Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors



WE POST NEWS THREE WAYS:
1. long detailed stories on blogspot (here!)
2. short messages on Twitter
3. automated news feeds from CA enviro websites in the right-hand column which change frequently and are not archived by our website (that's why we now have a twitter account to permanently capture the memorable feeds)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Man and nature uses every drop, somehow. There is nothing to spare to allow more development...

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Water Hogs caught using falsely inflated claims of job loss to attack fish and eco protection

excerpted from
2/22/2010 L.A. Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-water-jobs22-2010feb22,0,1862599.story?page=1

"People make a lot of claims, but the data you see is showing growth," said Paul Wessen, an economist with the California Employment Development Department. "We're just not seeing the job loss."...


..."We had a whole series of reports that blew things out of proportion," he said. "Not only were the numbers in the reports too high, politicians seized on them and rounded them up.

"It kind of established this perception . . . that it's catastrophic," he said....

...At the beginning of 2009, Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics, predicted that water cutbacks could deal a huge blow to the state's farm belt -- a loss of as many as 80,000 jobs and up to $2.2 billion in revenue.

He based the estimates on models using early government projections of water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

He later revised those numbers downward significantly, both in response to Michael's criticism and a bit of a bump in irrigation deliveries.

But farm advocates, he complained, kept repeating the high estimates and also wrongly blamed most of the delivery cuts on protections for migrating salmon and the delta smelt, when the drought was the bigger culprit...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another $6 million needed to save L.A. Landmark mountain...

Owner agrees to option to sell 140 acre Mount Cahuenga in middle of L.A. for $12 million

The mountain is immediately west of the "Hollywood" sign, and would be added to L.A.'s Griffith Park if the deal if finalized. (click on photo to enlarge--both photos are copyright Rex Frankel)


http://rare-earth-news.blogspot.com/2007/11/l.html for map

Is the Price too high?

see our photo essay:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Rare.Earth.fotos/TheThreatenedCahuengaPeakWestOfGriffithPark#

what another blogger says:
http://wheremyknittersat.blogspot.com/2010/02/truth-about-hollywood-sign.html

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TPL's press release:

http://savehollywoodland.org/

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 8, 2010 - The view of the world-famous Hollywood Sign will be protected by purchasing Cahuenga Peak, the 138 acres behind and to the left of the sign which could have been developed into luxury homes, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today.

"With the support of donors such as The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, TPL and its partners are in a campaign to raise a total of $12.5 million by April 14," said Sam Hodder, California State Director for TPL. After the purchase, which will cost $11.7 million, the land will be added to Griffith Park, the nation's 4th-most-visited park.Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have also agreed to lend their support to the campaign including Julia Louis-Dreyfus (New Adventures of Old Christine), Academy Award Nominated Actress Virginia Madsen, Tippi Hedren, John Slattery (Mad Men), Aisha Tyler (FOX's 24), Julian McMahon (FX's Nip/Tuck), James Kyson Lee (Heroes), Beau Garrett (Fantastic Four) and Katherine Morris (CBS's Cold Case).

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a spectacular property in the middle of one of our biggest cities. Opportunities like this simply do not come along very often," Hodder said.
The land was purchased by industrialist Howard Hughes in 1940 to build a home for movie star Ginger Rogers, his intended bride. When that relationship ended, Hughes kept the land, and in 2002, his estate sold it to the investors who now own it. Two years ago, they put it on the market for $22 million, but it hasn't sold. It is zoned for four homesites....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

or are the taxpayers the ones who deserve credit?

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Taking Credit: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the great savior of California's environment (??)


--so says his press office:

(Curiously, his office gives no thanks to the land trusts, the taxpayers who've paid for the land either directly or with giving tax write-offs to landowners, to the groups filing lawsuits to halt sprawl, and everyone else who has worked tirelessly for the cause.) ---the editor
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Here is the Governor's press release:


2/6/2010

http://gov.ca.gov/fact-sheet/14280

"How much land has been protected, conserved, acquired in each of the years
Governor Schwarzenegger has held office?


2003: 50,084 Acres
2004: 167,758 Acres
2005: 30,986 Acres
2006: 59,580 Acres
2007: 57,757 Acres
2008: 38,389 Acres
Total: 404,555 Acres

Note: Hearst Ranch (2004-2005) is included in the above figures (82,000
Acres); Tejon Ranch (2008) is not included (240,000 Acres), which would bring
the total under Gov. Schwarzenegger to 644,555 Acres.

