Target: California Coastal Commission Director John Ainsworth
Goal: Do not allow development on the vital coastal habitat of Banning Ranch.
The California Coastal Commission is deciding on whether to approve developmental plans on Banning Ranch, home to many sensitive coastal species. The land had been proclaimed as an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, but commissioners who are not even biologists think that the area is just right for development. Demand that Banning Ranch be preserved, not used for development.
Coastal Commission ecologist Jonna Engel described Banning Ranch as “one of the only reasonably intact wetland-bluff ecosystems remaining along the coast of Southern California.” The area is known to be a home for the burrowing owl, the threatened California gnatcatcher, and the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp as well as the Least Bell’s vireo, a small songbird. After inspecting the land, staff scientists concluded that only 19 acres of the 400 acre Banning Ranch would be appropriate for development, and it would be better to just deny the project altogether than try to downsize it.
This all changed when the former executive director of the commission, Charles Lester, was fired. Charles Lester was a strict proponent of the Coastal Act, and knew the coast better than anyone on the commission. He would have never allowed development on Banning Ranch.
But ever since he was fired, new inspections of the land by commissioners with no scientific background have resulted in the land being declared a brownfield degraded by past oil operations. The commissioners had the area remapped so that now 55 acres were available for development, but at the cost of reducing the number of seasonal wetland pools and areas of purple needlegrass.
Many of Southern California’s coastal habitats have been fractured by roads and housing, and Banning Ranch is one of the last pockets of wild wetland-bluffs. Banning Ranch must be protected from development.
Dear Director Ainsworth,
The California Coastal Commission will be voting on whether or not to approve development on Banning Ranch. It is very important that the fragile wetland-bluff ecosystem of the area remains undisturbed. Reject all development plans, no matter how small, from happening on Banning Ranch.
Earlier investigations by staff scientists had shown the land to be an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. Several endangered species, including the San Diego fairy shrimp and the Least Bell’s vireo, make their home in Banning Ranch. As “one of the only reasonably intact wetland-bluff ecosystems remaining along the coast of Southern California,” Banning Ranch should be protected; please vote against the development plans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: California Coastal Commission