Nothing’s Been Done To Protect 100 Miles of Southern California Creeks And Rivers, Group Claims In Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

More than nine years after Congress declared 100 miles of waterways in Southern California as wild and scenic, the federal agencies managing those resources have done nothing to protect them, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles.

The Center For Biological Diversity is suing the Trump Administration for violating the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which requires the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to draw up comprehensive plans for designated creeks and rivers that won’t impede water flows, protects plants and animals from harm and provides recreational opportunities.

These waterways are in remote, inland regions of Inyo, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Congress granted wild, scenic or recreational status to the Amargosa River, Owens Headwaters, Cottonwood Creek, Piru Creek, North Fork of the San Jacinto River, Fuller Mill Creek, Palm Canyon Creek and Bautista Creek on March 30, 2009. Under the act, the managing agency must develop a plan for managing each river within three years. The lawsuit claims the agencies “unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed” compliance with the law.

“To date there hasn’t been any management plans for these rivers and it is coming up on 10 years now,” said Ilene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center, who said the group is seeking a timetable for completion of the plans.

“Crown jewels”

Without proper management, the rivers could be damaged by off-road vehicles, poorly managed grazing or other human activities, the Center said.

At stake are some of the last remaining natural rivers in Southern California as well as numerous endangered or threatened species of frogs, bats, birds, toads, sheep, fish, flowers and butterflies.

“These rivers are some of Southern California’s crown jewels and provide critical habitat for endangered birds and other imperiled species,” said Anderson in a statement. “They also provide respite and recreation for people who rely on the government to protect these places for their kids and grandkids.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service in Arcadia said he could not comment on the lawsuit. Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in L.A. said all media inquiries must be handled by the Department of Justice in Washington. The DOJ media office did not return emails and phone calls Tuesday.

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