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Save Panoche Valley

Chapter Fights to Save Panoche Valley an Important Bird Area

by Shani Kleinhaus, SCVAS Environmental Advocate

In early September 2011, Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell ruled in favor of San Benito County in a lawsuit brought by Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS), Save Panoche Valley (SPV), and the Sierra Club challenging San Benito County's approval of the proposed 4,000-acre solar farm in Panoche Valley and its Environmental Impact Report. On September 13th, the SCVAS Board voted to join Save Panoche Valley in appealing the District Court's ruling to the California Court of Appeal, 6th Circuit, located in San Jose. We are now raising funds for this challenge.

"We have excellent grounds for appeal from both the inadequate analysis of environmental impacts, as well as the unprecedented cancellation of Williamson Act contracts. Our Board wants to ensure we've exercised all of our options to save the biological resources in this extraordinary valley that's seen little change in the last 150 years." said Bob Power, Executive Director for the chapter. "Most of these types of cases are decided on appeal," said Rose Zoia, attorney for the appealing groups. "The law and the facts are on our side in this particular case. Our case is strong."

Panoche Valley, 30 miles east of Hollister, is a throwback to wide open spaces that have disappeared throughout the west. Designated by National Audubon as an Important Bird Area of global significance for its large percentage of the world's over-wintering Mt. Plover population, along with 11 other special status bird species. The Valley has galvanized both farmers and environmentalists beyond the bird community because of its three endangered species: San Joaquin Kit Fox, Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard, and Giant Kangaroo Rat.

Ashok Khosla, President of the SCVAS Board of Directors, stands behind the organization's adopted solar policy: "We can't be trading one extraordinary resource for another. Solar development in urban areas and in retired farming areas with no habitat values, makes for good planning policy and decision-making. Solar development in active, high-quality agricultural areas with extraordinary wildlife value cannot be supported by our chapter."


Updated in September 2011.


What's New at SCVAS

Important McClellan Ranch Construction Update: To all of our members, visitors and customers: Please be advised that both the main parking lot and walkways at McClellan Ranch Preserve will be undergoing major repairs through the end of August. While the SCVAS office will remain open during this period (except for August 12th through 18th, when the nature shop will be closed), it may be difficult to get into the front office safely. If you do come to the Ranch, please be aware of the following:

1) Access to the parking lot is severely limited, and we strongly recommend that everyone park in the overflow lot at 22241 McClellan Rd and walk over the bridge.

2) The walkways and steps leading up to the main office and nature shop may be inaccessible at various times throughout the month.

If you wish to purchase items from our Nature Shop, and would have a hard time navigating the unstable surfaces of the paths, please call Cindy at 408-252-3747 - she would be more than happy to ring you up over the phone and bring the items to your car in the overflow lot. We apologize for the inconvenience!

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22221 McClellan Rd., Cupertino, CA 95014
Tel: (408) 252-3747 / Fax: (408) 252-2850