In a notice dated March 29 sent to 10 individuals and groups that appealed the fee-to-trust decision, Tara Sweeney said she had no choice but to reverse her decision to give the Bureau of Indian Affairs time to evaluate the impact the action would have on the organisms.
The two species are both birds — the California condor and the willow flycatcher.
“The winner in the latest decision is the environment,” said Brian Kramer, one of those who appealed the fee-to-trust decision.
Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Chumash, said the tribe has a cultural heritage of environmental stewardship, even as it works to restore its tribal lands.
“Our tribe is committed to ensuring that all environmental impacts, including consideration of the two new species added to the endangered species list after the 2014 notice of decision, are fully surveyed according to the BIA’s policies,” Kahn said.
“As the original stewards of this land, protecting the environment is a way of life for our tribe,” he continued. “We will continue to do so as we fight to protect and restore our historic Chumash homeland. Our pursuit for tribal housing on Camp 4 is vital to preserving the tribe’s customs and traditions.”
Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose 3rd District includes the Chumash Reservation and Camp 4, said reversing the decision was a wise move.
“As a former attorney at the EPA and a director at the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, I take any risks to endangered species quite seriously,” Hartmann said.
“The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ withdrawal of the decision to put the land into trust is indeed a prudent course, as it will grant the bureau time to conduct environmental surveys prior to making any further decisions regarding the property,” she said.