Add your reaction Share- 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 PlanningThe 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 PositionMBCA, together with MDLT/ Mojave Desert Land Trust, LVEDA / LucerneValley Economic Development Association, and HVCC / Homestead ValleyCommunity Council contend (and this has been acknowledged by theCounty) that the draft Community Plans are essentially Suggested ActionPlans. As such the Community Plans do not meet the requirements of theState 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 CommunitiesThe 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:
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.
- 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
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.”
Lucerne Valley - summary of key elements in Lucerne Valley’s 2007 Community Plan and the current Draft Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan).
ResourcesUse 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:
Jerry L. Blum, Countywide Plan CoordinatorCounty of San BernardinoLand Use Services Department385 North Arrowhead Avenue, 1st floor San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110
- online: through the link associated with your draft Community Plan (link above) or;
- e-mail or snail mail to:
(include your signature, printed, name, street address)
Two more issues briefly….
EXTENDED Comment period: fee increase to JTNPDeadline 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 periodDeadline 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 closingWow – 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!
Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Seth Shteir, DirectorLaraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth and economic well-being.
Add your reaction Share- Emergency Meeting on Joshua Tree National Park Fee Hikes:Thursday, November 2nd- San Bernardino County Community Plan Town Hall Meeting:Monday, November 6thDear MBCA Members and Supporters,Emergency Meeting on Park Fee IncreasesThe 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 PMWHERE: 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 20240REMINDER: Countywide & Community Plans Town Hall MeetingIn preparation for making public comments on the San Bernardino County Countywide Plan EIR, MBCA encourages you to attend an informational Town Hall Meeting:WHEN: Monday November 6; 5:00 PMWHERE: 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 commentE-mail: CountywidePlan@lus.sbcounty.govMail: 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 BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Seth Shteir, DirectorLaraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
Add your reaction Share- Countywide Plan Scoping Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 26- Community Plan Update: Monday, Nov. 6- Public Comment period for Countywide Plan EIR: Oct. 17- Nov. 20Dear 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 TreeMonday, Nov. 6 - Community Plan(s) update meeting in Joshua TreeMonday, Nov. 20 - Public Comment Period ENDSSaving 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:
Public Scoping Meeting: Countywide Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR)WHEN: Thursday, October 26, 2017; 9:30 to 11:30 AMWHERE: Joshua Tree Government Bldg. 63665 Hwy. 62, JT 92252OR Government Center, Chamber of the Board of Supervisors,
- 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.
first floor, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San BernardinoRead 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 ValleyWHEN: Monday November 6; 5:00 PMWHERE: 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)E-mail: CountywidePlan@lus.sbcounty.govREMINDER:Fall Desert-Wise Living program - Zero Net Energy LivingSaturday, November 4Experts 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 PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Seth Shteir, DirectorLaraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
Add your reaction ShareOctober 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 159Dear 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 PMWHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst StreetMembers 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 planMBCA 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.govUpdate: SB 249 & SB159Governor 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 EventsAnd 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 PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Seth Shteir, DirectorLaraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
Add your reaction ShareOHMVR legislation: SB 249 & AB 159Dear 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 13thThe Senate votes this Friday, September 15thMBCA 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) 319-2042Senator Jean Fuller – Sacramento office (916) 651-4016Sample 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 PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Laraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
