Eblasts

  • EBlast August 3, 2020

    Desert Wise Living Landscape Desert Tour 2020 goes virtual!

    Petition to list yucca brevifolia as a threatened species

    Opposition to Eagle Crest pumped storage project

    Reject nomination of William Pendley to head BLM

    Daggett Solar Energy project update

    Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease in the Morongo Basin

    Complete the 2020 Census

    Support MBCA through Amazon Smile

     

    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour 2020 goes virtual!
    The 10th annual Desert Wise Landscaping tour is nearly ready to view. The final cut is now being edited and music added. We are extremely pleased with the quality of the production and are excited to share the work with you, our members and supporters. We plan to release the 5 Virtual Tour videos very soon. The announcement will be made via email and also on our Facebook and Instagram sites. We are most appreciative of the hard work of our producer Stacy Doolittle, photographer/director/editor Heather Sommerfield and drone photographer Austin Ahlborg. Please stay tuned and we will notify you when they are released!

    Petition to list yucca brevifolia as threatened species
    The California Fish and Game Commission will consider a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity to list the western Joshua tree as a threatened species at their meeting on August 20. There continue to be hyperbolic predictions of the dire consequences of granting this species status as threatened. MBCA has written a letter in support of the listing and we are continuing to track this issue. We urge you to write to the Commission expressing support for the listing. The deadline for receipt of letters is this Thursday, August 6. Should the Commission vote in favor of granting candidate status for consideration as threatened, a one-year period will commence during which a thorough study will be undertaken. A final determination regarding threatened status will be made subsequent to this study. During the one-year period the Joshua tree would be provided protection as if it were an threatened species.

    Relative to the exaggerated concerns expressed by some Yucca Valley officials and residents predicting dire consequences for development if the designation is given, there is a proven method to create the right balance of native species protection and careful community development. Creating a Natural Community Conservation Plan has helped other California communities, including the Coachella Valley, create such a balance. Take the example of the ongoing wastewater treatment system project in Yucca Valley, which was granted a Mitigated Negative Declaration for construction. Should the designation of threatened be granted to the Joshua tree, an application for an ‘incidental take permit’ would be required to comply with CEQA. Granting of an incidental take permit for every project involving the removal or transplanting of a Joshua tree would be unwieldy, expensive and time consuming. For these reasons we support the creation of a Natural Community Conservation Plan. This landscape level plan would provide a framework for development and establish a mechanism for streamlined compliance with CEQA. A successful example of such a landscape-level plan can be found in the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

    A hastily drafted Assembly Bill 235 authored by state assembly member Chad Mayes in opposition to the Joshua tree listing would change the basis upon which the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) is founded: from a purely science based approach to include economic considerations. As of this writing the bill, apparently drafted to facilitate the on-going Town of Yucca Valley wastewater treatment system, does not appear to have the needed support for passage, however we continue to monitor its progress.

    The Commission staff summary presents extensive documentation of the petition for the listing, and these background and talking points describe the issues being considered.

    Given the strong opposition for listing that has been expressed by the Town of Yucca Valley, our County desert supervisors, and the local gateway realtors, it is important for the Commission to hear local support for the listing. Written comments (due August 6) may be e-mailed to fgc@fgc.ca.gov or hard copies mailed to: 

    California Fish and Game Commission
    President Eric Sklar
    P.O. Box 944209
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

    If you can’t send written comments by the deadline, consider making oral comments at the August 20 Zoom meeting. Typically comments are limited to three minutes. However, with the amount of interest in this issue, time may be limited to one or two minutes so structure your comments accordingly.

    Opposition to Eagle Crest pumped storage project
    The latest attempt to facilitate the construction of this inappropriate project is state assembly bill AB1720, another gut-and-amend bill. Through four bills over the past three years, the Florida-based NextEra Corporation has attempted to pass controversial legislation to force procurement of its project since it has failed to compete in the open marketplace and state regulators have not identified a need for it. I am pleased to report that AB1720 has, as of this writing, failed to garner adequate support to move forward. The Eagle Crest pumped storage project, if constructed, would utilize billions of gallons of precious water pumped from the desert aquifer to fill the pits of the now shuttered Eagle Mountain mine.

    Reject nomination of William Pendley to head BLM
    MBCA has signed onto a letter, along with over 300 environmental organizations, in opposition to the nomination of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management. The appointment of this individual would be disastrous for the protection and support of our public lands!

    Daggett Solar Energy project update
    The lawsuit contesting this massive solar energy project has been settled. The Petitioner, Newberry Community Services District, has agreed to a Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims. MBCA provided comments in opposition to the certification of the EIR for this project contending that the visual impacts, air quality impacts, effects on the biological resources, wildlife corridors, avian resources, and social and environmental impacts of the project were not properly considered. MBCA is disappointed in the settlement and the concessions made that do not adequately address the concerns we raised.

    Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease in the Morongo Basin
    The highly contagious Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) has been confirmed in the deaths of more rabbits in our area. To learn more about this disease with important recommendations for reporting and handling sick animals, see the online flyer.

