Eblasts

  • EBlast November 1, 2018

    San Bernardino County RECE Policy 4.10: Supervisors vote 11.6.18 
    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 expansion
    MBCA’s 50th Anniversary kick-off event: 1.26.2019

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    At long last the San Bernardino County Supervisors will consider the adoption of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) section 4.10 at their November 6th meeting. They will choose between two disparate visions to determine the fate of our desert regions for generations. Their decision will define Renewable Energy development in rural residential (RL) communities.

    On the Agenda of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Meeting will be "a public hearing to consider an amendment to the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the County General Plan. The proposed amendment would add the original Policy 4.10, a policy that would limit the areas where utility-oriented renewable energy projects will be permitted."

    In late May, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors that the original language of section 4.10 of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County Plan be retained rather than a variation that had been proposed by Land Use Services in 2017. Read our May 25, 2018 News Update for details on that vote. The original version of RECE 4.10 that the Planning Commission recommended (after extensive discussion) gives much greater protection to desert communities against inappropriate and/or excessive renewable energy projects compared to the LUS-recommended version that favors development.

    Do the Supervisors stand behind the residents or the developers of industrial RE? This is our final opportunity to speak out in defense of rural communities!

    The original version of RECE 4.10 embodies the perspective and wishes of many organizations and individuals across the high desert and reduces the chance that desert communities will be disadvantaged by a proliferation of large-scale renewable energy projects. There is however no certainty that the Supervisors will follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations in their final vote on RECE Policy 4.10.

    WHAT: San Bernardino County Supervisors meeting
    WHEN: Tuesday, November 6th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    WHERE:
    In person:
    San Bernardino County Government Center
    385 N Arrowhead Avenue
    San Bernardino, CA 92415

    Via remote video-conference:
    Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center
    63665 Twentynine Palms Highway
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252

    The presence and voices of residents definitely made a difference in the decision Planning Commissioners reached in May. A strong showing for our position is once again critical to a good outcome! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments. Residents in the unincorporated rural communities – once again – must urge Supervisors to select the original language to protect our rural lifestyle and natural environment. This vote would, as per the rest of the RECE, still permit utility-scale projects in the rest of the unincorporated County.The alternative opens a very dangerous door to utility-scale RE development in our unincorporated communities.  

    To differentiate between the Community Values option being considered for 4.10 vs. the “Developer Wants” option for 4.10 – your comments to Supervisors on Nov. 6th could focus on:

    • Small-Scale over the Large-Scale
    • Local Use over the Remote Use
    • Minimal Impact over the Maximum Impact
    • Water is Life over the Water is for Wasting
    • Clean Air over the Dust Storms
    • Scenic Vistas over the Industrialized View
    • Local Benefits over the Remote Benefits
    • Reality version over the Fantasy Community Compatibility Report version

    When the Supervisors vote, this strategy for comments will leave no doubt what side each Commissioner voted for! Utility scale RE is not compatible with rural residential communities!

    MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has submitted an opinion letter to the Hi Desert Star in support of the original RECE 4.10. A similar piece has been published in the Victor Valley Daily Press by Lucerne Valley resident Neil Nadler. UPDATE 11/2/18: A comment letter from LVEDA, the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association, has been sent to the Supervisors.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5

    The recent vote approved the expansion of the boundaries of Service Zone FP-5 and increased assessment fees. This was proposed as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year.

    In closing

    How could November 6th be a more important day for the future of both our local communities and our Country? We care, we VOTE and we will make our opinions known to our County Supervisors!

    A special note: MBCA will celebrate its 50th Anniversary working to protect our rural desert communities and environment in 2019. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, January 26, 2019 for what will be a stellar program with speakers of national stature at our Annual Meeting and Program. We will reflect on MBCA’s storied past and look forward to the next 50 years!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association 

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment 
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast October 8, 2018

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum
    San Bernardino Countywide Plan draft
    San Bernardino County Fire District Service Zone FP-5: parcel fee
    Cadiz Inc. groundwater harvesting project: AB 1000 update

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    After a bit of a summer hiatus, fall is here and things seem to be “heating up” again for the conservation community. Here’s what MBCA is tracking for you:

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum

    To provide additional perspective on local election contests for conservation minded voters of the Morongo Basin, MBCA contacted 21 candidates for town/city council and water district board positions (contested positions).