Add your reaction ShareRECE (Renewable Energy and Conservation Element): Supervisors Public Hearing, Tuesday, August 8th, 1 PMDear MBCA Members and Supporters,We know that RECE has been a frequent topic in our correspondence with you for months now. The Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE) establishes the goals and principles that will guide the County in planning for the future of renewables in our desert areas. Next Tuesday afternoon is the time to show the County how serious we are about having a good County policy and resulting code. The Supervisors Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 PM and we hope you can participate.WHAT: San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on RECEWHEN: August 8th at 1PMWHERE: Joshua Tree Government Center, Bob Burke conference roomOR Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, first floor, County Govt. Center, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San BernardinoOR Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, HesperiaIt is important that Supervisors see a full house with the public in attendance at this meeting for the first review of the RECE draft. We encourage you to fill out a Request to Speak form, but if speaking in public isn't for you, just clap or cheer to show your approval. A large number of voters being present carries a lot of weight. Choose your venue, pick a point to emphasize in a comment & pack those seats to urge the Supervisors to pass the RECE!MBCA submitted a detailed comment letter to the County Planning Division – this will provide helpful background information for those attending this meeting.View MBCA’s Director Pat Flanagan’s illustrated PowerPoint Sand Transport Paths in the Mojave Desert. For a closer look at the problem as it pertains to Lucerne Valley, watch this YouTube video on PM-10 Problems by Lucerne Valley resident, Tony Malone.See you there!Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Laraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
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Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,Hope you’re staying in the shade and otherwise cool during the record-breaking heat this summer! Summer hasn’t brought any breaks for MBCA directors working to monitor several proposed projects and initiatives. But, we will take a bit of a break in August for the annual MBCA board retreat where we review the year and look ahead to what’s coming our way – time to reflect and gear-up!Ord Mountain Solar Project – scoping commentsThis 484-acre, 60 MW industrial scale solar project that includes a Southern California Edison sub-station is proposed to be constructed north of Lucerne Valley straddling Highway 247. The County has mandated that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared for this project with the first step being to obtain scoping comments describing the issues to be included within this EIR. MBCA has submitted a letter emphasizing the deficiencies inherent in this project, and has joined our high desert conservation partners in the Lucerne Valley by signing onto a comprehensive letter of scoping comments – for this ill-conceived project. During the very well attended scoping meeting held in Lucerne Valley, many residents articulately expressed their concern about the County accepting an application for this project while the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General Plan is being considered. We will continue to follow this project as the preparation of the EIR proceeds.Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE)This Element is critical to establishing the goals and principals that will guide the County in planning for the future of renewables in our desert areas. The RECE is on the agenda to be considered by the Board of Supervisors at their August 8 meeting. This meeting will be broadcast at the Bob Burke conference room at the Joshua Tree government center. Plan to attend and let the County hear again our local concerns.Neil Nadler of The Alliance for Desert Preservation reports that 1,500 Lucerne Valley residents have signed a petition that asks the County to include within the RECE, a restriction on the approval of any industrial scale renewable energy project, after appropriate review, to five specific areas that that are away from local communities and close to existing transmission lines where the land has already been severely degraded: Kramer Junction, El Mirage, Hinckley, Trona, and Amboy. MBCA will have a table with maps in front of JT Health Food this Saturday, July 15th to collect signatures from the Morongo Basin. Please stop by, sign and say hello!Air Quality MonitoringThe unsolved problem: No economical or truly effective way of taming dust raised during construction or blown from pathways between hundreds of solar panels.What: Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC)Where: Lucerne Valley Community Center on Hwy 247 next to Pioneer ParkWhen: Thursday, July 20, 5:00 p.m.The Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley MAC will consider endorsing a letter to County planners recommending installation before construction, at the developer's cost, of instruments to measure the dust particles in the air, to be monitored by the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD). Representatives of the AQMD will speak at the meeting and residents will have the opportunity to comment.The scraping of the crust of desert soils multiplies the air pollution with the desert’s high winds and traveling sands. Lucerne residents have expressed great concern about the health effects of breathing dust generated by industrial scale renewable energy projects, as well as impacts on residential property values. Proposed pollution monitoring and controls by the MDAQMD will be valuable to prove the harm industrial scale solar projects have on the region’s air quality.The Morongo Basin also experiences negative cumulative