Eblast January 3, 2019


Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

Happy New Year! 

A very good way to break into 2019 is to renew our commitment to the stewardship of the desert environment and our rural communities. Please join us on Saturday, January 26, 2019 for the MBCA Annual Meeting and Energy Summit. This will be a stellar program with keynote addresses from two nationally-recognized experts in renewable energy and public policy, followed by a panel discussion with local environmental leaders: “Vision for the next 50 years.” If you haven’t already, mark your calendars!

The Energy Summit will launch a year of activism and events as MBCA celebrates its 50th! MBCA is the Basin’s oldest conservation-based organization and is still going strong! We will reflect on MBCA’s storied past and landmark victories and will look forward to the next 50 years.

WHERE: Yucca Valley Community Center
             57090 Twentynine Palms Highway Yucca Valley, CA 92284
WHEN: 10AM – 2PM

Detailed information on MBCA’s 50th Anniversary Energy Summit, including speaker bios, can be found at the Event page on our website.

Read more
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JTNP History and the Minerva Hoyt Award

The Minerva Hoyt Desert Conservation Award honors the wealthy Pasadena socialite who became enamored with desert plants in the 1920's and 30's and then tenaciously advocated for preservation of Mojave Desert lands. Official designation of Joshua Tree National Monument occurred in 1936. Enjoy KCET's comprehensive article chronicling how Joshua Tree National Park became a mecca for millions of visitors seeking to experience the intriguing plants and animals, wide open spaces, and dark night skies the desert provides. Read more about the Minerva Hoyt Award (nominations for the 2018 award are due by January 11, 2019) on the website of the Joshua Tree National Park Association.
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State Agency Concerned Over Cadiz Water Project

In a letter to Cadiz CEO Scott Slater, California's Department of Fish and Wildlife expressed concerns about the possible effects of the Cadiz Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project on the ecological health of the Bonanza Springs area north of the proposed project. Concerns center on the environmental and hydrologic studies completed for the existing Environmental Impact Report. For more details read recent online articles in The Desert Sun and Mojave Watch and on local radio station KCDZ
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MBCA Asks Rep. Cook to Support the Land and Water Conservation Fund

MBCA has submitted a letter to Congressman Cook asking him to support reauthorization of the recently-expired but critical and long-standing Land and Water Conservation Fund. Support for public lands conservation and recreation across California including areas of the Mojave Desert have benefited from the fund since its inception in 1965.  
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MBCA Files Ord Mountain DEIR Comment

On November 16 MBCA filed a comment letter with San Bernardino County in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Ord Mountain Solar and Energy Project near Lucerne Valley. Director Pat Flanagan once again researched and wrote a detailed analysis of the Ord Mountain DEIR, with technical input and data from a GIS analyst and others. A number of maps, charts, and aerial photos provide extensive documentation to explain the many potential negative impacts of such a project.

Co-authoring MBCA's comment letter with exceptional assistance on the development of data-rich maps was Brian Hammer, Professional Data/GIS Analyst and Adjunct Professor at Victor Valley College in the Agriculture and Natural Resource Department. 

For additional background, read MBCA's June 2017 Scoping letter on the Ord Mountain project.
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Supervisors Postpone RECE 4.10 Hearing

Early in their November 6 meeting, the four San Bernardino County Supervisors present (District 3 Supervisor Ramos was absent) voted unanimously to postpone to a future meeting the public hearing that included consideration of the "revised" Renewable Energy Conservation Element section 4.10. (Read more details in our October 29 update and November 1 EBlast.) They cited concern that Supervisor Ramos should be present because of the large degree to which his district will be affected. 
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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
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!

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



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


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MBCA Joins RECE 4.10 Coalition Comment Letter

The County Supervisors will be considering adoption of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element section 4.10 at their November 6 meeting. MBCA has signed a comment letter with a coalition of organizations and individuals urging the Supervisors to vote for the original version of RECE 4.10 rather than the revised version presented to the Board by Land Use Services. (More details and background can be found in the coalition's May 2018 letter.) Embodying the perspective and wishes of many organizations and individuals across the hi desert, the original version of RECE 4.10 reduces the chance that desert communities will be disadvantaged by a proliferation of large scale renewable energy projects.

Excerpts from official San Bernardino County documents that show the County's past inclination to protect and support its communities have been collected in this document: SBC Documents Supporting Communities.

Learn more from an editorial statement in the Victor Valley Daily Press by Lucerne Valley resident Neal Nadler in support of the original RECE 4.10 and a comment letter from the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.
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Ord Mountain Solar Project EIR Published

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Ord Mountain Solar Project has been published by San Bernardino County. The 60 megawatt project is proposed next to a rural residential area north of Lucerne Valley. Negative effects on local residents and wildlife (including bighorn sheep and tortoise) are expected if the project were built. Here is a link to the online Notice of Availability, where you can read a summary and see a map.

Please review the information about the project and then comment by the deadline of November 16, 2018. We are providing you with two methods of reviewing the EIR.

1.  For those comfortable with navigating a large PDF document via their browser, here is a link to the full Ord Mountain EIR, published October 3, 2018.  You can view the Appendices individually via links to the County's website (listed below the EIR sections).

2.  If you would like to review the EIR in smaller "chunks," in viewable and/or downloadable PDF format, we have provided below an index with links to individual sections of the EIR document (thanks to Pat Flanagan). The Appendices are too large to present as PDF's on our website, so we provide links to the County's website to view those files (below the EIR sections).

Is the Ord Mountain Solar and Energy Storage Project exempt from the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE)? Consider the question with the help of this document. The answer is important for all communities facing utility-scale projects in or near their backyard where applications, but not final plans, have been filed. 

After reviewing the EIR, please comment by email or postal mail by November 16. Be sure to include your name, phone number, and address.

Email to:  
[email protected]

Send letter to:
County of San Bernardino, Land Use Services
Chris Warrick, Senior Planner
385 North Arrowhead Ave., First Floor
San Bernardino, CA  92415


Ord Mountain Solar Project EIR Documents
(These are PDF documents available to view or download or print, all less than 10 MB.)

CEQA final-approved-appendix-G
EIR Table of Contents and Abbreviations
Executive Summary, Environmental Impact Summary

Section 1.0 Introduction
Section 2.0 Project Description
Section 3.0 Environmental Analysis
Section 3.1 Aesthetics (1 of 2)
Section 3.1 Aesthetics (2 of 2)
Section 3.2 Air Quality
Section 3.3 Biological Resources (Legal)
Section 3.3 Biological Resources (Impact)
Section 3.4 Cultural Resources
Section 3.5 Geology and Soils
Section 3.6 Green House Gas Emissions
Section 3.7 Hazards and Hazardous Materials
Section 3.8 Hydrology and Water Quality
Section 3.9 Land Use and Planning
Section 3.10 Noise
Section 3.11 Traffic and Transportation
Section 4.0 Effects Found Not to be Significant
Section 5.0 Other CEQA Considerations
Section 6. Alternatives to the Proposed Project
Section 7.0 References and Preparers

APPENDICES (these are links to the County's website)

Air Quality Greenhouse Gas Energy
Biological Resources
Calcite Substation Project
Cultural Resources
Geological Resources
Hazardous Materials
NOP and Scoping Documents
Visual Resources
Water Resources

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National Geographic Reports on the Decline of Joshua Trees

The plight of Joshua trees in the warming desert climate is the focus of an October report by National Geographic. The article describes recent research related to the parallel decline in the health of the trees and of the essential moth whose symbiotic relationship with the trees provides pollination for the trees and food for the moth larvae. Read the full article "Iconic Joshua trees may disappear--but scientists are fighting back." 
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