Eblasts

  • Eblast May 18, 2018

    SB County RECE 4.10: Planning Commission hearing, THURSDAY, 5/24/18

    • Complimentary MBTA bus transportation from JT – RSVP!

    WEMO: comments due Thursday, 6/14/18

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    One last reminder about the critically important …
    San Bernardino Co. Planning Commission hearing: RECE 4.10
    WHEN:  May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE:  County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and remote video-conference facilities in Joshua Tree and Hesperia (see below for locations)

    Speak up to protect our Communities from utility scale Renewable Energy development in existing community plan areas and Rural Living land use districts!

    Advocate for Policy 4.10 as proposed on Aug. 8, 2017! The newly revealed Staff Recommendation for Policy 4.10 opens the door to developers for the industrialization of our communities!

    We can make a difference if we show up and speak out! Speakers have 3 minutes to present their comments. To prepare, carefully read the County's recent report on the original and edited versions of RECE 4.10, then review MBCA’s perspective in this summary that opposes the revisions.

    Participate remotely from the JT or Hesperia’s video conferencing
    WHERE: Burke Government Building, 63665 29 Palms Highway
    OR:Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, Hesperia
             15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131
    WHEN: 9AM

    If you cannot attend the PC Hearing, submit written comments to
    Linda Mawby, Senior Planner (Linda.Mawby@lus.sbcounty.gov).

     

    WEMO
    The BLM has published the latest draft of the West Mojave Route system (aka WEMO) on March 16, 2018. Public response comments wlll be accepted through June 14th.

    There is some good news in Alternative # 2 – many dirt roads in Wonder Valley and other areas have been designated “street legal vehicles only” per many residents’ suggestions!

    For a full update, go to this May 17 MBCA News Update with links to the COW (Community ORV Watch) website for insights and recommendations on making substantive comments.

    In closing
    See you in San Bernardino next Thursday at the Planning Commission hearing or I’ll watch you comment remotely on the video screen there as you make comments from JT or Hesperia. We’ll make a full-report on RECE in the next E-Blast – hopefully with good news!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                      Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   
    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                            Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                               Laraine Turk, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org 

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.



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  • EBlast May 11, 2018

    Protect our Communities Now
    We are not exaggerating

    Learn what you need to know and do at the
    MAC meeting Monday, May 14 @ 5:30 PM in JT Community Center

                                                                                

    WHAT: MAC (Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council)
    WHEN: Monday, May 14, 2018 - NOTE NEW TIME, 5:30 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center – 6171 Sunburst Ave

    • WEMO (BLM West Mojave Routes of Travel)

    Yes, it’s back and we are on it. This time around it will be easier to comment. Learn the what, when, and how at the MAC.

    • Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) Policy 4.10 and subsections

    Utility Scale Solar Projects could be in our future –

    County Land Use Services has drafted a new ‘Staff Recommended’ Policy 4.10 that could bring large scale solar to the Morongo Basin, Lucerne Valley, Daggett, and Newberry Springs – rural communities with flat terrain and transmission. Read between the Staff Recommended lines here.

    Then attend the Planning Commission Hearing,
    Thursday, May 24, 9 AM.

    The Planning Commission will decide to Prohibit Solar or 
    to Allow Solar in rural residential communities.

    WHEN: Thursday, May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE: County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and also remote videoconference sites in Hesperia and Joshua Tree.

    Free bus transportation from Morongo Basin to attend this meeting

    MBCA encourages you to attend the hearing in San Bernardino to make the greatest impact. If you would like to reserve a seat on a free bus to this Planning Commission Hearing, email us: info@mbconservation.org. You will receive an email with all details when they are known. Generally, there will be a meeting point in the Morongo Basin at about 7AM on May 24, and the return will be approximately 2-3PM.

    If you are not able to make the trek to San Bernardino, please participate remotely from the video conferencing center at the Joshua Tree Burke Government Building (63665 29 Palms Highway) or the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia (15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131).

    A strong showing for our position is critical! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments.

    Thanks for your attention and participation. We can make a difference – only if we show up and speak out!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                      Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   
    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                            Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                               Laraine Turk, Director

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

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  • Eblast March 11, 2018

    Morongo Basin Residents Defend the DRECP

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    It was a windy and chilly winter weeknight on March 1st… yet there was a fantastic turn out for the BLM-hosted DRECP (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan) Scoping meeting and the subsequent conservation program in Joshua Tree. Every seat was occupied and a standing-room-only crowd filled the JT Community Center to capacity with as many as 200 attending. It was the strong response needed to demonstrate the Morongo Basin public’s support of conservation protections in the DRECP!

    Thanks to all who were there. For those of you who were unable to attend, MBCA sponsored video documentation of the conservation program. Click here:  “Morongo Basin Residents / Defend DRECP Desert Plan”  


    The conservation panel was moderated by Chris Clarke, National Park Conservation Association. Panelists April Sall, California Desert Coalition, Kate Hoit, Vet Voice Foundation, & Frazier Haney, Mojave Desert Land Trust reviewed Department of Interior’s proposed amendment to the DRECP, and answered questions for making substantive comments. David Lamfrom, National Park Conservation Association, made eloquent closing remarks. Following the panel, a court recorder was provided for audience members’ oral responses to be submitted as comments to the DRECP Scoping.

