No lions hidden in plan

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I felt compelled to write this letter in order to set the record straight regarding the story which was recently featured in your paper regarding some local resident’s interpretation of the resource management goals found in the Preliminary General Plan Draft EIR for Malibu Creek State Park. In light of the tragic events in the parklands of southern Orange County, I understand the concern that many people have regarding the potential threat posed by the mountain lions that inhabit our local parks.

With that said, I want to make it clear that if one reads the document and checks the supporting tables and appendices they will understand that State Parks is not advocating a “cougar breeding program.” Goal NR4 states that we will protect, restore, and perpetuate native wildlife populations significant to the park. The specific guidelines for this objective, which are found in NR4.3, state: “If determined to be scientifically feasible and viable, implement breeding and reintroduction programs with an emphasis on sensitive and threatened species, in consultation with adjacent landowners, and federal and other State agencies.” There are several qualifiers in this statement that need to be considered. Probably the most important are two key fragments: “emphasis on sensitive and threatened species.” The Malibu Creek General Plan contains a list of sensitive species. As defined, their status as “sensitive” includes the fact that they are listed as “threatened” on various agency lists and data bases.

The sensitive mammals that are listed in the general plan include four species of bats and the San Diego Desert Wood rat. The important point is that the mountain lion is not listed. When I think of species reintroduction, I think of our local efforts to reestablish sustainable schools of steelhead, not the breeding and reintroduction of mountain lions. The second fragment is equally important. Any proposal to establish breeding programs and reintroduction of native species would require substantial environmental review and public comment. The goal specifically states that there would be “consultation with adjacent landowners.” I certainly understand the importance of providing public input into the decision making process.

This is a good document. It provides a blueprint that recognizes the need for adequate recreational opportunities while preserving the resources that make Malibu Creek State Park such a special place to visit. There is no hidden agenda. We want the public to understand the document and support it.

Hayden W. Sohm

Malibu Sector Superintendent