impacts of industrial scale solar development. MBCA strongly supports our neighbors to the north in Lucerne Valley calling for regulations for monitoring equipment to document harmful air quality impacts of developments scraping the desert.Support for Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act - SB 249MBCA has written a letter in support of this important piece of legislation that would continue to fund OHV enforcement. Here in the Morongo Basin many properties are afflicted by illegal OHV trespass exacerbated by the patchwork of BLM and County roads. Remember to call or email State Senators to ask for their support of the OHVRA/ SB 249 (for details see: ORV Watch/COW website.)Desert WaterMBCA signed on to a letter initiated by the National Parks Conservation Association to Senator Hertzberg, Chair, California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The letter stated a coalition of conservation partners’ opposition to federal administration actions to waive the federal review of the Cadiz project and roll back of environmental protections.MBCA is in support of California legislation AB 1000 that seeks to increase California's involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring "a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert." Some alterations to the bill are expected to prevent onerous state review requirements of district water agencies. We will update you as this legislation progresses.MBCA member & Basin resident Peter Brooks made a presentation to the Senate Committee Natural Resources and Water Committee on July 11th. Brooks highlighted serious flaws in the Cadiz project from the industry perspective in an effort to protect the desert and its residents.Peter Brook’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the Cadiz water project, “The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.” provides overview and update about why MBCA and many conservation groups and desert residents oppose the Cadiz project. You may recall that Peter was a featured speaker at two of MBCA's Desert-Wise Lectures. We are privileged to have Peter’s expertise working with us in defense of desert!Support for the Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert DefendersThe Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaign: Protect our Desert National Monuments collected names and messages to demonstrate public support for our National Monuments.As the comment period closed, MDLT submitted 1,259 public comments to the Department of the Interior! Thanks to all of you who participated as Desert Defenders!Good-by Seth Shteir & Welcome Chris ClarkeMany of you knew Seth Shteir as California Desert Program Manager for the Joshua Tree National Park Conservation Association from August 2015 through March 2017. Seth led many initiatives in the Basin in protection of the JTNP. He also served as a Director on the Board of the MBCA where he provided invaluable perspective on national and regional conservation issues. While we’re sad to lose Seth – a good friend and powerful desert advocate - we wish him all the best in his new position as Conservation Manager for Seattle Audubon.I’m pleased to announce that Chris Clarke has accepted the California Desert Program Manager’s position at NPCA. After starting the job on July 10th, Chris immediately flew to Sacramento to begin work on the campaign to oppose the Cadiz water project where NPCA staff met with the State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in support of AB 1000. Chris is a seasoned conservation professional and journalist – a founder of Solar Done Right, and until joining NPCA was KCET Link Environment Editor where he contributed powerful and insightful articles in defense of the Mojave desert. MBCA Directors look forward to working closely with Chris in the opposition to Cadiz project and the protection of the desert in and around the national parks and preserves.MBCA’s conservation partnerships, including MDLT, NPCA and Alliance for Desert Preservation work to create a coordinated force to be reckoned with. Thanks to you for your individual support and keeping us strong!Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA PresidentYour 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Steve Bardwell, TreasurerMarina West, Recording Secretary Pat Flanagan, DirectorMeg Foley, Director Ruth Rieman, DirectorClaudia Sall, Director for Events Laraine Turk, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmentthat nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealthand economic well-being.
- Ord Mountain Solar Project
- Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General plan
- Air quality monitoring
- Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act (OHVRA) - SB 249
- Desert Water – Cadiz project & AB 1000
- Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert Defenders
- NPCA Desert Manager – good-bye Seth Shteir & welcome Chris Clarke
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Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
- Ord Mountain Solar Project: comment by June 30
- MDLT campaign for 29 Palms property “Indian Trail Head”: ends June 30
- Healthy California Act, SB 562: Indivisible public forum, June 26
- CA. Assembly supports state’s monuments: AJR-15, Federal public lands
There are several events and campaigns MBCA Directors want you to know about. Including a huge solar project proposed for Lucerne Valley. Also, reminders of deadlines for public comment fast approaching. Thanks for your attention!