    The Basin community wants more, not less, public land protected from development. How do we communicate this with substantive comments to the Federal Administration?

    There is a consensus that we don’t want to jeopardize the conservation lands achieved in the long 8-year DRECP process. Some voices at the meeting last week expressed the thought that accepting any changes to the Plan could unravel the whole bundle of agreements reached – like pulling at a thread in a knitted sweater. That was the just say “no” or “no change” position. Speakers noted that the process the DRECP established appears to be working. In the two years since the Record of Decision put the Plan into effect, there have been no lawsuits. Give it a chance to truly see how effective it is. This isn’t to say the DRECP is perfect, but let’s work within it before it’s scrapped for who knows what. It is not the conservation community advising the Department of Interior to reopen the DRECP, it is solar and wind energy developers and mining interests.

    Another perspective contends that it’s not a question of whether the Administration will open up the DRECP, but when. This represents the position: if we don’t take a seat at the table, we won’t get dinner. The conservation community should weigh in with specifics on issues we’ve discovered since the implementation of the DRECP to identify where the Plan needs improvement and why. For example, issues around the location of Development Focus Areas (DFAs), especially with the increased knowledge of what can go wrong, including ineffective mitigations.

    MBCA has been taking the lead, under the leadership of MBCA Director Pat Flanagan, at raising awareness of the unfortunate & irreversible impacts to our rural desert communities of inappropriately sited industrial scale Renewable Energy (RE). In particular, Pat has researched and shared when and where we can identify the effects of wind-borne dust after the delicate desert crust is damaged and native plants removed. Better soil analysis and knowledge to correlate the effects of siting RE along the Mojave Desert’s Sand Transport Paths (STPs) is needed.

    Death by Dust!

    Is this a social justice issue? Is this the Administration taking revenge on California? Is this a gross disregard for desert ecology and the welfare of desert citizens? I have to say, YES it is!

    Here are considerations as you prepare to Comment on the DRECP:

    If you are concerned about air quality - Say that!

    If you are concerned about effects on wildlife – the desert tortoise, and other species - Say that!

    If you are concerned about industrial scale RE overburdening our desert aquifers - Say that!

    If you believe that California is on track to meet the 2030 goal established for 50% RE and that sufficient land was set aside for RE development in the DRECP (as does the California Energy Commission) - Say that!

    If you have experienced the ill effects of a solar or wind “farm”  (Morongo Basin and Lucerne Valley residents have learned the hard way that their quality of life, and their property values are being destroyed from solar development sited next door to their homes) - Say that!

    If you believe that point of use solar – rooftops & shade structures – is the way to go, not scraping intact pristine desert - Say that!

    If you are benefiting from the Basin’s tourist economy and see the value of preserving the scenic values of our desert landscapes -

    Say that!

    If you believe it is critical to respond to climate change by keeping the natural desert landscape intact - Say that!

    Say what you feel, you know, you care about! Be “substantive” – tie your concern back to a specific understanding about the DRECP and desert conservation.

    If you haven’t already, make your voice heard in two critical ways


    1.
    BLM: Submit comments against the Administration’s plan to reduce conservation protections achieved in the DRECP by the March 22, 2018 deadline by writing to:

    BLM-California State Director,

    electronically: BLM_CA_DRECP@blm.gov

    mail: 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-1623, Sacramento, CA 95825

    Include with comments:

    Your Name; Affiliation (if applicable); Phone: E-mail; Mailing Address

    2. San Bernardino County’s desert Supervisors:

    The County will be submitting Scoping comments to BLM. Your voice matters in their decision-making. Call or write to urge them:

    • To demand that there should be no additional land allocation for RE development on public lands in the DRECP.
    • To direct County Land Use Services (LUS) to immediately send RECE polices 4.10, 4.10.1 and 4.10.3 to the Planning Commission and adopt these measures as they stand to protect desert communities against impacts from RE projects.

    THIS TUESDAY, March 13, 2018 join MBCA Directors at the Joshua Tree Burke Government videoconference center to make your comments at the Supervisors meting. The open comment period begins at approximately 10:00AM – 11:00AM.

    At that time MBCA Directors will present a petition with more than 200 signatures.

    To call or write Supervisors:

    * James Ramos, Third District Supervisor –

    (909) 387.4855 / E-mail: dyoung@cob.sbcounty.gov

    * Robert A. Lovingood, Chairman & First District Supervisor -

    (909) 387.4830 / E-mail: melissa.mcclain@box.sbcounty.gov


    In closing:

    The Basin communities, perhaps more than any others, have spoken to defend the desert. We’ve stood up for it during the long 8-year deliberations to craft a DRECP with conservation protections & recreational opportunities, balanced with the demand for energy production, mining, and OHV use. It is unclear exactly how this new battle will play out. But it ain’t over till it’s over!