    RHDV2 is not known to be contagious to humans, livestock, pets or wildlife other than rabbits. Being HIGHLY contagious between rabbits, California Department of Fish and Wildlife requests that should you find a carcass that shows no sign of traumatic injury, to file a report utilizing the form referenced within the flyer above. The carcass should either be double bagged and disposed of in the trash or single bagged and buried at least 24” deep. Many more rabbits are anticipated to die from this virus and is sure to affect the diet of coyotes, bobcats and foxes due to a loss of their primary source of protein.

    Complete the 2020 Census
    With all that is demanding our attention during these difficult times, please do not neglect to complete the 2020 census form. This may be accomplished either online, by mail or by phone. Log onto United States Census 2020 for information on how to easily complete the simple form.

    Support MBCA through Amazon Smile
    Purchases through the Amazon Smile program can help support MBCA! Please select MBCA as the non-profit recipient by typing in Morongo Basin Conservation and then selecting Morongo Basin Conservation Association. Every small amount adds up to help support our mission! Thank you!

    As of this writing the Apple Fire is continuing to burn in the San Bernardino Mountains devastating more habitat with the commensurate health effects for all life. This, and the ongoing effects of climate change emphasize the importance of MBCA’s mission to advocate for the healthy desert.

    I hope this e-blast finds you healthy and safe!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell

    Your MBCA Board:

    Steve Bardwell, President
    David Fick, Vice President
    Laraine Turk, Secretary
    Marina West, Treasurer  
    Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director

    Brian Hammer, Director
    Janet Johnston, Director
    Sarah Kennington, Director
    Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Arch McCulloch, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director

     

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  • EBlast June 8, 2020

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    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour 2020 goes virtual !
    Petition to list Yucca brevifolia as a threatened species.
    A week of Invasive Species Lunchtime Webinars.
    Opposition to Yellow Pine Solar Project.
    Action on Eagle Crest Pumping Opposition.
    Funding Mojave Trails Acquisition.
    Environmental Justice in Lucerne Valley.
    Opposition to Habitat Conservation Fund Budget Trailer Bill.
    Support for AB3030 For Land and Water Conservation.
    Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease found in the Morongo Basin.
    Ruth Denison 2020 Environmental scholarship recipient.

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour 2020 goes virtual!
    In lieu of the in-person DWL Tour we had planned and subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic, MBCA is working with a professional producer, photographers and editors to create a very special virtual tour! Five sites were chosen from 10 landscapes originally planned to mark the 10th year of the Tour. The sites represent a cross section of the various regions within the Basin from lower to higher elevations, and demonstrate the Desert Wise use of resources in residential landscaping and energy that the Tour heralds. The virtual Tour, featuring video, still photography, and interviews with the site owners, will be released in the near future. Please stay tuned and we will notify you as the videos are released!

    Petition to list Yucca brevifolia as threatened species
    MBCA encourages you to write the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) to express support for a petition to list the western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The petition is on the CFGC agenda for June 25, 2020. The Comment Deadline is June 11, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. for letters to be included within the printed information to be given to each of the Commissioners for the June 25 hearing. Comment letters should begin with your position, something like. “Re: Strong support for Western Joshua Tree petition”. Include your name, address and contact.

    The Commission staff summary presents extensive documentation of the petition for the listing, and these background and talking points describe the issues being considered.

    Written comments may be e-mailed to fgc@fgc.ca.gov or hard copies mailed to:  
    California Fish and Game Commission
    President Eric Sklar
    P.O. Box 944209
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

    Given the strong opposition for listing that has been expressed by the Town of Yucca Valley, our County desert supervisors, and the local gateway realtors, it is important for the Commission to hear support for the listing. The Commission’s June 24-25 Agenda notes that this item (#27) may be continued to the August meeting, so there may be additional opportunities for comment, but we strongly encourage you to send your letter by the June 11 deadline for maximum effect.

    Receipt of a 90-day evaluation report for the petition to list the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii ) as threatened or endangered is also on the June 24-25 agenda (#20). The staff has recommended this item also be continued to the August meeting of the Commission. The habitat of the desert tortoise overlaps that of the western Joshua tree and with these two species being considered for listing is evidence of the concern for the health of the special Joshua tree woodland ecosystem.

    A week of Invasive Species Lunchtime webinars
    The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division will offer a free noontime webinar daily June 8 through June 12, with a focus on invasive species. While these are not desert-specific webinars, the topic of invasive plant and animal issues is of great concern and threat to the Mojave Desert. Go to this page to learn more and to sign up.

