The senses. Feinstein and Padilla say Brightline Rail must protect endangered desert species
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) have called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to demand that the Brightline West bullet train project protect endangered species in the Mojave Desert.
In their letter on Monday, the senators called on the governor to require the project to include overpasses for wildlife corridors in its design to protect endangered species.
“It has been brought to our attention that the Brightline West Project route proposed by Brightline High Speed Rail from Las Vegas, Nevada to Victorville, California does not take into account the critical wildlife corridors for some of the desert species protected by the State and federal government, including mouflons and mouflons. mountain lions, ”the senators wrote. “To resolve these unnecessary impacts on our wilderness, we ask you to order Caltrans to use its existing authorities and monitoring of the project right-of-way, to require Brightline to include no less than three overpasses for the wildlife corridor in its design and to build these structures as part of its upcoming railway construction.
Currently, the project design includes high-speed trains that travel 170 miles along the existing I-15 freeway, flanked by six-foot concrete walls topped with chain-link fences.
An Oregon State University study found that the design would prevent several endangered or threatened species, including the bighorn sheep, desert turtle, pumas and Mojave ground squirrel, from crossing the highway in their habitat.
“These protected animals, along with bobcats, mule deer and other land animals, depend on movement through the I-15 corridor to maintain the viability of their populations,” the senators wrote. “Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife documented these threats in their June 2021 recommendations to Brightline and urged the design and construction of three designated overpasses to allow wildlife to cross the highway safely. Despite these recommendations and repeated stakeholder engagement, Brightline has not made a commitment to build wildlife crossings, although it will seek tax-exempt private activity bonds for this $ 8 billion project, with expected revenues of nearly $ 1 billion.
Senators called on the governor to ensure that the rail company heeds the advice given by scientists, lawyers and the state Department of Transportation.