STICKING THEIR NECKS OUT GROUPS SAYS TRACK MAY HURT TORTOISES.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
CALIFORNIA CITY- Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the federal government over a proposed Hyundai auto test track, saying environmental reviews were inadequate and the track could harm desert tortoises and Mohave ground squirrels.
The lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity The Center for Biological Diversity combines conservation biology with litigation, policy advocacy, and an innovative strategic vision to secure a future for animals and plants hovering on the brink of extinction, for the wilderness they need to survive, and by extension for the and Defenders of Wildlife Defenders of Wildlife is non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1947 out of concern for perceived cruelties of the use of steel-jawed leghold traps for trapping fur-bearing animals. says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal environmental laws when it approved permits for the test track in January without a full analysis of its impact on desert habitat.
The lawsuit also criticized a mitigation plan in which Hyundai is buying more than 3,300 acres to be set aside as habitat in exchange for developing the 4,500-acre test track site, now under construction.
``We really think the whole process was badly flawed,'' said Daniel Patterson Daniel Todd Patterson (6 March 1786 – 25 August 1839) was an officer in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France, the First Barbary War and the War of 1812.
Patterson was born on Long Island, New York. , an ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. ``Our position is they should not be blading the habitat until these issues are cleared.''
The area is home to the desert tortoise, listed as a threatened species by federal regulators after disease and habitat destruction Habitat destruction is a process of land use change in which one habitat-type is removed and replaced with another habitat-type. In the process of land-use change, plants and animals which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. decimated its numbers in the 1980s, and the Mohave ground squirrel, listed as threatened by the state.
Patterson said the groups are not trying to stop the project, but said they want their concerns addressed before work is allowed to continue.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said the agency had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
Hyundai is reviewing the lawsuit, company spokeswoman Toni Honsowetz said.
``Hyundai is highly sensitive Adj. 1. highly sensitive - readily affected by various agents; "a highly sensitive explosive is easily exploded by a shock"; "a sensitive colloid is readily coagulated" to its obligations to protect and preserve the environment,'' Honsowetz said.
The $50 million test track, which will be used to test Hyundai and Kia cars and trucks, is being built north of Highway 58 about eight miles east of Mojave.
The project is to include a 6.4-mile oval track It has been suggested that and be merged into this article or section. , a vehicle-handling course inside the oval track, a paved hill road and several special-surface roads. A 30,000-square-foot complex for offices and indoor testing will also be constructed.
The proving grounds
Blackarachnia is growing steadily more annoyed with the tension between her and the Maximals. area is expected to employ about 40 to 50 people.
While California City was not named in the lawsuit, municipal officials expect they will become involved in the litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. . The city and Hyundai filed for the federal permits jointly.
City Manager Jack Stewart Jack Stewart is a name shared by several people:
``We feel we're in full compliance,'' Stewart said. ``We don't feel we've done anything wrong.''
Mayor Larry Adams said mitigation measures for the project will probably cost Hyundai about $5 million, including contributing $1.5 million to an endowment fund Noun 1. endowment fund - the capital that provides income for an institution
patrimony - a church endowment
chantry - an endowment for the singing of Masses for desert tortoise protection, the purchasing of the conservation land, and the on-site efforts, which include having a biologist on hand at all times during construction and the construction of a fence to keep tortoises from construction areas.
``Hyundai/Kia has been particularly good about doing things the right way and the slow way,'' Adams said. ``These groups are out of line.''
The conservation groups said hibernating tortoises within the construction zone are being taken out of their burrows and boxed into artificial burrows while they wait for relocation to an as-yet-to-be-determined place in early April.
This handling of tortoises stresses the animals, increasing the chances of illness and death, the groups said.
While up to 20 tortoises may be removed from this project area, an unknown number of juveniles and eggs will be destroyed because they are nearly impossible to locate during hibernation, the groups said.
Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743
Hyundai test track