     

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President

    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

     

    Your 2017 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                      Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   

    Marina West, Recording Secretary          Pat Flanagan, Director

    Meg Foley, Director                                Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Ruth Rieman, Director                            Claudia Sall, Director

    Seth Shteir, Director                               Laraine Turk, Director

     

    p.s. MBCA’s Desert Wise Living spring Landscape Tour, showcasing the desert lifestyle we are striving to protect through our comments on the DRECP, is in need of volunteer docents to assist during the tour on April 28 and 29. Please contact Cathy Zarakov, our volunteer coordinator at czarakov@gmail.com if you are interested in spending a half-day outdoors with our generous garden hosts and always enthusiastic visitors. In return for your time you will receive a complementary pass to attend the tour.

    p.p.s. Our thanks to Bob Stephenson / ProVideo for his professional support in making the March 1st video documentation possible.

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment

    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth

    and economic well-being.

     

    For more information, news, and links on the proposed amendment to DRECP:

    MBCA’s News Update Review of DRECP Comments Needed – Feb 4, 2018 (with pertinent links to BLM, Federal Register, news articles)

     

    Mojave Desert Blog Trump planning to Hand Over Desert Wildlands to Industry – February 1, 2018

     

    Desert Sun In stunning reversal, Trump could open California desert to more solar and wind farms, by Sammy Roth – March 2, 1018

    (https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2018/02/01/trump-could-open-california-desert-more-solar-and-wind-farms-mining-off-roading/1087021001/)

    Desert Sun Joshua Tree cries foul as Trump targets California desert for energy projects, by Sammy Roth – March 5, 2018

    (https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2018/02/01/trump-could-open-california-desert-more-solar-and-wind-farms-mining-off-roading/1087021001/

     

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  • Eblast February 14, 2018

    • DOI announces intent to reopen DRECP
    • Missing in Action: SB Co. Renewable Energy Conservation Element

     

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

     

    Last week we received disheartening news: the Department of Interior (DOI) announced plans to amend the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to provide for more utility scale renewable energy development and mining access, while diminishing conservation measures in its Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA).  For Samy Roth’s Desert Sun article, Trump administration opens millions of acres up to mining, click here. See more news stories and links at MBCA’s News Update on this topic.

     

    MBCA joins our conservation partners in opposing this DRECP review. As citizens we have spent countless hours since 2012 participating in both the San Bernardino County renewable energy processes and the DRECP, communicating our concerns about the potential adverse social, recreational, economic and environmental impacts of utility scale renewable energy on our rural, unincorporated communities and public lands.

     

    We are once again at a crossroads in terms of comprehensive planning for the development of renewable energy. MBCA is circulating a petition to urge San Bernardino County Supervisors to strengthen renewable energy policies in San Bernardino County by requesting they make a comment during the DRECP scoping period that reflects the values of their constituents. 

     

    Our Supervisors should protect our communities and our natural resources and make it clear to Department of Interior that there should be no decrease in conservation areas or increase in utility scale renewable energy development on our public lands. We are working to get our elected officials to make comments opposing the DRECP review – Congressman Cook will be approached, as well as our County Supervisors.

     

    Currently, there are a number of proposed renewable energy projects that are subject to County jurisdiction that would fundamentally erode the quality of life in our rural, unincorporated communities. We firmly believe the County has the right and obligation to comment on this federal process because additional renewable energy development on federal land will have an impact on air quality, water resources, economic development, recreation, wildlife habitat and the physical health of citizens.

     

    On Tuesday, February 13th several Morongo Basin Conservation Association Board of Directors spoke via live video link from teleconferencing room in the County Government Center in Joshua Tree. Their comments urged Supervisors:

     

    Re. DRECP:

    • To act swiftly to submit a comment during the DRECP scoping period that reflects the values of your constituents and makes it clear to Department of Interior (DOI) that the September 2016 DRECP LUPA Record of Decision should stand as is and there should be no further changes to the allocations of conservation, recreational or renewable energy designations in this comprehensive plan.

     

    Re. San Bernardino RECE (Renewable Energy Conservation Element):

    • To act immediately to send Renewable Energy Policy 4.10 and RE 4.10.1, 4.10.2 and 4.10.3 to the County Planning Commission and to adopt these measures as they were presented on August 8, 2017. Here is the original language we support. These measures provide the best means of protection against utility scale renewable energy projects that would fundamentally harm the fabric of our communities. This suite of policies is essential in prohibiting utility scale renewable energy projects under the County’s jurisdiction that would create adverse impacts on our unincorporated communities’ quality of life or economic development.

     

    What can you do?

    * From this page on MBCA’s website you can print and/or download a letter to County Supervisors to both support the original language of RE Element section 4.10 and to request that the Supervisors oppose reopening the DRECP. Use the letter as presented or personalize your comments.

     

    * Attend BLM Scoping meeting to state opposition to reopening DRECP.

    WHEN: Thursday, March 1, 2018; 6:00 – 8:00pm

    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center – 6171 Sunburst Ave., JT

    (see Note below for additional details.)

     

    * Sign the petition at the MBCA table outside Joshua Tree Health Food store during the Saturday Farmers Market.

     

    * Join MBCA directors to reiterate these points during public comment period at the upcoming meetings of Supervisors to include your valuable voice as a voting constituent.

