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San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat Named to Group's Top Ten Endangered Species

The rodent remains in three watershed areas: the Santa Ana Wash near Redlands, the San Jacinto River near Hemet, and the Lytle Creek and Cajon Creek confluence area near Rialto, according to the Endangered Habitats League.

The San Bernardino kangaroo rat has been named to an advocacy group's national top ten endangered species list, according to a Los Angeles-based nonprofit involved in litigation related to the Lytle Creek Ranch project northwest of Redlands and Loma Linda.

The tiny rodent has been on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service endangered list since 1998, Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitats League said Monday in a phone interview.

Silver nominated the San Bernardino kangaroo rat to the Endangered Species Coalition, which named the rat to its top ten last week, Silver said.

The Endangered Species Coalition, based in Washington, D.C., is billed as a national network of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect wildlife and wild places.

The coalition's top ten endangered species list this year focuses on species and ecosystems decimated by water loss, Silver said.

In an announcement, Silver referred to the San Bernardino kangaroo rat as SBKR:

"Here in Southern California's Inland Empire, the SBKR hangs on in only three creeks, the Santa Ana Wash near Redlands, the San Jacinto River near Hemet, and the Lytle Creek and Cajon Creek confluence area near Rialto," Silver said.

"Its fragile habitat of intermittently flooded washes and adjacent sage scrub-covered uplands has not only been decimated by development - with an estimated loss of 96 percent - but also starved by upstream dams," Silver said.

"These dams remove water and eliminate the natural flooding to which the SBKR is adapted and upon which it depends. The SBKR needs the new growth of vegetation that follows flood events."

Silver described the Lytle Creek Ranch Specific Plan, which calles for more than 8,000 homes on 2,400 acres of land in a flood plain, as "a huge threat" to the San Bernardino kangaroo rat.

"Located entirely in the historic flood plain of Lytle Creek, these 8,000 housing units would remove so much habitat that this crucial population of SBKR might vanish," Silver said. "Miles of levees would constrain the creek and further damage the wash.

"Unless we can save the SBKR and its creeks and washes, the people Riverside and San Bernardino counties will lose a major part of their natural heritage," Silver said.

The San Bernardino kangaroo rat has large hind feet for jumping, a long tail for balance while jumping and cheek pouches for foraging, according to biologists. Its body can range from 3 to 4 inches long, with a total length of around 9 inches including the tail.

The City of Rialto describes the Lytle Creek Ranch Specific Plan as "a proposed master-planned community located in the north end of the City that encompasses 2,447 acres of land. The plan contains a mix of housing densities and types, provides for local and regional retail, and creates and preserves community parks and open space."

For more information about the Lytle Creek Ranch Specific Plan, visit www.ci.rialto.ca.us/development.

"The Endangered Habitats League believes that the development can be redesigned to both provide housing and protect the natural habitat," Silver said. "We wish that the City of Rialto would work with us toward this goal."

For more information about the Endangered Habitats League visit www.ehleague.org.

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roger dodger November 20, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Ive seen them on Highlandspring in Beaumont

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