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Lawsuit To Protect Sheep Could Challenge Sunrise Powerlink

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A lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over protection for bighorn sheep could pose a new challenge to the proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project in San Diego County.

A lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over protection for bighorn sheep could pose a new challenge to the proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project in San Diego County.

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to redesignate 1,320 square miles as protected habitat for an endangered species of sheep.

The federal lawsuit seeks protection for about 800 Peninsular bighorn sheep that survive in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.

Portions of the Sunrise Powerlink electrical transmission project in Southeastern San Diego County would be built in areas that used to be critical habitat and remain protected habitat for the sheep.

David Hogan is with the Protect Our Communities Foundation, a group that opposes the Sunrise project. "We have a lot of good science and evidence that shows that the kind of activities that you have to do to build a major powerline -- blasting and drilling and major construction work -- are going to cause very significant harm to the sheep in terms of noise disturbance and loss of habitat," says Hogan.

In 2001, the government designated nearly 845,000 acres as critical habitat for the sheep.

That area was cut in half last April, after a lawsuit by home builders and a Native American tribe.

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