    Monday, June 8 - How to hike without spreading weeds
    Tuesday, June 9 - Using detection dogs to keep islands free of invasive mammals
    Wednesday, June 10 - Using eDNA to learn how invasive species alter whole ecosystems
    Thursday, June 11 - Making the Los Angeles River more "exotic"
    Friday, June 12 - The weird and wild world of plant pathogens

    MBCA joins opposition to Yellow Pine solar project
    The proposed Yellow-Pine Solar Project is another very large-scale solar project that would be inappropriately sited on BLM land in the Mojave Desert. It is being fast-tracked without consideration of the Covid-19 pandemic and many other flawed rationales. MBCA has joined seven other concerned organizations to send a detailed and fact-filled document refuting the validity of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Details can be found in the Yellow-Pine Solar Project letter signed by MBCA, Basin and Range Watch, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club California and Nevada Desert Committee, Desert Survivors, The Summertree Institute, and Shoshone Village.

    MBCA's Action on Eagle Crest Pumping Opposition
    In January 2020, MBCA sent a letter opposing state legislative action that would have enhanced the prospects for the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project on the border of Joshua Tree National Park. Chief among our concerns is the inevitable overdraft of underground aquifers in the area and for the Park, with dire consequences for the flora and fauna. MBCA also joined a coalition of 24 organizations spearheaded by the National Parks Conservation Association, to oppose amendments to the related legislation, State Bill AB2255 that adds to the "stacked deck" for furthering the Eagle Crest project. Most recently on May 6, MBCA signed onto a new coalition letter opposing another related piece of legislation, State Bill AB2736. The letter concisely reiterates the reasons to oppose the project. While pumped storage can assist with California's energy future, the letter notes that "other pumped storage projects are more viable and economical," and this legislation seems to be a "ratepayer-funded bailout of the failing project." As of this writing, we are pleased to report that AB2736 failed to be approved by the Appropriations Committee - delivering a setback to the effort to move this project forward.

    MBCA Urges Funding for Mojave Trails Acquisition
    MBCA has forwarded a letter of support to U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and California Bureau of Land Management Director Karen Mouritsen for the BLM to acquire Land and Water Conservation Fund resources for purchasing lands within the Mojave Trails National Monument. The LWCF provides grants for federal-state partnerships for conservation and public recreation projects. The 6,213 acres of interest in the Mojave Trails National Monument contain cultural sites and are part of important habitat linkages.

    Sign-on for Environmental Justice in Lucerne Valley
    The latest solar energy project proposed for Lucerne Valley has generated a groundswell of concern and opposition. In a letter to the California State Lands Commission signed by MBCA along with 16 other groups and more than 50 individuals, the case is built against Aurora Solar LLC, aka Stagecoach Solar, a 3,600-acre utility scale development. According to the Lands Commission's own Environmental Justice Policy, the effects on this disadvantaged community with a significant population of older and health-compromised individuals would violate the agency's policy. The letter supports California's renewable energy goals, but provides detailed analysis and maps that illustrate why permitting the Stagecoach Solar project in Lucerne Valley would be damaging to the community.

    MBCA opposes Habitat Conservation Fund Budget Trailer Bill
    Along with over 40 environmental conservation organizations, MBCA has signed onto two letters in opposition to the proposed budget trailer bill that would reinstate the July 2020 sunset date for the Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF). This sunset would end critical funding for local park districts, state agencies, and crucial habitat conservation programs at the Wildlife Conservation Board. The proposal is a retreat from the administration’s and legislature’s commitment to stable, ongoing support for conservation, biodiversity and public access to parks.

    MBCA Supports AB3030 For Land and Water Conservation
    MBCA was pleased to sign-on to a letter in support of improved protections for California’s unparalleled bio-diversity with creation of a state policy that sets a goal to protect at least 30 percent of the land base and waters in California and 30 percent of the ocean waters off the coast of California by 2030 (30 x 30). AB3030 objectives are to protect biodiversity, increase climate resilience, promote collaboration, increase opportunities to sequester carbon through natural measures, and enhance public access for all people in the state. A specific emphasis on increasing access for communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities is included within this bill.

    Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease found in the Morongo Basin
    First observed here in California in May 2020, the highly contagious Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) was found to be the cause of death of a black-tailed jackrabbit in Yucca Valley. To learn more about this disease with important recommendations for reporting and handling sick animals, see the attached flyer.

    RHDV2 is not known to affect humans, livestock or pets other than rabbits. Being HIGHLY contagious between rabbits, CDFW requests that should one find a carcass that shows no sign of traumatic injury, to file a report utilizing the form referenced within the flyer above. The carcass should either be double bagged and disposed of in the trash or single bagged and buried at least 24” deep. This promises to deal a severe blow to the rabbit population…(sigh!).

    Ruth Denison 2020 Environmental scholarship recipient
    Anwyn “Annie” Hilderbrand, recipient of MBCA’s 2020 Ruth Denison scholarship award, has been appointed the 2020-2021 Student Representative to the Copper Mountain College Foundation Board of Directors. Annie is pursuing an education in environmental science at CMC. Says Annie:  “My life goal is to work in environmental conservation in order to preserve the national park system for future generations.” Congratulations Annie!

    To learn more about Ruth Denison, whom we honor with this scholarship, and to see the previous years’ recipients, click to MBCA’s Ruth Denison Scholarship History page.


