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Lawsuit seeks to protect California condors and stop construction

If you drive north from San Diego on Interstate 5 for about four hours, and then make a few twists and turns, you will arrive in Kern County. The mostly agricultural area is famous for its vegetables and fruits, but is also known as a significant producer of oil, solar power, wind power and hydro-electric power.

A recent construction lawsuit filed there by conservation and tribal groups seeks to halt a plan to build luxury housing, resort hotels and golf courses in an area that is critical habitat for California condors – the critically endangered species that is the largest North American land bird. The suit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its approval of the plan and failure to adequately consult native people on the threat posed to condors by the large-scale developments.

The plaintiffs argue that that consultation is mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act because of the condors’ significance to cultural and religious practices of several tribes, including the Yowlumne Tejon, Chumash and Kitanemuk.

Tribal practitioners have had difficulty collecting condor feathers for sacred rites because of the birds’ decline – a regression expected to be hastened by the proposed development, called the Tejon Mountain Village. The development would include up to nearly 3,500 residential units, as well as 160,000 square feet of commercial property development. It would also feature 750 hotel rooms, two golf courses, an equestrian center and another 350,000 square feet of support structures.

Construction has not yet commenced, but the plaintiffs believe it might not be far off.

If your rights or interests are threatened by a proposed development, contact a San Diego law firm experienced in virtually every aspect of construction litigation.

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