    Candidates were offered the opportunity to reply to a single question that was both relevant to the office they seek and that touched on our interest in Morongo Basin’s rural character, economic well-being, and available resources.

    For the candidates who responded to our questions, you can click on their name to read their response. We thank them for sharing their views on the issues that are important to Morongo Basin’s conservation-minded voters.

    Click here to access the Candidate Virtual Forum page.

    NOTE: The Voter Registration deadline is October 22 to vote in the November 6 General Election. For information, including links to online registration and the California General election, click here.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan & Community Plans (aka Action Plans) A full house of residents attended the County Land Use Service (LUS) regional meeting on September 10th at the Joshua Tree Community Center. LUS staff and a consultant working with the County presented up-dated information on the revised draft Countywide Plan and Community specific plans (now known as Action Plans.) After the LUS staff presentation, the audience was invited to ask questions and provide “feedback.”

    Residents in the Morongo Basin expressed great concern in the first round of Open Houses that Community Plans were not to be included within the revised Countywide Plan. The concern is that eliminating Community Plans from the Countywide Plan denies the Community Plans the legal strength of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) In response to a question asked about this, Colin Drucker, the consultant for the County, presented a table showing a “Policy Matrix” listing each goal and policy from the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan and where it will be found or addressed in the future County Policy Plan. A “Policy Matrix” was created for each of the existing Community Plan. Click here for the Joshua Tree Community Policy Matrix.

    LUS staff spoke to a primary goal and accomplishment of the draft Countywide Plan as to simplify, eliminate duplication, and make the plan accessible to the LUS staff, as well as the public. This will also be an “interactive” Plan– all pertinent policy, zoning and maps will be accessible and searchable online.

    The County staff accepted every question presented by the audience and responded to each. While concerns and skepticism remain with several local groups in Joshua Tree, Homestead Valley and Lucerne Valley about the Community “Action Plans,” it was my impression that the response overall was that the audience convened in Joshua Tree felt the County made a good effort. Their response to questions was respectful, informed, and clear.

    Per the County’s announcement of the meeting, it was stated that earlier public input lead directly to substantial changes to the Draft Countywide Plan documents and maps. For example, areas of Joshua Tree have been downzoned for lower-density. Also, the commercial district around Turtle Island is to be rezoned as “franchise free” in response to residents’ suggestions.

    The current Countywide Plan is incorporating two laws passed since the last general plan update: SB 379 and SB 1000. SB 379 requires that a general plan include a safety element for the protection of the community from unreasonable risks associated with the effects of various geologic hazards, flooding, and wildland and urban fires. SB 1000 further requires that the safety element plan address climate adaptation and resilience. The Countywide Plan will encourage growth within areas that have existing infrastructure. This encouragement is reflected within the very low growth rate anticipated for the desert areas.

    We’re still waiting to know when section 4.10 of the RECE (the County Renewable Conservation Element), long delayed in implementation, is expected to be on the Supervisors’ agenda in October. Section 4.10 concerns utility scale development in existing Community Plan boundaries and in RL zoned land. We will want to be present in the Supervisors’ chambers to continue our pressure for implementation of the original language vs. the developer friendly version. If you’ve been following this saga, you know that after a vigilant community effort the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the original language be implemented – residents must continue to weigh in as the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas. Read about the Planning Commission action in MBCA’s May 25 News Update.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 A special meeting on August 27th at the Joshua Tree Community Center and other locations was sponsored by County Fire to provide information about the expansion of the boundaries Service Zone FP-5 boundaries and increased assessment fees.

    The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, as well as the County Fire Protection Districts Fire Chief, announced plans to expand Service Zone FP-5 as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. They also stated that current property tax revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of providing fire and emergency medical services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year. Public Notices have been mailed to all parcel owners.

    For detailed information, including San Bernardino County Fire Chief’s PowerPoint presentation on FP-5, including a PDF of the protest form – click here.

    Opposition has been expressed by organizations that include the Homestead Valley Communities (HVCC) and LVEDA (Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.)  Here’s the link to the Fire Tax Q&A posed by Chuck Bell, President of LVEDA to Supervisor Ramos. For an edited list of Molly Wilshire’s, Supervisor Ramos chief of staff, responses to some questions posed by LVEDA, see below:

      ‘All FP-5 proceeds must be spent in the service zone in which they were generated.

