PALM SPRINGS, Ca.
The Save Oswit Canyon group says development in south Palm Springs is threatening the natural habitat and have been gathering signatures to re-zone the area.
"We actually collected nearly 6,000 signatures and submitted them to the city yesterday to see that this magnificent canyon is protected, not only for us, but for future generations who enjoy this last unprotected alluvial fan canyon in Palm Springs," said Jane Garrison, Save Oswit Canyon committee coordinator.
The city of Palm Springs has 30 days to verify all of the signatures in favor of rezoning Oswit Canyon as an "Environmentally Sensitive Area." Once the signatures are verified, either the city council will adopt the initiative as is or the city can call for a special election and have voters decide whether the development should be allowed.
"The risks to the city on this are significant in that there is potentially case law that this could be considered a taking and that could open up the city of Palm Springs for a lawsuit," said Palm Springs City Councilman J.R. Roberts.
Conservationists say Oswit Canyon is home to six endangered species, two threatened species, 36 protected migratory birds and ancient Indian Petroglyphs.
"We are encouraging the city council to pass this initiative as is because clearly this is the will of the people, and we don’t want to see them spend $100,000 dollars of city money to hold a special election when we pretty much know that this what there residents of Palm Springs want," Garrison said.
While the list of endangered species is one part of the conservation effort, it’s not the only reason petitioners want to rezone the land.
"People come to Palm Springs because they want to get out and enjoy our beautiful nature all we have to do is look at the cars that are lined up along the street here of people behind us hikers, families, seniors, children getting out to enjoy this," said Garrison.