Clearing Up Role on Gnatcatcher

This letter serves to clarify the information presented in the article, "Clearing of Possible Gnatcatcher Habitat Angers Environmentalists" (April 17). Ed Knight of the city of Dana Point is quoted as stating that Mr. (Douglas R.) Willick (not Willich), an ornithologist of P&D; Technologies, did not observe any gnatcatchers on the property.

Mr. Willick did locate two pairs of California gnatcatchers in the project area in September, 1991. The developer (O'Malley Partners) and the city of Dana Point were notified verbally as well as in a letter that described the impact this project would cause. The letter also recommended that a mitigation plan be developed. Contrary to the quote by city officials that any gnatcatchers on the property were to be moved off the site, P&D;'s recommendations included no provisions for relocating gnatcatchers, and under no circumstances did we ever suggest that this was even feasible.

P&D; Technologies was not requested by the city of Dana Point or O'Malley Partners to prepare a mitigation plan. P&D; was asked to monitor the grading process so that dispersal by gnatcatchers might occur from the site to an adjacent suitable habitat. However, P&D; never stated that this monitoring represented a "mitigation plan."

Mr. Willick had been notified a day before the scheduled grading and informed the developer (O'Malley Partners) that he had a previous commitment in the morning but would arrive in the afternoon to monitor the grading. O'Malley Partners indicated that this was acceptable. However, the majority of the habitat (coastal sage scrub) had been graded when he arrived. Mr. Willick would therefore not have been expected to observe any gnatcatchers on the property at this time. Mr. Willick never stated that gnatcatchers were not present or that there was "no problem" with the project.

Mr. Willick was unavailable for comment as he was conducting field surveys the entire day that Times reporters attempted to contact him. Had he been able to return the calls, he would have clarified this information.

KATHY KEANE

Senior Biologist

P&D; Technologies

Orange

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