    MBCA is continuing to track the many issues impacting on the quality of life and the environment here in the Morongo Basin and throughout the Mojave Desert. The beauty, variety, and fragility of this special place needs our voices and our commitment to insure its vitality and protection. As evidenced by the many letters MBCA is invited to sign onto, our opinion is held in high regard. Your own individual public comment letters and membership in MBCA add even more strength to our reputation. Thank you all for your continued efforts and support!

    We hope this e-blast finds you well and safe!

    Sincerely,
    Steve Bardwell

    Your MBCA Board:

    Steve Bardwell, President

    David Fick, Vice President

    Laraine Turk, Secretary

    Marina West, Treasurer  

    Pat Flanagan, Director

    Meg Foley, Director

    Brian Hammer, Director

    Janet Johnston, Director

    Sarah Kennington, Director

    Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Arch McCulloch, Director

    Ruth Rieman, Director

     

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  • EBlast April 20, 2020

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    Earth Day

    50th Anniversary Commemorative book distribution

    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour 2020 postponed

    MBCA and social media initiative

    Ruth Denison Environmental Scholarship: 2020 recipient

    OHV enforcement in the Basin: the Sheriff’s report

    Protecting our dark night sky

    Advancing protection for Joshua trees

    Mountain lions to be considered for protection

    Eagle Crest pumped storage update

    Morongo Basin health care capability vs COVID-19

    It’s Earth Day!
    This is an Earth Day like no other. Not with the usual community gatherings and festivity, but at home giving us the opportunity to contemplate things like the condition of our planet Earth. This is time to think about our responsibility, impacts, and better ways moving forward to heal and regenerate.  What better way to commemorate Earth Day?!

    While humans around the world are suffering, Mother Earth will be benefit from social distancing as we stick close to home, limit travel, and in the process significantly reduce pre-COVID-19 levels of our carbon footprint – if there is one, it’s a silver lining to this pandemic. I suggest an Earth Day resolution for 2020: work to keep that footprint closer to present levels as possible when we return to “normal.”

    MBCA Directors have maintained the monthly Board meetings by conducting virtual gatherings since March. While it takes some getting used to, we’re pleased to know this reduces MBCA’s organizational carbon footprint. Considering the miles we put on our vehicles driving in from the ends of the Basin – Morongo Valley to 29 Palms and all the way to Lucerne Valley for new Director Brian Hammer –  we’re really saving on fossil fuel by virtual participation. As great as it is to see one another, carbon-saving by more frequent virtual meetings is a factor that we will consider when we “get to the other side” of this pandemic.

    Our Board agenda remains full with issues focusing on the pending San Bernardino Countywide Plan, increasing air quality monitoring, renewable energy and other development projects impacting the environment including Cadiz, Eagle Mountain and others. Rest assured that we are not asleep at the wheel!

    50th Anniversary Commemorative book
    Copies of MBCA’s 50th Anniversary Commemorative book Celebrating the Past: Envisioning the Future were distributed to everyone attending MBCA’s Annual Meeting in January. We have also mailed copies to individuals who maintain an active MBCA membership, and are in the process of tracking down mailing addresses to get copies to those of you who have been active volunteers and otherwise contributed to MBCA’s mission.

    Creating the content and design of this Commemorative book was a labor of love many were involved in. The valuable contributions of the MBCA organization, stories of individual Morongo Basin activists, and chronicles of the many campaigns are impressively documented. As MBCA often works behind the scenes, this book successfully demonstrates the breadth of effort and commitment to the MBCA mission over the past 50 years. Thanks to those who worked to produce this valuable record of achievement! We hope our members and supporters learn from it and find it as rewarding as we did in its creation. If you have not received the book and are not yet a MBCA member, we invite you to sign up for a membership and a copy will be on its way to you! You can join via MBCA’s membership page.

    Desert Wise Living Landscape Tour 2020 postponed
    Our signature event of the year since 2011 - the Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour - was all but “ready to roll” when the need for COVID social distancing was realized. After months of careful planning, recruiting sites and hosts, and designing the brochure (luckily it didn’t go to the printer!), we realized the need to cancel the popular event. Hopefully most of the effort can be recouped at a later date. Thanks to the DWL Tour planning committee members and those who volunteered to host visitors at your site. We’ll call on you again when we can conduct it safely.

    MBCA and social media initiative
    We continue to advance MBCA’s educational outreach and communications. While mbconservation.org remains the cornerstone of that effort, we have recently widened our reach to include social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. We are assisted in this with the talents of two Basin residents, Stacy Doolittle and Aimee Buyea. Please visit these sites for updates on MBCA activities and perhaps a bit of inspiration! Having a social media presence is intended to spread the word of our good work to a new audience and add to the number of members and supporters. We are excited to consider new ways to work in this new arena.

    Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship
    We are delighted to announce the 2020-2021 recipient of MBCA’s Ruth Denison scholarship award, Anwyn “Annie” Hilderbrand, of Yucca Valley High School. After a record including Principals Honor Roll for four years and a stellar record of leadership at her high school and in the community, Annie plans to begin her studies at Copper Mountain College with a major in Environmental studies. After receiving a degree in Environmental Science, she plans to return to the Morongo Basin in a career to educate youth about the importance of being stewards of the environment. Congratulations Annie! We wish you great success and look forward to your contributions.

    To learn more about Ruth Denison, whom we honor with this scholarship, and to see the previous years’ recipients, click to MBCA’s Ruth Denison Scholarship History page.

    Supporting Basin Youth
    MBCA has a history of providing financial support to Yucca Valley High School’s Ecology class. We recently made a contribution to instructor Cindy Zacks for the purchase of tents for her students’ camping field trips.

    OHV enforcement in the Basin
    We applaud the Basin Sheriff Department’s continued commitment to strengthen their off-highway-vehicle enforcement team. The recently appointed Morongo Basin Sheriff, Lucas Niles, reported that the OHV team made 300 contacts in the first weekend of April. Resources, staffing levels and the amount of work overall that goes into the program has increased “a lot over the last few years” with the receipt of grant money from the state of California. He expects the team to increase efforts soon to patrol illegal OHV hotspots. Niles encourages the public to continue working with the department to make reports: call (760) 366-4175 or email morongo@sbcsd.org. For more on recent OHV news, see our latest News Update on this topic.

    Protecting our dark night sky
    MBCA Board members on the Third District Dark Sky Committee have been working with the County of San Bernardino Land Use Services to craft an ordinance that will regulate exterior lighting and offer protection to our precious dark night sky. The draft of the ordinance requires that all exterior light sources be fully shielded to prohibit light trespass onto neighboring properties. Fully shielded light fixtures serve to minimize glare and to improve health and safety while conserving our dark night sky. We will keep you apprised of the status of this important measure.

    Advancing protection for Joshua Trees
    On April 13, 2020, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended that the iconic Joshua tree move toward protection under the State of California’s Endangered Species Act. Joshua trees have been under threat from climate change, urban sprawl and other development within their range. Here is the Fish and Wildlife Staff summary of this issue. For more information, read MBCA’s recent News Update, which contains links to several media stories. MBCA will continue to follow this issue.

    Mountain lions to be considered for protection
    Another important decision by CDFW in their remote meeting of April 16, 2020 was the unanimous vote that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW. MBCA sent a letter of support for this designation and we are very pleased to see this action by the Commission.

    Eagle Crest pumped storage update
    The proposal to utilize the now closed Eagle Mountain mine excavations as a site for a pumped storage electrical generating project is on hold after the California State legislature defeated SB-772 in 2019. This ill-conceived project would pump and poison 20,000 acre feet (!!!) of water from the desert aquifer to fill the pits of the former mine and subsequently utilize 1,500 acre feet/year during operation. MBCA is monitoring a proposed bill, AB-2255 (Susan Eggman, 13th district San Joaquin Valley) that will be used as a vehicle to enable this project. For more background, go to the links in MBCA’s March update on the Eagle Crest project.

    Morongo Basin health care capability vs COVID-19
    On March 23, 2020 MBCA signed onto an email to various elected officials, healthcare providers, school officials and others expressing concerns for the capacity of our healthcare system in the Morongo Basin to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hi-Desert Medical Center, The Morongo Basin Healthcare District, and Third District San Bernardino County Supervisors have issued public statements regarding the Pandemic. As of this writing, we are pleased to see that the curve appears to be flattening!

    We hope this e-blast finds you well and safe!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Bardwell

    Your MBCA Board:

    Steve Bardwell, President

    David Fick, Vice President

    Laraine Turk, Secretary

    Marina West, Treasurer  

    Pat Flanagan, Director

    Meg Foley, Director

    Brian Hammer, Director

    Janet Johnston, Director

    Sarah Kennington, Director

    Mike Lipsitz, Director

    Arch McCulloch, Director

    Ruth Rieman, Director

     

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  • EBlast January 13, 2020

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    Attend MBCA annual meeting Saturday January 25 2020!

    Daggett Solar Power Facility Update

    Survey regarding Solar Energy Development in Southern California

    BLM seeking nominations for Resource Advisory Councils

     

    Attend MBCA annual meeting January 25 2020!

    This year’s annual meeting will mark the beginning of MBCA’s 51st year of advocacy for the healthy desert! The theme this year is ‘Sustainable Tourism,’ a topic that vital to our desert and to Joshua Tree National Park that has seen an explosion of visitation over the last several years. We all love our desert and value the National Park, but the increased visitation has consequences of concern for the Park and our Morongo Basin communities.We are pleased to announce keynote presentations by two highly respected voices for protecting our desert: David Smith, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, and Chris Clarke, the California Desert Associate Director at the National Parks Conservation Association.