    Any contiguous parcels, improved or unimproved may be combined through the Assessor’s Office process, for a one-time fee of $108.00.  This is for the purpose of the assessment only.  There is a link on our website that will take you to the Assessor’s Office form and procedure(s). (Here is the link for the County's contiguous parcels combination and recession form AOS-047 which also contains directions for this process.)

    The assessment will provide parity across the district for all parcel owners to pay the same amount for fire, rescue and EMS services.  Whether developed or undeveloped, the need for service on vacant or improved land cannot be anticipated whether the need for service be due to man-made or natural disaster. 

    The protest forms can be obtained by those not having computer access by calling the fire district to request a form to be mailed to any address provided.  The absence of the protest form in the mailer was not contrived, but was simply following the accepted protest process procedures.’

    • October 15, 2018: Last day to receive mail in protest letters. Must be received by close of business.
    • October 16, 2018: Last day to receive walk in protest letters. Must be received by the closing of the public hearing.
    • October 16, 2018: Public Hearing 10am, San Bernardino County Government Center, 1st Floor Covington Chamber.

    Desert Groundwater Protection – State Assembly bill AB 1000

    As you probably know by now, after strong public lobbying to state legislators in support of AB 1000 – “Desert Groundwater Protection” - that sought to increase California’s involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring “a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert,” the bill died after being shelved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the final day of the legislative session. This outcome struck a huge blow to all advocates of California desert conservation.

    The bill would have required a new state environmental review before the company could move forward with its plan to pump groundwater out of the Mojave Desert to sell for their profit to Southern California cities.

    As reported in the Desert Sun: “It is a failure of the legislative leadership to follow through on its stated commitment to preserve California from the onslaughts of the Trump administration” said Chris Clarke, California desert program manager for the NPCA. “We had the votes in the Senate. The legislature as a whole was ready to act on this. They were prevented by leadership”.

    A major hurdle to be cleared before up to 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater per year is pumped from land surrounded by the Mojave Trails National Monument is the conveyance of the water from the desert via the Colorado aqueduct.  As of today the Metropolitan Water District has not granted permission to utilize the aqueduct, citing potential concerns of mixing chromium 6 tainted water with Colorado River water.

    MBCA will continue to track this threat to desert springs and wildlife. We will join conservation partners in lobbying that the project must undergo a state environmental review. Here’s a link to our August 30 News Update about Cadiz.

    MBCA’s Community Calendar

    Don’t forget to check the Calendar for the MBCA curated community events that we think are of interest to Members and Supporters! Several events have been added since our previous E-Blast, including several on desert-wise plants and landscaping, both locally and in the Coachella Valley.

    Permaculture lecture and 2-day course at the Harrison House (October 12-14)

    Climate Change Assessment Symposium at UCR. (October 12)

    Giant Rock Round Table (October 18)

    Desert Garden Community Day at UCR (October 27)

    Bats of the Coachella Valley Lecture and Film Premiere (October 30)

    Healing, Helpful, and Edible Native Plants workshop (November 3)

    Thanks again for your attention and support in these challenging times. We need to be vigilant and keep informed! MBCA remains strong in commitment to our mission to protect our rural lifestyle. We so appreciate everything our community does to protect the healthy desert environment that sustains our well-being.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 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

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character,
    cultural wealth and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • Eblast2 August 27, 2018

    UPDATE: Extended deadline to make calls to stop Cadiz - Friday, Aug. 31st

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    I have additional details on the Cadiz water-harvesting bill before the State Senate. If you haven’t already made calls to both Senator Fuller and Assemblyman Mayes there is still time: the Senate deadline to vote on the bill is midnight Friday, August 31st.  

    Continue to make calls to both Senator Fuller & Assemblyman Mayes through Friday!

    Please also note a corrected phone number for Senator Fuller’s Morongo Basin office, listed below. As I mentioned in the E-Blast earlier today, even if you made calls on behalf of the previous version (AB-1000), we need you to call again now in support of SB-120!

    Takes less than a minute each to make phone calls to:

    Assemblyman Chad Mayes 
    Capitol office 916-319-2042
    District office 760-346-6342

    Senator Jean Fuller
    Capitol office 916-651-4016

    Morongo Basin office 760-228-3136 (apologies, there was a typo in the phone number listed in previous E-Blast – this is the correct number.)

    Provide the staffer who answers the phone or the answering machine:

    1) your name,
    2) the city you live in,
    3) that you (or your business/organization) support SB-120, and
    4) that you urge the Senator/Assemblyman to support SB-120 to protect California from the disastrous Cadiz project.

