Proposed Fee Hikes at Joshua Tree National Park

The National Park Service has announced in this Press Release that it plans to increase entrance fees at a number of National Parks, including our own Joshua Tree National Park.  Fees would be increased during the "peak season" of January to May.  Here is the local KCDZ radio story and the Desert Sun's report.  MOST IMPORTANT to note is that there is an opportunity for public comment from October 24 to November 23, 2017. UPDATE:  DEADLINE extended to Friday, December 22, 2017This NPS webpage contains a summary of the fee changes and the link to public comment, or send your comments by mail to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.

Add your reaction Share

Eblast October 20, 2017

Countywide Plan Scoping Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 26
Community Plan Update: Monday, Nov. 6
Public Comment period for Countywide Plan EIR: Oct. 17- Nov. 20
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
Between now and November 20th MBCA encourages Morongo Basin residents to take time to respond to the Countywide Plan EIR, as well as to weigh in on 2007 specific Community Plan updates.  This email gives you information about two specific opportunities to do so and provides links to helpful documents. The County calendar allows precious little time to get this work done.
Important dates:
Thursday, Oct. 26 - Countywide Plan EIR Scoping Meeting in San Bernardino or Joshua Tree
Monday, Nov. 6 - Community Plan(s) update meeting in Joshua Tree
Monday, Nov. 20 - Public Comment Period ENDS
Saving grace is a guiltless time to play over the long Thanksgiving weekend!
If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, know that MBCA is preparing comments to submit on the Countywide Plan. We will share MBCA’s comments with you in an upcoming E-Blast – to support your personal comments (see below on where to submit comments.)
Key comments include:
  • The Countywide Plan must incorporate the existing Morongo Basin Conservation Priorities Report, 2012;
  • The Countywide Land Use Map (see the County’s current Land Use and Overlay maps) must incorporate the wildlife linkage designs, including South Coast Wildlands Linkage Designs and the Apple Valley Linkage Design;
  • The goals and policies of the 2007 Community Plan(s) as updated must be adopted into the Countywide Policy Plan (for unincorporated areas) to ensure protection under CEQA of our land use.
Public Scoping Meeting: Countywide Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
WHEN:          Thursday, October 26, 2017; 9:30 to 11:30 AM 
WHERE:        Joshua Tree Government Bldg. 63665 Hwy. 62, JT 92252
                      OR Government Center, Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, 
                      first floor, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino
Read this overview and explanation of the Plan and the EIR process to prepare for the meeting. Beginning on the 5th page of the document (the pages aren't numbered), you'll find charts and maps regarding land use and growth in newly designated county regions. It appears that the Morongo Basin will now be in a segment labeled the East Desert, differentiated from the North Desert areas north of the San Bernardino Mountains.  
Local Meeting on Community Plans: Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Morongo Valley, Homestead Valley
WHENMonday November 6; 5:00 PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center - 6171 Sunburst St.
Bring all your questions to this meeting. The intent is to clear any confusion and focus on how to best achieve communities’ interests by ensuring the 2007 Community Plans are updated and that essential areas will be studied in the EIR for the Community Wide Plan.  (Read the 2007 Countywide EIR .)
Make a difference in future conservation, land use and economic development policies! Send written comments to:
Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Department,
re: San Bernardino Countywide Plan –
Mail: Karen Watkins, San Bernardino County Planning Dept., 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA. 92415-0110 (sign and print your name if using US Mail, and include street address)
Fall Desert-Wise Living program - Zero Net Energy Living
Saturday, November 4
Experts on ZNE from Southern California Edison will make a presentation and after short Q&A period, a number of local service-providers who can help you with ZNE projects will be available.
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
Marina West, Recording Secretary                 Pat Flanagan, Director          
Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    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.

Add your reaction Share

Cadiz: Federal OK, State Issue Unresolved

News media have reported that federal authorization has been granted for the "Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project" (Cadiz Water Project), a Mojave-Desert-to-Orange-County water transmission plan. However, the California Lands Commission insists there must be a process of review and permission because of state lands crossed by the proposed pipeline.  MBCA and many desert supporters believe the project is based on unrealistic projections about the recovery of water in the desert aquifer, and that desert lands including special places in the Mojave Trails National Monument will be adversely affected.  News items explaining the situation can be found in the Los Angeles Times, the San Bernardino Sun, the Desert Sun, and on local radio KCDZ's website.  You can view previous stories and links about Cadiz on our Water Issues page.
Add your reaction Share

