WatchSonoma Watch

Feds want to expand tiger salamander protection zone


Federal officials want to add nearly 5,000 acres to the central Sonoma County zone designated for protection of the endangered California tiger salamander, including a controversial rock quarry west of Petaluma.

How inclusion in the salamander habitat zone would affect developer John Barella’s plans for the quarry on 70 acres off Roblar Road was uncertain.

Barella, the former owner of North Bay Construction, said he was unaware of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to add 4,945 acres in the Roblar Road area to the habitat zone.

“First I’ve heard of it,” he said Monday.

The federal agency said Monday that it intends to expand the zone — bringing it to 55,800 acres — after learning there were three salamander breeding sites in the Roblar area.

The expanded zone would cover a swatch of land from Windsor to northern Petaluma and from Llano Road on the west to Petaluma Hill Road on the east.

Fish and Wildlife officials will explain the proposed addition to the zone on June 29 at two sessions, beginning at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. The agency will accept public comments on the entire habitat plan through July 5 and intends to publish the final rule by Sept. 1.

If the expansion is approved, Barella will be required to consult with the federal agency over possible requirements for the quarry project, said Sarah Swenty, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

The consultation would likely involve “a small incremental cost” to Barella because the salamander is known to exist in the quarry area, she said.

Pete Parkinson, county planning director, said federal officials told him that a critical habitat designation “would not make that much difference” to a proposed development.

County supervisors approved Barella’s quarry on a 3-2 vote in December. Parkinson said that makes it “a done deal” from the county’s perspective.

Barella agreed to pay up to $80,000 per acre to replace salamander habitat damaged by quarry operations, among other conditions.

Opponents of the quarry, which has been in the works since 2003, have filed two lawsuits against the project.

30 Responses to “Feds want to expand tiger salamander protection zone”

  1. South County Resident says:

    One post in this group of ignoramuses claimed there are no Calif. Tiger Salamanders and it’s all a hoax.

    I talked to the people who wrote the reports, verifying the salamander’s presence in addition to many other species that need protection from Barella and the explosives planned to get to what several geologists are describing as low-grade rock – not even worth pursuing in the first place – and certainly not to CalTrans’ specs.

    This is all about Barella trying to wield his girth to make more money for himself and probably sell the entitlements to the Dutras who could never have applied and obtained any permits, given their record and the asphalt plant they’re trying to build.

    Fortunately, enough people woke up to smell the coffee, so to speak, that lawsuits have been filed. And I applaud those couragous citizens and groups for taking action to stop this insane, politically motivated and run decision by Kelley and Kerns before they retired to help their friend (who wasn’t planning to be denied), John Barella.

    It’s time citizens stood up to people like this – and stayed with it to obtain the outcome of saving their wells, their lugns, and, yes, the wildlife out on Roblar Road.

    One person wrote they hoped the people opposing the quarry and supporting actions to protect the habitat didn’t have any gravel in their driveway. That is so simple-minded.

    We do not need this low-grade rock quarry 200 feet from the closed, unlined landfill – which the former owner, when he was living, Scott tried on several occasions to permit and FAILED for the very reasons the citizens and groups are now having to SUE to stop – because John Barella came and threw his girth and his threatening political influence around to get Kerns and Kelley and Brown (who received significant campaign contributions from Barella and his wife in her last election bid…so go figure) to vote for in December of 2010.

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  2. Fiscal Conservative says:

    This only makes sence when you apply the green agenda of the red collective.

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  3. John Myerson says:

    these salamanders are being brought down from lake county I have lived here my whole life never seen them escept on vacation in cloverdale and lake county

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  4. John Myerson says:

    this is the bigest hunk of crap to date go ahead make it more exspensive for development cut a few more jobs charge more for nothing this department will go down with the rest of the goverment and lose jobs as well the more recession they cause the lower there budget so i say go ahead cut your hand off spit your arm brainiacts

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  5. Skippy says:

    People who feel Texas is a land of idiots with no shred of Nature left existent may not actually be snarky, sarcastic, elitist jerks.
    But you’d never know that by reading their comments on WSC.

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  6. James Bennett says:

    It’s not about the environment, it is about oppression.

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  7. Graeme Wellington says:

    Giving John Hudson the “quote of the day” has lured me into this topic…

    Those silly Texans actually studied and published on this topic:


    And Hudson is still batting zero when he states that Burger King is better than Carl’s Jr. You’ve got to be kidding John. Burger King microwaves their burger and Carl’s Jr. char-broils them. Carl’s Jr. was founded by a guy who started with a hot dog stand and built up his business into national prominence. Carl’s Jr. has the best tasting fast food burger around. No accounting for taste of course. Have it your way.

    There a big problem with people hating corporations. No individual can become successful and incorporate — because then he becomes an evil corporation.

