October 26, 2007
Contacts: Steve Robinson (530) 256-3982
Peter Van Zant (530) 265-2849
Tom Mooers (530) 265-2849
Terry Davis (916) 557-1100 x 108
COMMUNITY, CONSERVATION GROUPS ASK COURT TO OVERTURN DYER MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT
Sierra Nevada’s Largest Development Proposal Deemed Irresponsible, Illegal by Mountain Meadows Conservancy , Sierra Watch, and Sierra Club
Susanville ( Lassen County ), CA, October 26, 2007 – A powerful coalition of local, state, and national conservation groups petitioned Lassen County Superior Court yesterday to overturn the county’s approval of a massive resort development project proposed for remote Dyer Mountain .
Dyer Mountain Associates proposes 4,000 new homes, three golf courses, and a ski resort on 7,000 acres of forest lands in remote Lassen County .
“The county has an obligation to look before it leaps into approving a development that threatens everything we love about Lassen County ,” said Steve Robinson of Mountain Meadows Conservancy . “That’s not just common sense; it’s also the law.”
Local residents contend that the project would overrun existing communities; at build out, the new development would dwarf neighboring Westwood and stress county services. The threatened landscape also has important wildlife, watershed, and cultural value. Dyer Mountain is home to bald eagles and an important part of the Feather River watershed. And it’s the ancestral home of the local Honey Lake Maidu tribe.
In a sweeping fifteen-page petition to Lassen County Superior Court, Mountain Meadows Conservancy , Sierra Watch, and Sierra Club contend that approval of the proposed development was not only irresponsible but also illegal.
A version of the project was initially approved by a voter initiative in 2000. Since then, the scope of the project, as well as the prospects for its actual completion, have changed dramatically.
The initial project proposed about 1,000 houses and a ski resort, with construction guaranteed by fall of this year. It has ballooned into a massive proposal of more than 4,000 resort homes, with no completion date in sight.
In the meantime, the project is mired in deepening legal and financial turmoil. The development proponents, Dyer Mountain Associates, have been subject to at least four lawsuits and two scathing court orders. In May, San Francisco Superior Court assigned a majority stake in DMA to a court appointed receiver, stating that DMA “…is in default of outstanding loans to creditors, payroll, rent and other financial obligations.”
In June, Santa Cruz Superior Court ordered a lien placed on DMA, ordering the Lassen County Sheriff to “attach” Dyer Mountain property until payment. And in August DMA was sued by a creditor for defaulting on a $10 million loan.
“Any way your look at it, this project simply does not make sense,” contends Peter Van Zant of Sierra Watch. “It ignores every lesson we’ve learned about planning in the Sierra Nevada – threatening our irreplaceable resources and local communities with irresponsible development.”
The lawsuit clearly contends that Lassen County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved the project last month. CEQA is the foundation of environmental policy in California ; it requires state and local decision makers to consider the environmental consequences of their actions. But environmental review of the Dyer Mountain project failed to assess its impacts on issues ranging from local traffic patterns to global climate change.
Conservationists throughout California are taking note. Earlier this month, the 700,000-member Sierra Club signed on to the suit to stop the Dyer Mountain project.
“We recognize that growth will continue in the Sierra Nevada ,” says Terry Davis of Sierra Club. “Our goal is to encourage responsible growth instead of irresponsible development that consumes our scenic forest habitat.”
In the coming months, the Court will assign a judge to the case. There is no time table for resolving the case.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” says Robinson of Mountain Meadows Conservancy . “Our own communities and surrounding landscapes are at stake.”
The Mountain Meadows Conservancy 's mission is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and environmental health of the Mountain Meadows watershed; protect its significant Mountain Maidu burial and cultural sites; and provide recreation and public access for generations to come. For more information, visit www.mtmeadows.org.
Sierra Watch defends the incomparable natural resources and unparalleled quality of life in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. For more information, call (530) 265-2849 or visit www.sierrawatch.org.
# # #