News Updates

  • 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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  • MBCA Support Letter for Off Highway Vehicle Bill SB 249

    In early June, MBCA sent to the state Assembly's Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife a comment letter in support of SB 249 - Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Act.  It was also signed by representatives of the Alliance for Responsible Recreation and Community Off-Highway Vehicle Watch.

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  • Latest Effort Against Cadiz Water Project

    MBCA has signed on to a letter initiated by the National Parks Conservation Association in support of California Legislation (AB 1000 - Friedman - "Desert Groundwater Protection") 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 in the bill are expected during its consideration in order to prevent onerous state review requirements for local water district projects.  We will update you as this bill progresses. 

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  • Celebration of Life for MBCA Founder Susan Luckie Reilly

    Susan_Luckie_Reilly_BWF_award.jpg

    To mark the passing on her 101st birthday of longtime Morongo Basin resident Susan Luckie Reilly, who was also one of MBCA's key founders, a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, July 8 at 10:00 AM at the Bell Center of Copper Mountain College. Read details in this Press Release from Joshua Tree National Park.  Look to MBCA's History page to learn more about Susan's involvement and to read her own history of MBCA.  Local news stories from KCDZ-FM and the Hi Desert Star provide more background on her impact on the Morongo Basin and Joshua Tree National Park.  There is also an editorial in the local papers and a special article about her from 2006 entitled "10 Things to Know about Susan Luckie Reilly."  We are saddened by the loss of Susan, a Morongo Basin treasure, but grateful for her years of leadership and support on behalf of the  of the Basin and the Park.

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  • MBCA Comments on Lucerne/Ord Mountain Solar Proposal

    In another extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive document, MBCA Director Pat Flanagan on June 30 sent MBCA's official comment letter on the proposed Ord Mountain Solar and Energy Storage Project in Lucerne Valley to San Bernardino County Land Use Services.  In addition, 

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  • Eblast June 14, 2017

    • 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

     

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    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 Department
    John Oquendo, AICP, Senior Planner
    Email: John.Oquendo@lus.sbcounty.gov
    Snail mail: 15900 Smoke Tree Street, Suite 131, Hesperia, CA 92345

     


    Healthy California Act, SB 562: Public forum
    MBCA‘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 PM
    Where: 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 lands
     
    In 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 Monuments
    The 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 needed 
    MBCA 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 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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