the resort, the city, the in-

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mits ready to roll as soon as the market picks up. Sacrificing up to 90 percent of the ranch-more than half of which was too rugged or remote to ever be developed-just make that city a reality. Standing in the path of this future Tejon Ranch is a relatively little-known environmental group with a small budget and outsize ambitions, the Center for Biological Diversity, whose representatives have called the agreement "a classic greenwash." This is the sixth group, the one that opted out ofthe negotiations with Tejon. "lf we can't save a pristine piece of wilderness that the United Nations considers to be one of the 25 most biologically important on earth," says Peter Galvin, the group's 44-year-old cofounder and conservation director, "what can we save?" may be the quickest way to

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the political, economic, and legal resources behind SimCity. with offices scattered around the country, the center is headquartered in Tucson in a cavernous, somewhat cluttered office in a former market, which the staffmustvacate one month each yearwhen the landIord puts on the cit5r'sannual gem show. The space comes rent free and features a pair of rather dusty giant purple crystals that are too heavy to move. compared with operations like the Sierra Club, the center's $6.5 million budget is shoestring, but its biologists and attorneys are considered Ieaders intheirfields, particularlyinthe areas of marine and climate environmental law. D uri ng the past 20 years, the C enter for Biological Diversity has won close to 9O percent of its 5oo cases. Though few out-

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side the rarefied world of environmental litigation are familiar with the center, evidence of its work is ubiquitous. AImost everyspeciesthatsince2ool hadbeengrudgbeen proingly listed by the Bush administration as

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tected because the center used the courts to force the issue on a recalcitrant White House. The group's most recent and widely heralded victory came when it compelled the Bush administration to grant the polar VEHACHAPI bear endangered species protections and to specify global warming as the extinction threat-a landmark fi nding. Since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973,70 percent of the plant and animal species given protection under the

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the center. More than 1oo million acres of wildlands have been preserved as habitats for these endangered speci es-an area more than twice the size of all the national parks inthe contiguous48 states combined. It is no exaggeration to saythat the modern American environmental movement has been reinvented by the center, and espei - l r ;. ;,i tr i L,l i :'

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ci al l y by t w o of i ts founders and l eaders: P eter Gal v i n, a former U.S. Fish and wildlife Service owl expert, scientist, and self-described mystic who devises intricately ruthless envia

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ronmental campaigns; and Kier6n Suckling, an engineering student turned philosopherwho combinesan encyclopedic knowledge of animal specieswith a political-opposition researcher'sinstinct for the other side'sjugular. "Boxing'snot about hitting hard," Suckling likes to say, exptainingthe center'stechnique of burying officials with flurries of lawsuits, investigations,petitions, and pressreleases. "It's aboutjabbing the other guy over and over and over, before he has a chanceto recover."Their aggressiveuse of science and lawsuits to compel compliance with SpeciesActand other enthe Endangered vironmental laws has defeated off-roaders and offshore oil drillers, developers and Detroit automakers, adversaries, and an alphabet soupofgovernment agencies from Washington state to Washington, D.C., and as farawayas Okinawa. The center's work has transformed overgrazed,trampled, and befouled federal lands that had been all but left for dead into lush riparian forests. Thousands of miles of ocean waters nearly stripped of life have been made off-limits to dragnets, bringing endangeredseaturtles and depleted fisheries back from the brink of extinction. One court casepursued by the center halted logging not in a single habitat, not in a single forest, but in every national forest in the Southwest-all 11of them-after it was shown that the feds were routinely breakingthe law by gMng loggerscarte blancheto cut down ancienttrees on ecologicallysensitive public lands. lts latest target is the most threatening source of environmental damage, extinctions, and habitat loss yet-global warrning-and Tejon Ranch is ground zero. The organization's goal is to augment its usual battle over specific endangered species issues-in Tejon's case,the California condonwith a broader campaign to show that projects such as Tejon are precisely the sort of development, built far from existing cities and requiring residentsto "leapfrog" through the outlyingareato getto work, that must stop if we are to get serious about slowing climate change.It argues that state and federal laws should force developers at Tejon-and elsewhere-to quantifo their contribution to global warming and then do everphing feasible to eliminate that impact, from installing solar roofs to mandating zero-emissionvehiclesfor residents. lf the developers refuse such mitigation, then the project shouldbe scuttled,arguesKassieSiegel,theintenseyoungattoratey who runsthe center'snewClimate Lawlnstihrte (andwho dons her "Frostpaw the Polar Bear" suit for the occasional protest) .

