California Native Plant Society Signs Historic Settlement on Newhall Ranch Project

The Newhall Ranch settlement directs $8 million toward the ongoing conservation of the San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina), a California endangered species.

Our greatest hope has been that the site remain wild. We lost that, but in doing so gained important protection of two rare plant species.

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has settled a long-running dispute over the Newhall Ranch development project in northwestern Los Angeles County. The agreement with FivePoint Holdings (owner of Newhall Ranch) secures major endangered species protections, conserves thousands of acres of land, and engages CNPS scientists for ongoing rare plant conservation efforts on Newhall Ranch.

CNPS was joined by co-plaintiffs, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper program, in signing the settlement in response to growing certainty that the project would move forward in the near future. (Earlier this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife [CDFW) ]certified the Newhall Ranch project’s revised Environmental Impact Report, and LA County Supervisors recently approved a major step, clearing the way for development to begin.)

“With development pending, we wanted to make sure plants got as much protection as possible out of this settlement,” said CNPS Rare Plant Program Manager David Magney who negotiated terms on behalf of the CNPS. CNPS is to receive no funding in this settlement, and actually will provide free scientific consultation.

“Our greatest hope has been that this site remain wild,” he added. “We lost that, but in doing so gained important protection of two rare plant species — one of which is a California Endangered species; the other, the Newhall sunflower (Helianthus inexpectatus), has been found nowhere else in the world but this site.”

The agreement commits almost $25 million toward conservation measures, including $8 million to protect and manage the endangered San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina). FivePoint Holdings will set aside thousands of acres along the Santa Clara River, reduce floodplain development, and work with environmental groups to monitor and protect…

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