Western Joshua Tree Endangered Listing Decision Delayed

In an outcome not entirely unexpected, the California Fish and Game Commission today chose to delay the decision on whether listing the Western Joshua tree as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act is warranted. Today's meeting focused on additional tribal input, which will continue, while general public comment is closed. Much of the concern comes with how the restrictions will be implemented as relates to development, and the idea of more widespread conservation planning is another issue being considered. The item will next be on the agenda at the Commission's February 8-9, 2023 meeting. Here is the story in more detail as reported by the Desert Sun and here is a short summary by local radio station KCDZ.
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Response from Flamingo 640 Campground Developer

As reported on local radio station KCDZ, the RoBott Land Company replied in writing to questions asked at a recent Homestead Valley Community meeting with a 17-page document. Their detailed replies are to a great extent based on the acceptance and approval of San Bernardino County in their application process and their belief that the growth in visitors to Joshua Tree National Park supports their project.
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MBCA Comments on Sienna Solar 2 in Lucerne Valley

Changes to the proposed Sienna Solar project in Lucerne Valley triggered a new scoping comment letter from MBCA about Sienna Solar 2. The proposed site has expanded and poses a wide range of potential harms to quality of life and the desert ecosystem. In a community designated as Severely Disadvantaged, Lucerne Valley residents will be subjected to dust, degraded views, and excessive lighting. Environmental problems likely to arise include degraded air quality, water issues, and harm to wildlife including threatened species. MBCA Directors Pat Flanagan and Brian Hammer have outlined the problems and created detailed maps illustrating the issues in MBCA's Scoping Comments to San Bernardino County’s Land Use Services Department. 
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Golden Currant Solar Project Needs RMP Review

MBCA and 7 other conservation groups have requested a pause in the Golden Currant Solar project variance review until a revised Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan is completed to replace the 1997 version. The 25-year old plan predates many changes in desert management, including updated desert tortoise status, water availability, visual resource and habitat conservation plans, plus water availability, public land access, tribal consultation and many more concerns. While this Nevada project is not within the Morongo Basin, MBCA has always viewed the entire Mojave Desert as part of "the healthy desert environment" that we seek to preserve.
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Letter: Scoping Comments for Sienna Solar and Storage Project in Lucerne Valley

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Eblast September 22, 2022

MBCA_Sticker_Final_Transparent.png
  • Short Term Rentals and Housing Element Update
  • Workshop and Webinar: Joshua Trees and Climate Change
  • Sienna Solar 2
 
 
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Coalition Letter on Program 4 in County Housing Element

As part of the County's amended Housing Element (required report to the state), Program 4 is a study to determine the impact of short-term rentals on the housing supply of unincorporated desert and mountain communities. In this September 19 letter to San Bernardino County's Planning Director, MBCA and the Center for Biological Diversity along with Mojave Desert Land Trust, Tahquitz Group of the Sierra Club, and Unincorporated San Bernardino Together, ask the County to show that they are taking their responsibility to their communities seriously. The letter recommends formation of two Advisory Committees – one for the Mountain Region, and one for the Desert Region. The letter also recommends setting an interim cap during the study period, plus a timeline and goals for the study. The introductory paragraphs of the letter summarize past concerns and the intent of the recommendations. For more background information, read MBCA's News posts from May 15, June 9 (MBCA letter)June 9 (letter with CBD)June 15, and July 5, 2022. 
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Letter: Coalition on Program 4 on County Housing Element

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MBCA Joins Support for AB 1757, Setting Natural Carbon Sequestration Targets

MBCA joined more than 30 organizations and companies signing a letter in support of California AB 1757, a bill to aid California’s efforts to deal with climate change by setting targets to remove carbon from the atmosphere through natural carbon sequestration.  Setting ambitious natural carbon removal targets is both crucial and achievable,” states the letter. The bill is in the Governor’s hands for signing as of this writing.

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Plant Spotlight: Barrel Cactus

Photos by Susan Gillingham
A native cactus of the Mojave Desert is the barrel cactus, or Ferocactus cylindraceus. The Latin name Ferocactus means fierce or wild cactus. 
The bright pink-red spines of the cactus are particularly apparent after a rain. Older plants form a medium or tall column. Flowers are yellow, appearing in spring and early summer, while the fruits are bright yellow. 
According to ethnobotanist.com, the "Havasupai collected seeds from the fruit and ground them into an edible, porridge mush. These people also warmed the red spines by fire, then bent the spines into finger rings." The fruit itself is described as "not very tasty."

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