WIDE RANGING: (fromtop)Anindustrialparksitsonthe low-lyingwest edge; mountalns compose muchoftheranch

Fightingleapfrogdevelopmenthasbecomeapriorityforthecenter.AlthoughcaliforniaunderGovemorArnoldSchwarzenegger has led the nation in adopting globat warming legistation,a much otder state law onthebooks,datingbacktotszoandsigned by Governor Ronald Reagan,is the center's weapon of choice against greenhouse gas emissions and the urban sprawl thathelps generatethem.Thelaq calledthe California Environmental Qualit3rAct,featured the deceptively simple but sreeping requirement that local and state governments must examine and reduce or eliminate tlte negative environmental impacts of development projects-from new cities to new shopping malls-before approvingthem.Thegoalwastoaddresstraditionalwaterandairpollution-thepoisoningof riversandthe smokestacksmogandsootthat werethebaneofthe lgTos.Globalwarmingwasnotonanyone'sradar then and is notmentioned inthe act, butthe languagewasdesigned or r2a to embrace new environmental threats as I corrriluED pacE I

that can alterthe path of global warming. "we have to start somewhere" is Siegel's mantra. "Tejon Ranch is iconic. It is exactlythe sort of project that has contributed to our cli mate crisis in the first place. The conserrration agreement, whatever its merits, doesn t change that. AII those houses, all those commutes, all those emissions, are still onthe drawingboard. There's no good reason to prit a n€w city there."

wild were captured in 1987. Bred in captivif, their offspring were "re-wilded" beginning in 1991-an expensive and painstakingly slow processthat is still goingon. As the condors began their comeback, the ranch management changed course yet again. In 1996, the current CEo, a San Diego developer named Bob stine, took over, along with newboard members who had similar realestate backgrounds and ambitions. then rimes Mirror sold its controlling interest, and Third Avenue Management entered the picture.