    As far as the Tiger Salamanders the only time I’ve ever seen one is when supposed environmentalists were caught red-handed placing live Tiger Salamanders into traps in place to discover them. It was a cynical attempt to rig a “study”. There aren’t any in Rohnert Park except the ones brought in deliberately to rig an environmental impact report.

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  8. Greg Karraker says:

    @John — So all Texans are cretins. That would only be true if they let the Federal government decide that human lives are far less important than the welfare of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard.

    You and your enviro-elitists can ignore a few billion years of evolution and declare that the Tiger Salamander and the Delta Smelt are the highest life forms in California, but I’ll still leave that distinction to human beings, unless their surnames are Evans, Woolsey, or Wysocky.

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  9. Reality Check says:


    I’ve no problem with converting to domestic sources of energy, whatever the source. But the price will be much higher. Unfortunately, most advocates of green energy want to keep the price a secret.

    If we scratch natural gas and nuclear, and of course coal, from the power mix, goodness knows what the price might be. It’s a certainly, though, that nothing, absolutely nothing, would be manufactured in California.

    This only works if people are will to pay more, a lot more. Are they?

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  10. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – I was just saying that my web site said that 31% of California’s electricity was imported, and your site said that 32% of our electricity is coal, and since there is very little coal here, almost all of our imported electricity is created with coal. Maybe we need an initiative similar to the one about cage-free eggs recently, except this one would require that all electricity consumed in California should come from approved sources. Of course Natural Gas no longer appears to be as clean as they once thought…
    for the landfill – why do environs have to foot the bill – it sounds like it would just be added to everyone’s garbage bill.

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  11. Just Me says:

    I just hope that none of you who are opposing the quarry have one tiny little piece of gravel on your property – not for your dirt roads, not for your drainage, not one rock for anything.

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  12. Josh Stevens says:

    I guess if these blood-sucking bureaucrats can’t stop Mr. Barella,then they can at least milk him for every dime they can.

    What happens if I find a T-Sal on my property?

    Would I lose my house?

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  13. Reality Check says:

    // . . What would it take to fix our landfill? Only article I saw was old, and it said it would take 70 million to fix…//

    On coal, my point was that it remains a significant part of our electricity. Beyond that, I didn’t follow your drift.

    $70mm sounds about right to fix the landfill. According to the PD, that pencils out to an increase in collection rates of between $1-$2/mo. per household, depending on the usual variables.

    Ya’ think maybe the good enviros of Sonoma County might step and pay that to keep a fleet of diesel trucks from belching their way down 101 every day? Not so far.

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  14. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Steve – we are mandated by law to take in a % of any growth in California. Trains are not encourageing people to move here. Trains may make it possible to keep most of the growth in the Cities, so the rest of the County can stay the way we like it.
    @RC – you put our links together, and it looks like all of our imported electricity comes from coal… What would it take to fix our landfill? Only article I saw was old, and it said it would take 70 million to fix…

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  15. Steve Klausner says:

    I like living in the country and rather it stayed that way.

    All you posters that want trains and traffic and crowds should move to the big city. Come back and visit once in awhile.

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  16. Reality Check says:

    42% of Los Angeles electricty comes from coal. http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp005196.pdf

    Yes, California has some legacy oil still to draw upon. But that 38% has declined from 50% not long ago. And we’ll become more dependent on foreign oil as the Alaska pipeline volume is about to drop below that necessary to maintain temperature in winter months.

    If Sonoma county was serious about being green, first it would upgrade its landfill so we no longer sent 60+ diesel trucks down 101 each day to a landfill 90 miles away. We even want to dump our garbage in someone else’s backyard.

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  17. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – When I looked up where our energy comes from http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/overview/energy_sources.html it looks like 69% of our electricity is produced in-state. 38% of our crude oil comes from in-state, which is better than the US as a whole. It is unclear from this link how much of the imported electricity is created from Coal in other states, but much better to keep the coal out of California I say. If only they had better environmental laws, they could keep it out of their states too!

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  18. South County Resident says:

    A lot of people, including rural ranchers in South County, haven’t awakened to the facts re: climate change and impacts. This protection zone should have been expanded a long, long time ago. South Sonoma County has been ignored almost completely where threatened and endangered species, as well as State Species of Concern, are involved. It’s as if South SoCo dropped off the map when there is any discussion of resources. That’s in part because of the dysfunctional political leadership at the County level – and that person just happened to be great friends with John Barella – and was the one who shoved, with Paul Kelley, the Roblar Road quarry project – down the public’s throats and lungs in December of 2010.

