Coastal Commission Staff Report Favors Protecting Burrowing Owls on Banning Ranch

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The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC

PRESS RELEASE AND MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 30, 2016

Don’t Foul the Owl: Coastal Commission Staff Report Favors Protecting Burrowing Owls on Banning Ranch

The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter and other environmental groups in support of preserving habitat for the Western Burrowing Owl were extremely pleased to learn that the Coastal Commission Staff supports designing the foraging areas needed to support the owls as protected spaces on Banning Ranch. Dr. Peter Bloom and Robert Hamilton, President of Hamilton Biological both made convincing arguments that the original designation of 1.5 acres of ESHA dedicated to the burrows of the owls would lead to expiration of the Burrowing Owl as a wintering species on Banning Ranch without foraging areas to support them.

The August 25th updated Coastal Commission Biologist report states:

We identified suitable burrowing owl foraging habitat on Banning Ranch by applying the following area characteristics required for burrowing owl survival and persistence:

  • habitat consisting of native and non-native grassland, grassland sparsely vegetated with low shrubs, and ruderal and disturbed areas.
  •  contiguous block of suitable habitat with ground squirrel burrows and consistent evidence of burrowing owl presence and use of burrows.
  • large contiguous area where human disturbance has been limited and can be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

By employing these criteria, we identified a 64-acre area of burrowing owl burrow and foraging habitat ESHA. Western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), “burrowing owls”, are identified as a rare species by CDFW’s California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) and are also listed as a California Species of Special Concern (CSSC) by CDFW, a bird of conservation concern by USFWS, and as a sensitive species by the Bureau of Land management (BLM). Burrowing owls, once a widely distributed common grassland bird in California, have been in continuous decline since the 1940’s. They use the burrows of ground squirrels to make their home as part of an intricate grassy mesa ecosystem.

Learn more through the Don’t Foul the Owl Campaign using #dontfoultheowl on Instagram and Facebook and at www.BanningRanch.info

Share your photos and thoughts with #dontfoultheowl and #savebanningranch

Support the staff recommendation of designating the foraging areas as ESHA, help protect the Burrowing Owl and save Banning Ranch by sending your comments to the California Coastal Commission at BanningRanchComments@coastal.ca.gov

Sign the Sierra Club Petition:

https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/California?actionId=AR0042416

Attend the Coastal Commission Hearing on Sept 7th Information booths open at 8:30AM at the Newport Beach City Hall Questions about this press release can be directed to:

Angélica M. González, Conservation Program Manager, Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
(213) 387-4287 ext. 204 angelica.gonzalez@sierraclub.org

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