DRECP Changes Revoked

On February 17 the Department of the Interior revoked the eleventh-hour amendment to California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan by the outgoing administration that would have greatly reduced protected lands. This Desert Sun article provides more history and details, and California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas has released this statement of recognition and appreciation.  
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MDLT Provides Comprehensive Joshua Tree Regulations

Alexandra Hicks' photo of sunset and Joshua TreeWe are grateful to the Mojave Desert Land Trust for assembling and publishing a comprehensive guide to the new regulations regarding Western Joshua trees.
Last fall the California Fish and Game Commission voted to advance this iconic Mojave desert plant as a candidate for threatened species status. There is a one-year assessment period when special regulations regarding their movement or destruction are in place.
Refresh yourself on the situation by reading our September 23 News Update then go to MDLT's Western Joshua Tree Regulations page for all the current requirements. 

 

(Photo by Alexandra Hicks)
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County Planning Commission Defers Decision on Light Trespass Ordinance

At their February 4th meeting, the four San Bernardino County Planning Commission members present (Weldy, Stoffel, Haughey, Gongora) voted to defer any decision on the recommendation to adopt the proposed Light Trespass Ordinance. They will schedule a Workshop on the issue at a future Planning Commission meeting. Commissioners had many concerns that Land Use Services staff were unable to answer to their satisfaction. More background and links can be found in the first article of our February 1 Eblast or our January 31 News Update
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EBlast February 1, 2021

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  • Light Trespass Ordinance to be Considered by County
  • Video of MBCA Annual Meeting Available
  • Virtual Landscape Tour
  • Check the MBCA Calendar for Online Events

 

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New Light Trespass Ordinance on Planning Commission Agenda

Ten years after the start of Morongo Basin community efforts to improve the San Bernardino County lighting ordinance, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on a revised “Light Trespass” ordinance on February 4. (Meeting details and documents can be found here.) The revision would replace the earlier “Glare and Outdoor Lighting” section of the Development Code with updated and improved language focused on light trespass. In the Land Use Services staff report you can read both the existing and proposed ordinances and additional background and context.

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MBCA Board members and supporters have been continuously involved in dark sky initiatives for the last decade. The Morongo Basin Dark Sky Alliance (2010-2013) was the first local coalition to propose code changes, while providing educational events and a Joshua Tree porch light replacement project funded by the County. A summary of the MBDSA projects can be found here. In 2014 then-Supervisor James Ramos appointed a County Dark Sky Committee which pursued educational programs and code revisions. Following Supervisor Ramos’ election to the California Assembly in 2018, the committee was reinitiated by his appointed successor Dawn Rowe as the Third District Dark Sky Committee. This last committee successfully shepherded their concerns into the current proposed ordinance with the support of Supervisor Rowe, recently deceased County Code Enforcement Chief Andy Wingert, and John Barentine from the International Dark-Sky Association.

If approved by the Planning Commission, the revised ordinance will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for their final approval.  

 

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DRECP Status Still Uncertain

This recent LA times article provides a great deal of background on myriad aspects of environmental concern related to energy development in the California desert. It explores federal and state political aspects as well as commentary from environmental non-profit groups, particularly as they relate to the previous administration's last-minute draft revision to California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.  
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EBlast January 16, 2021

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  • Joshua Tree Candidacy as Threatened Status
  • Draft EIS for Amendment to DRECP Issued
  • Federal Energy Policy in Southern California
  • Check the MBCA Calendar for Online Events
 
 
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Proposed Reduction in Protected Lands in the DRECP

MBCA has kept our supporters informed since its inception about California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). While we deemed its final land protections not ideal but acceptable (after eight years of intense debate and input), the current federal administration is seeking to reduce those protected lands. The Bureau of Land Management on January 13 released a draft environmental impact statement and plan amendment for the three plans that underlie the DRECP. These changes disregard conservation efforts by supporting massive solar projects, mining and natural resource extraction, rights-of-way, livestock grazing, and off-roading recreation. BLM is also proposing modifications to the California Desert National Conservation Lands to reduce the connections and impede on the wildlife corridors in these areas. This Desert Sun article provides more background and details. Please review the documents in the proposal and let the BLM know what you support and oppose. Public comment can be submitted until April 15, 2021. 
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MBCA Joins Request for Desert Conservancy Legislation

MBCA has joined 13 other conservation-minded organizations in requesting California Assemblymember James Ramos carry legislation to establish a desert conservancy program in the Wildlife Conservation Board, whose primary purpose is to approve funding for wildlife habitat protection, restoration and wildlife-oriented public access projects. With increased desert tourism and the effects of climate change, additional attention is needed for California deserts. Learn more about the request in the coalition letter sent January 12, 2021.
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Letter: Desert conservancy Legislation

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