Rieman Presentation - Grass Roots Activism

ruth_photo.jpgMBCA Director (and prior President and Treasurer) Ruth Rieman served as a panel member at the April 21, 2017 Black Rock Symposium (a series sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association through its Desert Institute), on the topic "Grassroots Activism in the Morongo Basin." Ruth's presentation explored the stories of several historic women desert activists who inspired her and also provided an overview of the organizations and causes she has been involved with for decades here in the Morongo Basin, especially with MBCA and the California Desert Coalition.  Take a look at her PowerPoint Presentation titled "Grassroots" to understand more about the heart and soul of a true desert activist.  

You can also view a YouTube video of the entire hour and a half Symposium (that also includes fellow Board Member Laraine Turk's presentation on the Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance).


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Progress for Morongo Basin Bike Trails

A grant is now in place with the County to begin planning bicycle trails across the Morongo Basin.  MBCA Board of Advisors member Greg Gilbert has worked toward this goal for a number of years.  As reported on KCDZ radio, "The bike trails project would stretch approximately 100 miles altogether, uniting the Morongo Basin communities."  Here is the full story.

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E-Blast May 2, 2017

Before we update you on several important issues, we want to report that the 2017 Desert-Wise Landscape Tour was a huge success. Almost 400 participants visited the 21 sites located across the Morongo Basin on the weekend of April 22-23, and were educated and enchanted with the creative and water-wise landscapes they viewed.  Over 60 volunteers served as hosts, docents, and registration workers.  Read more about the Tour and view some photos on our Landscape Tour Review page
Sponsors that make the Tour possible include Mojave Water Agency, Twentynine Palms Water District, Hi-Desert Water District, Southern California Edison, Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, and Joshua Basin Water District. 
One last note on the Tour - we urge all participants to consider writing a few paragraphs about their experience at the Tour and submitting it to the Essay Contest competition for gift certificate prizes from Unique Nursery and Cactus Mart.  Gift certificate prizes range from $100-$200 - a nice reward to further your own landscape goals!  Read all the details here - and submit your thoughts by Monday, May 15.
Desert National Monuments
Most of you will have learned from news media about President Trump's recent order for the Department of the Interior to review a number of recently-created National Monuments, including our two local Monuments, Sand-To-Snow and Mojave Trails, that hundreds of us worked so hard to bring to fruition.  News reports from local radio station KCDZ FM, the Desert Sun, and the Los Angeles Times provide details.  The LA Times editorial the next day was very clear about its position; it was titled "Leave the national monuments alone."  There is much uncertainty about how rescinding National Monuments could happen. Morongo Basin residents are urged to let your federal representatives know your feelings on the matter.  You can find contact information and links on our Decision-Maker Contact Information Page within our Resource Library.
Eagle Crest Pumping Project (at the old Eagle Mountain Mine)
We alerted you in March to the Desert Sun's editorial titled "Brown Misguided on Eagle Mountain infrastructure ask," commenting negatively on Governor Jerry Brown's request for federal funding to move this project forward.  The use of desert aquifers to create a "giant battery in the desert" by filling two of the Eagle Mountain Mine empty pits with water and devising an energy-generating movement of the water would likely decimate desert aquifers that fuel desert life in Joshua Tree National Park.  The Desert Sun has published a follow-up editorial that, while expressing some degree of inevitability about the project moving forward, strongly advises to "Keep close watch on Eagle Mountain hydropower project."
County Renewable Energy Element Final Draft
We recently posted a news item about the almost-final status of the San Bernardino County’s Renewable Energy Element of the County General Plan.  Here is the link to that information.
Upcoming Events
(Bookmark MBCA’s Community Events Calendar page to keep up with meetings and events we think will be of interest to MBCA supporters.)
Monday, May 8, 6:30-8:00 PM, Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council at Joshua Tree Community Center.  Along with reports from County safety and fire agencies and MAC representatives, Caltrans is scheduled to present an update on the Downtown JT traffic plan.
Wednesday, May 17, 4:00-6:30 PM, Celebration of Life for Victoria Fuller at the Joshua Basin Water District Demonstration Garden.  Victoria was a member of MBCA’s Board of Advisors among many other community groups, and a contributor to countless community improvement initiatives.  This event will give all of us a chance to remember her engaging personality and many contributions.  Hope to see you there. 

Thanks for your support.

Your 2017 MBCA Board 

Sarah Kennington, President               David Fick, Vice President
Steve Bardwell, Treasurer                    Marina West, Recording Secretary
Pat Flanagan, Director                         Meg Foley, Director               
Ruth Rieman, Director                         Claudia Sall, Events
Laraine Turk, Director



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County RE Element Final Draft

Here is a message from the County about the latest status of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County's General Plan.  For more background, you can click the links in this November 2016 News Update from MBCA.

