Help CNPS Save an Extraordinary California Ecosystem

By Nick Jensen

Tejon Ranch is simultaneously one of California’s most important and least known places.  At 270,000 acres Tejon is the state’s largest contiguous piece of private land, straddling the southwestern corner of Kern County and northwestern corner of Los Angeles County. Most significantly, Tejon sits at the junction of five major ecological regions, uniting the southern terminus of the Sierra Nevada, the western half of the Tehachapi Mountains, the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the western corner of the Mojave Desert in the Antelope Valley, and a small, but non-trivial portion of the Liebre Mountains. This convergence of ecological regions results in remarkable habitat and plant diversity.

The first flora of Tejon Ranch* includes 911 native plants or 14 percent of the native flora of California occurring on just 0.25 percent of the state’s acreage! Now, 30,000 acres of this incredible region is slated for development.

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There is no compromise

In 2008, the Tejon Ranch Company entered into a landmark conservation deal with five major environmental organizations. As part of this deal, 88.8 percent (240,000 acres) of the ranch was placed into conservation agreements, in which development is precluded. As part of the deal these organizations agreed not to oppose proposed developments on the remaining 11.2 percent (30,000 acres) of the ranch. However, CNPS and a number of our partner organizations did not sign the 2008 agreement, because we believe that 100 percent of Tejon Ranch should be conserved. Here’s why:

The destruction of 30,000 acres of habitat in the three proposed development areas would result in massive impacts to native plants and animals. At the completion of development, these areas would contain more than 34,000 single family residences, increasing the regional population by more than 100,000 people. The integrity of Tejon Ranch would be reduced and migrational corridors for rare and common species alike would be severed.

Two of the proposed developments, Grapevine and Tejon Mountain Village, are located in Kern County and have received permits for development. The third project, the Centennial Specific Plan, is located in Los Angeles County and is currently under review by the County Planning Commission. (CNPS submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in January 2018.) Centennial is billed as a “new town” with more than 19,000 residences and 10.2 million square feet of commercial development. It is located at the junction of the Antelope Valley, Tehachapi Mountains, and the Liebre Mountains. Right now, we have an opportunity to stop the Centennial development as it goes to a vote with the LA County Regional Planning Commission on June 6. If it passes with the commission, the plan will move on to a vote with the LA County Board of Supervisors at a later date.

What do we stand to lose if Centennial gets the green light?

  • Some of the finest native grassland in Southern California including one of the finest wildflower displays in the state.
  • Habitat connectivity between three ecological regions. Habitat connectivity is increasingly necessary given the reality of global climate change.
  • 5,000 + acres of habitat for rare and common plant and animal species

Other problems to expect with Centennial

  • Urban sprawl and associated long-commutes, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Severed habitat corridors.
  • Local extirpation of plants and animals.

Your help is needed now

Wherever you live in California, your actions over the next few weeks can help us stop Centennial. Here’s how:

For more information and talking points for your outreach, please see our comprehensive document:  Centennial Specific Plan Facts and Talking Points.


Nick Jensen, CNPS Southern California Conservation Analyst

Nick Jensen is a conservation analyst for the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) in Southern California and a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Jensen recently earned his PhD in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG)/Claremont Graduate University. As a graduate student he produced the first Flora of Tejon Ranch (* in preparation) and studied evolutionary patterns in perennial jewelflowers.  For more information please contact him at Nick Jensen at njensen@cnps.org.

Learn more about the CNPS Conservation Program and please consider making a donation to support California’s native plants and places today!

 

16 Comments

  1. I would appreciate some facts on the wildlife there, especially mountain lions, so that I can speak on June 6th. Can someone point me to some studies on mammals that live there so we can protect them?

    1. Hi Eve,

      I think that emailing the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission ahead of June 6 with your concerns can be very helpful in influencing their decision.

      Please send emails to Jodie Sackett, jsackett@planning.lacounty.gov

      Please see our talking points for information on what to include in your email: https://www.cnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Centennial-Talking-Points_8May18.pdf

      Specifically, we are asking the Regional Planning Commission to not recommend the project for approval.

      Thanks for your help!

      Nick

      1. Eve, I’d also encourage you to share any CNPS social media pertaining to Centennial, especially the video we’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for asking on behalf of Nor Cal!

    1. Thanks so much, Elaine. (You can share by selecting the Facebook icon at the end of article, or you can paste the article link directly into your Facebook post, and the image with article will appear.)

  2. I’d like to learn more about this and write a message to Janice Hahn, my local representative, as well as the Planning Commission; however, the link above with talking points is not working. The link is titled “Centennial Specific Plan Facts and Talking Points.” Can you please attach a new link? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Jillian, thanks! We’ve updated the link to the talking points, so you should be able to see them now.

  3. I don’t live in LA county, but I have had the wonderful opportunity to camp on the Tejon ranch
    We must save her! What can I do?

    1. Hi Terri,

      I think that sending a comment letter to the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission can be very helpful in influencing their decision on June 6.

      One of the challenges with advocating for the conservation of 100% of Tejon Ranch is that it is still relatively unknown, especially by the residents of Los Angeles County.

      Relaying your personal experiences from your time on Tejon Ranch, and why you think this special place should remain as it is worth relating to the decision makers.

      Also, please share information about the Centennial Project and Tejon Ranch with as many people as possible via social media and by other means.

      Thanks,
      Nick

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