Trustees to Preserve 1.35 Wetlands Acres at Future School Site

Trustees have voted to keep 1.35 acres of wetlands undeveloped near a $50-million high school planned for Chiquita Canyon.

With the trustees' vote Monday, the land will be preserved under an agreement between the Capistrano Unified School District and the California Department of Fish and Game, which will maintain jurisdiction for the "conservation, protection and management of fish, wildlife, native plants and their habitat."

Capistrano officials had been blocked by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Fish and Wildlife Service early this year from getting a permit to build on the environmentally sensitive site, north of San Juan Capistrano and east of Mission Viejo.

A revised district proposal, affecting about three acres, received approval in March from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2001.

Trustees approved final construction plans for the high school in August. It will be funded equally by the state and by local Mello-Roos tax districts.

It will be the fifth high school in the crowded, growing district, officials have said.

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