Delisting the Rat: The Riverside County Farm Bureau is seeking to remove the Stephens' kangaroo rat from the federal endangered species list.
Dan Hollingsworth, the bureau's legislative committee chairman, told the Riverside County Board of Supervisors during its meeting earlier this week that the rodent has been found in places well outside the western Riverside County area said to be its sole habitat.
The rat was added to the federal endangered species list in October, 1988, and its inclusion on the list has restricted development in the county's west end--an area stretching from the east side of Moreno Valley to the foothills of the Saddleback Mountains and including the fast-growing communities of Temecula, Murrieta and Perris.
Not surprisingly, several builders with land there are headquartered in Orange County--notably, Lusk Homes and the Baldwin Co.--and have a lot to gain from a delisting of the rat.
To help protect the rat, builders are charged a fee of $1,950 per acre that is put into a fund to acquire land for habitat areas. So far about $20 million has been set aside.
The supervisors directed a committee to report to them in January with recommendations on the proposal, which is opposed by the Sierra Club.