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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

VCNPS and Friends of Arana Gulch file appeal challenging Arana Gulch bikeway

January 2008

On January 11, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Friends of Arana Gulch filed an appeal of the Superior Court November 2007 decision on the lawsuit against the City of Santa Cruz. The appeal focuses on the lack of alternatives in the EIR for the Arana Gulch bicycle connection. The EIR failed to consider alternative bike routes that do not cross habitat of the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant.

The tarplant (Holocarpha macradenia) is listed as "endangered" by the State of California and as "threatened" by the federal government. In October 2002, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services designated Arana Gulch as "critical habitat" for the tarplant.

The project would construct a 340-foot bridge over Hagemann Gulch, a "steel span" over Arana Creek, and two 8-11 foot-wide paved bicycle routes through critical habitat. In the EIR the City admits that the project would create "significant and unavoidable impact" to the tarplant and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas that are protected by the Coastal Act. The City approved the project despite these impacts.

"There are plenty of options for an east-west bike link that would completely avoid the tarplant habitat," said Vince Cheap, Conservation Chair, Santa Cruz Chapter of CNPS. "Instead the City chose to pit cyclists against an endangered species."

Bicyclist Don Fong noted, "It's a sad day for bicyclists when the City uses bicycling as an excuse to pave over the critical habitat of an endangered species."

The Arana Gulch Greenbelt is a 67.7-acre open space in east Santa Cruz. It was purchased by the City in 1994.

For more information visit the Friends of Arana Gulch website at

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