llre Last Frontier

*****

a Tej6nis Spanish ror..badger,. Planning to transform the ranch into a cit5r Still, no Froil mct sr I they emerged. I coilrxuED and resort began. Cooperation with the conthought to applythe act to the green- creature once plentiful nearthe ranch. Legend oneever dor recovery program was curtailed. Under housegasemissionsof developmentprojects holds that Spanish soldiers exploringthe area the Endangered Species Act, portions ofthe found a dead badger at the mouth of a canyon, until the center tried to in 2006. property had been designated condor "critipromisedwould bethe first andthe namestuck.the landhadlongbeencovInwhat Siegel cal habitat," areas deemedvital tothe species' etedforits fertility, beauty, and strategic locathe center went to court of many such cases, survival. The Tejon Ranch Company sued in tion. Itwas occupied bytheYokutsand several to stop a controversial leapfrog development 1997, demanding that the protections be liftother Native American nations, was claimed calledBlackgench,whichwouldput morethan ed and that the condors be classified as "ex1,4OO homesinawild desertareaoutsideBan- by Mexico in the 19th century and carved up ning, at the foot ofthe SanBernardinoMoun- intofour land-grant ranchos, then became U.S. perimental nonessential," a designation that would probably doom the species, according the tains. The center accused city of Banning, terrain after the Mexican-American War and to Galvin. The company reached an agreement Califomias admission to the Union. which had approvedthe project, of failing to gas with the fish and wildlife service to put the Fort Tejon was established in 1854 at the considerthe increasedgreenhouse emisIawsuit on hold while the ranch owners seek Citingwildfi res,drought, urging of a storied California military man, sionsitwould cause. various permits for the project, including an explorer, road builder, and land baron, Edofglobasconsequences andenerglshortages "incidental take" permit that would give the ward Fitzgerald Beale. Among many firsts, he al warming in California, Siegelarguedthat the ranch the authorit5r to alter condor habitat cancelthe development surveyed for the transcontinental railroad, city had two choices: and to "harass" and remove condors. gas ormodifo itto minimizegreenhouse emis- brought news to Washington that gold had Anestimated 20 additional species protestsionsby building in superefficientappliances, been discovered in California, and started an ed by state and federal laws live on the ranch, experimental U.S. Army Camel Corps at Fort enerry-efficient construction, passiveand acas do 6o rare tlpes of plants and animals with tive solar energy systems,and requirements Tejon, importing 25 of the desert animals from Egypt and Tunisia. As head of the Buno legal protections. Anumberofthese organforgreentransit. Localand state governments isms exist nowhere else in the world. oneought to discourageleapfrog developments, reau of IndianAffairs (he was also lead Indian negotiator and surveyor general ofCalifornia third ofthe oaktree species in California can keep wilderness areas intact, and favor new be found on Tejon. The biological abundance developments next to existing urban areas and Nevada), Beale helped manage reservaand diversity is the reason the area that Tetion land for local tribes. He also snapped up rather than worsen the sprawl that contribjon Ranch falls within, the Califomia Floristic utes to climate changethrough longer com- the four ranchos to form the present-day Province, is considered bythe United Nations mutes and higher energy,water, and waste- boundaries of Tejon Ranch. The Bealefamilykeptthe ranchfor5Tyears, to be a biological diversity hot spot. The ranch water demands.The judge hearing the case containsthe lastwildlife corridorthatlinksthe thensolditfor$3 millioninl9l2to aconsortium agreed that the city had failed to properly coastal,lowdesert, high desert, and mountain considerthe impact on the environment and of investors led by Harry Chandler, who later regions ofthe state, makingTejon unique and, becamepublisherof the LosAngeles Times.The overturned approval of the project. from a conservationist's viewpoint, vital. This is The Black Benchstrategywas so success- Chandlerfamily's Times Mirrpr Company conwhy the center opposed the development and ful that Attorney GeneralJerryBrown filed a verted the Tejon Ranch into a publicly traded corporation. In the 197Os,it was listed on the withdrew from negotiations with the ranch, similarsuit againstthe fast-growing countyof and it is also why the other environmental SanBernardino,forcing a settlement specifo- American StockExchange,where its stockpricgas groups stayed in negotiations and ultimately ingthat it must considergreenhouse emis- es soaredto morethan $6o0ashare intlle mid198Os as interest intensified in the company's cut adeal. Everyone's priorigwas keepingthe sions in every future construction project. plans for massive development. Drought, a ranch in one piece andpreservingthatbiologiUnder threat of suits from the center and the cal crossroads. The only question was, Which state, most major jurisdictions in California bad economy, and a real estate downturn stymied those plans, causing the stock to tank. In would best achieve that goal-years of litigaare now doing the same-a seachangein how the early lssos, the ranch owners positioned tion and confrontation or a compromise? developersin California are required to handle the threat ofglobal warrning. Stopping a themselves as stewards of the land. Biologists ***** 1,4oo-homeproject Iike BlackBenchwillhave from the U.S. Fish and wildlife service and the no measurableeffect on globalwarming, Sie- National Audubon Society had frequent access gel says,but how about ten projects? or a hunto the ranchforresearch andwildlife manageFOf tJrOSe w[rO ownrejonRanch, mentas part of the CaliforniaCondorRecovery the peoplewho haveinvestedin the vision of dred? No one project will make or break cliProgram, one of the most ambitious and suca new cit5land resort complex set amid windmate change,justasno oneelectric,hybrid, or cessful projects everattempted for staving off swepthillsandoakgroves,theissueisasimple hydrogencarwill.It isthe cumulativeeffectof questionof propertyrights.Theysaytheyhave a species'extinction. The last22 condors inthe millions of cleancars-or millions of houses2O 124 LOSAIIGELES.J UNE O 9

