SunCal Responds to Allegations of Endangering Large Burrowing Owl Colony in Dublin, CA

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The Alameda Creek Alliance recently leveled a claim that Dublin Crossing developer SunCal would be destroying one of the largest burrowing owl colonies in Alameda County if residential development at Camp Parks moves forward. SunCal representative Joe Aguirre could not disagree with that serious allegation more. “Our plan for development of the Dublin Crossing community is sensitive to wildlife and the environment, and we are striving to ensure that the burrowing owl population in this area continues to be viable,” said Aguirre. “Working with the state and Federal regulatory agencies, we have an extensive mitigation strategy, built into our Environmental Impact Report, for the burrowing owls which includes new habitat construction away from the project area to help direct these owls to more viable habitat.”

The City of Dublin’s land exchange with the U.S. military will allow residential and commercial development on 189 acres of mostly open grassland at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area. Alameda Creek Alliance fears that the residential development will threaten one of the few remaining breeding colonies of burrowing owls in Alameda County. Other than the burrowing owl population at Altamont Pass, the colony at Camp Parks is the largest in Alameda County and the Livermore-Amador Valley.

“Burrowing owls get their name from the fact that they live underground in abandoned burrows that were originally dug by small mammals like ground squirrels and other rodents,” explained Aguirre. ” To help clarify concerns about potential impacts on the owls’ habitat, it is important to note that it is not effective to preserve the burrows themselves, as the owls are known to eventually abandon burrows after the burrows become naturally fouled. Typically for this species, an owl will move on to another burrow once the bird no longer finds acceptable conditions in its current burrow.”

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Camp Parks, just north of the East Dublin BART station, is one of the few remaining relatively undeveloped portions of the Livermore-Amador Valley. The U.S. military transferred 189 acres of public land at the southern end of the Camp Parks military training facility to the City of Dublin for urban development. This exchange is among the largest-ever military reserve property exchange agreements executed by the Department of Defense. SunCal, one of the nation’s largest land developers, is planning six major development projects at Camp Parks called Dublin Crossing, which includes nearly 2,000 homes. In exchange for the 189 acres, SunCal agreed to construct new military facilities worth $66M.

“From a natural resource perspective, the Dublin Crossing development is environmentally responsible, as it increases park and open space; it avoids a number of special status species and habitats found in outlying areas; it reduces habitat fragmentation; and it provides needed housing and services close to public transportation and jobs,” said Aguirre.

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