News Updates

  • 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.

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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: 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:


    (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!



    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


    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment

    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth

    and economic well-being.


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  • 2018 Annual Meeting Review


    An engaged audience of about 40 enjoyed two presentations at MBCA's Annual Meeting on Saturday, February 10 at the Center for Healthy Generations. President Sarah Kennington provided an overview of 2017's main issues and achievements and noted that the Board will be planning some special events for 2019, which will be MBCA's 50th anniversary.  


    Permaculture educator Jill Giegerich provided a comprehensive introduction to the concepts and practices of permaculture that elicited questions and enthusiasm.  Program evaluations indicated a strong interest in finding out more about permaculture.  The evaluation also asked "What do you think MBCA does best?" and we were gratified to read responses like "Stands up for the environment" and "Spreading info from all MB orgs - a one place to learn about all."  


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  • Review of DRECP - Comments Needed

    After years of consultation and public input (including hundreds of letters and in-person comments from Morongo Basin residents), the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan carved out 388,000 acres of public land in the Mojave Desert for renewable-energy development and set aside 5 million acres, or 7,812 square miles, for conservation.  Due to the President’s December Executive Order "Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth," the BLM has initiated a 45-day public comment period that began February 2, 2018.  Here is the Federal Register document initiating the comment period and providing details on the areas of inquiry and how to comment.  MBCA will be providing information and suggestions for comments in the near future.  Here are several news articles on the issue; the titles provide a picture of what is at stake:  “Trump administration signals move against California desert protection plan” from the San Francisco Chronicle; “Trump administration takes aim at California desert protection plan” from the Los Angeles Times; “Trump plan could undo preservation of millions of acres of California desert for renewable energy development” from the Riverside Press Enterprise.

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  • County Report on Section 6/DVCA

    At the Monday, January 8 meeting of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, County District Services Coordinator Frank Haggard presented a slide show demonstrating the County's plans for the Desert View Conservation Area, known by many residents as Section 6.  This day-use-only area has been overwhelmed with National Park visitors illegally using it as an overflow campground, causing disruption to nearby residents and damage to the property.  The plans include hiking trails, a shade shelter, signage, and parking.  Additional information can be found in this KCDZ news story and in these notes made by a local resident. Residents with questions, comments, or an interest in volunteering to help with this project should call 760.366.8415.

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  • Eblast January 8, 2018

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

    - MBCA’s Palen Solar Project Comment letter


    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,


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


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


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


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


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


    MBCA Annual Meeting and Permaculture Program: SAVE THE DATE!

    WHEN: Saturday, February 10, 2018

    WHERE: Center for Healthy Generations, Yucca Valley

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


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


    MBCA sends comment on Palen Solar

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


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

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


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






    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President


    Your 2018 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer  

    Marina West, Recording Secretary             Pat Flanagan, Director        

    Meg Foley, Director                                     Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                 Ruth Rieman, Director

    Laraine Turk, Director                                 Seth Shteir, Director


    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment

    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth

    and economic well-being.


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  • MBCA Sends Comment on Palen Solar

    MBCA sent a comprehensive comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Palen Solar Power Project.  We support the No Action Alternative "as the only alternative which will do no harm to the biological and cultural integrity of the landscape."  The detailed examination written by our scientist Board member Pat Flanagan describes conflicts involving hydrology, biological resources, cultural resources, visual resources, and air quality.  In the document you will find photos and maps that illustrate our position. 
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  • Comment Deadline on Palen Solar is Dec 11

    The latest deadline for comments on the Palen Solar Project in Riverside County is December 11.  Here is the BLM webpage explaining the project alternatives.  This BLM press release gives details on how to comment.  We are also providing two already-submitted comment letters to inform you of important issues you should consider in your own comment.  Basin and Range Watch has provided a comprehensive overview of concerns and their letter includes maps and illustrations.  The second comment letter by Alfredo Acosta Figueroa and Patricia Robles is on behalf of La Cuna de Aztlán Sacred Sites Protection Circle, and includes a great deal of information about why this land is sacred to tribal members.  The attachments to the letter by La Cuna de Azlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle provide an extensive exploration and explanation of tribal sacred sites in desert areas that would be affected by the proposed Palen solar plant:  Sacred Sites Attachments Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


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  • Monuments Statement by CDC President

    A recent Letter to the Editor by MBCA supporter and California Desert Coalition President April Sall in the Hi Desert Star offers a comprehensive review of the issues surrounding use of the Antiquities Act for designating National Monuments and why Obama's designations should not be altered or overturned. As a Pioneertown native and desert activist, Sall has been a passionate champion for National Monuments in the Mojave Desert for many years.
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