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April 25, 2017
April 2017 Final Public Hearing Draft Renewable Energy and Conservation Element Now Available for Public Review!
The Final Public Hearing Draft Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (REC Element) has been revised following the Planning Commission Public Hearing held November 3, 2016 and is now available for public review. The Board of Supervisors’ upcoming public hearing has not yet been scheduled, but the date will be posted on the Land Use Services Renewable Energy website and email notices sent out once scheduled.
The April 2017 Final Public Hearing Draft REC Element tracks the changes made to the November 2016 Draft and may be viewed via the following link:
Comments and/or questions may be sent directly to Linda.Mawby@lus.sbcounty.gov .
Linda Mawby
Senior Planner Land Use Services Department
Phone: 909-387-4002 Fax: 909-387-3223
385 North Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0187


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Landscape Tour Review

During Earth Day weekend, nearly 400 people enjoyed the creative efforts of the owners of 21 water-wise landscape properties from Morongo Valley to Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, Pioneertown, and Landers.  

The Hi Desert Star published Hilary Sloane's article "Landscaping tour shows off water-wise sanctuaries" on April 29.

See more photos of the Tour on the 2017 Landscape Tour Photos page.

If you participated in the Tour, consider submitting a short essay to describe your experience and win a gift certificate.  Here are the details of the Essay Contest.  The deadline for entry is May 15.

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Morongo Basin Dark Sky Alliance Presentation

At the April 21 Black Rock Symposium focused on "Grass Roots Activism in the Morongo Basin," panelist and MBCA Director Laraine Turk described the work of the Morongo Basin Dark Sky Alliance that operated under the County's jurisdiction from 2010-2013. MBCA Director Claudia Sall was also an active participant on the Committee, which worked with the County and local residents to provide education and work toward an improved County lighting ordinance. A PDF file of the presentation is available.
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Cadiz Water Project Moves a Step Forward

An administrative move within BLM management at the federal level has reduced the obstacles still in place for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project that seeks to move water from desert aquifers to urban areas of southern California.  This April 5 story by our local radio station includes a map of the Cadiz location, and this LA Times article provides more details.
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Rural Roads and OHV Limits

Commentary and documents provided by Pat Flanagan
The BLM believes they have the legal right to connect public land parcels together using county un-maintained dirt roads. I believe this is incorrect – our dirt roads, a legacy of the Small Tracts Act (STA), are considered by the County, based on case law and the STA, to constitute legal right-of-way (ROW) for those entitled to use them, i.e. the public and utility companies. 
The documents provided here, especially the STA pamphlet and Penfold letter and County opinion, need to be readily available to anyone wanting to understand their legal position should BLM open County un-maintained dirt roads to OHV riding.


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Altamira Project On Hold

While we cannot say that there has been an end to plans for the Alta Mira housing project in the Friendly Hills area of Joshua Tree, the JT 105 Alliance citizens' group has informed MBCA that the developers have recently offered the project land for sale.  Below is an update from the Alliance and also links to some of the documents involved in the ongoing legal efforts to stop or change the plan for the Alta Mira Housing Development in the Friendly Hills area of Joshua Tree.

1)  A summary of the current situation is presented in this Press Release from the JT105 Alliance.

2)  The Alliance provided a copy of the October 28, 2016 CEQA petition they filed that outlined all the points of concern about the development.

3)  In January 2017, the Alliance proposed to the developers a settlement offer that included two very specific alternative revisions to their existing development plan that would be much more acceptable to the alliance and many Joshua Tree residents who have been concerned about the very “urban” plan proposed by the developers.  As the Alliance wrote, “We are not anti-development; we respect smart and ecologically-sensitive development.”

Here's an explanatory paragraph about the stay from the Alliance update:

"A six-month stay was agreed upon, on March 17, so that the developers could explore these options, during which they are not to pursue any permits for construction. Shortly after the agreement, a community member notified the Alliance that the developers had listed the project for sale, with the tract map approval as a key marketing point. If they were to sell the land, the lawsuit, and the wrath of hundreds, would be inherited by the new owner." 

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DHS Development Stopped Again

Several MBCA Directors have attended recent Desert Hot Springs City Council meetings to support their Planning Commission's decision to deny an extension for a developer's plans to create a large housing complex near Mission Creek Preserve and the Sand to Snow National Monument. At the Council meeting on March 22, a procedural situation resulted in the denial being upheld.  This Desert Sun article explains more about the circumstances and possible future actions by the developer. 
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