    Also during the meeting we are so pleased to be able to distribute our just-published book to every attendee: Celebrating the Past – Envisioning the Future. This 68-page book documents the 50 years of environmental and community activism by MBCA and recognizes the many people that have guided MBCA, and continue to do so.

    The Morongo Basin is home to many groups and organizations that work to protect the desert environment for the benefit of us all. Some of these organizations will be in attendance with information about their work, including: the Mojave Desert Land Trust, The Wildlands Conservancy, Joshua Tree National Park Association, The California Native Plant Society – Mojave Chapter, The SummerTree Institute, The California Desert Coalition, and Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center.  We will be serving refreshments and a light vegetarian lunch. In the interest of sustainability we are striving to make this a zero-waste event and we encourage attendees to bring their own drinking vessel and utensils, although we will have glasses and utensils available.

    When: 
    Saturday, January 25, 2020 10:00am to 1:00pm

    Where:
    The Yucca Room
    Yucca Valley Community Center
    57090 Twentynine Palms Highway
    Yucca Valley, CA 92284

    Annual Meeting 2020 Press Release

    Daggett Solar Power Facility Update

    On December 10, 2019, The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the construction of this massive 3,500-acre development within the rural communities of Daggett and Newberry Springs. MBCA spoke to the Supervisors and contended that there are deficiencies within the Environmental Impact Report as well as unacknowledged impacts on the residents within the neighboring communities. (Read our May 2019 news story that includes a link to the comprehensive MBCA comment letter.) The Newberry Springs Community Services District and the Friends of Newberry Springs have now filed a lawsuit against the County within the allowed 30-day period.

    The basis of the lawsuit is clearly and thoroughly described within the filings, and among other issues challenges the approval that the development complies with San Bernardino County’s Development Code, Chapter 84.29 Renewable Energy Generation Facilities. This code was adopted within the last 5 years and was crafted to specifically address the effects of inappropriate industrial scale developments within our rural communities. The approval of the Daggett Solar Power Facility by the Board is a clear warning that in spite of our declaring a victory with the passage of Section 4.10 of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County Wide Plan, the rural communities of San Bernardino are not safe from the many deleterious effects and the scourge of industrial scale renewable energy developments.

    Survey regarding Solar Energy Development in Southern California

    And now on to the perfect segue: please take the opportunity to complete this online survey about your opinion on the development of solar within Southern California. This survey is being conducted by Jennifer Bernstein, a lecturer in Geographic Information and Science Technology at the University of Southern California. Some of the issues raised by the approval of the Daggett project are included within this survey. This is an opportunity to have your voice considered.

    BLM seeking nominations for Resource Advisory Councils NEPA changes

    The Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations for Resource Advisory Councils (RAC), including the California Desert District RAC. These Councils “provide advice and recommendations to the BLM on land use planning and management of the national System of Public Lands within their geographic areas.Nominations are due Feb 24, 2020. Here is the Federal Register Notice or go directly to the RAC application.

    I’m looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming meeting, where we will also welcome two new Directors, Janet Johnston and Arch McCulloch.

    Wishing you all a Happy New Year and perfection in 2020!

    Steve Bardwell

    Your MBCA Board:

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

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  • EBlast December 8, 2019

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    Appeal of Daggett Solar Power Facility to be heard by Board of Supervisors Tuesday December 10

    Fish and Game Commission to consider listing of Joshua Tree as a threatened or endangered species

    MBCA monthly Board Meeting venue change

    Hold the date for or annual meeting January 25, 2020

    Appeal of Daggett Solar Power Facility to be heard by Board of Supervisors Tuesday December 10

    On September 19, 2019 the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this massive, 5-1/2 square mile solar energy development, was certified by the San Bernardino County Planning Commission. Subsequently the Newberry Community Services District appealed this decision and the appeal is to be considered by the Board of Supervisors at their upcoming meeting.

    MBCA submitted a letter, and directors presented oral comments in opposition to the certification. This project is proposed to be located within the disadvantaged rural communities of Daggett and Newberry Springs. MBCA contends, among other things, that the EIR has not considered the Social and Environmental Justice impacts on the residents that are adjacent to and surround this development.

    The effects, both short term and over the life of the project, of grading and compacting half a million cubic yards of soil have not been adequately evaluated within the EIR. We believe the downwind residents will likely be subject to increased levels of PM10 and PM2.5 pollution that are very unhealthful to any sensitive receptors. The conditions of approval have no mandates for establishing any air quality baseline data within this specific area of our desert. The soil types within the development area are not suitable for compaction and are within a sand transport path, or linear dune, and are subject to contributing to wind blown dust and sand. The EIR instead relies on regional air quality evaluation that utilizes air monitors upwind (to the west!) of the project.

    The EIR failed to address and account for the approximately 50% of intact desert containing native plants such as ancient creosote (as old as 4000 years!), salt bush and caliche that would be destroyed, releasing their sequestered carbon and eliminating their ability to continue to perform this service to the environment. The EIR has failed to recognize the important wildlife corridor that serves to connect the regions north of the I-15 and I-40 to – ultimately - Joshua Tree to the south. MBCA has been advocating for the inclusion of recognized wildlife corridors within County maps to preserve and respect these important highways for the planet’s ever-increasingly stressed species.