How much land has been protected, conserved, acquired in total since the
Governor took office? (Simple math using the answer to the previous questions
gets this answer)

Gov. Schwarzenegger: 11/03-Present
Total: 404,555 Acres (with Tejon; 644,555 Acres)

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How much land was protected, conserved, acquired by each of the previous
Governor's going back to Jerry Brown?

Gov. Brown: 1/75-12/82
1975: 5,873 Acres
1976: 17,300 Acres
1977: 5,396 Acres
1978: 30,324 Acres
1979: 7,073 Acres
1980: 16,299 Acres
1981: 11,346 Acres
1982: 5,051 Acres
Total: 98,663 Acres

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Gov. Deukmejian: 1/83-12/90
1983: 4,502 Acres
1984: 4,689 Acres
1985: 22,098 Acres
1986: 13,748 Acres
1987: 8,648 Acres
1988: 22,880 Acres
1989: 13,803 Acres
1990: 24,031 Acres
Total: 114,400 Acres

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Gov. Wilson: 1/91-12/98
1991: 15,663 Acres
1992: 7,581 Acres
1993: 12,950 Acres
1994: 18,288 Acres
1995: 11,493 Acres
1996: 7,836 Acres
1997: 26,050 Acres
1998: 9,120 Acres
Total: 108,951 Acres

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Gov. Davis: 1/99-11/03
1999: 24,518 Acres
2000: 60,166 Acres
2001: 146,848 Acres
2002: 63,103 Acres
2003: 88,368 Acres
Total: 383,004 Acres


Has Governor Schwarzenegger protected, conserved or acquired more land than
any other Governor? (Simple math using the answer to the previous questions gets
this answer) Yes. In land acquisitions alone, the administration has conserved
more than 400K acres. Add Hearst Ranch (82,000), Tejon Ranch (240,000) and
Wildlife Conservation Board since 2004 (125,000) and this is more than any other
governor.


If we use Sierra Nevada Conservancy at 25 million acres, this number
increases dramatically. However, Sierra Nevada is a special treatment. The acres
cover all or part of 22 counties. Roughly 60 percent of the land area is already
in the public domain. It is driven by many economic factors including business
development, sustainable forestry, (reduce the risk of natural disasters, such
as wildfire), improved water quality, working landscapes, support of the
regional economy, enhanced public use of public lands, etc. Promotes recreation
in the region; protect, conserve and restore the physical, cultural,
archaeological, historic and living resources."

East SF Bay land preservation update...

DIABLO WATCH NEWS

http://www.savemountdiablo.org/DiabloWatch.htm

Founded in 1971, Save Mount Diablo has been instrumental in expanding preserved natural lands on and around the mountain from 6,788 acres to more than 90,000 acres.


FROM SUMMER 2009 ISSUE:

http://www.savemountdiablo.org/DiabloWatch/DiabloWatchSpring2009.pdf

What an exciting yet difficult year we are experiencing in 2009. Major challenges, significant
opportunities, and dramatic accomplishments: two new acquisitions - Viera North Peak and Marsh Creek IV; transferring Chaparral Spring to the East Bay Regional Park as part of what will become a new regional preserve;

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Viera – North Peak in Purchase Contract; SMD Has 300 Days To Acquire 165 Acres

Finally a deal was struck last month. The parcel has limited access except through Mt. Diablo State Park, with which it shares half its border; it’s a natural addition. The purchase price is $975,000, or $5,890 per acre, and SMD has 300 days to raise the funds.

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During the past 2 years, we have protected eight new properties, totaling 893 acres. Even when major development projects are not being constructed, land use and zoning requests are still being submitted and we need to continue to monitor and respond to these applications.
For example, we’ve just heard about the resurgence of a proposal to break the Urban Limit Line in the Tassajara Valley – the “New Farms” project.

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PROJECTS EAST OF BLACK DIAMOND MINES REGIONAL PRESERVE:

To the south the Roddy Ranch project proposes 674 new homes covering 540 acres surrounding the golf course and stretching east to Deer Valley Road. The development would also include a 250 room hotel near the Deer Valley - Balfour Road intersection and a new golf course, club house and other facilities. SMD wants the project cut in half and the western portion of the project area adjacent to the panhandle (as well as all of the Ranch in Deer Valley) protected as a new regional park.

To the north of the panhandle is the Higgins Ranch (Zeka). A square mile in size, it is stunningly beautiful, and surrounded on three sides by Black Diamond Mines. Antioch plans over 300 “Hillside and Estate Residential” houses jutting into open space. Given its sensitive resources SMD believes the Higgins Ranch should be preserved as a condition of other FUA#1 development.


