Last chance to save Santa Clara River — 7 days left!

The driving force behind the extinction of rare species of plants and animals is man.

The Santa Clara River is the last major wild river in Southern California. It provides its neighboring cities with drinking water and it irrigates rich farmland as it meanders 116 miles from the San Gabriel Mountains near Acton to the Pacific Ocean at Oxnard, CA.

But it is a lethal combination of public apathy and corporate greed that could kill this preeminent ecosystem. Well over 38 endangered and threatened species inhabit the river, its watershed and tributaries.

The biodiversity of this vital ecosystem was 3 billion years in the making, and though its Environmental Impact Report has been rejected by Federal Agencies, Lennar Corporation’s Newhall Farming Company is determined to build a tract of cookie-cutter homes that would straddle the river between Interstate 5 and the Ventura County State Line near Santa Clarita.

But, officials say, the chosen alternative this behemoth developer decided to re-circulate on February 1, 2010, is inferior to its other available options, not conservation-minded and has the potential to have adverse impacts to an aquatic resource of national importance — the reason the Environmental Protection Agency rejected Lennar’s architectural blueprint of the future last Fall.

“Newhall’s Alternative 2 is the Proposed Project and would result in significant direct impacts to tributaries of the Santa Clara River,” EPA Director of Communities and Ecosystems Division IX Enrique Manzanilla stated in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We are concerned with the narrow purpose and need of the project to meet the basic objectives of the 2003 Newhall Ranch Specific Plan that was adopted by [the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors].”

If anything, the EPA prefers that the developer choose the kinder and more acceptable Alternative 7 instead.

Manzanilla also sent his concerns to a total of six other governmental agencies in a concerted effort to protect the fate of Santa Clara River and the communities it serves.

Meanwhile, world-renowned landscape photographer and University of Nevada Professor Peter Goin was commissioned by Animals on the Edge president and animal welfare activist Leo Grillo to take evidential photographs of the river. The images, in larger-than-life form, will soon travel the nation in a major museum exhibition.

Animals on the Edge has also appealed to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to help save the embattled river system. On March 2, miniature portfolios containing a total of 52 images were presented to each of the ten supervisors.

“This photographic survey is a visual reminder of another American treasure we cannot afford to ignore or lose,” said Grillo, who has invested the past fifteen years bringing this conservation project to fruition. “Future generations will be thankful that we all worked together during our lifetime to save this river, as our founding fathers charged us to do in the Preamble to the U. S. Constitution!”

With only one week remaining for the general public to join the fight to help save the Santa Clara River, Grillo is urging citizens to send letters and emails of opposition to the EPA’s Enrique Manzanilla.

Enrique Manzanilla, Director, Communities and Ecosystems Division IX, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. His email address is manzanilla.enrique@epa.gov.

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