    MBCA believes the findings justifying the approval of this project are false and that this development will in fact produce adverse effects on the surrounding communities.

    MBCA recognizes that there is a critical need to eliminate carbon based electrical generation; however, the analysis utilized in evaluating projects towards this end must also reflect the urgency of climate change and the value of the intact environment that we are striving to protect. MBCA continues to advocate for distributed electrical generation on rooftops within the built environment proximate to the point of use. While portions of this Daggett site may be appropriate for industrial scale renewable energy development, the EIR has not presented a thorough scientifically defensible and complete evaluation of the effects of this development.

    When:
    December 10, 2019 at 10am
    The item number for this issue is #55 on the official agenda . (Click on the agenda number to see the supporting documents). Of particular interest is the PowerPoint prepared by the appellant.

    Where:

     Video conferencing of the meeting will be available in Joshua Tree at the Bob Burke Government Center at 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway Joshua Tree, CA 92252 and at the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center 15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia 92345.

    The Supervisors will be meeting at:
    San Bernardino County Government Center
    Covington Chambers, 1st floor
    385 N Arrowhead Ave
    San Bernardino, CA 92415
    United States

    Fish and Game Commission to consider listing of Joshua Tree as a threatened or endangered species

    As some of you are aware, The California State Fish and Game Commission is set to receive a petition to list the Western Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) as a threatened or endangered species. The agenda for the Commission hearing has been revised to add a consent item for a 30-day extension to review this item. This listing would be of significant importance to our desert environment where the Joshua Tree is under stress from the effects of climate change. I encourage MBCA supporters to follow the proceedings of this very important Commission where decisions are regularly considered that reflect our reaction to, and efforts to adapt to the rapidly changing climate and environment.

    MBCA Monthly Board Meeting Venue Change

    The venue for the December meeting of the Board of Directors has been changed from our usual Town of Yucca Valley meeting room to the Center for Healthy Generations on a one-time basis:

    Thursday December 12, 2019
    5:00 – 7:00 pm
    The Center for Healthy Generations
    57121 Sunnyslope Dr.
    Yucca Valley, CA 92284

    Our meetings are open and we welcome your attendance as we discuss and address the many important issues we must consider in advocating for the healthy desert!

    Hold the date for our annual meeting January 25, 2020

    Please mark your calendars and hold the date for our annual meeting. This will mark the 50th anniversary of MBCA and we will be celebrating this milestone with the publication of a book of our past accomplishments and our plans for the future!

    Hoping your Holiday Season helps to brings you joy and happiness and the opportunity to get outdoors and experience our beautiful desert!

    Steve Bardwell

    Your 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             

     

     

      

     



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  • EBlast September 26, 2019

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    Paradise Valley to be heard by Riverside County Board of Supervisors

    Workshop Teaches New Skills to Empower Community To Defend The California Desert: Part Two. 

    Paradise Valley to be heard by Riverside County Board of Supervisors
    It appears that the fate of this long-considered and grossly inappropriate development will finally be determined at a public hearing by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday November 5 in Riverside. The Riverside County Planning Commission has recommended DENIAL of Specific Plan No. 339 that would allow the development of a new city of 1,848 acres with 20,000 residents and 1,380,000 square feet of commercial development directly on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park. MBCA encourages our members to write to Riverside County and to attend this hearing in person to encourage the Supervisors to DENY approval of this project. Those wishing to carpool to the hearing in Riverside should contact me and I will endeavor to coordinate and offer transportation.

    WHEN:  Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 10:00 am
    WHERE: 1st Floor Board Chambers
                 County Administrative Center
                 4080 Lemon Street Riverside, California 92501

    Comments may be submitted to the County Project Planner Russell Brady:
         by phone: (951) 955-3025
         by Email: rbrady@rivco.org
     

    Workshop Teaches New Skills to Empower Community To Defend The California Desert: Part Two
    MBCA is pleased to be partnering with the California Desert Coalition, in organizing this workshop to focus on the role the California Environmental Policy Act (CEQA) plays in guiding development throughout the State. This is part II of a series that began with understanding the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Also supported by the Center for Biological Diversity, Mojave Desert Land Trust, The National Parks Conservation Association, the Conservation Lands Foundation, and faculty from the University of Redlands, this workshop will inform participants on CEQA: how it  works and how to analyze a development and to craft substantive comments that must be considered by decision makers.

    WHEN:  SATURDAY November 2, 2019, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
    WHERE:  THE YUCCA ROOM
    TOWN OF YUCCA VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER
    57090 Twentynine Palms Hwy Yucca Valley, CA 92284

    Lunch will be served, and while the workshop is free, a donation of $10.00 is suggested. Please rsvp to Claudia Sall as soon as possible: sallwildlands@gmail.com

    Looking forward to seeing you as MBCA continues to advocate for the healthy desert!