     

    WHERE & WHEN: JT Burke Govt. Center: March 13, March 20 - 10:00am.

     

    Note: Written comments should be sent to the BLM-California State Director, 2800 Cottage Way, Rm W-1623, Sacramento, CA 95825, or electronically to: BLM_CA_DRECP@blm.gov. All comments will be accepted in writing for 45 days after the publication of the notice in the Federal Register or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is later. Website: https://www.blm.gov/california/drecp

     

    (MBCA’s suggested deadline to submit comments to BLM: March 21, 2018.

    The petition for your signature at the Farmers market includes a request to extend the 45-day comment period. We’ll inform you if the comment period extension is accepted.)

     

    2018 MBCA Annual Business Meeting and Program

    We had a great annual business meeting last Saturday. Here is a brief review. Thanks to all of you who attended and contributed. Special thanks to Jill Giegerich for her presentation: Introduction to Arid Lands Permaculture. We all left with a good sense of the principles of permaculture. Jill is an inspiration for cultivating a deeper appreciation and understanding of the forces of nature to inform our actions to design and nurture our landscapes.

     

    Membership: Time to renew

    2018 dues are due! It’s easy to initiate a membership or renew online. Your membership provides a reduced price of $5 for the upcoming April 28-29 Desert-Wise Landscape Tour.

     

    Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship

    The 2018 – 2019 Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship application period has opened.  Applicants must be a 2018 graduating Morongo Basin high school senior with a minimum GPA of 3.25 who is planning to prepare for employment in careers related to environmental or conservation work. The $500 scholarship will be awarded for the 2018-19 academic year. If you know someone who is eligible, please help us spread the word!

     

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President

     

    Your 2017 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                       Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   

    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director

    Meg Foley, Director                                  Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Ruth Rieman, Director                              Claudia Sall, Director for Events

    Seth Shteir, Director                                  Laraine Turk, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment

    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth

    and economic well-being.

     

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  • Eblast January 8, 2018

    - MBCA Annual Business Meeting & Program – February 10, 2018

    - MBCA’s Palen Solar Project Comment letter

     

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

     

    Welcome to the New Year! MBCA Directors have already started the countdown to next year. 2019 will be MBCA’s 50th anniversary! We’re proud to remind you that MBCA is the earliest (isn’t that better than oldest?) conservation group in the Morongo Basin, having been incorporated in 1969. We’ll be preparing for what we hope to be a remarkable celebration of the legacy of conservation activism in the Morongo Basin.

     

    What else? Honestly I hope that we won’t repeat this year with what some have coined for 2017 - the Year of Comments.  Seems there was a constant drum beat - in practically every E-Blast – with announcements that comments were due to the BLM or County or another decision making entity. Deadline after deadline seemed the routine. I guess it goes with the territory. But, I for one would welcome a break in the consistency of needing to collect myself and alert you for “substantive comments.” We’ll see how that goes!

     

    2017 wasn’t an easy year for desert conservation. That’s a huge understatement given the reversal of environmental policy we’ve seen. Mounting pressures from those in Washington working to diminish national monuments, end the Antiquities Act, and starve National Parks for funding. That combined with the dramatic increase in visitation to public lands in the Mojave, along with a steep increase in Park entrance fees just doesn’t seem right. As a MBCA Advisor and others remind us, this is not “normal”! Let’s hope though that it doesn’t become “normal.” Make our New Year’s Resolution: threats to the public lands must STOP!  

     

    MBCA as a 501c3 organization cannot endorse a particular candidate for office. We can and will however ask candidates running for office for their positions on protecting public land and similar issues that relate to the MCBA mission. We intend to provide online candidate forums that you may use in evaluating candidates for state, federal and local positions.

     

    I applaud the editorial board of the Hi-Desert Star for their New Year Resolutions to Hi-Desert leaders (December 28, 2017). The Our View editorial page column included:  JTNP employees: to refuse to be bullied by climate change deniers into silence over the scientifically–proved phenomenon, which could have a catastrophic impact on the national park and the local economies.

     

    MBCA Annual Meeting and Permaculture Program: SAVE THE DATE!

    WHEN: Saturday, February 10, 2018

    WHERE: Center for Healthy Generations, Yucca Valley

    Although MBCA’s Annual Meeting is usually in January, it will be held on February 10 this year. This is when we review for our members and supporters our business and activities of the past year, look to the year ahead, collect membership dues, and present a topical program.

     

    Jill Giegerich has generously agreed to lead the program, "Introduction to Permaculture for Arid Lands." 

     

    MBCA sends comment on Palen Solar

    MBCA sent a comprehensive comment letter to the BLM regarding the Draft Supplemental EIR for the Palen Solar Power Project. We support the No Action Alternative “as the only alternative which will do no harm to the biological and cultural integrity of the landscape.” The detailed examination written by our scientist Board member Pat Flanagan described conflicts involving hydrology, biological resources, visual resources, and air quality. In the document you will find photography and maps that illustrate our position. Once again, Pat’s analysis and insights argue convincingly.

