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Court Enjoins Blue Rock Country Club Development

Private golf course threatens imperiled species; housing and school should proceed
May 13, 2004
Hayward, CA —

A judicial panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today temporarily enjoined the grading of land for a golf course development known as the Blue Rock Country Club east of the City of Hayward, CA, on Walpert Ridge. The court agreed that the development's proposed golf course may imperil endangered species and has scheduled oral arguments in the case.

The housing aspect of the project includes 614 luxury homes proposed to be constructed over a 356-acre area. But what conservation groups opposed was a golf course sprawling nearly three quarters of a mile across Walpert Ridge, in prime open space and habitat for the imperiled Alameda whipsnake and the California red legged frog. On November 14, 2000, Earthjustice filed suit challenging the US Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to provide legally mandated protections for the Alameda whipsnake and the California red-legged frog in its original assessment of the Blue Rock project.

The proposed sprawling "championship" golf course would destroy and fragment the existing oak woodland, grassland, and coastal scrub ecosystem on Walpert Ridge in the city of Hayward. Development on Walpert Ridge could spell doom for the whipsnake and the red-legged frog in the region.

"The miracle of Walpert Ridge is its survival as a large, near-intact ecosystem so close to the urbanization of the East Bay. Most people don't know it's there," said Sherman Lewis, chair of the Hayward Area Planning Association. "We are asking the court for a balanced solution that allows the housing and school components of the development to go forward while deciding other issues."

Conservation groups have never objected to the developer's plans to build housing and a school on the north end of Walpert Ridge. However, they are concerned that the Fish & Wildlife Service's own biologists believed the golf course would jeopardize the continued existence of the threatened Alameda whipsnake and California red-legged frog. The groups sent a letter today to the developers re-iterating their agreement that the school and housing aspects of the plan should go forward

"We support the housing and school aspects of this project. What remains at issue is whether a badly planned golf course that will destroy unique habitat must remain in this plan," said Jeff Miller from the Center for Biological Diversity. "Where these imperiled California native species survive, we should make every effort to protect their habitat."

"The Bailey Ranch project in Hayward proves housing can be successfully built and profitably sold in Hayward without requiring an 18 hole golf course attached to it," said Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice who is representing the coalition. "We are hopeful that with this positive ruling from the Court of Appeals that an amicable resolution of this issue can be reached."

Contacts

Sherman Lewis, HAPA (510) 538-3692

Greg Loarie, Earthjustice (510) 550-6725

Jeff Miller, CBE (510) 663-0616 x3 and cell (510) 499-9185

We're the lawyers for the environment, and the law is on our side.