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Southern California developers have long sought relief from regulations protecting wildlife, and earlier this month the Trump administration obliged, formally moving to weaken the federal Endangered Species Act.
But any boon for business could be short-lived—California is stepping in to protect species left vulnerable by federal rollbacks.
California - Fish - Game - Commission - Example
The California Fish and Game Commission, for example, recently declared the San Bernardino kangaroo rat a candidate for the state endangered species list, a decision that could create legal obstacles for a 8,407-home development in Rialto.
The panel issued its decision after a nonprofit group, the Endangered Habitats League, argued that intervention was urgently needed to protect the rodent, a federally listed species, from threats including urban sprawl and President Donald Trump's "politicization of federal regulatory agencies."
One - Commission - Vote - Group - Development
No one was more astonished by the commission's 4-0 vote than a group of development opponents, who thought they had lost a 10-year effort to bolster protection for the rat. That came after federal biologists reversed themselves in July—concluding that the Rialto development would not be the death knell for the rat—even though the subdivision would cover 1,048 acres of critical habitat.
For Lynn Boshart, 72, whose home overlooks the disputed property, the state's action was a stay of execution.
Jubilant - Boshart - Case - Commission - Act
"We were stunned—then jubilant," Boshart said. "Presenting our case to the commission was an act of desperation after we'd exhausted all other options."
Breaking into a smile, she added, "This fight isn't over after all."
Center - Fight - Rodent - % - Habitat
At the center of the fight is a 3-inch-tall rodent that had lost 95% of its habitat by the time it was listed as a federally endangered species a decade ago.
San Bernardino kangaroo rats, named for the way they hop across the ground, have adapted to a sage-and-sand habitat of meandering flood plains, rocky channels, grasslands and low shrubs.
Shares - Landscape - Array - Predators
It shares this landscape with an array of predators, including great...
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