Ord Mountain Solar Project
Our conservation partners in the Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley, and Victorville areas are again sounding the alarm about another inappropriate industrial scale renewable energy project. This project consists of a 60 MW solar field and an electrical sub-station straddling Scenic Hwy 247 north of Lucerne Valley. An initial Study (IS) for this 484-acre project has been submitted to the County of San Bernardino. The owner of the project is Ord Mountain LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. (Yes, the same NextEra that won approval to develop the Joshua Tree Airport solar project!) An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is to be prepared for this project under the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
A well-attended scoping session was held on June 13 in Lucerne Valley where residents clearly expressed their concerns about the project and described issues that must be addressed in the preparation of the EIR. Issues including dust and air quality degradation, conflict with well-defined desert wildlife linkages, loss of habitat for endangered species, loss of uninterrupted scenic vistas, and the ill effects on the Community of rural residents were stressed. MBCA directors Pat Flanagan and Steve Bardwell attended the session and expressed MBCA’s concerns about this inappropriately sited renewable energy project.
Much concern was raised about the timing of this project given that the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the County’s General Plan is to be considered by the Board of Supervisors very soon, and this scale and type of project would be discouraged under the guidelines included within the current wording of this Element. This project has slipped between the cracks during the time that the RECE is being considered.
The EIR will include an analysis of the ‘Calcite’ Southern California Edison (SCE) sub-station that would serve to distribute power from this industrial scale solar installation to the grid for use outside of the Lucerne Valley area. This substation would also serve other industrial scale renewable energy developments that are planned on nearby state lands. During scoping session residents expressed their concern that this sub-station would open-the-door to many more industrial scale projects. You may recall the defeated Coolwater-Lugo energy project’s Jasper substation project. The ‘Calcite’ substation would be located on the same site.
Scoping comments are those comments about issues that must be considered with the preparation of the EIR. MBCA encourages its supporters to write to the County and express their concerns about this conversion of desert land into an industrial scale renewable energy project. This link connects to the County website and the initial study for this development:Send comments before 4:30 PM, June 30th to:County of San Bernardino, Land Use Services DepartmentJohn Oquendo, AICP, Senior PlannerEmail: John.Oquendo@lus.sbcounty.govSnail mail: 15900 Smoke Tree Street, Suite 131, Hesperia, CA 92345
Healthy California Act, SB 562: Public forumMBCA‘s mission includes supporting healthy desert communities. Indivisible Morongo Basin is hosting an event to inform Basin residents about the Healthy California Act, a single-payer health care initiative that recently made it through the California Senate. If it is successful and signed by the Governor this fall, it will be followed with a second bill to clarify the projected costs.When: Monday, June 26, 6:00 – 7:30 PMWhere: Yucca Room, Yucca Valley Community Center, 57090 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley, CA.For information and to RSVP, Indivisible MB Facebook page.MDLT campaign: Scenery Worth Saving #Protect 62 - “Indian Trail Head”MDLT is working to purchase 40 acres in 29 Palms on the boundary of JTNP. A property threatened for inappropriate residential development located adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. A key resource for JTNP neighbors and the City of 29 Palms tourism efforts with incredible views, dark sky experiences, important habitat and conservation features.There is a short time frame to secure the sale, the end of June. The purchase price is $120,000. Supporters are welcome to donate on the MDLT web site via the Hwy 62 Linkage Campaign: Scenery Worth Saving and restrict the gift to the "Indian Trail Head". Deadline to contribute: June 30, 2017
California Assembly Joint Resolution AJR-15: Federal public landsIn response to President Trump’s executive order for a review of the country’s 27 national monuments, California legislators passed the Resolution AJR-15 to express their bi-partisan support of the national monuments in the state.
The measure urges the protection of federal public lands for their economic, historical, cultural, and ecological values and to honor and protect the integrity of all national monuments as they have been designated. The resolution also states support for the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 by the President as a critical tool for protecting the public good by authorizing the designation of national monuments.
Makes us proud to be Californians! To the federal administration: keep your hands off our monuments!