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Chaparral Spring Transferred to EBRPD;
Mt. Diablo to Black Diamond Mines Corridor Nearly Complete

By Seth Adams, Director of Land Programs

In August 1990 Save Mount Diablo made its first step north of Marsh Creek Road, in seeking protection of the 333-acre Soule property, which we later named Chaparral Spring. Eighteen years later, with a $1.4 million grant from the Coastal Conservancy, we have transferred the property to East Bay Regional Park District for long term management. First SMD stopped three different private buyers, each interested in subdivision, and proposed an open space corridor between Mt. Diablo and Black Diamond Mines, finally purchasing the property. We began responding to more development proposals north of the mountain and were so successful that the last 4-unit subdivision in the area approved by the county took place in 1993….

…In quick order two other parcels were purchased by the District, adjacent to Black Diamond Mines, shrinking the gap to just one quarter mile. SMD’s 2007 Irish Canyon purchase has the potential to greatly widen the corridor. Last year the Coastal Conservancy agreed to provide a $1.4 million grant so that the Regional Park District could purchase 333-acre Chaparral Spring. The transfer took place in late December 2008. If just one more parcel is acquired, the two parks will be connected.


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FROM FALL 2009 ISSUE:

http://www.savemountdiablo.org/DiabloWatch/DWFall2009.pdf


New Hidden Valley Open Space and the Threatened Tassajara Valley

Hidden Valley Open Space (HVOS) is amazing! A tilted 1,000 acre grassland bowl at the northeast corner of the Windemere development in San Ramon, the Open Space and its creeks drain to Hidden Valley Park. It is almost circled by exposed ridges; in just a few minutes’ walk you can reach world class views of the urban Tri-Valley, and of Mt. Diablo and lands to the east. At sunset, views are truly spectacular.
Approved in 1992, Windemere and Gale Ranch are the 5,979 acre, 11 ,000 unit Dougherty Valley development. Fifty-five percent of Windemere is open space, with 12.5 miles of trail. Parks, trails and open space are just coming online; most of them are unknown. HVOS connects to other Dougherty open spaces, north to Alamo Creek open space—a trail there will lead north toward Mt. Diablo—and south to Windemere Parkway, where the Tassajara Ridge Staging Area is under construction. The center of HVOS is reserved for wildlife: San Joaquin kit fox, tiger salamander, red-legged frog, and burrowing owl. The grassland, with its ground squirrel and rodent populations, and the ridges which force wind currents upward combine to attract lots of raptors: kites, kestrels, hawks, owls and golden eagles—on our last visit we saw a kite and two burrowing owls ‘kiting’ or hovering along the ridge.

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4,800 Acres Will Soon Be Protected; East County Habitat Plan Off to a Fast Start

33,000 Acres--52 Square Miles is ultimate goal of plan to Be Preserved

Ten properties totaling 4,800 acres, or seven and a half square miles, of habitat have been acquired or are in contract with several more under consideration. Chosen for wildlife value, most of them are also spectacularly beautiful. Public access is included in the Plan in a variety of ways…


The preliminary conservation strategy in the HCP calls for the acquisition of up to 33,000 new acres, 150% of the area of Mt. Diablo State Park, over the next 30 years. If it works as planned, it will protect land around the State Park and better connect Black Diamond Mines, the Naval Weapons Station, Cowell Ranch State Park, Morgan Territory, Round Valley, Vasco Caves, and Brushy Peak and other open lands to the south.

With East Bay Regional Park District as the key acquisition partner, more than 4,800 acres of land have been acquired or are under contract to be acquired. This total includes three properties (1,270 acres) acquired separately by EBRPD during preparation of the HCP, two properties (353 acres) acquired this summer by EBRPD in partnership with the Habitat Conservancy and five properties (3,222 acres) that are expected to close in late 2009/early 2010. Much of the HCP-funded land will be owned or managed by the Park District, and the Plan includes funding for management and restoration.

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Fox Ridge Manor is a 221 acre property, literally a mile wide, fronting Briones Valley Road south of Antioch. It is an incredibly strategic property between Roddy Ranch Open Space and the new Los Meganos State Historic Park. An important wildlife corridor and recreational gap in its own right, Fox Ridge is also part of two remaining gaps in a 60 mile circle of open space we call the Diablo Grand Loop. This beautiful property is home to a variety of endangered species and is crossed by the sinuous Briones Valley Creek before it flows to the new State Park.

