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News of the Arroyo


Title:

Glendora doctor accused of damaging endangered Brodiaea plant growing in protected hillside

Subtitle:

Date:

2017-03-14

Summary:

March 14, 2017 - California Fish & Wildlife has issues a violation regarding the destruction of rare and endangered thread-leafed brodiaea in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains near Glendora.

Author:

Steve Scauzillo

Publication:

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Content:

Ann Croissant, co founders of the Glendora Conservancy and the San Gabriel Mountains Conservancy, gets excited as she discovers that the Thread-leafed brodiaea, a SoCal endangered plant species, survived after being burned from the recent Colby Fire at Glendora Conservancy land along Colby Trail in Glendora on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The Glendora conservancy loss 400 of 700 acres of their land from the fire. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

GLENDORA >> A local physician living in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains faces fines and possibly criminal prosecution after a state environmental agency accused him of crushing several specimens of an endangered plant growing in protected hillside near his home.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on March 3 sent Dr. Tim Ferguson a notice of violation for allegedly running over at least three plants, possibly with an off-road vehicle, while crisscrossing the property owned by the Glendora Conservancy at 2400 Bluebird Road.

The spindly, purpled-flowered plants are known as the thread-leafed Brodiaea. The species was declared Glendora’s official flower in 1996.

A patch of Thread-leafed brodiaea, a SoCal endangered plant species, grows back after being burned from the recent Colby Fire along Colby Trail in Glendora Conservancy land in Glendora on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The Glendora conservancy loss 400 of 700 acres of their land from the fire. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Photographs attached to the violation notice show the three plants damaged with their stalks bent by an off-road vehicle that left tire tracks on the grassy area where the flowers are known to grow.

Running over the plants is considered a violation, or a “take,” of the rare plant species. Brodiaea filifolia is classified as endangered by the state of California and threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Ferguson vehemently denied the accusations.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said. “I wasn’t there. It is just ridiculous.”

A handful of areas in the Glendora foothills are the only place in Los Angeles County where the rare plant can be found.

“It is a sensitive plant. We can’t afford to lose any,” said Ann Croissant, president of the Glendora Conservancy.

Unless Ferguson files a special permit with fees by Wednesday to remedy the situation, he could face criminal prosecution or civil penalties, according to the letter obtained by this newspaper. T

The letter was signed by Edmund Pert, the Southern California regional manager for the CDFW.

The letter demands he “immediately stop the activities” that resulted in the destruction of the plants and file for a permit with the department.

“No, I’m not going to do that. It is extortion,” Ferguson said, adding that the fees would amount to thousands of dollars. “I’m disappointed in the department. They are overstepping and invading into the private lives of citizens for no reason.”

Ferguson had been warned by the CDFW in 2012 for driving a quad vehicle and bulldozing conservancy land. The incidents were documented in police records.

IOther members of the Ferguson family sold the land to the conservancy in two installments in 2003 and 2005, Croissant said.

The conservancy paid $19 million for 340 acres of what’s called Bluebird Ranch. The conservancy has been working on removing carob trees and castor bean trees used in agriculture at the site in order to allow the oak woodland ecosystem to thrive.

Ferguson said he was not riding near where the Brodiaea grow.

But Croissant said the CDFW has evidence he did, including witnesses. CDFW officials did not return phone calls Tuesday.

The thread-leafed Brodiaea was declared the official flower of the city of Glendora in 1996. In May, the city will celebrate “Brodiaea Month” with lectures on how the plant was rescued from development in the late 1980s.

Glendora is the only city in California with an endangered species as its city flower.

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