LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2018— Los Angeles County today approved a sprawling housing development that will pave over a pristine stream and destroy more than 1,000 acres of habitat for rare wildlife, including burrowing owls, coastal California gnatcatchers and western spadefoot toads. The NorthLake development, approved by the county planning commission, would straddle Interstate 5 and Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, north of Santa Clarita.

“The county is selling out imperiled wildlife to build more sprawl,” said Tiffany Yap, a scientist and wildlife corridor advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “County residents want real solutions to the housing shortage, not more far-flung sprawl projects, traffic and air pollution.”

NorthLake would destroy a pristine stream known as Grasshopper Creek that feeds into the Santa Clara River and would likely eliminate one of the region’s last surviving populations of western spadefoot toads. It would also degrade habitat that allows bears, mountain lions and other wildlife to move between the Angeles and Los Padres national forests.

“Wildlife connectivity is essential for the survival and genetic diversity of species like mountain lions and bears,” Yap said. “Building a three-mile wall of housing units in the heart of these travel corridors will have significant ripple effects throughout the ecosystems in both national forests.”

The new community would include nearly 2,000 new housing units but little commercial or industrial development, forcing residents to drive every day for jobs and basic necessities. The isolated development would undermine the county’s and state’s climate change goals while generating more traffic and air pollution. The project site is also in a “very high” fire-hazard severity zone.

The Center submitted comments on the draft and final environmental review documents and presented testimony at the hearing today.