     

    MBCA Board: one Director returns from hiatus & one joins in new year

    Finally, we are pleased to announce the return of Seth Shteir to the Board. We are also delighted to announce the addition of Mike Lipsitz to the Board. Seth returns to the Basin having accepted a position in External Affairs at the Marine Base. We are fortunate to have him back with us with his invaluable insights into conservation in the Mojave desert. Many of you know Mike from his reporting at Z107.7. He has served as an Advisor to MBCA and now joins us with his many talents in communications and commitment to serve the community. It’s been said – I certainly do – that MBCA has a great board of directors! We are a true team and will continue our work to serve you and to keep the Basin the special place that it is.

     

    Yes, 2018 dues are due! It’s easy to initiate a membership or renew online:

    http://www.mbconservation.org/join_our_membership_2018

     

     

    Cheers,

     

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President

     

    Your 2018 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer  

    Marina West, Recording Secretary             Pat Flanagan, Director        

    Meg Foley, Director                                     Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                 Ruth Rieman, Director

    Laraine Turk, Director                                 Seth Shteir, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment

    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth

    and economic well-being.

     

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  • Eblast December 2, 2017

    -  Community Plans Comment period deadline: Dec.15, 2017
    -  National Park fee increase Comment period extended: Dec. 22, 2017
    -  Palen Solar Project Comment period deadline: Dec. 11, 2017

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for in the Morongo Basin.

    The Basin is experiencing growth and more is certain. Along the way, we’ve learned much about working with the County to communicate the concerns of our communities about development that threatens to spoil the characteristics we value. We have the opportunity now to establish more effective measures to serve our communities and protect the natural resources in the Morongo Basin with the San Bernardino County 2018 Countywide Plan.

    This MBCA Eblast is devoted to explaining the meaning and status of the Community Plans and why it is so important for you to express concern by submitting a comment by the deadline
    .

    Deadline to submit Comments on Community Plans: Dec 15, 2017

    Countywide Planning
    The 2018 Countywide Plan will be the basis for the Development Code and Ordinances that guide County land use decisions and other critical actions. The Countywide Plan carries the force of law and all unincorporated communities in the Morongo Basin are affected.

    Given that the Policy Plan component of the 2018 Countywide Plan is not yet available, we are only being asked to comment on the draft Community Plans. The difficulty of this is that we do not have knowledge of the policy and development codes that will enforce the goals, vision, and characteristics defined in the Community Plans.

    The frustrating and ill-conceived process for revising the 2007 General Plan and Community Plans must be acknowledged! Many Morongo Basin and Lucerne Valley residents have voiced concerns that the policies in the existing Community Plans are being completely eliminated or replaced by what the County admits are really only “Suggested Action Plans.”

    Our Position
    MBCA, together with MDLT/ Mojave Desert Land Trust, LVEDA / Lucerne
    Valley Economic Development Association, and HVCC / Homestead Valley
    Community Council contend (and this has been acknowledged by the
    County) that the draft Community Plans are essentially Suggested Action
    Plans. As such the Community Plans do not meet the requirements of the
    State of California for them to be adopted directly into the County General Plan. The Community Plans – not Suggested Action Plans - must be incorporated into the Countywide Plan to ensure they have legal standing under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)!

    It is important that County Planning staff hear our concerns that they are eliminating policy from our Community Plans. Suggested Action Plans are not Community Plans. Real Community Plans must be adopted into the Countywide Plan.

    Actions identified in plans have suggested Community advocates lead the various Actions. Many of these suggestions are simply off-base. Hypothetical organizations are imagined to form to meet anticipated needs and in other cases, existing organizations are nominated inappropriately. Other organizations with long-standing roles in serving the community have been overlooked.

    For example, in the case of Joshua Tree, the Chamber of Commerce is named in numerous Actions – however, the Chamber was never contacted to explore the feasibility of their championing these responsibilities. With a paid staff of one at the JT Chamber, the County should have known that was a “pie in the sky” solution. The Joshua Tree National Park Association was a second organization mentioned – however, taking on community service of this nature is not within their mission. In the Pioneertown Plan a couple of the organizations are listed that haven’t functioned for years. The County cannot assume the community will  - or even can - undertake the Actions in the Plans. It is beyond unreasonable. These communities are “severely economically distressed” and lack the infrastructure and resources to assume responsibility for the Actions listed.

    The County cannot shirk the need to provide the leadership and governance – planning and implementation - required. We understand that community residents have vital roles in the fabric of their neighborhoods and community organizations. The rural desert communities are vibrant and resilient. But, they cannot be expected to take on the roles outlined in these Plans as presented. LVEDA’s comments document Action by Action how the community has worked in substantive ways to address egregious developments with County staff – particularly renewable energy in rural residential areas –and efforts have not been successful. What guarantee is there that these Action Plans will provide them with the protections they have clearly proactively called for over recent years?

    Residents in Joshua Tree have also protested the Action Plan approach.
    The community largely advocates building on the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan to revise it with the knowledge of developments that have surfaced since it was first written and to give it additional specificity.

    The Community Plans are intended “to guide local expectations for County services and set a clear direction for the future of each unincorporated community.”  They are to “provide planning and implementation guidance for communities as they pursue their own unique lifestyle choices and goals.” The Suggested Action Plans fall short of these stated goals and threaten to leave desert communities without adequate tools for support and enforcement from the County.