REMINDER: Express support for the Desert National MonumentsThe Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaign: Protect our Desert National Monuments collects names and messages at this website to send to the Department of the Interior. Public comment period ends July 9th – it’s important to demonstrate your support and easy to do!
REMINDER: Letters in support for OHVRA SB 249 neededMBCA encourages you to call or email State Senators to ask for their support of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Act / SB 249. Find all the details you need at the ORV Watch/COW website.
That’s it for now. Never a dull moment, right! With your help, we’ll keep up the good work protecting the health of Basin humans, wildlife and the desert environment!
Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA PresidentYour 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, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
and economic well-being.
Add your reaction Share
We can now provide you with updates on several projects and issues MBCA tracks. Let’s start with MBCA director David Fick’s news on three long-standing thorns in our sides: Altamira Gated Housing, JT Airport Solar and Eagle Crest.
- Altamira Gate Community Housing Project
- Joshua Tree Airport solar project
- Eagle Crest Gen-Tie Project
- Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act: Senate Bill 249
- Protecting Integrity of National Monuments
The Altamira Gated Community Housing ProjectResident activist Janet Johnston and others tenaciously researched California law regarding the standing of Community Plans. Their organization, JT105, LLP Alliance appealed the Planning Commission decision and CEQA litigated after the San Bernardino Supervisors decision to allow the project to go forward. Their efforts proved to be a strong offense in the success of their lawsuit. Altamira is in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by the proponent YV105, LLP.The project is now for sale through a San Diego area real estate broker for $3 million dollars. The proponent has stated that they've invested $4.5 million dollars on the proposed project.
For background on the history of Altamira Housing Project, click here.
Joshua Tree Airport Solar ProjectNextEra /JT Solar project is also officially in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by NextEra. The Southern California Edison’s RAM Power Purchase Agreement for the project has expired and NextEra has stated no work on the project has gone forward. The group Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar took the lead in opposing the project and initiated legal action.
The JT Airport Solar page on our website contains a chronological history of MBCA’s reports on the JT Airport Solar Project via our E-blasts.
Eagle Crest Gen-Tie ProjectThe Desert Protection Society (DPS), Donna Charpied and Larry Charpied, have formally submitted comments appealing the BLM approval of the California Desert Conservation (CDCA) Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) Finding of NoSignificant Impact and Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for Crest Energy Gen-Tie Project. They contend that the LUPA and EA are based on deficient environmental review that violate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and FLPMA (Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976).
BLM proposes to grant to the Eagle Crest Energy Company (Eagle Crest) a right of-way (ROW) to construct, operate, and decommission a 5000-kV gen-tie line and water pipeline to transmit electricity generated by Eagle Crest’s proposed pumped storage facility. This facility would be placed within a private inholding carved out of and surrounded on three sides by JTNP, and would have permanent and severe adverse impacts on Joshua Tree National Park.
DPS’s comments note that the area’s natural, ecological, scenic, wildlife and wilderness values should be preserved rather than sacrificed for unneeded industrial-scale energy development that uses more energy than it would generate, and exacerbates the ongoing overdraft of the Chuckwalla Basin aquifer. Further, they hold that an environmental impact statement (EIS) must be prepared as NEPA requires – to take a “hard look” at the Project’s cumulative impacts in compliance with NEPA.
MBCA joined conservation partners in an Environmental Assessment Comment letter to BLM state Director Jerome Perez. For MBCA’s background on opposition to Eagle Crest with a link to the comment letter detailing all the stages of insufficient analysis, click here.
Thanks, David for tracking these developments that threaten Joshua Tree and JTNP. Next, MBCA director Pat Flanagan reports on an OHV issue with important consequences for the Basin.
OHMVR, Senate Bill 249MBCA initiated a letter also signed by representatives of Community ORV Watch(COW) and the Alliance for Responsible Recreation, asking the CaliforniaAppropriations Committee to take action on Senate Bill 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Act (OHMVR). Here is a reader-friendly summary of key points in the bill, introduced by Senator Ben Allen. This bill would reauthorize the State Parks Off Highway Vehicle Recreation division that provides increased safeguards for landscape resources.