A look at saving land in the South San Francisco Bay area...

greenfootnotes

Published by the Committee for Green Foothills—based in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

http://GreenFoothills.org

and read all their newsletters for the past ten years here:
http://GreenFoothills.org

and read their blog for most current stuff:
http://www.greenfoothills.org/blog/

http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/262131-sargent-ranch-owners-file-for-bankruptcy

1/5/2010--The 6,500-acre Sargent Ranch just south of Gilroy, owned principally by Wayne and Marci Pierce under the Sargent Ranch LLC, is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings...
...Plans to develop the Sargent Ranch have long been unsuccessful. County zoning regulations, environmentalists and local politicians have thwarted plans for hotels, golf courses and housing developments for two decades.


-------------------------

Excerpts from their latest issue, from Summer 2009:

http://www.greenfoothills.org/news/_PDFs/CGF_Summer09.pdf

arizona-based developer DMB announced in May that it was dropping plans for the proposed “El Rancho San Benito”, a 6,800 home mini-city near Hollister, due to the economic downturn. DMB cited the State’s budget woes as a major factor in its decision, as the project depended upon massive public expenditures for highway improvements. Left unmentioned by DMB was the role played by environmental organizations including Committee for Green Foothills, who had weighed in to demand compliance with environmental laws.

Just one week later, DMB unveiled plans for development of 12,000 housing units plus a million square feet of office space on Cargill’s 1,433-acres of former baylands in Redwood City. When fully built, this mini-city would add up to 30,000 people — the equivalent of another Belmont, San Carlos, Burlingame, Foster City, or Menlo Park — to Redwood City’s 75,000 residents. The so-called “Redwood City Saltworks” is not an infill project, nor is it smart growth!

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We saw that this spring in the wonderful news that the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has purchased the 966-acre Rancho San Vicente property overlooking Almaden Valley and very near to Coyote Valley in southern San Jose. San Vicente connects Santa Teresa and Calero County Parks

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San Mateo County has struggled for many years with the thorny issue of how to treat these tiny, substandard lots. Many are still undeveloped, and are still in common ownership. If each substandard lot were developed separately, the Midcoast area’s limited infrastructure, especially roads, sewer, and water, would be overwhelmed and its semi-rural ambiance would be lost.

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Half Moon Bay’s modern-day epic that evokes images of Odysseus’ perilous journey, choosing between Scylla and Charybdis, continues unabated. Last year, by a 4-1 vote (Councilman Jim Grady dissenting), the City Council decided against appealing a draconian federal lower court decision, which awarded developer “Chop” Keenan $40 million in damages over disputed wetlands on his 24-acre parcel known as Beachwood.

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the Committee is watching ...

--Solar power proposals for Santa Clara County owned lands, which could be a very good thing for buildings and paved parking lots, but inappropriate for undeveloped open space.

--Multiple proposals for sprawl in Gilroy, completely inappropriate given the good examples of rejecting sprawl in San Benito County and Coyote Valley.

--San Mateo County Planning and Consultants, now reviewing “Big Wave”, a massive office park and housing for developmentally delayed adults on agricultural lands and wetlands next to the environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

both sprawl and oil drilling make quite a mess...

Enviro deal-cutters get a lot of heat


2-4-2010--(This comes from a blog written by Gary Patton, who has been an attorney for the Planning and Conservation League, and represented them when they cut a deal with the Tejon Ranch developer.) Here, he debates the attorney for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, which cut a deal over oil drilling. As I've posted before, both deals have upset a lot of people and have caused quite a backlash.


http://www.gapatton.net/2010/02/35-exchange-of-correspondence.html

-----------------------------
This is the comment I posted:

Gary,

this is like the pot calling the kettle black. The deal you cut for Tejon Ranch was shrouded in secrecy too. As a longtime Sierra Club member and 5 year executive committee member at the Angeles chapter, many of us were sandbagged by the leadership's sudden announcement of the "deal", which was then "ratified" in an unpublicized vote shoved in front of the ex-com with no notice to the grassroots and no opponents present. The PCL and NRDC and EHL and Audoubon didn't broadcast this deal to their members either before signing on the line.

In comparison to the Tranquilon Ridge deal, the Tejon project will encourage the merging of the L.A and Bakersfield sprawl--a pretty scary outcome. I understand you think this is the best deal you could make. But sometimes, it's better to walk away from a crummy deal than forever tar your organization's reputation among the grassroots activists. Of course, if your organization doesn't care about the grassroots, and chases the corporate contributions, and is well-known for cutting deals with developers and polluters like NRDC and EHL and Audubon, then maybe this loss of reputation does not matter to you. Since the deal was signed, your group's names have figured prominently in Tejon Ranch's TV ads. I've seen it so many times before: when you work with the other side, their propagandists will make use of your good standing with the public everywhere they can.

