SA takes steps to strengthen protection of green space, wildlife after 38 acres destroyed on NW Side

Destruction affecting local endangered wildlife

SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio is taking steps to strengthen its protection of green space and wildlife after the destruction of 38 acres of green space on the Northwest Side, which may impact endangered wildlife.

A Habitat Compliance Task Force will be formed to improve communication between, city, state and federal authorities when developers request permission to clear the land.

The moves come after developer Matt Hiles began preparing the land for Mansion at La Cantera at 16735 La Cantera Parkway.

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez said forms submitted for approval were not accurate.

“The forms were submitted with inaccurate misstatements on them. They used a biologist report without the permission of that biologist,” he said.

The habitat compliance forms are supposed to be received and reviewed by city, state and federal authorities. The city points to federal authorities with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service tasked with enforcing federal laws.

The concern is for the endangered yellow-cheeked warbler and karst invertebrate that live in the caves of the rolling Hill Country.

“Every time big swaths of land are cleared, that's less habitat for endangered species that need to find habitat. Where they find it is Camp Bullis,” Pelaez said.

The concern is that military operations could be affected if training has to stop due to the increase of the endangered species on the camp.

Farouk Ramzan and his family woke up to bulldozers in their backyard plowing through their heaven on earth view.

“It was a spiritual connection, and seeing it removed in one day tore us apart in a way,” he said.

The family recalls seeing deer, birds and other wildlife flee to neighborhood streets as their habitat was plowed.  

“When you see deer roaming around the neighborhood on pavement and birds on houses ... it’s bizarre and odd and cynical that someone had the guts to destroy nature, to have all these animals asking for help, and we can’t help them,” Ramzan said.

Hiles, from Grand Prairie, could not be reached for comment Friday. He has a stop work order that will expire shortly, allowing him to return to continue with the development.

Pelaez said he’s working with state and federal authorities to see if criminal or civil injunctions can be brought against the developer.

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