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Superior Court Judge Hands Down Final Judgment on Streamside Development to Protect Endangered Coho Salmon in Marin County’s San Geronimo Valley

San Rafael– Superior Court judge, Lynn Duryee, issued her final order today, ordering Marin County to stop issuing development approvals within 100 feet of streams in West Marin’s San Geronimo Valley, which harbors the largest remaining run of critically endangered coho salmon in Central California, until the County adopts a new Stream Area Conservation Ordinance.

The judgment reads in part,

“Respondents [Marin County] are enjoined from approving and shall not approve any application for development within the Stream Conservation Area, as defined by the 2007 Countywide Plan Update, in the San Geronimo Valley Watershed as shown in the map attached hereto as Exhibit C, until such time as the Streamside Conservation Area Ordinance required by the 2007 Countywide Plan Update is adopted by the Marin County Board of Supervisors. The injunction shall expire by operation of law when the Board of Supervisors adopts the Stream Conservation Area Ordinance.”

[The full order is attached below]

“It’s unfortunate the County’s failure to get common-sense rules in place has resulted in a Court ordered de facto building moratorium,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and Executive Director of SPAWN.usa.org. For more than 10 years, SPAWN has publicly pleaded with Marin County to take reasonable measures, which could allow endangered salmon and residents of Marin to coexist and thrive. “Instead, Supervisor Kinsey decided to spend scarce county dollars in Court, and Marin taxpayers get stuck with the bill while he plays politics with landowner rights. In the interim, the endangered salmon’s chance of recovery has been delayed and diminished, but we hope common sense rules will now be adopted quickly.”

“We hope this decision will spur the County to finally put in place the streamside conservation protections that it promised to develop and implement years ago,” said Deborah Sivas, Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford and one of the attorneys representing SPAWN. “Time is of the essence here. The National Marine Fisheries Service has concluded that coho salmon are in an `extinction vortex’ and that the County should immediately adopt a streamside conservation ordinance that avoids harmful new development in the riparian zone.”