    Specific Communities
    The current Community Plan Continuum is described by Land Use Services as a new system of community planning. It is to include a hierarchy of plan-types that reflect levels of housing, commercial and industrial businesses, schools, library, recreational facilities, and the religious and civic organizations available in the particular community. Plan-types run from the more developed communities’ Detailed Plans and scale down to Framework Plans, Foundation Plans, and Fundamental Plans.

    MBCA holds that every community must have the protections of a Detailed Plan, regardless of the services, extent of the built environment, and organizations present. Don’t sell Pioneertown and Homestead Valley Communities, the Morongo Valley, and Wonder Valley short!

    We suggest that your comments address environmental and economic concerns affecting your community specifically, as well as the wider Basin.
    Including:
    • climate change
    • ecological concerns – wildlife corridors, species protections
    • renewable energy
    • natural resources – water, soils, air, open space & scenic qualities
    • population growth
    • growth of tourism
    • dark skies
    • traffic and transportation
    • county services – health and welfare
    Pick the issue or two issues that you are particularly passionate about or concern you most. Use the links in the Resources listed below to view Planning Documents on the County’s website. These will be helpful to review and identify the scope of issues facing desert communities.

    Read and Comment on your Community Plan by clicking links below:

    Joshua Tree
     – Draft Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan) and the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan

    Pioneertown Communities
     (Gamma Gulch, Pioneertown, Pipes Canyon, Rimrock) – Foundation Plan.

    Homestead Valley Communities
     (Flamingo Heights, Johnson Valley, Landers, Yucca Mesa) - Framework Plan.

    Morongo Valley
     - Framework Plan.

    Wonder Valley
     – “The County is preparing your webpage.”

    Resources
    Use these links to view Planning Documents on the County’s website. These will be helpful to review and identify the scope of issues facing desert communities.
       (or just the Development Code PDF)

    Also, here are two support documents created by MBCA Director Pat Flanagan:
    A compilation of the Actions suggested in the Joshua Tree Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan) that illustrates the unrealistic list of the draft Plan’s suggested projects and actions.

    A sample result from utilizing keyword searches of County documents
     to find references to your specific issues and concerns (for example “scenic”).

    Where to send Comments:
    Either:
    • online: through the link associated with your draft Community Plan (link above) or;
    • e-mail or snail mail to:
             Jerry L. Blum, Countywide Plan Coordinator
             County of San Bernardino
             Land Use Services Department
             385 North Arrowhead Avenue, 1st floor San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110

             CountywidePlan@lus.sbcounty.gov

             (include your signature, printed, name, street address)

    Two more issues briefly….

    EXTENDED Comment period: fee increase to JTNP
    Deadline is December 22, 2017 to submit comments to: NPCA.org/fees 

    Also call our elected official in D.C., Representative Paul Cook
    (760/247-1815) and County Supervisor, James Ramos (909/387-4855) – urge them to oppose the entrance fee increase and support the National Park Service Legacy Act!

    Palen PV Solar Project Comment period
    Deadline to submit comments: December 11, 2017

    Read MBCA’s response to Palen Supplemental DEIS, Sept. 13, 2016 that addresses air quality impacts from location sited on Sand Transport Corridor and lack of AQMD regional monitoring for fugitive dust / PM10-2.5:

    In closing
    Wow – there’s always something isn’t there! It is more important than ever for us to maintain our resolve! If not now: maybe never. If not us: who? The residents in the Basin have shown remarkable sensitivity, intelligence, and willingness to defend the values of our communities. Don’t let up! Let local and national representatives know who we are and what we’re prepared to defend! 

    Cheers,

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President

    Your 2017 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                         Steve Bardwell, Treasurer
    Marina West, Recording Secretary              Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                   Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                 Seth Shteir, Director
    Laraine Turk, Director
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth and economic well-being.
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  • Eblast October 29, 2017

    - Emergency Meeting on Joshua Tree National Park Fee Hikes:
     Thursday, November 2nd
    - San Bernardino County Community Plan Town Hall Meeting:
     Monday, November 6th
     
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
     
    Emergency Meeting on Park Fee Increases
    The National Parks Conservation Association is convening a public meeting on the evening of Thursday, November 2 at the Mojave Desert Land Trust headquarters in Joshua Tree. This is an opportunity to discuss the fee increase and suggest avenues for public activism. Here is the National Park Press  Release about the seasonal fee increases. Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith will be attending in an informational role.
    WHEN:  Thursday, November 2, 6:30 PM
    WHERE:  Mojave Desert Land Trust HQ, 60124 Twentynine Palms Highway, JT.
     
    MOST IMPORTANT: public comment period is Oct. 24 to November 23, 2017. This NPS webpage contains a summary of the fee changes and the link to public comment, or send your comments by mail to NPS, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240
     
    REMINDER: Countywide & Community Plans Town Hall Meeting
    In preparation for making public comments on the San Bernardino County Countywide Plan EIR, MBCA encourages you to attend an informational Town Hall Meeting:
    WHENMonday November 6; 5:00 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center - 6171 Sunburst St.
     