I am not writing this to support the Tranquilon ridge deal. I don't support it. But I at least understand why they cut it, as this is right in their backyard and they have worked and fought over this issue for many years. On the other hand, the groups who sold out to Tejon Ranch have very little history of fighting this development, are not based anywhere near the project and have enraged all the local groups who have to live with its impacts. When corporate enviro groups walk into local battles and cut a deal and leave, they may not collect money directly from the developer, but I'll bet the big corporate donations pour in from other enviro-wreckers who want that group's support or wink-wink "non-opposition" for their latest project. It's a slippery slope the Tejon-friendly groups are on. Now that grassroots folks know who they play ball with, we'll never give them another dime.

I respect some of the work PCL has done in the past. But you made your bed this time.

Rex Frankel, editor, Rare Earth News

Monday, February 1, 2010

American River park grows...

http://arconservancy.org

1/31/2010--At year's end, ARC closed escrow on the last parcel required to complete the South Fork American River Trail. A bank or bridge loan of $190K was required to purchase this 40 acre parcel. ARC is asking trail users to pledge a donation during 2010 to help ARC pay-off this bank loan and open this trail to the public. ARC also expects to close escrow on another 735 acres of rare plant habitat, stream corridor and oak woodland associated with the Pine Hill Ecological Preserve during early February, 2010. This property will be acquired by ARC with a combination of competitive grants and mitigation funding from Folsom Dam improvement projects. Also, ARC continues to make progress on the acquisition of the 272 acre Gold Hill Ranch, the site of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony established in 1868. This first Japanese Colony site in North America is also the birthplace of the first Japanese American and the burial site of the first Japanese immigrant to die on American soil. Recently, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Tom McClintock introduced the Gold Hill Wakamatsu Colony Preservation Act into the Senate and House. The ARC has a contractual deadline of June 30, 2010 to raise an additional $1.2 million to complete this purchase. The American River Conservancy is working to advance other acquisitions projects throughout the Cosumnes and American River watersheds designed to protect native fisheries, unique and critical habitats, forest integrity, scenic, cultural and recreational lands. For additional information on any of ARC's conservation projects, please contact Elena DeLacy or Alan Ehrgott at (530) 295-2190

130 Acres to be saved in L.A. Mountains this week

February 3, 2010

http://www.mrca.ca.gov/attachment.asp?agendaid=183

Consideration of resolution authorizing acceptance of conservation easements from the City of Santa Clarita over portions of APNs 3210-014-270, 3210-014-271, 3210-014-272 and 3211-016-270 approximately 126-acres near Agua Dulce and Soledad Canyons, unincorporated Los Angeles County. [Map] [Map 2] [Staff Report] [Resolution]

Consideration of resolution authorizing acquisition of conservation easement using in-lieu fees over portions of APN 4453-016-004 approximately 7-acres, Carbon Canyon, Malibu. Negotiators: Jennifer Meltzer and Joseph T. Edmiston. Under consideration: price and terms. (This item may be heard in closed session pursuant to Government Code § 54956.8). [Map] [Map 2] [Attachment] [Staff Report] [Resolution]


Even more land is being bought at the American River near Sacramento

http://arconservancy.org

1/30/2010--At year's end, ARC closed escrow on the last parcel required to complete the South Fork American River Trail. A bank or bridge loan of $190K was required to purchase this 40 acre parcel. ARC is asking trail users to pledge a donation during 2010 to help ARC pay-off this bank loan and open this trail to the public. ARC also expects to close escrow on another 735 acres of rare plant habitat, stream corridor and oak woodland associated with the Pine Hill Ecological Preserve during early February, 2010. This property will be acquired by ARC with a combination of competitive grants and mitigation funding from Folsom Dam improvement projects. Also, ARC continues to make progress on the acquisition of the 272 acre Gold Hill Ranch, the site of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony established in 1868. This first Japanese Colony site in North America is also the birthplace of the first Japanese American and the burial site of the first Japanese immigrant to die on American soil. Recently, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Tom McClintock introduced the Gold Hill Wakamatsu Colony Preservation Act into the Senate and House. The ARC has a contractual deadline of June 30, 2010 to raise an additional $1.2 million to complete this purchase. The American River Conservancy is working to advance other acquisitions projects throughout the Cosumnes and American River watersheds designed to protect native fisheries, unique and critical habitats, forest integrity, scenic, cultural and recreational lands. For additional information on any of ARC's conservation projects, please contact Elena DeLacy or Alan Ehrgott at (530) 295-2190.

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