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High-level Trump appointee sought reversal on Arizona development near San Pedro River, ex-official says

Posted by   /  May 4, 2019  /  No Comments

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San Pedro River just north of the U.S. border with Mexico. /Photo by Kenneth Mays

By Ian James | Arizona Republic 

During the 29 years that Steve Spangle worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he took pride in making objective, science-based decisions about protecting endangered species.

But in 2017, Spangle said, he received an unusual call from a lawyer at the Interior Department’s headquarters, who urged him to change a decision he had made about a proposed 28,000-home development in Arizona.  

Spangle recalled that she told him “a very high-ranking political” — a political appointee in the Trump administration — believed he had made an incorrect decision, and that he would be “wise to reconsider it.”

That call led Spangle to reverse his decision, allowing a narrower review and an informal consultation on potential impacts to endangered species, which streamlined the process for the Army Corps of Engineers to issue the developer a permit.

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