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VALLEY FOCUS | Angeles Forest

Complications Delay Primate Sanctuary

July 18, 1998|TOM SCHULTZ

As officials at the Wildlife Waystation wait to hear if they can purchase land from the U.S. Forest Service to complete construction of a primate sanctuary, building materials for the unfinished structure remain exposed to the elements, suffering damage.

In addition, El Nino rains washed away an access road to the planned facility along with land graded to accommodate recreation areas for its proposed inhabitants, said Martine Colette, Waystation founder and director.

She said the damage resulted from construction delays and are certain to increase the cost of the project, which planners had hoped to build for less than $1 million to care for chimpanzees previously used in medical research.

"We have to go out and do some fund-raising now, again, because of the coffers being used for things other than the building," Colette said.

Construction of the sanctuary halted in 1996 after it was discovered that a portion stood on about two acres of Forest Service land.

Colette, who called the misplacement of the building unintentional, said that she has no idea when Forest Service officials might decide how to remedy the situation, but added: "I am hopeful it is imminent."

It is possible the Waystation might buy the land it encroached on, she said.

In February, the Waystation was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine to the Fish and Game Preservation Fund because the now-damaged access road was built on a protected stream.

The road currently "has 2- to 3-foot gullies running through it," Colette said. "The hillside areas that were graded in a particular style and fashion so that I could make big outdoor play areas, they have been washed out."

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