Jackie and Shadow Lawsuit

Moon Camp Development
Threatens Bald Eagles, Increases Fire Risk...

On July 28, 2020 the County of San Bernardino Board of Supervisors approved the development of the Moon Camp housing project (50 homes and huge marina) less than a mile from Jackie and Shadow's nest, in their foraging area (within view of the nest cam), in spite of stated "significant detrimental impacts to bald eagles" that cannot be mitigated, along with inadequate and faulty environmental analysis, immense community input against the project (thank you to all of you for that!!) and increased danger to the public and community. (See History and Background)


In response to the County’s approval of this project, Friends of Big Bear Valley, along with partners the Center for Biological Diversity and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society filed a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) complaint in court on August 28--see press announcement below.

NOTE: For anyone who does not know, CEQA law establishes that when the public (us) has used all available means to bring noncompliance with environmental law to an agency's attention (which we have done) the only remaining way for the public to enforce these laws is through the court system.


Lawsuit Challenges Luxury Development in Big Bear Valley
Moon Camp Threatens Rare Pebble Plain, Bald Eagle Habitat

FAWNSKIN, Calif.— Conservation groups sued the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors today for approving the controversial Moon Camp development on the north shore of Big Bear Lake. The planned development would bring 50 high-end custom homes to the lakefront property, which has rare and world-renowned pebble plains as well as habitat for wildlife, including a pair of bald eagles with a worldwide following that lives year-round in Big Bear Valley.

“Paving over this iconic landscape for high-end second homes will destroy the very essence of what makes the area desirable,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This stunning place ought to be left alone to benefit the plants, eagles and flying squirrels, not to mention the human visitors who come in search of beauty and peaceful quiet.”

The currently undeveloped project site provides habitat for San Bernardino flying squirrels, ashy gray Indian paintbrush and pebble plains, which is a rare clay soil that’s home to alpine plants found only in Big Bear Valley. The project would also bring increased wildfire risk, greenhouse gases and traffic impacts to the nearby community.

Bald eagles, which are a fully protected species under state law, use the lakefront on the project site for foraging and hunting. One bald eagle pair has raised its chicks in Big Bear Valley the past three nesting seasons. Named Jackie and Shadow by Big Bear Valley third-grade classes, the bald eagle pair have more than 100,000 followers on their nest livestream.

“This quiet, dark-skies community has amazing biodiversity that makes it unique in the world,” said Sandy Steers, a spokesperson for Friends of Big Bear Valley. “These species, including our popular bald eagle pair, deserve to have their habitat preserved for the long-term benefit of everyone.”

As more second homes are built and visitors stream into Big Bear Valley from Southern California, increased traffic, air pollution and risk of wildfire threaten this environmentally sensitive area. The number of bald eagles that migrate to the valley to roost and hunt in the winter has decreased by 66% over the past three decades.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court, asserts that the county’s environmental impact report for the project repeatedly violated the California Environmental Quality Act. The conservation groups are represented by the law office of Babak Naficy in association with The Center for Biological Diversity, a national, nonprofit, conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Defending Jackie & Shadow's Habitant Fundraiser

The legal action we recently entered to enforce our environmental laws to protect the eagles, the endangered plants and the community (re: fire, evacuation, traffic and more) is costly.

We are raising funds for this effort from now through October 31. Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated!! Our Board has put up $10,000 in MATCHING FUNDS to assist with the fundraising!

Our fundraising goal is $80,000. We have a donation fundraising thermometer on this webpage, so you can check in to see how we're doing.

Right now the best way you can help support Jackie and Shadow, the nest camera and FOBBV is by assisting us to raise funds, so please help spread the word.

Jackie and Shadow's
Habitat Fundraiser


Special Gifts

We are also offering special gifts--for donations of $50, a special Thank you certificate from Jackie & Shadow; for $100, a certificate plus a Jackie & Shadow refrigerator magnet; and for $250 or more, a certificate, a J&S magnet PLUS a beautiful printed photo of Jackie & Shadow (see sample picture below)

Calendar cover page of two eagle looking at Big Bear Lake
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A development proposal is about to be decided (on July 28) could destroy their shoreline habitat and nesting neighborhood, put future chicks at risk and possibly cause the pair to abandon their nest and leave the area. The undeveloped 63 acres on the north shore of Big Bear Lake and only 6/10 of a mile from the nest of our only year-round resident Bald Eagles, Jackie and Shadow. This land is a critical habitat area for them, especially during nesting season when they are feeding chicks and the distance they have to travel to get food matters greatly in the success of failure of the nesting.

For more details on the issues this proposed project poses, check out our Special Edition newsletter:

Click here to Read the Newsletter
and here to Download the Newsletter
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Eagles nest

The proposed development site can be seen from the nest cam!

An undeveloped parcel of land located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake and partially bordered by the San Bernardino National Forest is a critical habitat area for Big Bear’s only year-round resident Bald Eagles, Jackie and Shadow.

