Court OK’s Business Park on California Wetlands

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit upheld the government’s approval of a 678-acre business park on protected California wetlands, saying it was the least damaging site for endangered and threatened species like the vernal pool shrimp and slender Orcutt grass.

     The Butte Environmental Council filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service and Redding, Calif., after they approved the city’s plan to build the 678-acre Stillwater Business Park on protected wetlands along Stillwater Creek.
     U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell ruled for the agencies and the city after Redding modified its construction plans and environmental impact statement to address the needs of the threatened vernal pool fairy and tadpole shrimp and the endangered Orcutt grass.
     Burrell concluded that the Stillwater site was the least environmentally damaging site for the project. He determined that the Corps’ approval of the plan was reasonable.
     The environmentalists appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the Corps’ decision to issue a permit to build on the Stillwater Creek wetlands was based on a flawed evaluation of the city’s environmental impact statement.
     The group argued that the agencies had “simply deferred” to the city’s judgment on how the project would impact the species and their habitat.
     But the San Francisco-based panel upheld the lower court’s ruling.
     “In sum, the Corps stated a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusion that the proposed Stillwater site was the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote.

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