If the California Senate does not proceed to reauthorize the OHMVR, the program will end on December 31, 2017. This needed legislation will provide for both reasonable off-highway recreation and also for resource protection and appropriate law enforcement. Morongo Basin is among the many rural communities that have miles of trails incorrectly viewed as suitable for open riding. MBCA's letter states "Our concern is not with the legal but the illegal riders." While the bill is not everything the conservation community would like to see, it is a step forward in protecting California’s precious and fragile landscapes from rampant ORV damage.
Your letters in support of SB 249 are needed right now – this week is best! You can find all the details you need at the ORV Watch/COW website. In particular, most readers of MBCA’s E-blasts are likely to be constituents of 16th District’s State Senator Jean Fuller. She is not on the Appropriations Committee, but you should call her (1-916-651-4016) and email her a message that you want her to support SB 249 when it comes to a vote. Readers outside of the Morongo Basin should check this list provided by ORV Watch to see if your State Senator is a critical voter – if so, please email them as a constituent.
Although emails from non-constituents are not accepted, you can make a phone call or send a faxed letter to any senator to urge their support of SB 249; again, a list of numbers and a sample script are available at the COW website.
Protect our National MonumentsI suspect you are already well aware of the threat the President is directing to the integrity of national monuments. The Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaign: Protect our Desert National Monuments provides a forum for public expression in support of Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow National Monuments. Names and messages will be collected at this website during the open public comment period and sent to the Department of the Interior in demonstration of our support of these national treasures. If you haven’t already, it’s easy to do and important to register your support here – even if you’ve commented elsewhere.
To read MBCA director Pat Flanagan’s op-ed in the San Bernardino County Sun, Efforts to shrink, eliminate national parks will hurt economy, click here.
Thanks to David, Pat and all the stellar MBCA directors. It truly takes all of us on the Board of Directors in our attempt to track these issues, create informed opinions and generate a course of action in a timely way to educate our members and supporters. It is critical that MBCA as an organization and you as individuals submit comments to decision makers. Thanks also for your attention – we know we make a difference.
Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship AwardMBCA presented the first annual Ruth Denison Environmental ConservationScholarship award of $500.00 to Nicole Serrano on May 17th at the Yucca ValleyHigh School’s Senior Awards and Scholarships Program. Nicole also received The Wildlands Conservancy’s Environmental Education Scholarship presented by Cindy Zacks, and was honored as the Valedictorian of her 2017 graduating class. She will attend UC, Davis with majors in animal and environmental science. All our best, Nicole – you are an inspiration. We wish you every success in your studies!
This first award represents a fulfillment of a longstanding goal to increase MBCA’s support of environmental education of local students who plan to attend a university or college and prepare for employment in careers related to environmental or conservation work. You can learn more about the bequest from Ruth Denison that made this scholarship possible at MBCA website’s Denison Scholarship page.
MBCA Desert Wise Landscape Tour’s Essay Contest WinnersWe are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour. Congratulations to the winners Rosalie Mendoza, Ken Brock, and Susan Jordan, and to the 2017 Desert-Wise Landscape Committee. Job well done! The May 30 News Update about the Contest includes links to their essays. They do a great job of capturing the joy of the day for the many visitors. These are gratifying to the Landscape Tour Committee – they strongly reflect that the goal of educating and inspiring water-wise gardens is being accomplished.
On our News Updates page you will find links to Peter Brooks’ Los AngelesTimes op-ed on Cadiz: The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.; Director Ruth Rieman’s presentation from the Black Rock lecture series on grassroots activism; a link to the story reported by KCDZ on the progress for the Morongo Basin bike trails; and much more! Thanks to Laraine Turk and the dedicated committee of Cathy Zarakov, Nora Lousignant, and Steve Bardwell in developing and maintaining MBCA’s digital communications. This dedicated committee works to keep you informed of conservation & quality of life issues in a timely fashion so that you are able to respond in defense of the Basin environment.
