Cadiz: Federal OK, State Issue Unresolved

News media have reported that federal authorization has been granted for the "Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project" (Cadiz Water Project), a Mojave-Desert-to-Orange-County water transmission plan. However, the California Lands Commission insists there must be a process of review and permission because of state lands crossed by the proposed pipeline.  MBCA and many desert supporters believe the project is based on unrealistic projections about the recovery of water in the desert aquifer, and that desert lands including special places in the Mojave Trails National Monument will be adversely affected.  News items explaining the situation can be found in the Los Angeles Times, the San Bernardino Sun, the Desert Sun, and on local radio KCDZ's website.  You can view previous stories and links about Cadiz on our Water Issues page.
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New Problem for Cadiz Water Project

MBCA continues to oppose the Cadiz Water Project and we are glad to learn of a new development that brings another potential problem to their plan.  The National Parks Conservation Association published a Press Release today noting that the California State Lands Commission has found that the project's plan will require State review because the plan crosses State-owned land. You can read MBCA's prior news posts about Cadiz and other water issues on our Water Issues page
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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.
 
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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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Morongo Basin Unincorporated Community Plans Updated

The County of San Bernardino has just published the latest versions of updated Community Plans for a number of communities in the Morongo Basin, based on input from last year's "Community Workshops."  The links provided below connect you to the overview page on the County's website, which explains the process and the status, and includes a link to the latest plan. 
 
Detailed Plans:  Joshua Tree, Lucerne Valley
Foundation Plans:  Pioneertown Communities
 
 
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Sand to Snow Monument Will Remain Unchanged

"Our" Sand to Snow National Monument will remain as it was created, according to news from the Interior Department, following its listing for "review" by that Department earlier this year.  The state of our other nearby Monument, Mojave Trails, is not yet known, but recommendations for reduction in size based on extractive industry interests is anticipated.  This Desert Sun article about the Sand-to-Snow announcementprovides a great deal more information, including a history of the Monument effort and quotations from several Morongo Basin residents.  Here is the Los Angeles Times article on the subject
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Eblast August 4, 2017

RECE (Renewable Energy and Conservation Element): Supervisors Public Hearing, Tuesday, August 8th, 1 PM
 
Dear 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 RECE
WHEN: August 8th at 1PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Government Center, Bob Burke conference room
OR Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, first floor, County Govt. Center, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino
OR Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, Hesperia
 
It 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 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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Desert Solar Projects and Air Quality


dust_storm_near_Cascade_Solar.jpg

MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has created an illustrated PowerPoint slideshow, Sand Transport Paths in the Mojave Desert, which was recently presented to the Lucerne Valley Municipal Advisory Council.  The slideshow demonstrates how the scraped land of existing and proposed Mojave Desert solar projects contributes harmful particulate matter to the air we breathe, because of soil types and wind patterns.  Yet, as the presentation also points out, the methods, functioning, and analysis of soil types and "fugitive dust"are currently seriously inadequate for evaluation in solar project planning.

For a closer look at the problem as it pertains to Lucerne Valley, watch this YouTube video by Lucerne Valley resident Tony Malone.  

(The photo illustrates a dust storm in the Cascade Solar area just east of Copper Mountain College in March 2016.)

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MBCA Submits Detailed RECE Comments

SB_County_RECE_cover.jpgMBCA engaged professional planner and former Advisory Board member Stephanie Weigel, AICP, to work with Directors Pat Flanagan, Meg Foley, Ruth Rieman, and Marina West, and create a comprehensive analysis of the County's final draft of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element.  A theme that appears throughout this detailed comment letter is the need for “clear and unambiguous definitions” and “stronger language in policy statements” that will lead to an effective Development Code.  We encourage you to read the letter before attending the August 8 Public Comment Meeting about the RECE, and to add your own comments at that meeting.  The meeting will be videoconferenced at the Bob Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree, beginning at 1:00 pm.

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Eblast July 14 2017

  • 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
 
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 comments
This 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 Monitoring
The 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 Park
When: 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 249
MBCA 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 Water  
MBCA 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 Defenders
The Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaignProtect 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 Clarke
Many 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 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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