    MBCA Director Pat Flanagan will lead a discussion with the goal of lessening confusion and frustration around the revision of the Countywide Plan and specific Community Plans. She will take questions from the audience and provide guidance on how to best achieve communities’ interests by ensuring the 2007 Community Plans are updated and that essential areas will be studied in the EIR for the Community Wide Plan.  (Read the 2007 Countywide EIR .)
     
    Make a difference in future conservation, land use and economic development policies! Send written comments BY NOV. 20th:
    Re: San Bernardino Countywide Plan comment
    Mail: Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Dept., 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110
    (sign and print your name if using U.S. Mail, and include your street address)
     
    And don’t forget to attend our Zero Net Energy Desert-Wise Living program THIS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4.
     
    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
     

    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                            Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
    Marina West, Recording Secretary               Pat Flanagan, Director          
    Meg Foley, Director                                       Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                   Seth Shteir, Director
    Laraine Turk, Director
     
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.
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  • Eblast October 20, 2017

    - Countywide Plan Scoping Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 26
    - Community Plan Update: Monday, Nov. 6
    - Public Comment period for Countywide Plan EIR: Oct. 17- Nov. 20
     
     
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
     
    Between now and November 20th MBCA encourages Morongo Basin residents to take time to respond to the Countywide Plan EIR, as well as to weigh in on 2007 specific Community Plan updates.  This email gives you information about two specific opportunities to do so and provides links to helpful documents. The County calendar allows precious little time to get this work done.
     
    Important dates:
    Thursday, Oct. 26 - Countywide Plan EIR Scoping Meeting in San Bernardino or Joshua Tree
    Monday, Nov. 6 - Community Plan(s) update meeting in Joshua Tree
    Monday, Nov. 20 - Public Comment Period ENDS
     
    Saving grace is a guiltless time to play over the long Thanksgiving weekend!
     
    If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, know that MBCA is preparing comments to submit on the Countywide Plan. We will share MBCA’s comments with you in an upcoming E-Blast – to support your personal comments (see below on where to submit comments.)
     
    Key comments include:
    • The Countywide Plan must incorporate the existing Morongo Basin Conservation Priorities Report, 2012;
    • The Countywide Land Use Map (see the County’s current Land Use and Overlay maps) must incorporate the wildlife linkage designs, including South Coast Wildlands Linkage Designs and the Apple Valley Linkage Design;
    • The goals and policies of the 2007 Community Plan(s) as updated must be adopted into the Countywide Policy Plan (for unincorporated areas) to ensure protection under CEQA of our land use.
     
    Public Scoping Meeting: Countywide Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
    WHEN:          Thursday, October 26, 2017; 9:30 to 11:30 AM 
    WHERE:        Joshua Tree Government Bldg. 63665 Hwy. 62, JT 92252
                          OR Government Center, Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, 
                          first floor, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino
     
    Read this overview and explanation of the Plan and the EIR process to prepare for the meeting. Beginning on the 5th page of the document (the pages aren't numbered), you'll find charts and maps regarding land use and growth in newly designated county regions. It appears that the Morongo Basin will now be in a segment labeled the East Desert, differentiated from the North Desert areas north of the San Bernardino Mountains.  
     
    Local Meeting on Community Plans: Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Morongo Valley, Homestead Valley
    WHENMonday November 6; 5:00 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center - 6171 Sunburst St.
     
    Bring all your questions to this meeting. The intent is to clear any confusion and focus on how to best achieve communities’ interests by ensuring the 2007 Community Plans are updated and that essential areas will be studied in the EIR for the Community Wide Plan.  (Read the 2007 Countywide EIR .)
     
    Make a difference in future conservation, land use and economic development policies! Send written comments to:
    Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Department,
    re: San Bernardino Countywide Plan –
    Mail: Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Dept., 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110 (sign and print your name if using US Mail, and include street address)
     
    REMINDER:  
    Fall Desert-Wise Living program - Zero Net Energy Living
    Saturday, November 4
    Experts on ZNE from Southern California Edison will make a presentation and after short Q&A period, a number of local service-providers who can help you with ZNE projects will be available.
     
    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
     
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
    Marina West, Recording Secretary                 Pat Flanagan, Director          
    Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    Seth Shteir, Director
    Laraine Turk, Director
     
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.


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  • Eblast October 7, 2017

    October 11 Update:  Click to view and print these condensed "shorthand" versions of the Joshua Tree Draft Community Plan and the Lucerne Valley Draft Community Plan created by Pat Flanagan.  
     
    - Countywide Plan Meeting / Open House – Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
    - Update: SB 249 & SB 159
     
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
     
    Land use issues are an ongoing concern in the Morongo Basin. Over the years residents have responded to developments that threatened our rural quality of life and were in conflict with an established Community Plan.
     
    MBCA encourages you to attend the San Bernardino County community outreach meeting in Joshua Tree this Wednesday, October 11, to express concerns for creating Community Plans that ensure local control over land use decisions. The meeting will provide updates on the progress of the Countywide General Plan and to gather community feedback of the planning process – including Draft Community Plans.
     