New Problem for Cadiz Water Project

MBCA continues to oppose the Cadiz Water Project and we are glad to learn of a new development that brings another potential problem to their plan.  The National Parks Conservation Association published a Press Release today noting that the California State Lands Commission has found that the project's plan will require State review because the plan crosses State-owned land. You can read MBCA's prior news posts about Cadiz and other water issues on our Water Issues page
Add your reaction Share

Eblast October 7, 2017

October 11 Update:  Click to view and print these condensed "shorthand" versions of the Joshua Tree Draft Community Plan and the Lucerne Valley Draft Community Plan created by Pat Flanagan.  
Countywide Plan Meeting / Open House – Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
Update: SB 249 & SB 159
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
Land use issues are an ongoing concern in the Morongo Basin. Over the years residents have responded to developments that threatened our rural quality of life and were in conflict with an established Community Plan.
MBCA encourages you to attend the San Bernardino County community outreach meeting in Joshua Tree this Wednesday, October 11, to express concerns for creating Community Plans that ensure local control over land use decisions. The meeting will provide updates on the progress of the Countywide General Plan and to gather community feedback of the planning process – including Draft Community Plans.
WHEN: October 11, 2017, 5 - 8 PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Street
Members of our rural residential communities who have explored the recently released Draft Community Plans have not been kind in their response. The Plans show a lack of familiarity with the communities and residents question whether county planners and consultants were ‘listening’ during the three Listening Sessions. The drafts are in reality action or work plans – for local implementation by each community. In the case of Joshua Tree, the plan has no relationship to the existing 2007 Community Plan.
Draft Community Plans have been generated for following communities:
Pioneertown Communities - foundation plan
MBCA contends that by definition the Draft plans are not Community Plans because they lack the essential goals and policies to guide land use decisions. When a Community Plan is adopted into the County’s General Plan, its goals and policies carry the force of law. However, the draft plans under consideration disenfranchise local communities from the legal process. At the Wednesday session, we suggest attendees to recommend the County more accurately name these draft documents Suggested Action Plans (SAP).
Local control by Joshua Tree residents (or other unincorporated communities) to maintain rural character can only be maintained if the County General Plan adopts the goals and policies that were adopted in the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan. Goals and policy provide the force of law that supported Joshua Tree residents legal petitions against the Altamira Gated Housing Project, the Joshua Tree Airport Solar, and Dollar General. At Wednesday’s Open House, we want County planners to clearly understand that we expect the Goals and Policies in the Joshua Tree 2007 Community Plan be adopted into the new JT Community Plan.
Some good news is anticipated at the meeting: a new Land Use map for Joshua Tree with welcomed zoning changes. This is thanks to the efforts of community activists who have worked diligently to provide valuable input to San Bernardino County Land Use Services staff. 
We have a great opportunity on Wednesday to support the work of those individuals in the Basin who volunteered their time and labored tirelessly to gain knowledge of how our communities can work with the County to gain greater control over land use decisions. It is critical that Basin communities retain power to challenge planning decisions under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) when necessary! This chart will help you understand how CEQA empowers Community Plans.
We encourage residents in the Pioneertown Communities, Homestead Valley Communities, Morongo Valley, Phelan/Pinon Hills and Lucerne Valley to understand the Joshua Tree Community Plan as they work to create their own Community Plans. The Basin’s community specific plans impact one another and need to be considered as a whole. United we stand, divided we fall! See you Wednesday!
We hope to see a good turnout at Wednesday’s meeting. But, if you cannot attend – visit this website for the information that will be presented at the Open House, including draft community plans, web-based maps, and digital copies of materials presented at the meeting. You may submit comments at the site or to:
Update: SB 249 & SB159
Governor Brown signed these California OHV recreation legislation bills. While the legislation didn’t accomplish all the conservation community sought for the protection of natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation, it will improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration. Thanks for your calls to representatives.
Community Events
And finally, on a lighter note, please visit MBCA’s Calendar page to view a number of October and November events that we think may be of interest to readers of this Eblast.  And especially, note that our Fall Desert-Wise Living program focused on Zero Net Energy living will be on Saturday, November 4.
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer  
Marina West, Recording Secretary            Pat Flanagan, Director        
Meg Foley, Director                                      Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                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.
Add your reaction Share

