Minerva Hoyt Award Event for Pat Flanagan

With dozens of family, friends, and conservation colleagues on hand, MBCA Director Pat Flanagan was presented with the 14th Minvera Hoyt Conservation Award in a ceremony at the Twentynine Palms Inn on Wednesday, May 8. Pat was honored for her decades of service to preserve the health of the Mojave Desert and its communities. MBCA members and supporters know her for the brilliant and detailed science-based public comment letters she prepares on behalf of MBCA to educate decision-makers on the problematic effects of many development projects. Here are a few photos from the event (photo quality isn't great but we thought you'd enjoy Pat's expressions on receiving her special gift!). 

Mark Lundquist, Field Representative for Supervisor James Ramos, presented Pat with the Minerva Hoyt Award and a bag of gifts. She also received commendations from numerous regional government representatives. 

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The next 3 photos show Pat receiving the surprise gift of her very own Purple Air sensor. In her recent research Pat has elaborated on the damages to human health caused by dangerous particulates blown into desert areas on existing "sand transport paths" due to scraping of land related to solar development. She has encouraged use of residential air quality monitors like this Purple Air sensor to alert air quality management regulators of this growing problem. She was clearly excited to now have her own sensor!
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MBCA is so very grateful for Pat's contributions to MBCA and many other organizations, helping to accomplish improvements to life in the Morongo Basin and the Mojave Desert.  

 
 
 
 
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MBCA Comments on Daggett Solar Energy Project

MBCA continues to monitor land developments that are potentially harmful to the Mojave Desert, and to make public comments during environmental review processes.  MBCA's recent comments on the Daggett Solar Energy Project - once again carefully researched and documented by Board member Pat Flanagan - have been sent as part of the scoping process for the Daggett Solar Energy Project. Among the nine points of concern described concerns are air quality, scenic views, biological resources, and environmental justice.

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Cadiz Project Threatens Bonanza Spring - New Scientific Study

A new peer-reviewed research study funded by the Mojave Desert Land Trust was published on April 13 in the Journal of Scientific Forensics.  The study concludes that the proposed Cadiz water-mining project would diminish the flow of water in the largest spring in the area - Bonanza Spring - and thus harm the viability of the flora and fauna that rely on it. The news release by the National Parks Conservation Association provides background and details, and KCDZ radio station's report includes a link to the Journal article.  The Desert Sun has also reported on the study.
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MBCA Director Pat Flanagan Named Minerva Hoyt Award Winner

MBCA Director Pat Flanagan is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Minerva Hoyt Conservation Award. Background for the award and a list of previous recipients can be found on the Joshua Tree National Park Association's webpage. Many MBCA supporters recognize Pat as the author of dozens of comprehensive comment letters representing the stance of MBCA and our communities on various development and conservation issues. Her comment letters contain eloquent defenses of the need for preserving desert environments and provide in-depth research with science-based and referenced evidence. MBCA is very pleased that this recognition is being made for Pat's stellar contributions to MBCA and the entire desert community over many years. 

Local radio station KCDZ has reported on Pat's award here.

The Minerva Hoyt Award Ceremony will occur in May; MBCA will announce the date and location when confirmed.  We hope many MBCA members and supporters will join us in celebrating Pat!

Pat_F_thoughtful.jpg      Pat_with_mustard.jpg

 

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Interior Department Reconsidering National Park Fee Increases

Last December, many Morongo Basin and Mojave Desert residents were among the over 100,000 individuals across the country who commented in opposition to extreme fee increases for a number of National Parks including Joshua Tree National Park. Owing to the huge negative response, the Department of the Interior is reevaluating their plan; increased fees are still expected, but in smaller amounts. This Washington Post article provides background and details, including quotations from some impassioned commenters, and here is the local report by radio station KCDZ.

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Update on Cadiz Water Project

The San Gabriel Valley Water District, having been approached to be a customer of Cadiz, Inc.'s proposed water project, declined the opportunity at its Board meeting on Tuesday, March 21.  MBCA has been informing our supporters for several years about the likely harm that will be done to East Mojave ecosystems should the company's plan be completed.  This March 22 Desert Sun article describes the current situation and summarizes the history of the project.  This LA Weekly article that we shared last fall provides a comprehensive look at the Project's history.

You can read MBCA's letter of March 20 to the Board of the San Gabriel Valley Water District, urging against ratification of a contract with the Cadiz Water Project.  

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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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Spreading the word about fugitive dust

MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has become recognized as an authority on the issues of dust pollution and sand transport paths in the Morongo Basin and others areas of the Mojave Desert.  In a followup to her recent presentation to the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, she was the key presenter at the February meeting of the Lucerne Valley/Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council about the issue, as reported in this article in the Victor Valley Daily Press. Pat's PowerPoint presentation on Sand Transport Paths contains a detailed explanation of the issue and its ramifications related to renewable energy development. Additionally, there is a segment at the end of the presentation explaining why MBCA and others are requesting that the County reinstate language in the Renewable Energy Conservation Element of the General Plan regarding renewable energy developments in rural communities.

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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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Resources for RECE and DRECP Comments

The information and links below are intended to assist you in responding to MBCA's February 14 Eblast request to contact the County Board of Supervisors about the County's Renewable Energy and Conservation Element, and about the proposed review of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan / DRECP.  

1. Here is the language in the County's Renewable Energy Element that we urge the Supervisors to retain as originally submitted.

RE Policy 4.10:  Prohibit utility-oriented RE project development on sites that would create adverse impacts on the quality of life or economic development opportunities in existing unincorporated communities.

RE 4.10.1:  Prohibit development of utility-oriented RE projects in the Rural Living Land use districts throughout the County.

RE 4.10.2 Prohibit development of utility- oriented RE projects within the boundaries of existing community plans, which at the time of adoption of this element are the Bloomington, Muscoy, Bear Valley, Crest Forest, Hilltop, Lake Arrowhead, Lytle Creek, Oak Glen, Homestead Valley, Joshua Tree, Lucerne Valley, Morongo Valley, Oak Hills and Phelan/Pinon Hills Community Plan.

RE 4.10.3 Establish exclusion areas in the Development Code regulations for renewable energy development, beginning with the prohibitions in Policies 4.10.1 and 4.10.2 and provide for additional exclusion areas, such as new community plan areas to be designated by amendment to the development code.

2.  Here is a link to the comprehensive Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan - DRECP that was finalized in September 2016 to designate focus areas for large-scale renewable energy development across the Mojave Desert and also conservation lands that should not be available for such development.

3.  Here are two version of a model/sample letter to the Supervisors, in PDF format that you may print and send with your signature, or you can download the letter as a Word document and edit it with your own personalized comments before sending. 

San Bernardino County Supervisors

385 North Arrowhead Avenue

San Bernardino, CA  92415

 

 

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