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Audubon California displeased by Coastal Commission’s ruling on Monterey Shores Eco-resort
San Francisco - California's birds and wildlife suffered a huge setback on April 11. The California Coastal Commission approved the development of a large hotel and condominium complex sited on beach and dune habitat on Monterey Bay in Sand City. The developer calls this 360-unit complex, with parking for almost 1,000 cars, the "Monterey Shores Eco-resort."
The pacific coast population of Western Snowy Plovers, a federally threatened species, nest and raise their broods here. In fact, yesterday a three egg plover nest was discovered and confirmed by biologists in the footprint of the proposed resort.
"The California Coastal Commission failed the public today," said Audubon California Coastal Program Director Andrea Jones. "The process of approving this project, which has been going on for 15 years, went against the very intent of the Coastal Act by ruling in favor of the destruction of Snowy Plover and coastal dune habitat."
Instead of requiring Monterey Shores Eco-resort developer Ed Ghandour to work collaboratively with biologists from USFWS to draft a binding Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and apply for an "Incidental Take Permit," pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the Coastal Commission ruled that a revised "Habitat Protection Plan" (HPP) was enough to safeguard three federally listed species located on the property. In addition to the plover, the Smiths Blue Butterfly and several native plant species will be impacted by the project.
"Ghandour's claim that Snowy Plovers will thrive on the hotel property just doesn't make biological sense. With only about 28 coastal nesting locations remaining along the Pacific, the population cannot afford another loss," explained Jones.
Monterey Audubon Society Chapter President, Blake Matheson, said of the decision, "I am stunned. The California Coastal Commission, charged with protecting our coastal environment, has signed off on a project that according to all credible conservation biologists and the USFWS, will unlawfully take endangered species, apparently, with no enforceable conditions attached to protect the birds."
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society.
More information is available at http://www.ca.audubon.org.
April 11, 2014
The image Monterey Bay Shores is using as its proposal illustration.
Audubon California opposes project located in a 15 mile stretch of Western Snowy Plover critical habitat
Published: Apr 9, 2014
San Francisco - A critical habitat for Western Snowy Plovers is under attack. Today, the Coastal Commission is reviewing the proposed development of a large hotel and condominium complex sited on beach and dune habitat on Monterey Bay in Sand City. The developer calls this 360-unit complex, with parking for almost 1,000 cars, the "Monterey Shores Eco-resort." Unfortunately this project will be sited inside formally recognized USFWS critical habitat for Western Snowy Plovers.
Western Snowy Plovers, a federally threatened species, nest and raise their broods here. In fact, yesterday a two egg plover nest was found in the area of the proposed resort.
"The scale of the hotel will not only remove critical habitat currently used for nesting and feeding and raising young but will also produce hundreds of beach residents and thousands of visitors and pets that could further disturb the birds in this region," said Audubon California Coastal Stewardship Program Director Andrea Jones. "We hope the Coastal Commission makes the right decision today and denies the developers a permit."
USFWS has determined that "take" of Snowy Plover will occur if this project is approved. "Take" is defined in the Endangered Species Act as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect any threatened or endangered species. USFWS has advised the developer to apply for an "incidental take permit."
"Despite repeated requests from USFWS and the Coastal Commission, the developer has refused to cooperate and apply for an "Incidental Take Permit" from the USFWS to address impacts to this species," explained Jones. "With coastal Western Snowy Plover population barely holding on at roughly 2,300, there is no way this development makes any sense."
Photo: Snowy Plover nest in Monterey
Western Snowy Plover south of Villa Creek, Estero Bluffs, a few miles north of Cayucos, CA.