US Fish and Wildlife Addresses Fairview Park(AMENDED*)
In an eleven (11) page letter to Bart Mejia, a Senior Engineer in the Public Services Department of the City of Costa Mesa dated July 24, 2014, Karen A. Goebel, Assistant Field Supervisor for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - a part of the Department of the Interior - addressed many issues that have arisen from the installation of the now-infamous illegal Decomposed Granite Path that encroached on protected areas that included the San Diego fairy shrimp within Fairview Park. You can read the entire letter HERE.
...A CLEAR MESSAGE
After providing several pages of background on the issue, Goebel, beginning on page five (5) of her report, under the heading: Restoration, protection, and management of vernal pools in Fairview Park, outlines the City's responsibility to comply with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and says, "In consideration of the degraded condition and management needs of the vernal pool habitat within Fairview Park, implementation by the City of the following measures would help ensure that the San Diego fairy shrimp population within the coastal terrace vernal pools at Fairview Park remains viable."
Under the following headings she lists specifics of what is expected of the City by the USFWS in that regard:
1 - Watershed Restoration
2 - Permanent Protection
3 - Fencing and Paths
4 - Public Education
5 - Trash
6 - Mowing, Weed Control, and Pesticide Use
7 - Employee Education
8 - Patrol
9 - Biological Monitoring
10 - Adaptive Management
11 - Fairview Park Master Plan Update
You can review the report for the very expansive explanation of each.
For example, on page seven (7) of the report the following image appears, which shows in red the fence lines they expect to be established to protect the watershed and habitat. Take a close look... this is a really BIG deal! For example, if you're a member of the Harbor Soaring Society, you're going to have big problems retrieving errant plane landings in and around the rubble pile that is just to the west of their "airstrip".
WHAT ABOUT THE DG PATH?
The only mention of the investigation of the construction of the Decomposed Granite Path is near the end of the letter. Goebel's says, "These are the measures that are needed to protect San Diego fairy shrimp and their habitat in Fairview Park and are not intended to offset the damage caused by path construction. Issues relating to take that may have been caused by path construction remain under investigation by the Service at this time and will be addressed separately in the future". So, those folks responsible for the desecration of that habitat "for the kids" are not yet off the hook. I suspect the folks at the USFWS are not happy about it. We look forward to learning what kind of penalties might be imposed on the City, or individuals, for the damage that was done.
THE SOUTHEAST QUADRANT*
"Three additional vernal pool areas, located east of Placentia Avenue, require additinoal surveys to determine if San Diego fairy shrimp and/or sensitive vernal plant species are present. We recommend the City delineate the watershed of the three pools in the near future and avoid impacts to the waterhsed areas until protocol surveys (Service 1996) can be completed. Positive survey results may require changes in management actions to address San Diego fairy shrimp. The City should coordinate adaptive management with the Service prior to implementation."
Yikes! As I, and a few others, read it, this could put the old kibosh on ANY activities on the Southeast Quadrant of the park - that segment that the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee is scheduled to begin addressing on August 6th. This is, indeed, that 800 pound gorilla! There seems to be no reason for the committee to continue to meet on this subject until this issue is resolved.
COMMUNITY INPUT SOUGHT
It's my understanding from Mejia that a meeting will be scheduled with USFWS to be sure the City clearly understands the full meaning and scope of the work involved. The City will also be soliciting input from the community on this issue. There is a meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee scheduled at 6:00 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (Lions Park) on August 6, 2014 during which the committee will begin discussing ideas for the Southeast Quadrant of the park. There will be a Public Comments segment PLUS opportunities to comment on individual items. The Public Comments segment might be a place where concerned residents could address THIS item. And, you can aways send your thoughts to Bart at his email address at City Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org. That's a hot link, so you should be able to just click on it to compose your message.