    Thanks again for taking a few minutes out of your day – to stop the horrendous Cadiz water-harvesting scheme!

     

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environmen
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast August 27, 2018

    TODAY, Monday, August 27th call to protect Mojave desert ground water: SB-120 goes to vote tomorrow, Tuesday.

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    We’ve come down to the wire! We need you make two calls TODAY, Monday, August 27th to our State Senator and Assemblyman in the California legislature urging their support of SB-120 to protect Mojave Desert springs and ground water.

    Even if you made calls on behalf of the previous version (AB-1000), we need you to call again now in support of SB-120!

    You know about the Cadiz corporation planned project to pump 16 billion gallons of ground water each year for 50 years that would affect springs within Mojave Trails National Monument to sell to a water company in coastal Orange County.

    MBCA and our conservation partners, including the National Park Conservation Association have been engaged in a lengthy struggle to defeat the Trump-backed Cadiz water-mining project.

    Takes less than a minute each to make phone calls to:

    Assemblyman Chad Mayes
    Capitol office 916-319-2042
    District office 760-346-6342

    Senator Jean Fuller
    Capitol office 916-651-4016
    Morongo Basin office 760-228-3136

    Provide the staffer who answers the phone or the answering machine:

    1) your name,
    2) the city you live in,
    3) that you (or your business/organization) support SB-120, and
    4) that you urge the Senator/Assemblyman to support SB-120 to protect California from the disastrous Cadiz project.

    We have support from Senator Feinstein, Governor Brown, Lt. Governor Newsom, and Assembly Speaker Rendon, but Cadiz is a formidable opponent with power and money that is influencing the political process. Still, we have a good chance of getting this bill passed this week – with your help.

    Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day – this is a once in our life-time critical step to protect the fragile Mojave ecosystem groundwater! I know we can count on you!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast August 19, 2018

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan – LUS regional meetings
    San Bernardino County Fire Service Zone parcel fees – special meeting
    San Bernardino County RECE 4.10
    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project
    Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    When it rains in the desert, it pours! We have another round of issue updates for you this week. A few “save the dates” along with other updates. Thanks for your attention.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan & Community Plans: regional meeting

    When: Monday, Sept.10, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

    Where: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Ave

    The County is hosting a second round of regional meetings in September to hear feedback on the revised Countywide Plan and Community Plans (see below for note on Community Plans,) draft goals and policies, community actions, and the land use map. It will be the main agenda item for the monthly Morongo Basin MAC meeting. After a presentation by LUS staff, the audience will have the chance to respond with “feedback.”

    Per the County’s announcement of the meeting, earlier public input lead directly to substantial changes to the Draft Countywide Plan documents and maps.

     Residents in the Morongo Basin expressed great concern in the first round of Open Houses that Community Plans were not to be included within the revised Countywide Plan. Eliminating Community Plans from the Countywide Plan denies the Community Plans the legal strength of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) Our Community Plans must be respected and have adequate power of law to function with authority. How will this be addressed in the revised Draft Countywide and Community Plans? The flyer for this round of regional meetings notes that Draft Community Plans have been renamed ‘Community Action Guides’. Please attend to understand the implications of this re-name, and what the other proposed revisions, could be!

    Check the County’s Open House page for the flyer announcement of all 9 Community Meetings across the County, plus more details about the Open House format and links to Community Plans.

     San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District: special meeting

    A special meeting sponsored by County Fire to provide information about the expansion of the boundaries Service Zone FP-5 boundaries and increased assessment fees.

    When: Monday, August 27th

    Where: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6:00 PM

    The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, as well as the County Fire Protection Districts Fire Chief, announced plans to expand Service Zone FP-5 as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. They also state that current property tax revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of providing fire and emergency medical services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year.

    A 30 day protest period has been established along with a scheduled public hearing set for October 16, 2018 to allow the public to express their opinions regarding the expansion of the FP-5 Service Zone.

    • September 14, 2018: Public Notices mailed to all parcel owners.
    • October 15, 2018: Last day to receive mail in protest letters. Must be received by close of business.
    • October 16, 2018: Last day to receive walk in protest letters. Must be received by the closing of the public hearing.
    • October 16, 2018: Public Hearing 10am, San Bernardino County Government Center, 1st Floor Covington Chamber.

    Go to the County’s Service Zone FP-5 page for more detailed information including a map, FAQs, and listings of other community meetings about the issue.