bent over backward to set aside significant land for a nature preserve and open space. They have invited environmental groups to lands.What more hetpoverseethe conserved must they do to satisfy the center? "the fundamental core values ofthe ranch from the get-go are conservation and good stewardpresidentof corship,"saysBarryZoeller,vice porate communicationsfor the ranch. Muchofthe TejonRanchproject is to be in semirural Kern County,where the counf seat is the city of Bakersfield.Civic leadersthere that the Centerfor Biological havecomplained Diversity is goingtoo farand shouldnottryto blockjobs and revenueinthe region.Acolumrcfield Californion, Marylee nist with TheBalce Shrider*-in an article reprinted on the Tejon Web site--summed up these senCompany's timents, deridingthe center's"saberrattling" and "unwarranted senseof entitlement" as environmental extremism. "They want, they want, theywant...,"Shriderwrote of environmentalists."TejonRanchCo.mustdevelop,or not develop, landaccordingtotheirplan or the it's off to court they'll go." Early on, and despite its reputation for being uncompromising, the center had participated in meetings with the Tejon Ranch the company, the Wildlands Conservancy, Sierra Club,Audubon California,the Natural DefenseCouncil,the Planningand Resources

his turn to make his pitch, Galvin said he beIievedthat the best possibleoutcome would be to drop all developmentplans and createa permanent wildlife preserveand public park. TejonRanchCompanywould go down in hisand toryalongsidethe Rockefellers Camegies commitfor its environmentalgenerositStand ment, he said. Generationswould take joy in this beautiful wildernessand honor the decF sion.And ofcourse,there were tax benefits. Everyone inthe room knewthatthis idea was not going to fly. Merely selling mansions in the ten canyonswhere the condors once nested would bring in a profit of at least $35o million, and that would be just a tiny piece of a very big product, The investors in NewYork had not bought Tejon Ranchin order to play philanthropist. Then camethe backup plan developedby the group, which calvin had reluctantly emacres-the braced:Goahead,build on 3o,OOO whole Centennial project. Just move it to a lesssensitivearea,awayfromthe grasslands they had a site mapped slatedto be bulldozed. out near the edgeofthe ranch that could acit tually increasethe profit potential because would be less remote and easierto build on, In exchangethe ranch would have to cancel the resort complexand canyonmansionsnear the condorareas,the most importanthabitat on the ranch.The investors could still make a

they made the extraordinary

promise not

to oppose any ofthe developments-before detailed plans had been drawn up. In return, Tejon Ranch agreed to the most dramatic part of Galvin's proposal, setting aside up to 90 percent ofthe land for conservation as he had suggested. The land would be placed in a conservation easement, to be administered bya nonprofit run by a l2-person board-four environmental representatives, four rinch representatives, initiallyfunded four independents-and bythe ranch.

This is where the center parted company for good with its former allies. The Sierra club, the NRDC, and the other groups have focused on what would be saved, its epic size and scope, on the notion that the deal serves the greater good. The center activists and attorneys argue that it is a grave mistake-as well as a sign of weakness and fear-to surrender the right to object to a development with such enormous potential to harm species and landscapes. No matter how much land is saved, Galvin maintains, it cannot make up for establishing Centennial in what is now grasslands and putting a resort in critical lakeside condor habitat. The endangered birds and other species will inevitably suffer, perhaps catastrophically, he argues, and the state will lose credibility as a champion of "smart growth" and a foe of climate-damag-

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in Standins thepathofthis frrtureTeion emdronnrenfal iia Ranch little-'knoutn qroupwithasmall ambi' budset outsize and Dinersity. GenterfrrBidlogical fionsi,the
mint, and nature would fare far better. Here was the kicker: The amount of permanently preserved land had to be much more than the loo,ooo acres already offered. tt had to be 90 percent of the enneeded to keep corridors alterna245,ooo acres-about

ing, resource-hogging sprawl. Joel Reynoldsof the NRDCconthe cedes this compromiseleaves development plans mostly unchanged, except for pulling back a bit from some of the ridges where the condors forage-a changethat federal wildlife biologistswould havealmost certainly required anyway.The con-

