Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Rachel Levin 612-713-5311
|For Immediate Release:August 11, 2004||
Shane Wolfe 202-208-6416
Deputy Interior Secretary Griles Joins Rep. LaTourette, Ashtabula School District To Celebrate "Win-Win" Agreement
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steve Griles joined U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, Ashtabula Area City School District Superintendent William Licate and other community members in Saybrook Township, Ohio, today to recognize the partnership that allowed construction of the new Lakeside High School to commence near an endangered bat colony.
Under an agreement with the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Ashtabula Area City School District revised its construction plans to avoid affecting the habitat of an endangered and pregnant Indiana bat, discovered in June near the site of the soon-to-be-constructed school.
"This agreement exemplifies what Interior Secretary Gale Norton calls her '4 C's' - communication, consultation and cooperation, all in the service of conservation," Griles said. "And it proves that open discussion and flexibility can in the end be much more effective than unyielding regulation."
Griles thanked Rep. LaTourette, Superintendent Licate, the Buffalo District of the Army Corps of Engineers, and Fish and Wildlife Service staff from the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, field office for their work in brokering the agreement.
"I am pleased to be able to stand up here today and say that through open communication, flexibility, understanding and a determination to work together, we were able to achieve a winning and timely resolution for everyone involved," Griles said.
"I greatly appreciate the attention that Deputy Secretary Griles gave to this important matter," said Rep. LaTourette. "He deserves great credit for this quick resolution. I am pleased, and the community is pleased, that the bat habitat will be protected and Lakeside High School can open on time."
Construction of the $44 million Lakeside complex - which will replace two existing schools dating back to 1912 and 1914 - was temporarily delayed as the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the District discussed ways to avoid and minimize the impact on the bat and its habitat.
As a result of the discussions, the school district agreed to construct two softball diamonds and a soccer field at an alternate location on the site and reconfigure the placement of two baseball fields and a practice field to avoid damaging potential bat habitat. The compromise plan also preserves space for a future middle school, which was included as part of the master plan for the Lakeside campus.
"Provisions of the Endangered Species Act are in place expressly to provide a forum for working together through situations just like this one," Griles said. "Through an informal discussion process, we worked out a solution that will not only allow construction of the school and stadium to go forward, but will actually disturb far fewer wetlands than originally planned."
The compromise ensures that the Lakeside campus will include all of the facilities the school district wanted, construction will begin this summer and the Indiana bat and its habitat are protected in perpetuity near the Lakeside site.
"I would add a fifth 'C' to the '4 C's' that Deputy Secretary Griles mentioned," said Dr. William Licate, superintendent of Ashtabula Area City School District. "The fifth C would be compromise, which is how things get done in a democratic society. I appreciate the fact that Deputy Secretary Griles and Congressman LaTourette helped us work together to reach a resolution that benefited the bats, the kids and the whole community."
During the negotiation process, the school district agreed to a permanent conservation easement on 55.2 acres of current and future Indiana bat habitat on the school site. The school district will even enhance habitat for the bat by creating suitable roost trees.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the small Indiana bat as endangered in 1967. Populations have declined by nearly 60 percent since then as a result of habitat loss, human disturbance and pesticides. Only eight maternity colonies-large congregations of females and vulnerable young bats-have been found in Ohio, including the one near the Lakeside site.
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