Eblast May 2, 2019

  • Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!
  • Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307
  • Alta Mira Development Defeated!
  • Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park!
  • West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO) Land Use Plan Amendment published
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Yucca Valley, May 18, 2019

Submit your Desert-Wise Living Essay!
Many thanks to all of the sponsors, hosts and volunteers who made the ninth Desert Wise Landscape tour a success! I encourage everyone, hosts, docents and visitors to write a short essay describing your experience with the tour to be eligible for gift certificates offered by Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley, and Unique Nursery in Yucca Valley. Please see the Essay Contest page on our web site for information on how to enter.

Stop Cadiz! Support SB-307
SB-307 (Roth) would prohibit the use of a water conveyance facility to transfer water from a groundwater basin underlying desert lands unless the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources finds that the transfer will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources of the land. This bill would subject the controversial Cadiz water project to the desperately needed environmental review it has so far evaded. The State Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider this bill on May 6, 2019. Contact Senator Anthony Portantino, (916) 651-4025, chair of the Appropriations Committee and primary co-author of the legislation, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (916-651-4039) to urge them to approve and send SB-307 to the floor for a vote. Should the Senate approve the bill, it will then go to the State Assembly where a similar bill won by a 2/3 majority in 2018. Stay tuned as we track the progress of this vitally important legislation.

Alta Mira Development Defeated!
To settle the CEQA lawsuit filed by the JT105 Alliance, the Board of Supervisors voted on April 16 to rescind the entitlements for the inappropriate and ill-conceived 105 acre, 248 lot gated subdivision, known as the Alta Mira housing development proposed for Joshua Tree, effectively ending the decade-long opposition to this project. This victory has been achieved through the exceptional efforts of the local community in mounting legal challenges to the development. The legal challenges were funded through generous contributions and the unflagging efforts of members of the community. Well done and congratulations to all who helped to secure this victory!

Paradise Valley Development Threatens Joshua Tree National Park
So, just as we announce the defeat of Alta Mira, another inappropriate and damaging development is under review in Riverside County. An 1,848-acre community within a 5,000-acre specific plan boundary would, if approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, be constructed directly on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. This development with 8,490 new dwelling units, approximately 20,000 residents, and up to 1,380,000 square feet of non-residential development would have a tremendous affect on the Park.

Paradise Valley is within the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). This plan was crafted over many years with input from the many stakeholders including developers, the building trades, and the conservation community. A condition of any development within the plan boundary is that a joint project review (JPR) be undertaken to enable thorough evaluation of a project. Riverside County has not required a JPR for Paradise Valley and the continued viability of the MSHCP is now in danger.

Chris Clarke, of the National Park Conservation Association has stated: This new city would place 20-25,000 new human residents directly along the southern border of the park, furthering the urban walling-off of the park, with serious consequences for the ecological integrity of the park.

We encourage you to learn about this ill-conceived development by reviewing the information from the Riverside County planning department and to write, email or call the Project Planner: Russell Brady ([email protected]) at Riverside County Planning Department PO Box 1409 Riverside, CA 92502-1409. (951) 955-3025. Should the project be approved by the Planning Commission, it will then go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval. This project is located within the 4th district now represented by V. Manuel Perez who may be contacted via email at: [email protected].

As of this writing, it is unclear if the Planning Commission will choose to ‘continue’ this item to another date due to several outstanding issues; notably a traffic study, a hydrological study and a spring biological study. Currently the Riverside County Planning Commission is set to consider this application at 9:30 am on May 15, 2019 at 75-515 E. Hovley Lane, Palm Desert, CA 92211. Please stay tuned and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

West Mojave Route Network Project (WEMO)  Land Use Plan Amendment published
The West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) is now available for download. The deadline for protests in the latest chapter of this excruciating WEMO process is May 28, 2019. Our conservation partners, Community ORV Watch, have prepared a preliminary analysis of the recently released documents. The current mapping system uses an entirely web-based interface as opposed to the PDF maps that were utilized in the past. Our previous comments and efforts appear to have made a difference and this is reflected in Alternative 5, the BLM’s Proposed Action Alternative. Many of the short, discontinuous route segments within checkerboarded communities have now been designated as Street Legal Only. This is a good step towards controlling unwelcome and disruptive OHV use within our residential communities.

We encourage you to study and digest the MANY documents and extremely detailed maps that have been posted on the BLM website.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop: Saturday, May 18, 2019
A free workshop designed to teach participants how to craft meaningful, substantive comments in opposition to inappropriate developments on public land. The workshop is being offered at this time because more desert advocates are needed to defend the desert we love.  We are faced with increasingly complex public policy issues, such as the reopening of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) that will affect every aspect of the quality of life in the desert, and the soon-to-be-published WEMO LUPA (Land Use Plan Amendment) and SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) (see above). This workshop is being organized by the environmental lawyers from Advocates of the West (https://advocateswest.org/), and the California Desert Coalition (https://www.cadesertcoalition.org). MBCA and the Conservation Lands Foundation are also providing support for this event. For more information see the NEPA Workshop event listing on MBCA’s Calendar page. Please RSVP to [email protected] by May 12, 2019.

Thanks again to all the members and supporters of MBCA for your continued interest and activism!


Steve Bardwell President
Morongo Basin Conservation Association

Your 2019 MBCA Board 

Steve Bardwell, President                          Pat Flanagan, Director       
David Fick, Vice President                         Meg Foley, Director
Laraine Turk, Recording Secretary            Mike Lipsitz, Director
Marina West, Treasurer                             Ruth Rieman, Director
Sarah Kennington, Past President             Seth Shteir, Director


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