Conservation League, the Endangered Habitats League, and others. Atthe time, the Tejon Ranch Company had offered to place IOO,OOO acres ofthe Z7O,OOO-acreranch in a conservation trust in order to blunt environmental groups' opposition, but Galvin pronounced that insufficient. Much ofthe offered acreage was remote, rocky, or high ground, with little value for conservation and unusable for development, he said. From his perspective, the ranchwas givingup nothing, andthe coalition of environmental groups agreed to present Tejon Ranch with a counterproposal. After months of back-and-forth, the factions had gathered in the back room of Il Fornaio restaurant in Pasadena. on one side ofthe big table sat ranch executives with their corporate allies and attorneys. Across the water glasses and baskets ofbread sat the loose-knit group of environmentalists, many of whom seemed content, as Galvin recalls it, to let him playthe "bad cop" in this drama. When it was

served land would remain open to current uses: grazing, hunting, agriculture, mining. The agreement would allow about a quarter of the land proposed for conservation to be developed, too, if the environmental groups failed to raise millions of dollars to buy the land at market rate by May 2011. Accordingto Reynolds, most ofthose 62,0o0 acres would have to be bought with state bond money for conversionto a state park, butatthe moment such a purchase bythe cash-strapped state is out of the question, given the reality of budget shortfalls and a moratorium Amediaeventwas 2OO8, featuring on bond issues. The land has yet to be appraised. heldatthe ranch in May leader after another Governor Schwarzenegger

tire property, the minimum

the various habitats and wildlife able," insisted Galvin, addingthatthe more in litigation.

intact. "Nothing short of that will be accepttive would be spending the next 15 years or The offer was rejected, as Galvin had expected. Not long after, the centerstopped participating in the meetings and negotiations, all of which had been subjectto a confi dentiality agreement at the Tejon Ranch representatives' insistence. The discussions continued between the ranch and a core group of five environmental organizations. What Galvin didn't expect was the deal that the NRDC, the sierra Club, Audubon, and the others struck with the ranch owners in May 2OO8, when

and one environmental

praising the deal. neynolds described it as a "once-in-a-lifetime achievement." gill corcoran of the Sierra Club called it the "ecological equivalent ofthe Louisiana Purchase." The Los AngelesTimesproclaimed that it "ends years

125 L O S A i l G E L E S IUNE 2 OO9

of debate over the fate of an untrammeled tableau of mountains, wildflower fields, twisted oaks andJoshua trees." Missing from the praise of the plan was that 23,OOOhomes as well as hotels, condos, golf courses, and an industrial center were goingto be plopped down in the midst of the preserves. Absent also were the Sierra Club activists who lived near the area slated for development and who adamantly opposed it. They resigned from leadership in the local Sierra CIub group so they could continue to voice oppositiontothe not supportthe development. "We did deal," says one ofthe resigning

board members, Jan de Leeuw chair of uct-As department of statistics and a resident of Cuddyvalley, nearTejon Ranch. Hewas more pointed on his Not in My BackYard blog about development in the Grapevine region, writing "first we destroyed the Indians, then we coopted the environmentalists, now it's time to get rid of the California condor." Graham Chisholm, Audubon California's executive directorand board chairman of the new Tejon Ranch Conserwancy, seems perplexed by such criticism. He says the stakes were too high to take the purist position and oppose all development, fighting it out in court. "Then we risk gambling with one of the most important biological properties in the United states. Even ifyou could block their plans, project by project, there are a thousand individual parcels on that ranch. They could sell those offone by one, andyou would lose the ability to try and manage a big landscape.... This way, we get 9O percent in the conservation column.... From myperspective, itwas a huge environmental win." Reynolds says he understands why some are critical of the "difficult environmentalists judgment call" behind the agreement with Tejon Ranch. He has been involved in court battles over environmental issues for 29 years, he explains, and has no reluctance to fight. But the NRDC concluded that Tejon demanded a different approach and that the unyielding stance favored bythe Centerfor niological oiversi{ would do more harm than good. "We thought long and hard about what we're getting and what we're giving up," he says. "My judgmentWhatwe achieved here, we couldrlt have gotten with a lawsuit. We couldn't have gotten with ten lawsuits. Almost a quarter of a million acres of contiguous land at the heart of four important ecosystems in California. What we had to give up is our ability to challenge whatever development the ranch ultimately proposes..., But our agreement does not restrict t}te rights ofanyone else to intervene. That was very important to us." He and Chisholm stress that none ofthe groups is expressing approval ofthe development plans.

