By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Any hope of developing the 40-year-old Pacific Shores subdivision may be permanently dashed by the lastest Lake Earl report.
The environmental impact report and draft management plan of Lake Earl was released last week by the California Department of Fish Game.
It shows that the 1,500-lot, undeveloped subdivision is blanketed with endangered species habitat and yearround wetlands that prevent building, according to Ernie Perry, director of the Del Norte County Community Development Department.
Such land designations require a buffer zone between the habitat or wetlands and structures.
"Even without buffers, most of these lots are going to be impossible to develop," Perry said.
"There is a reason (Pacific Shores) hasn't been developed to date, and I think it just got more difficult," he added.
Fish and Game's report is the culmination of a 15-year study of the 5,000-acre Lake Earl Wildlife Area, which included Pacific Shores.
Maps in the document show habitat of the endangered Oregon silver-spot butterfly scattered throughout the subdivision.
The insect relies on a particular meadow violet that grows on the dune-like terrain of the area.
At least three classes of wetland also exist there. The California Coastal Commission and Fish and Game have set a 100-foot buffer zone around such areas.
"It's almost the entire subdivision," Perry told the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors yesterday while outlining the entire report and draft plan to the board.
Pacific Shores was a cattle ranch until 1963 when a land developer purchased it to sell the lots as retirement properties.
Located just feet from the Pacific Ocean and the Lake Earl coastal lagoon, the sandy lots have proven too unstable to install permanent water and sewer utilities.
No homes have been built there due to Coastal Commission regulations.
Despite development obstacles, some lot owners are still struggling to win development rights.
State conservation agencies have purchased nearly all of the land surrounding the massive lagoon, which grows and shrinks seasonally.
State buyers are now eyeing Pacific Shores, offering to buy out lot owners to include in the Lake Earl Wildlife Area.
The Fish and Game report may render the lots worthless to private buyers because use of the lots would be largely prohibited by several state and federal regulatory agencies.