An environmental group Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging failures by federal agencies to formally establish plans for the preservation of waterways in Riverside County and other California locations that Congress designated as “wild and scenic.”
Officials with the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity said the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is needed to spur the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to produce management plans required under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.
Without the plans, fish, birds and other wildlife that depend on the rivers could be negatively impacted, according to the group.
“These rivers are some of Southern California’s crown jewels and provide critical habitat for endangered birds and other imperiled species,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the center. “They also provide respite and recreation for people, who rely on the government to protect these special places for their kids and grandkids. Without a management plan, a wild and scenic river designation is meaningless.”
Federal officials did not have an immediate response to the lawsuit.
The following waterways, all of which received wild and scenic designations in 2009, are named in the suit:
— Amargosa River, which traverses Inyo and San Bernardino counties;
— Bautista Creek, a channel near Hemet that attracts endangered southwestern willow flycatchers, arroyo toads and checkerspot butterflies;
— Cottonwood Creek, a 20-mile riparian corridor in Inyo County;
— Fuller Mill Creek, a channel just east of Idyllwild where yellow-legged frogs, flying squirrels and spotted owls are found;
— North Fork on the San Jacinto River, a 10-mile passage in the San Jacinto Mountain Wilderness Area that hosts yellow-legged frogs, rubber boa and flying squirrels;
— Owens Headwaters, an Inyo County habitat for Yosemite toads and other wildlife;
— Palm Canyon Creek, an eight-mile waterway near Pinyon Pines where bighorn sheep go to drink; and
— Piru Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, without management plans in place, the waterways could be exposed to damage from off-roading, pollution, depletion from domestic animals and other environmental threats.
The plaintiffs argue that Congress intended for the passages to be protected for generations to come.
It was unclear whether the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service had been working on long-term management plans under the Obama administration.
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