They simply aren't commenting on them. "tn other words," says Galvin, "they want us to do the dirty work.... This agreement is going to make it harder for us to win. But that doesn'tmeanwe wort't win." a ThirdAvenue Management, specialistin distressedproperties (it recently acquired a $2o million shareof landSource Communities Development,the bankrupt owner of 15,OOO acres in Newhall and Valencia),certainly sees the conservation agreement as a good investment. Michael Winer, a Third Avenue portfolio manager and tejon board member, wrote in a quarterly letter to shareholdersthat the deal allows the company to avoid 50 years of Iitigation andto packmore developmentonto the ranch than it could ever haveachievedhad the environmental groups refused to bargain. "Such protracted litigation," he added, "would obviously have a devastating impact on the value ofTejon Ranch common stock."

*****

or With the fanuaryr retease
drafts of the Tejon Ranch environmental implan, pact studyand the habitat conserwation the project hasentereda new phase.Thedocuments make clear that the ranch intends to usethe conservation agreement asmitigation for the development-meaningthat the work with organizations to conserveparts of the ranch is being held out as a meansof making up for any harm to speciesor the ecosystem. Environment Now publishesan annual achievementsin Southtallyoftop ecological ern California (two of this year'swinning efforts were the successfulopposition to a toll roadthrough Sanonofre State Beachandthe passage MeasureR in LosAngelesto fund of transit). The Santa Monica-basedorganization placed the Tejon conservation agreement in its "environmental setbacks and failures" category calling it "the epitome of poor planning." "l thinkthose groups [working with Tejon Ranch]vastly underestimated the impact of their participation in that agreement,"says DiverciAdam Keats,theCenterfor Biological ty's urban wildlands director. "This agreement is being usedto justify development,even in the condor'scritical habitat." Keats has been studying the 18 pounds of documents produced by the ranch and releasedby the government,but he hasbeenthwarted bythe U.S. Fishand wildlife Service'srefusal to relinquish supporting records. one concernhe has raised is failure to provide for the recovery of the condor, as required by the EndangeredSpeciesAct. The plan calls instead for a So-year program invoMng a man-made feeding zone to draw condors awayfrom the new develop-

ments.But Keatsarguesthis isn'tthe sameas to allowing awild species recover."tt's doomingthe condorsto be azoo speciesforthe rest of its existence,That is not acceptable." Theuncertain economyand housingmarket woes will likely hold off the bulldozers for now, but actMsts fear that government agencies,particularly at the count5rlevel, may be more inclined than ever to issue permits in hope of providing an economic stimulus. The Tejon Ranch conservanry, meanwhile, is moving aheadwith pilot programs for public accessand docent tours of a property that has always been closedto the public, University of California scientists are negotiating to set up a nature reserweon the land, and plans are under way for a state park, even though, as yet, there is no money in sight to buythe land from the Tejon Ranch company. Reynolds saysthe company has indicated it will extend Whether the purchasedeadline if necessary. that is out of altruism or a desire to keep its development plans on track doesn't matter, notes.Theeffect isthe same:lmporReynolds tant wildernesswill be preserved. Forthe Centerfor BiologicalDivercity,the stakes arejust ashigh. lf it can alterthe course of the Tejondevelopment,if the construction can be stoppedor molded into somethingenvironmentally sound, if consideration of extinction and global warming can be made to trump moneyand sprawl here,onCalifornia's last frontier, then GalVinseesTejon Ranch as the start of somethingbig,somethingnationwide, a seismicshift. lt will mean the United Statesis no longer stuck onthe old questions of howandwhywe shouldtake actionagainst global warming and extinction. We will have moved on to the questionsofhow much and t howfastweshouldact.

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