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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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The Center protects important species habitat from urban sprawl by ensuring that major development projects don’t harm it or the endangered species that call it home. We challenge permits for projects that destroy endangered species and their habitat in direct violation of the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.

Blue Rock County Club, Hayward

A lawsuit brought by the Center and the Hayward Area Planning Association forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 to withdraw a permit for the proposed Blue Rock Country Club project on Walpert Ridge in Hayward. The proposed project would have included a 1,642-acre development complex containing 614 luxury homes and an 18-hole golf course in one of the last remaining islands of oak woodland, grassland, and coastal scrub ecosystem in the area. The project bisected one of the five remaining Alameda whipsnake populations and would have destroyed or degraded up to 17 breeding ponds for the California red-legged frog. In 2004, the Center reached a settlement agreement with the developer that allowed development to proceed while acquiring and permanently protecting nearby habitat for the red-legged frog and whipsnake and opening new parklands in the East Bay hills to the public. The developer purchased 125 acres of adjacent habitat that will become part of the East Bay Regional Park system and donated $1.5 million for future public land purchases on Walpert Ridge to help create contiguous habitat for the whipsnake and frog.

Ranch on Silver Creek, San José

The Center and the Guadalupe-Coyote Resource Conservation District filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2000, challenging approval of the Ranch on Silver Creek development project near San José. A 575-acre golf course and housing development was proposed in San José’s Silver Creek hills that would have destroyed some of the best remaining habitat for the Bay checkerspot butterfly, California red-legged frog, and several endangered plant species, including the Metcalf Canyon jewelflower and Santa Clara Valley dudleya. The Center won a preliminary injunction halting the development, and the case was settled in 2001. The developer agreed to reroute the golf course to preserve more habitat for the checkerspot butterfly, spend $1 million to manage a butterfly preserve on the land and parts of an adjacent property, and to buy 90 acres of butterfly habitat south of the project and on a ridge above Coyote Valley.

San Bruno Mountain, San Francisco

The Center and San Bruno Mountain Watch filed suit challenging approval of a 300-acre hotel, office park, and housing subdivision at the Terra Bay Development on San Bruno Mountain that failed to consider impacts on two federally listed butterfly species and a 5,000-year-old Ohlone Indian shell mound. The lawsuit was settled in 2000 with the Trust for Public Land agreeing in 2001 to purchase and protect 25 acres, including land containing the Ohlone shell mound and habitat for the endangered callippe silverspot and mission blue butterflies. This set-aside, supported by the Pajaro Valley Ohlone Indian Council and the South San Francisco City Council, likely will be added to 2,700 acres on the mountain already protected as state and county parks.

Alhambra Highlands, Martinez

The threat of a lawsuit by the Center and the Alhambra Valley Improvement Association, along with the designation of critical habitat for the Alameda whipsnake, forced suspension of a development permit in 2000 for the Richland Development Corporation’s planned 200-home subdivision in whipsnake habitat at Alhambra Highlands in Martinez.

Alameda Creek, Sunol

The Center works with the Alameda Creek Alliance to help protect and restore Alameda Creek, the largest tributary to San Francisco Bay, in the southeastern San Francisco Bay Area. We sponsored the Alliance from 1999 to 2003, helping it become an effective and independent advocacy organization working to restore Alameda Creek, as well as assisting and supporting the group in efforts to restore steelhead trout and chinook salmon to the creek and its tributaries and to change public land management policies to promote stream restoration and protect riparian habitat. The Center has also commented on proposed listing rules and critical habitat designations affecting the central California coast population of steelhead trout, specifically trout in the Alameda Creek watershed.


The health and water quality of local creeks and the San Francisco Bay is affected by land-use and land-management activities in uplands areas, including urban development, roads, agriculture, pesticide use, and livestock grazing. The Center works with community watershed organizations around the Bay to safeguard the its water and health through protection of local endangered species — including indicator fish species, such as the Delta smelt and steelhead trout — as well as the stream, riparian, and upland habitat they depend on.

In 2006, the Center released a comprehensive report detailing the risk toxic pesticides pose to endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Area and the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pesticides harmful to imperiled species. The report, Poisoning Our Imperiled Wildlife: San Francisco Bay Area Endangered Species at Risk from Pesticides, documents that at least 30 of the Bay Area’s 51 federally endangered or threatened animal species may be affected adversely by the more than 8 million pounds of pesticides used in the region each year.

In 2005, the Center won a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency that requires it to consider the harmful effects of toxic pesticides on the California red-legged frog. The court ruled that the agency must initiate consultation on the impacts to the frog for 66 of the most toxic and persistent pesticides authorized for use in California. In 2006, the Center reached a settlement agreement with the agency and the pesticide industry that will protect red-legged frogs by requiring interim prohibitions on use of these 66 pesticides in and adjacent to core habitat, including many areas in the Bay Area. In 2007, the Center filed suit against EPA to protect a total of 11 Bay Area endangered and threatened species jeopardized by pesticide use, along with their habitats.

Photo courtesy of NPS