State Agency Recommends Against Threatened Listing for Joshua Trees

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has published a status review concluding that Western Joshua trees do not warrant threatened status in California. The ultimate determination is in the hands of the California Fish and Game Commission, which in September 2020 granted the species interim threatened status and implemented guidelines for its protection. The official presentation of the status review by the Department to the Commission is scheduled for April 21; however, the Commission’s vote is not expected until its June 16 meeting. This April 13 press release by the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a petition that initiated the status review by the Commission, provides background and outlines the expected sequence of forthcoming actions. Additional information can be found in this Los Angeles Times story and the Times' editorial opinion in favor of listing the Joshua tree.
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Wonder Valley Group Opposes Resort Development

Photo by Stacy Doolittle
In response to the advancement through San Bernardino County's planning process of a proposal for a 106-room hotel project in Wonder Valley, local concerned residents have established a website to inform and engage others in opposition. The development includes a 24/7 restaurant, spa, pool, 205 parking spaces, and other features. Nearby residents are concerned about excessive lighting, dangerous highway conditions and traffic, dust, groundwater levels, wastewater, etc., and feel the project is completely inappropriate for their small, sparsely populated community. The website is StopWonderInn.org
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State Agency Criticizes County's Draft Housing Element

There is an increasing lack of long term rental housing in the Morongo Basin due in great part to the conversion to short term vacation rentals. (See MBCA's February 3 News post for more background and resources on this.) The Housing Element of the County Wide Plan is updated on an 8-year cycle and is subject to detailed statutory requirements and mandatory review by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Without notification to the public, San Bernardino County filed a Draft Housing Element in December 2021. They received a reply from HCD stating “revisions will be necessary to comply with State Housing Element Law.” The letter not only mentions the state's consideration of input from MBCA President Steve Bardwell and Board member Janet Johnson (our letter of October 19, 2021), but also provides 13 pages of detail where the report needs revision or does not comply with requirements.
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MBCA and Desert Scientists Urge Better Science in CARB’s Analysis

MBCA is among 16 signatories on an April 4 letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The letter expressed an appreciation for the Board's enhanced model of carbon sequestration in the desert (see letter of August 2021). However, the group also expressed concern that the newest model still underestimates the desert's carbon sequestration potential and that CARB should engage in a more comprehensive analysis of current research on desert-centric sequestration systems. 

 

 

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MBCA Joins Request for Extension on Amargosa Basin Water Management Hearing

MBCA is among 15 organizations requesting more time to prepare for involvement in hearings concerning water management and related biological resources in the Amargosa Basin. The Basin lies within the Mojave Desert and spreads across two states and four counties, including San Bernardino County. The group recommends that Nevada Department of Water Resources engage with stakeholders to examine potential negative impacts on groundwater for rural communities and on tourism drawn to the area by this unique ecosystem.
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Rental Housing Problem Persists in Morongo Basin

house in distance under constructionA recent New York Times article reports on short-term rental issues in the greater Joshua Tree National Park area, but only briefly mentions the housing crisis that has been precipitated in great part by the rentals. This recent Desert Sun article, with quotations from MBCA Board members, provides a more comprehensive overview of how the situations are entwined and the status of the issue with San Bernardino County government.
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Plant Spotlight: Mojave Yucca

                                     Photos by Stacy Doolittle
One of our most glorious native plants is the Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera). With blooms beginning purple and opening to white or cream-colored blossoms, a yucca in bloom is a desert beacon. It's tree-like structure adds solidity to the landscape.
According to CalScape, "the flower is pollinated by only a single species of Yucca Moth, and many of the flowers go unpollinated."  Although a member of the Agave family, yucca's do not produce pups but instead reproduce by seed. 
yucca bloom close-up
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Communications Tower Concerns in Morongo Valley

MBCA joined Friends of Big Morongo Canyon, Mojave Desert Land Trust, Basin and Range Watch, SummerTree Institute, and The Wildlands Conservancy in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management with serious concerns about the construction of a proposed 196-foot communications tower in Morongo Valley. The letter states "The undersigned individuals/organizations have fought long and hard for the designation of Sand to Snow National Monument and strongly oppose this project and the changing of the VRM (Visual Resource Management) classification." In great detail and with maps and illustrations, the accompanying Public Scoping Comments document from the group points out why "The proposals are not in conformance with the applicable Federal purpose for which the public lands are managed in this area." 
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Plant Spotlight: Beavertail Pricklypear

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Photos by Stacy Doolittle
Opuntia basilaris or beavertail pricklypear as it is is commonly known, is native to the Morongo Basin and other areas of the southwest. It is a small to medium sized cactus with the potential for hundreds of pads on one cactus. These pads are usually a blue-green without spines. Instead, beavertail has glochids which are small barbed bristles or thorns. These easily detach so caution is recommended. 
A truly desert-wise plant, the beavertail doesn't need supplemental water except a small amount in the heat of summer. But be careful, overwatering can lead to rot. It does not need any supplemental water the rest of the year, even though it can appear parched. 
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Eblast February 21, 2022

MBCA_Sticker_Final_Transparent.png
  • Annual Meeting recording now on-line!
  • Short Term Rentals and the SB County Housing Element
  • Rooftop Solar in California
  • 30 x 30
  • Morongo Valley Cell Tower
  • Mark your Calendars for the 2022 Landscape Tour
  • MBCA Scholarship
 
 
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