Sincerely,Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA BoardDavid Fick, Vice President Laraine Turk, DirectorSteve Bardwell, Treasurer Meg Foley, DirectorMarina West, Recording Secretary Claudia Sall, EventsPat Flanagan, DirectorRuth Rieman, DirectorMBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
and economic well-being.
Add your reaction ShareBefore we update you on several important issues, we want to report that the 2017 Desert-Wise Landscape Tour was a huge success. Almost 400 participants visited the 21 sites located across the Morongo Basin on the weekend of April 22-23, and were educated and enchanted with the creative and water-wise landscapes they viewed. Over 60 volunteers served as hosts, docents, and registration workers. Read more about the Tour and view some photos on our Landscape Tour Review page.Sponsors that make the Tour possible include Mojave Water Agency, Twentynine Palms Water District, Hi-Desert Water District, Southern California Edison, Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, and Joshua Basin Water District.One last note on the Tour - we urge all participants to consider writing a few paragraphs about their experience at the Tour and submitting it to the Essay Contest competition for gift certificate prizes from Unique Nursery and Cactus Mart. Gift certificate prizes range from $100-$200 - a nice reward to further your own landscape goals! Read all the details here - and submit your thoughts by Monday, May 15.Desert National MonumentsMost of you will have learned from news media about President Trump's recent order for the Department of the Interior to review a number of recently-created National Monuments, including our two local Monuments, Sand-To-Snow and Mojave Trails, that hundreds of us worked so hard to bring to fruition. News reports from local radio station KCDZ FM, the Desert Sun, and the Los Angeles Times provide details. The LA Times editorial the next day was very clear about its position; it was titled "Leave the national monuments alone." There is much uncertainty about how rescinding National Monuments could happen. Morongo Basin residents are urged to let your federal representatives know your feelings on the matter. You can find contact information and links on our Decision-Maker Contact Information Page within our Resource Library.Eagle Crest Pumping Project (at the old Eagle Mountain Mine)We alerted you in March to the Desert Sun's editorial titled "Brown Misguided on Eagle Mountain infrastructure ask," commenting negatively on Governor Jerry Brown's request for federal funding to move this project forward. The use of desert aquifers to create a "giant battery in the desert" by filling two of the Eagle Mountain Mine empty pits with water and devising an energy-generating movement of the water would likely decimate desert aquifers that fuel desert life in Joshua Tree National Park. The Desert Sun has published a follow-up editorial that, while expressing some degree of inevitability about the project moving forward, strongly advises to "Keep close watch on Eagle Mountain hydropower project."County Renewable Energy Element Final DraftWe recently posted a news item about the almost-final status of the San Bernardino County’s Renewable Energy Element of the County General Plan. Here is the link to that information.Upcoming Events(Bookmark MBCA’s Community Events Calendar page to keep up with meetings and events we think will be of interest to MBCA supporters.)Monday, May 8, 6:30-8:00 PM, Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council at Joshua Tree Community Center. Along with reports from County safety and fire agencies and MAC representatives, Caltrans is scheduled to present an update on the Downtown JT traffic plan.Wednesday, May 17, 4:00-6:30 PM, Celebration of Life for Victoria Fuller at the Joshua Basin Water District Demonstration Garden. Victoria was a member of MBCA’s Board of Advisors among many other community groups, and a contributor to countless community improvement initiatives. This event will give all of us a chance to remember her engaging personality and many contributions. Hope to see you there.
Thanks for your support.
Your 2017 MBCA Board
Sarah Kennington, President David Fick, Vice President
Steve Bardwell, Treasurer Marina West, Recording Secretary
Pat Flanagan, Director Meg Foley, Director
Ruth Rieman, Director Claudia Sall, Events
Laraine Turk, Director
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