    With the discovery of the amazing and complex ecosystem, fragilely coexisting with the organic dairy cows out on Roblar Road, this news from the US Fish and Wildlife Service is great news. I hope they are exposed to the people who work for Barella, accustomed to having his way with anything he wants – just throw a little money to someone and they bow to him.

    Those of you posting on this site can complain all you want about the fed. government and endangered species you hate, but I hope this is one time when trying to throw money at something to get what Barella wants will stop him.

    And send a message to anyone like him, including the elected officials and politicians he supports to get what he wants. So citizens and wildlife have a chance to exist without having their health ruined and also protection is in place for those who can’t speak for themselves and don’t have the money to throw around like Bareall – who, by the way, lets everyone know how much money he’s given to everyone for the “community.”

    It’s just a fake shell for him then getting something he wants at the expense of others, which he doesn’t care about at all. I’m really glad the people in South Sonoma County appear to be waking up to this dynamic.

    If it takes the tiny little tiger salamander to help make this happen, more power to the salamander!

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  19. Reality Check says:


    Your point sounds good and I might agree if California wasn’t so good at outsourcing its pollution. No coal-fired power plants here, no siree! We import that dirty electricity from Utah and points south.

    Petrochemical compounds, yuk! Leave that to Louisiana and Texas. Oil? Perish the thought. But $4/gas, outrageous! Those greedy, disgusting Arabs.

    California has become the archetypal not-in-my-backyard hypocrite. Meanwhile, we consume whatever those dirty processes produce. Eagerly consume, that is.

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  20. Lets be Reasonable says:

    If most of you had your way, the San Francisco Bay would now be just a couple of rivers. The rest was on its way to being filled in. It was environmentalists who stopped it. If Texas wants to pollute their state, I guess they have that right. Personnally, I like seeing wildlife, and I like having breathable air, and drinkable water.

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  21. Joyce Garcia says:

    How predictable!

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  22. Greg Karraker says:

    John —

    I’m quite aware of the jurisdictional boundaries of the Federal government. As you may know, the Feds are threatening to destroy the oil business in West Texas because they think some unpleasant horned desert frog is endangered.

    And rather than move to Texas, as you suggest, I would rather stay here and resist the dedeveloping of California into a third world nightmare.

    About your crush on the citizens of Marin: Please remember they were bumpkins enough to vote for Lynn Woolsey nine consecutive times.

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  23. John Hudson says:

    Greg Karraker: This is the same federal government that they have in Texas. If you like the environmental policies in Texas better than in California you should go join the cretins in Texas. They have less protections and much less to protect!

    As for Carl’s Jr., I prefer Burger King any day. Burger King is by far the best inexpensive hamburger chain.

    If population growth brought about economic growth, Mexico would be richer than Marin County. Mexico has a lot more natural resources than Marin County too. Marin County is richer because the people who live there are intelligent, sophisticated, and educated. Marin County people would never tolerate governments like the City of Rohnert Park, the City of Santa Rosa, or the County of Sonoma.

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  24. Greg Karraker says:

    I heard the CEO of Carl’s Jr. on the radio this morning. They have 700 restaurants in California, and would like to build more here, but will not.

    According to him, because they have to “account for every frog, toad, and arrowhead”, the permit process takes 8 months to two years before they can begin construction.

    In Texas, it takes six weeks.

    Add a Federal level of meddling to the unconscionable amounts of state and local meddling, and the only businesses that open in California will be yoga academies that practice outdoors in vacant lots.

    For more detailed thoughts on the cute but profoundly overrated salamander, visit http://www.thelittlepicture.net and read the whole sad story.

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  25. Reality in Sonoma County says:

    This is very encouraging news. That area especially on Roblar Road has a complex ecosystem – not just the federally endangered California Tiger Salamander, federally threatened California Red-Legged Frog, and State Species of Concern burrowing owl and American badger, but many other species. The discovery of tiger salamander there was just the tip of the iceberg. It is an amazingly delicate ecosystem that Barella’s consultants tried to minimize and deflect – as per developers’ usual attempts.

    Kudos to USFWS for this expansion. This should bode well for raising awareness about the threat to habitat of significant indicator species, as well.

    The yahoos who flail about and decry the feds for this decision are uninformed ignoramuses who probably work for John Barella.

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  26. good one says:


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  27. Social Dis-Ease says:

    No approved development outside ‘transportation corridors’, expanding salamander protection zone. Letting the rural roads go. THIS is Agenda 21. Search: The Wildlands Project, and Agenda 21 for dummies.

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  28. Frank says:

    once again
    environmentalist diminish revenue

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  29. Dave Madigan says:

    I’m still waiting for a good recipe for Tiger Salamander soup!

    I’ll trade my Spotted Owl Pie recipe for it!

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  30. The Hammer says:

    Does anyone care what the Feds want? Tell them to shove it.

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