    Steve Bardwell
    steve@infinityranch.net
    818-516-1437

    Your 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             

     

     

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  • EBlast September 20, 2019

    Join us on Saturday morning, September 28, for MBCA's Fall Desert-Wise Living Program. We are pleased to have the General Manager of the Mojave Water Agency, Tom McCarthy, delivering the keynote  "Water for the Morongo Basin - the Next 50 Years."

        Ames_Basin_1.jpg        Mojave_Water.jpeg       Tom-Photo.png

    A sampling of breakfast treats from Boo's Organic Oven in Joshua Tree will be offered during the opening reception from 9-9:30 AM. The program will begin at 9:30 and conclude by 11 AM.

    As September 28 is National Public Lands Day, we will celebrate and salute the 25th Anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act as we concurrently celebrate MBCA's 50th Anniversary with historical documents and photos on display.

    More details can be found in our Press Release about this event. We hope to see you there!

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    This lecture is part of MBCA’s Desert-Wise Living Series, and was made possible through the generous funding of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, Golden State Water Company, Hi-Desert Water District, Joshua Basin Water District, Mojave Water Agency, Southern California Edison, and Twentynine Palms Water Agency.



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  • Eblast August 20, 2019

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    DENY PARADISE VALLEY!

    Wednesday, August 21, 2019
    Riverside County Planning Commission  

    The Riverside County Planning Commission will meet this Wednesday in Palm Desert to at last vote on the certification of the EIR for this grossly inappropriate development on the southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. The County’s Planning staff has recommended a denial of the project, as indicated in MBCA’s August 15 posted News Update, “Roadblock for Paradise Valley Development.”

    In the agenda for the meeting, you can read the Planning staff report and their 2 recommendations, that the Commission either recommend denial of the project to the Supervisors or take the project off the calendar and ask the project applicant to address the staff’s concerns.

    MBCA will be represented at the meeting and will make a full report of the results via Eblast soon after. Please join us if you can, to make your public comment of concern about the Paradise Valley project.

    WHEN:  WEDNESDAY August 21, 2019 9:30AM

    WHERE:  RIVERSIDE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STEVE ROBBINS ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, Coachella Valley Water District - Administration Board Room, 75515 Hovley Lane East, Palm Desert, CA 92211

    Plan to arrive by 9:00 to in front of the hearing venue.

    Looking forward to seeing you there! This promises to be a big day!

    Your 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             

     

     

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  • EBlast August 6, 2019

    MBCA_Sticker_Final_Transparent.png

     

     

     

     


    This Thursday August 8, 2019
    San Bernardino County Planning Commission to consider
    Short Term Residential Rentals ordinance

    The Planning Commission will consider a Development Code Amendment to revise the regulations relating to Short-Term Residential Rentals in Chapter 84.28. The agenda for the meeting was very recently published.

    The Land Use Services Staff Report includes the proposed amendment that describes the mechanisms and conditions under consideration to regulate Short-Term Rentals (AirBnB to use the vernacular) in the desert and mountain areas. This is the only Public Hearing item on the agenda, and only 1 hour has been allocated for consideration of this item. We recommend that written comments be prepared in the event that oral testimony cannot be given.

    WHEN: August 8, 2019, 9:00 am
    WHERE:
         Attend in-person at:                                                                                                                                             

    County Government Center Covington Chambers
    385 N Arrowhead Avenue, 1st Floor
    San Bernardino, CA 92415

    or

         Attend via video conferencing at:

    Bob Burke Government Center
    63665 Twentynine Palms Highway
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252

    Regretfully, this is short notice however we are pleased that the video conferencing center in Joshua Tree is being made available to broadcast the meeting and to accept public comments.

    Once again, thanks to all our members and supporters whose voices do make a difference in the ongoing struggle to protect and nurture our precious desert environment!

    Your 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             

     

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  • Urgent News Related to Cadiz

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    Stop Cadiz: Call the Governor to sign SB-307!

    SB-307 on Governor’s desk

    The State Assembly overwhelmingly voted to pass SB-307 (Roth) and the bill is now on the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for signing. It is vitally important that the Governor hear our voices and that we ask him to sign the legislation.

    The office number is (916) 445-2841. You must first select a language (“1” for English, “2” for Spanish), then press “6” at the next menu to be transferred to a staffer. When a staffer answers, tell them: your name and where you live, and that you urge the Governor to sign SB 307.With Governor Newsom’s signature the controversial Cadiz water project will be subject to a thorough and desperately needed environmental review.

    You can also email the governor's office using the web form provided on this website: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/. A phone call carries more weight, so please consider calling before sending an email.

    Following your call, please take the time to email Chris Clarke of the National Parks Conservation Association at cclarke@npca.org to let him know you've done so; it will help provide a sense of how many calls the governor's office is getting in support of the Bill.

    I again offer my thanks to our many members and supporters for your activism in defense of our desert.

    Sincerely,

    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             

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