Eblast September 12 2017

OHMVR legislation: SB 249 & AB 159
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
WHY: OHV damage is outpacing California’s ability to repair and regulate OHV use.
The Assembly votes tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13th
The Senate votes this Friday, September 15th
MBCA has supported Community OHV Watch (COW) since their inception. COW and many other conservation partners have worked diligently for a better balance of OHV recreation interests and the protection of our state’s natural resources.
SB 249 and SB 159 will reform California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle recreation and repair, reduce, and prevent OVH damage to California’s natural and cultural resources. Last reauthorized 10 years ago – it has become clear the program needs to include improved natural resource management techniques, oversight by the Department, and increased funding for project that repair lands damaged from motorized recreation.
This legislation will protect natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation and will continue to improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration.
Urge your representatives to vote YES on SB 249 & SB 159!
Residents in the Morongo Basin call:
Assemblyman Chad Mayes – Rancho Mirage office (760) 346-6342; Sacramento office (916) 319-2042
Senator Jean Fuller – Sacramento office (916) 651-4016
Sample wording for calls:
"I am a voting constituent in your district, and I'm calling to urge Assembly Member/Senator [NAME] to vote YES on SB 249, California's OHV Reform Bill. SB 249 has been amended to address priority needs for OHV Program reform. The Morongo Basin Conservation Association, our partner organizations, the State Parks Department, and the Governor's office all support this bill. Please join them in support and vote YES on SB 249. Thank you."
For information on OHV reform bills SB 249 & AB 159:
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
Marina West, Recording Secretary                Pat Flanagan, Director          
Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    Laraine Turk, Director
MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
and economic well-being.


Add your reaction Share

Morongo Basin Unincorporated Community Plans Updated

The County of San Bernardino has just published the latest versions of updated Community Plans for a number of communities in the Morongo Basin, based on input from last year's "Community Workshops."  The links provided below connect you to the overview page on the County's website, which explains the process and the status, and includes a link to the latest plan. 
Detailed Plans:  Joshua Tree, Lucerne Valley
Foundation Plans:  Pioneertown Communities
Add your reaction Share

Sand to Snow Monument Will Remain Unchanged

"Our" Sand to Snow National Monument will remain as it was created, according to news from the Interior Department, following its listing for "review" by that Department earlier this year.  The state of our other nearby Monument, Mojave Trails, is not yet known, but recommendations for reduction in size based on extractive industry interests is anticipated.  This Desert Sun article about the Sand-to-Snow announcement provides a great deal more information, including a history of the Monument effort and quotations from several Morongo Basin residents.  Here is the Los Angeles Times article on the subject
1 reaction Share

Eblast August 4, 2017

RECE (Renewable Energy and Conservation Element): Supervisors Public Hearing, Tuesday, August 8th, 1 PM
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

We know that RECE has been a frequent topic in our correspondence with you for months now. The Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE) establishes the goals and principles that will guide the County in planning for the future of renewables in our desert areas. Next Tuesday afternoon is the time to show the County how serious we are about having a good County policy and resulting code. The Supervisors Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 PM and we hope you can participate.
WHAT: San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on RECE
WHEN: August 8th at 1PM
WHERE: Joshua Tree Government Center, Bob Burke conference room
OR Chamber of the Board of Supervisors, first floor, County Govt. Center, 385 No. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino
OR Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, Hesperia
It is important that Supervisors see a full house with the public in attendance at this meeting for the first review of the RECE draft. We encourage you to fill out a Request to Speak form, but if speaking in public isn't for you, just clap or cheer to show your approval. A large number of voters being present carries a lot of weight. Choose your venue, pick a point to emphasize in a comment & pack those seats to urge the Supervisors to pass the RECE!
MBCA submitted a detailed comment letter to the County Planning Division – this will provide helpful background information for those attending this meeting.
View MBCA’s Director Pat Flanagan’s illustrated PowerPoint Sand Transport Paths in the Mojave Desert. For a closer look at the problem as it pertains to Lucerne Valley, watch this YouTube video on PM-10 Problems by Lucerne Valley resident, Tony Malone.
See you there!
Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
Your 2017 MBCA Board 
David Fick, Vice President                            Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
Marina West, Recording Secretary               Pat Flanagan, Director          
Meg Foley, Director                                       Ruth Rieman, Director
Claudia Sall, Director for Events                   Laraine Turk, Director
MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
and economic well-being.


Add your reaction Share

JTNP Achieves International Dark Sky Status

The Morongo Basin is now home to an international Dark Sky Park. Joshua Tree National Park achieved their long-time goal of Dark Sky Park status bestowed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).  This significant achievement is the result of several years of work by Park staff, providing data and receiving IDA representatives for review. The Los Angeles Times article announcing the Park's new status mentions Morongo Basin night sky activists Tom O'Key, Luke Sabala, and Caryn Davidson. MBCA supported Joshua Tree National Park’s IDA Dark Sky Park application - here is our June 2016 letter in support of the Park's application.    



Add your reaction Share