    The Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE), section 4.10

    RECE, section 4.10 will be scheduled on the County Board of Supervisors agenda within the next two months. When it is announced, we’ll let you know to “save the date.” It will be important again for residents to weigh in as the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas. If we don’t tell our story to defend our communities from large-scale RE, the RE industry will tell theirs and tip the balance! Desert communities have spoken clearly: no large scale RE in residential communities!

    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project

    As reported in previous the e-Blast, Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar sued the developers of JT Solar in CEQA court and the project is in a court monitored “stay.” There is another impediment to the project: the developer NextEra’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison Power expired in early 2017.

    Eagle Crest Energy Company Pumped Storage Project

    The previous E-Blast reviewed the status of this project. We can now confirm that the Desert Protection Society (DPS) will file an Appeal to the BLM right-of-way approval. It is hoped this action will block Congressman Paul Cook’s sponsored bill H.R. 5817 to authorize an extension of Eagle Crest’s missed deadline to commence construction.

    While purported to be a renewable energy project, damage to Joshua Tree National Park’s ecological balance seems certain.

    We should note for those of you who are not aware, the passing of renowned desert activist, Donna Charpied on November 11, 2017.  A true champion of the desert and an inspiration to many, Donna and her husband Larry were recipients of the Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award in 2005. Donna devoted her life to fighting assaults on Eagle Mountain and founded the Desert Protection Society. While she is genuinely irreplaceable, the DPS carries on with the work Donna was so passionate about. Thank you DPS board of directors!

     

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

     

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast August 9, 2018

    Cadiz / Assembly Bill 1000
    Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project
    San Bernardino County RECE 4.10
    Altamira Gated Community Project
    Joshua Tree Solar Project

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    The previous e-Blasts in May and June encouraged you to submit comments to BLM for WEMO (West Mojave route network), along with a call to turn out for the County Planning Commission hearing on RECE (Renewable Energy Conservation Element) section 4.10 - since then we’ve had a welcomed hiatus from deadlines!

    I hope you’ve been able to catch your breath this summer, relax and attend to your personal lives. The need to respond in defense of the desert environment often competes for our attention and precious time! Along with the other MBCA directors, know that we appreciate the time you give - your attention, support and activism to the MBCA mission.

    So with optimism that you are recharged, there is something to put on your “to do” list, plus updates to long-standing issues.

    Cadiz / Assembly Bill 1000 – the “to do”

    The California Assembly has one more opportunity to curtail the Cadiz corporation plan to pump 16 billion gallons of ground water each year for 50 years from springs within Mojave Trails National Monument to sell to a water company in coastal Orange County. AB 1000 was introduced to the California Assembly last year and is now held by the State Appropriations committee. This bill is intended to reverse the Trump administration action that eliminated Federal requirements for the project. AB 1000 would require additional scrutiny before allowing plans to commence the export of desert groundwater for profit.

    If Cadiz begins pumping, the consequences will be dire to natural springs and the plants and animals that depend on them. It would do irreparable damage to Mojave Trails National Monument. Let’s do what we can do curtail this!

    Contact the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, State Senator Anthony Portantino, with this simple message:

    • protect the Mojave desert’s natural springs and ground water;
    • as a leader you expect him to release & help pass AB1000. 

    Phone calls to Mr. Portantino’s district office are best:

    (818) 409-0400(ask for Vickere Murphy or the environmental staff member)

    - or send an e-mail.

    Also make calls to your state legislators. Morongo Basin residents can open MBCA's Decision-Maker Contact Information page to find clickable links to email State Assemblyman Chad Mayes and State Senator Jean Fuller.

    For more background read the Mojave Desert Blog’s overview, “Should Orange County Get Mojave Desert Groundwater?”

    Eagle Crest Energy Company Pumped Storage Project

    As reported in MBCA News recently, BLM approved the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project. The most recent News Update highlighted that the Company missed the mid-June construction deadline at the former Eagle Mountain Mine site near Desert Center. Intending to breathe new life into the project, Congressman Paul Cook sponsored Congressional bill H.R. 5817 to authorize an extension of Eagle Crest's commencement of construction. It was introduced into the House of Representatives and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The next action for the bill will be Mark Up where it can be amended and then Ordered to be Reported for a floor vote in the House.

    Eagle Crest Energy Company has yet to find a buyer for the power generated in the proposed hydro-pumping plant, it is also likely they would have to go through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process again, and there’s new science about aquifer recharge rates that could jeopardize the project.

