Environmental Groups Sue Stanford Over Dam
Stanford University, a center for research on ecology and the environment, is now facing a lawsuit brought by environmentalists.
Bay Area environmental groups Our Children's Earth Foundation and Ecological Rights Foundation say the Searsville Dam on Stanford property is harming threatened central California coast steelhead trout.
The dam, located on the nature preserve Jasper Ridge, is keeping the fish from the upper reaches of San Francisquito Creek, said Christopher Sproul, an attorney representing the environmental groups.
"It is, I think, the height of irony that Stanford Univeristy, which holds itself out as one of the global leaders in environmental stewardship, is diverting water out of a local creek so it can irrigate its golf courses," Sproul said. "Searsville Dam is a complete barrier to the fishes' access to this habitat."
A Stanford spokeswoman said the suit has no merit, and that the university is already looking into alternatives to the dam.
"Stanford is not in violation of the Endangered Species Act through the operation of the dam, and the lawsuit is completely unnecessary," Lisa Lapin said. "The dam itself has created a wetland area and watershed above the dam, which in itself is supporting many species."
The National Marine Fisheries Service is determining if the dam is in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Sproul filed another suit earlier this week on behalf of the Nevada City-based South Yuba River Citizens League. They're suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the impact of two dams on the Yuba River on fish habitat.
Sean Greene assisted with this story.