    WHEN: October 11, 2017, 5 - 8 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Street
     
    Members of our rural residential communities who have explored the recently released Draft Community Plans have not been kind in their response. The Plans show a lack of familiarity with the communities and residents question whether county planners and consultants were ‘listening’ during the three Listening Sessions. The drafts are in reality action or work plans – for local implementation by each community. In the case of Joshua Tree, the plan has no relationship to the existing 2007 Community Plan.
     
    Draft Community Plans have been generated for following communities:
    Pioneertown Communities - foundation plan
     
    MBCA contends that by definition the Draft plans are not Community Plans because they lack the essential goals and policies to guide land use decisions. When a Community Plan is adopted into the County’s General Plan, its goals and policies carry the force of law. However, the draft plans under consideration disenfranchise local communities from the legal process. At the Wednesday session, we suggest attendees to recommend the County more accurately name these draft documents Suggested Action Plans (SAP).
     
    Local control by Joshua Tree residents (or other unincorporated communities) to maintain rural character can only be maintained if the County General Plan adopts the goals and policies that were adopted in the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan. Goals and policy provide the force of law that supported Joshua Tree residents legal petitions against the Altamira Gated Housing Project, the Joshua Tree Airport Solar, and Dollar General. At Wednesday’s Open House, we want County planners to clearly understand that we expect the Goals and Policies in the Joshua Tree 2007 Community Plan be adopted into the new JT Community Plan.
     
    Some good news is anticipated at the meeting: a new Land Use map for Joshua Tree with welcomed zoning changes. This is thanks to the efforts of community activists who have worked diligently to provide valuable input to San Bernardino County Land Use Services staff. 
     
    We have a great opportunity on Wednesday to support the work of those individuals in the Basin who volunteered their time and labored tirelessly to gain knowledge of how our communities can work with the County to gain greater control over land use decisions. It is critical that Basin communities retain power to challenge planning decisions under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) when necessary! This chart will help you understand how CEQA empowers Community Plans.
     
    We encourage residents in the Pioneertown Communities, Homestead Valley Communities, Morongo Valley, Phelan/Pinon Hills and Lucerne Valley to understand the Joshua Tree Community Plan as they work to create their own Community Plans. The Basin’s community specific plans impact one another and need to be considered as a whole. United we stand, divided we fall! See you Wednesday!
     
    We hope to see a good turnout at Wednesday’s meeting. But, if you cannot attend – visit this website for the information that will be presented at the Open House, including draft community plans, web-based maps, and digital copies of materials presented at the meeting. You may submit comments at the site or to: CountywidePlan@lus.sbcounty.gov
     
     
    Update: SB 249 & SB159
    Governor Brown signed these California OHV recreation legislation bills. While the legislation didn’t accomplish all the conservation community sought for the protection of natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation, it will improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration. Thanks for your calls to representatives.
     
    Community Events
    And finally, on a lighter note, please visit MBCA’s Calendar page to view a number of October and November events that we think may be of interest to readers of this Eblast.  And especially, note that our Fall Desert-Wise Living program focused on Zero Net Energy living will be on Saturday, November 4.
     
    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
     
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer  
    Marina West, Recording Secretary            Pat Flanagan, Director        
    Meg Foley, Director                                      Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                Seth Shteir, Director
    Laraine Turk, Director
     
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.
     
    Add your reaction Share
  • Eblast September 12 2017

    OHMVR legislation: SB 249 & AB 159
     
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
    MAKE CALLS TO YOUR LEGISLATOR TODAY!
     
    WHY: OHV damage is outpacing California’s ability to repair and regulate OHV use.
     
    The Assembly votes tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13th
    The Senate votes this Friday, September 15th
     
    MBCA has supported Community OHV Watch (COW) since their inception. COW and many other conservation partners have worked diligently for a better balance of OHV recreation interests and the protection of our state’s natural resources.
     
    SB 249 and SB 159 will reform California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle recreation and repair, reduce, and prevent OVH damage to California’s natural and cultural resources. Last reauthorized 10 years ago – it has become clear the program needs to include improved natural resource management techniques, oversight by the Department, and increased funding for project that repair lands damaged from motorized recreation.
     
    This legislation will protect natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation and will continue to improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration.
     
    Urge your representatives to vote YES on SB 249 & SB 159!
     
    Residents in the Morongo Basin call:
    Assemblyman Chad Mayes – Rancho Mirage office (760) 346-6342; Sacramento office (916) 319-2042
     
    Senator Jean Fuller – Sacramento office (916) 651-4016
     
    Sample wording for calls:
    "I am a voting constituent in your district, and I'm calling to urge Assembly Member/Senator [NAME] to vote YES on SB 249, California's OHV Reform Bill. SB 249 has been amended to address priority needs for OHV Program reform. The Morongo Basin Conservation Association, our partner organizations, the State Parks Department, and the Governor's office all support this bill. Please join them in support and vote YES on SB 249. Thank you."
     
    For information on OHV reform bills SB 249 & AB 159:
     
     
    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
     
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
    Marina West, Recording Secretary                Pat Flanagan, Director          
    Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    Laraine Turk, Director
     
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.

     

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