    Environmental activist Donna Charpied devoted her life to fighting assaults on Eagle Mountain, including the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage project and other schemes that preceeded it. The organization she founded, The Desert Protection Society (DPS) continues the fight. It is expected DPS will appeal the BLM right-of-way approval. While purported to be a renewable energy project, damage to Joshua Tree National Park’s ecological balance seems certain.

    MBCA signed a letter along with conservation partners including the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds, Basin and Ranch Watch, opposing the bill or any other legislative extension of the Eagle Crest construction permit.

    San Bernardino County General Plan RECE 4.10

    We’re still waiting to hear when the Board of Supervisors will hear and decide on Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE), section 4.10. You may recall in May the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the original version endorsed by MBCA and residents throughout the rural desert to prohibit industrial scale RE development in Community Plan areas. The Commission wisely rejected an Alternative 4.10 version that favored developers. When RECE comes back before the Supervisors it will be another call-to-action for us to emphatically demand defense of the rural residential quality of life in the desert areas. It is assured that the solar industry representatives are lobbying Land Use Services and the Supervisors on behalf of development. We must be present when the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas - to tell our story and defend our communities from RE industrialization. When MBCA hears news about 4.10 appearing on the Supervisors’ Agenda, we will let you know to “save the date”!

    Altamira Gated Community Project

    MBCA Director David Fick working with other Joshua Tree residents reports another ‘settlement meeting’ was held in July 2018 with the Altamira project developers. The project remains in a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) court-monitored “stay” which halts the legal process in a trial or other legal proceeding. It is unclear how much longer or even if the “stay” would be extended or how the issues with the developers will be resolved. The opposition remains vigilant in monitoring and negotiating a settlement that favors concerns about the harmful environmental and social impacts to the Joshua Tree community.

    We wanted you to know that MBCA has not forgotten about Altamira. When there is news to report, MBCA will relay it to you.

    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project

    Joshua Tree residents opposing the solar project also sued the developers of JT Solar in CEQA court. This project is also in a court monitored “stay.” The developer, NextEra, has completely fenced 110 acres of one million dollar land, but can proceed no further during the “stay.”

    Again, we have not lost sight of the project. This is another case of opponents slowing down a controversial project from moving forward. You will be notified when there is news about JT Solar.

    Calendar of Community Events

    The MBCA website’s Calendar of Community Events is a terrific way to keep tabs on events in the Basin of interest to the environmental, historical and community minded. You’ll find the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory meetings, Morongo Basin Historical Society lectures, MBCA Board meetings, Hi Desert Nature Museum Brown Bag Lunch lectures, Old Schoolhouse Lectures by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and The Desert Institute of JT National Park Association, and more. Check it out!

    In closing

    The MBCA directors will meet for our annual board retreat later in August. This is our opportunity to have a full day to take in the big picture, assess the past year and look ahead to what’s ahead. 2018 will mark MBCA’s 50thanniversary in service to the Morongo Basin. As the Basin’s oldest organization with a focus on the natural environment and our communities’ quality of life, we take our role seriously as challenges mount with increased pressures from growth and the effects of climate change. Directors will work to be prepared to anticipate and equipped to respond. We welcome your input – if you have ideas, critiques, or suggestions, please let us know: http://www.mbconservation.org/contact_us. We look to you to join us in the work, as well as in the 50thcelebrations ahead!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

     

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • Eblast June 11, 2018

    WEMO comments DEADLINE this Thursday, 6/14/18

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    Time to get your BLM West Mojave Route system (WEMO) response comments composed and sent by the deadline this Thursday!

    There is some good news in Alternative # 2 – many dirt roads in Wonder Valley and other areas have been designated “Street Legal Vehicles Only.” Let the BLM know you support SLO in rural neighborhoods with checker boarded with BLM and private property!

    For a full update, go to MBCA's previous news update on this topic, which has links to the COW website for insights and recommendations for making substantive comments.

    The Wilderness Society has also posted a website with a form letter that you can use and a link to the BLM for sending comments directly.

    This is our chance to assist the BLM in getting it right – to send a very strong message from Basin residents to make our dirt roads STREET LEGAL ONLY for Motorized vehicle use. This will reduce conflicts with OVH’s that we know only too well

    If you do not have the time to compose individualized comments, use the COW or Wilderness Society templates. Thanks for your attention to this issue that is core to our quality of life in the Mojave desert.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President

    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

     

    Your 2018 MBCA Board

       David Fick, Vice President                        Steve Bardwell, Treasure
    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

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures the region’s rural character,
    cultural wealth and economic well-being.

