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[pct-l] Tejon Ranch News release

Hi all,
        This story appeared in today's Antelope Valley Press, maybe it's of
interest to some.....this is adjacent to the PCT section between Pine Cyn Rd
and Hwy 138.
Kevin Corcoran
Palmdale CA

Testimony postpones hunt club decision

This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press March 12, 1998.
Valley Press Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES - County planning officials heard more passionate testimony
Wednesday regarding
permits for an existing hunt club on an 8,000 acre portion of the Tejon
Ranch West of Lancaster.

A decision whether to allow a conditional use permit and an oak tree permit
for the High Desert
Hunt Club will be made at the May 13 planning commission meeting.

The club, which has been operating for two years, has a 30-year lease with
the Tejon Ranch Co.,
and is accessed by a private road at Highway 138 and 310th Street West near
Three Points.

The conditional use permit would allow up to 100 hunters per day to shoot
clay pigeons and
imported birds. The oak tree permit is designed to ensure environmental
safety of seven mature oaks
near the historic Beale adobe, which is on the site.

Opponents of the hunt club who live in the area said Wednesday the noise and
fire danger from a the
commercial hunting operation have hurt property values. Horseback riders who
use the Pacific Crest
Trail, which snakes across a portion of the property, said gunshots from the
hunting club frighten
their animals.

Lisa McNamee, daughter of project proponent Phillip H. McNamee, gave her
family's answers to
those concerns and more during the hearing.

She said she has a letter from Golden Valley Real Estate in Lancaster that
says the project won't
reduce property values. In fact, many people looking for rural property
would like to live near such
facilities, she said.

Hunting won't be allowed in the Pacific Crest Trail area of the ranch.
Hunting is allowed on and
around sections of the trail that's not owned by Tejon, she pointed out.

Wildflowers will benefit from the hunt club, because if it isn't approved,
cattle from the Tejon herd
would likely graze there and eat the flowers.

McNamee said the hunt club will control operating hours, reducing times that
neighboring land
owners hear shotgun blasts. Without it, Fish and Game and Forest Service
rules apply to firearms,
which permit shooting from onehalf hour before sunrise until onehalf hour
after sunset.

Safety rules would also be stricter with the hunt club in place, she said.
Club rules would ban
shooting within 150 yards of any roads. Federal and state laws are less
restrictive, allowing guns to
be used along, but not on or across roadways.

With the approval of the permits, seven oak trees near the historic Beale
adobe will be preserved
and other oak seedlings, recently planted, will be cared for. If not, cattle
might eat the tiny trees and
further condense the soil around mature oaks, putting them at risk.

The Beale adobe, one-time home to government surveyor Edward Fitzgerald
Beale in the
mid-1800s, was rehabilitated by the McNamee family. If the permits aren't
approved, the home
could fall into disrepair, as it had been for decades.

Despite the McNamee's apparent good neighbor policy, opponents said a full
environmental impact
report should have been conducted on the hunt club project. Rather than
proceed with a costly
impact report, the family opted to get the project approved using a
"negative declaration," which
essentially claims the activities they want to undertake will not adversely
affect the environment.

Opponents also voiced concern that the family was allowed to operate the
hunt club for the past two
years without proper permits.

One man who opposed the project said the McNamees sidestepped paperwork when
completed some grading near the Beale adobe in August 1996, without proper

Bob Phillips of Three Points, who was a career fireman for more than 30
years, said a hunt club
adjacent thick vegetation on surrounding hillsides is foolish.

"It's a design for disaster and an accident waiting to happen," Phillips=

Paul Koslo, a 26-year resident of Lake Hughes, also opposed the project, and
said it would be
criminal and dangerous to approve the permit.

"We implore you to act responsibly," Koslo said to the board. "Please
preserve what is a peaceful
and most beautiful land."

McNamee confidently countered resident concerns.

Existing zoning allows hunt clubs, she said, adding that the project has
been recommended for
approval by the County Planning Department.

The operation also has a lengthy list of supporters, which she said includes
the Sierra Club, three
local historical clubs, the state Fish and Game Department, and The Country
Store. In addition, 95
letters and 100 phone calls in support the project have been received,
McNamee said.

"The question isn't about whether or not there should be hunting there," she
said. "The question is
who is going to be the stewards of this property for the next 30 years."

McNamee made a prediction deep into the future if a "yes" vote results at
the May 13 planning
commission meeting.

"In 30 years, I'll be 66, my father will be 90, and five generations of
McNamees can look at the
property and it's going to look exactly the way it does today," she said.

Written comments on the project will be accepted by the planning department
until the end of
business on Tuesday, March 31. The mailing address is: Department of
Regional Planning, Hall of
Records, Room 1348, 320 West Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Thursday news page
News page
Valley Press home page
Uploaded March 12, 1998

              =A9 1998 Antelope Valley Press, Palmdale, California, USA=

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