With a development proposal about to be decided (on July 28), their shoreline habitat and nesting neighborhood could be destroyed to the point that they abandon their nest and leave the area. A proposal for:
  • 50 luxury house sites
  • new roads
  • huge private marina in eagle foraging area
  • large marina parking area
only ½ mile from their nest could eliminate the possibility of them continuing to nest here. The site has large perch trees overlooking, wind-protected forage coves where fish and mud hens (aka: coots) congregate in the quiet shallow waters.

What the Moon Camp site currentl looks like.

A proposal to build 50 luxury house sites with new roads, a huge private marina, and parking area on this parcel that is only ½ mile from the bald eagle nest. That development could destroy the future possibility of the eagles continuing to nest in this area. The site of this proposed development can be seen from the nest camera -- the yellow circle on the webcam photo (below) designates the proposed building site location.

Moon Camp Eagles area

The proposed development site can be seen from the nest cam.

And here is how large the development would be and how close it is (only 6/10 of a mile) from the bald eagle nest. Bald eagle primary foraging area is within 1 mile of their nest.

Moon Camp size and location

Size and location of the project, right across Grout Bay from the nest.

  • This forested lakefront site is used by eagles to feed themselves and their chicks--the marina, parking, roads and houses would destroy this key north shore foraging ground.
  • The monumental increase in disturbance in this quiet area would likely cause the eagles to abandon the nest and area.
  • The bald eagles only began staying year-round in Big Bear Valley since 2010 and the first nest was built in 2012. This new situation was not and has not been studied in any of the environmental reviews. Even without that, the County’s official environmental documents state that if this project is built, there would be significant detrimental impacts to the bald eagles that cannot be mitigated.
  • Perch trees, by definition, have dead tops without foliage to block the eagle’s view of the forage area. These large trees are considered hazards on a developed site and require removal; but would be allowed to remain without causing any hazard should the site remain undeveloped. (Below: eagle on perch trees at Moon Camp—5/23/19)
Eagles looking at the lake

Jackie's 2018 chick, Stormy, perched in a Moon Camp tree overlooking Big Bear Lake

The most recent Draft Environmental Impact Report (2011) concluded there would be significant adverse impacts to bald eagles. That analysis was based on bald eagles only wintering in the valley for a few months a year. Beginning in 2012, a pair of bald eagles began nesting within ½ mile of the project site. The much more significant impacts this project would cause based on this key change has never been evaluated. Project proponents have attempted to conceal the true impacts to bald eagles by creating what they call a ‘Long Term Management Plan.’ Without proper analysis, any management plan is invalid.

For the past two nesting seasons, viewers from around the country have been educated about bald eagles, nature, the San Bernardino Mountains and the Big Bear Valley through watching the nesting pair raising their chicks in real time via the nest camera. The unprecedented popularity of this eagle family has brought it to classrooms, workplaces, thousands of homes and news media across the country.

County planning is recommending approval of the zoning change and of this proposed project, in spite of the impact to bald eagles, declaring that the need for housing overrides significant harmful impacts to bald eagles. The development is planning HUGE homes, more of which would turn into 2nd homes and airbnb’s. That does not override causing great harm to a California Endangered Species, our bald eagles.

When this parcel was acquired by RCK Properties, Inc. it was zoned for Rural Living with a minimum lot size of 40 acres. RCK now wants that changed to accommodate 50 house sites, 3 new side roads and a 55-slip boat dock with a parking lot, dead center on the some of the best north shore bald eagle foraging area. RCK is requesting the County to change zoning for this land to accommodate their proposed Moon Camp project.

This area is in the heart of a National Forest, in a unique, rural area on the north side of the lake. The project site itself contains 3 species of plants and a rare habitat that do not exist anywhere else in the world! Less than 1/3 of this special habitat is planned to be conserved.

Endangered Ashy Gray Paintbrush on the Moon Camp site

Endangered Ashy Gray Paintbrush on the Moon Camp site

There are legal requirements for changing a Development Code zone including that the “amendment would not be detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare of the County."
  • As a noted high fire risk area, homeowners are already having homeowners insurance cancelled
  • Studies show increasing housing density on National Forest boundaries—known as the Urban-Wildland intermix—greatly increases fire risk of the whole area (this property borders National Forest)
  • This area is ranked in the top 1% as having the most hazardous, least adequate fire and emergency evacuation routes in the state. This zoning change would further aggravate that potentially dire evacuation deficiency with more houses/airbnb’s, residents, visitors and exit roads to the narrow curvy highway.
  • Infrastructure, especially water is limited on the north shore, with a stand-alone water system and nearby wells that already run dry seasonally. To get an agreement for water service, this project spent over 10 years of questionable, back-room dealings with agencies.
Current view of the site

Current view of the site

View of Big Bear Lake from proposed Moon Camp site

View of Big Bear Lake from proposed Moon Camp site