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • Eblast May 18, 2018

    SB County RECE 4.10: Planning Commission hearing, THURSDAY, 5/24/18

    • Complimentary MBTA bus transportation from JT – RSVP!

    WEMO: comments due Thursday, 6/14/18

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    One last reminder about the critically important …
    San Bernardino Co. Planning Commission hearing: RECE 4.10
    WHEN:  May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE:  County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and remote video-conference facilities in Joshua Tree and Hesperia (see below for locations)

    Speak up to protect our Communities from utility scale Renewable Energy development in existing community plan areas and Rural Living land use districts!

    Advocate for Policy 4.10 as proposed on Aug. 8, 2017! The newly revealed Staff Recommendation for Policy 4.10 opens the door to developers for the industrialization of our communities!

    We can make a difference if we show up and speak out! Speakers have 3 minutes to present their comments. To prepare, carefully read the County's recent report on the original and edited versions of RECE 4.10, then review MBCA’s perspective in this summary that opposes the revisions.

    Participate remotely from the JT or Hesperia’s video conferencing
    WHERE: Burke Government Building, 63665 29 Palms Highway
    OR:Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, Hesperia
             15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131
    WHEN: 9AM

    If you cannot attend the PC Hearing, submit written comments to
    Linda Mawby, Senior Planner (Linda.Mawby@lus.sbcounty.gov).

     

    WEMO
    The BLM has published the latest draft of the West Mojave Route system (aka WEMO) on March 16, 2018. Public response comments wlll be accepted through June 14th.

    There is some good news in Alternative # 2 – many dirt roads in Wonder Valley and other areas have been designated “street legal vehicles only” per many residents’ suggestions!

    For a full update, go to this May 17 MBCA News Update with links to the COW (Community ORV Watch) website for insights and recommendations on making substantive comments.

    In closing
    See you in San Bernardino next Thursday at the Planning Commission hearing or I’ll watch you comment remotely on the video screen there as you make comments from JT or Hesperia. We’ll make a full-report on RECE in the next E-Blast – hopefully with good news!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 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

     

    www.mbconservation.org 

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.



    {{ broadcaster.name }}
    {{ settings.site.full_url }}

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast May 11, 2018

    Protect our Communities Now
    We are not exaggerating

    Learn what you need to know and do at the
    MAC meeting Monday, May 14 @ 5:30 PM in JT Community Center


    WHAT: MAC (Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council)
    WHEN: Monday, May 14, 2018 - NOTE NEW TIME, 5:30 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center – 6171 Sunburst Ave

    • WEMO (BLM West Mojave Routes of Travel)

    Yes, it’s back and we are on it. This time around it will be easier to comment. Learn the what, when, and how at the MAC.

    • Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) Policy 4.10 and subsections

    Utility Scale Solar Projects could be in our future –

    County Land Use Services has drafted a new ‘Staff Recommended’ Policy 4.10 that could bring large scale solar to the Morongo Basin, Lucerne Valley, Daggett, and Newberry Springs – rural communities with flat terrain and transmission. Read between the Staff Recommended lines here.

    Then attend the Planning Commission Hearing,
    Thursday, May 24, 9 AM.

    The Planning Commission will decide to Prohibit Solar or 
    to Allow Solar in rural residential communities.

    WHEN: Thursday, May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE: County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and also remote videoconference sites in Hesperia and Joshua Tree.

    Free bus transportation from Morongo Basin to attend this meeting

    MBCA encourages you to attend the hearing in San Bernardino to make the greatest impact. If you would like to reserve a seat on a free bus to this Planning Commission Hearing, email us: info@mbconservation.org. You will receive an email with all details when they are known. Generally, there will be a meeting point in the Morongo Basin at about 7AM on May 24, and the return will be approximately 2-3PM.

    If you are not able to make the trek to San Bernardino, please participate remotely from the video conferencing center at the Joshua Tree Burke Government Building (63665 29 Palms Highway) or the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia (15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131).

    A strong showing for our position is critical! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments.

    Thanks for your attention and participation. We can make a difference – only if we show up and speak out!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 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

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

    Add your reaction Share
  • 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/

     

    Add your reaction Share

See all Eblasts


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.