Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Scared Birds

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Newhall Land & Farming Co. and the Army Corps of Engineers by environmentalists who claimed the firm had used noise machines to frighten two species of endangered birds from a construction site.

The suit sought a review of a permit issued by the corps that allows Newhall Land to alter the banks of the Santa Clara River for its projects.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson dismissed the case Wednesday.

Federal wildlife officials said Newhall Land used 30 to 40 of the devices, known as hazing machines, along the Santa Clara River. Two endangered birds, the least Bell's vireo and the southwestern willow flycatcher, have been seen along the river.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contacted Newhall Land about the machines in May, the developer shut them off, federal officials said.

The corps permit is necessary for construction of the Decoro Bridge and the Bridgeport project, which will eventually include 800 homes on a 212-acre site next to the river, said Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land spokeswoman.

The lawsuit was filed in April by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Friends of the Santa Clara River.

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