My friend Michael Riddle just sent me this news article from the LA Times, regarding Tejon Ranch’s development plans and the uproar they’re causing amongst environmentalists. 

As you will see when you read the piece, the environmentalist community is at definite odds over the apparent willingness of several key organizations to sell out to Tejon Ranch’s program.  Under the terms of the agreement, Tejon will develop a small percentage of their properties, and will guarantee the remainder (almost 90%) will stay undeveloped.  How this will all impact the hunting programs (wild hogs, antelope, deer, elk, etc.) remains to be seen. 

Under the accord unveiled in May after two years of confidential negotiations, Tejon Ranch Co. will preserve 90% of its holdings in the Tehachapi Mountains, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

In exchange, a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Audubon California and Natural Resources Defense Council, will not challenge massive development projects on the remaining 10% of the Tejon property.

Of course, this isnt’ enough for some of the more strident “protectors” of the natural habitat.  Nothing short of 100% preservation would suit them, and even that wouldn’t be enough for many.  Never mind the fact that this is, after all, Tejon Ranch’s property.  Forget the idea of property rights and ownership, and the common sense argument that, really, the Ranch shouldn’t have to do any damned thing at all to appease any special interest group. 

No, these folks are rallying around the condor to advance their preservationist (not to be confused with conservationist) agendas.  They could care less who the land belongs to.  And that’s unacceptable. 

True, Tejon Ranch has a large piece of property which encompasses an awful lot of wildlife habitat.  To lose this would be devastating to many species, possibly including the condor.  Under their acclaimed “stewardship” of this land, it would behoove the Ranch to take care of it and preserve as much as possible. 

But on the other hand, this is a business we’re talking about, and for a business to survive, it has to turn a profit.  Raw land isn’t very profitable unless you’re selling it.  They have to do something, and Joe Public has nothing to say about that. 

Tejon has climbed into bed with some strange and conflicting bedfellows to do this development project and make it as palatable as possible.  Of course it’s all about appeasing the most powerful of the environmental organizations, but as I’ve wondered before… can you really appease these people?  Or will it turn out, as things progress, that the more these organizations get, the more they will want? 

It doesn’t bode well, unfortunately.  We’ll see where it goes.