The Desert's Role in California's 30x30 Plan

MBCA joined with many non-profit environmental and conservation organizations in recently signing comment letters related to California's 30x30 land and water conservation plan. The California Natural Resources Agency published the Draft Pathways Report that will guide the state's implementation of California Governor Newsom's Executive Order N-82-20 calling for conservation of 30% of California’s land and water to be protected by 2030. The draft plan underestimates the value of the desert's carbon sequestration and inaccurately describes the desert's real borders. MBCA joined 22 other organizations in creating an Inland Desert Regional Comment Letter to provide guidance on desert issues. MBCA also joined 61 organizations in a statewide comment letter on the Draft Report.
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A Third Option for Homeowners to Preserve their Joshua Trees?

A Yucca Valley property owner was directed by the Yucca Valley Planning Commission to either transplant or remove a Joshua Tree impacted by trenching near the tree. The property owners believe they should have the option of maintaining the tree. MBCA agrees that there should be a third option intended to retain trees that are not gravely affected by nearby excavation. This MBCA letter to the California Fish and Game Commission expresses MBCA’s request for them to consider such an option in their forthcoming decision-making process about designating the western Joshua Tree as a threatened species in California.
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Letter: Waiver of Joshua Tree Relocation

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Letter: Statewide Response to Draft 30 x 30 Pathways Report

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National Park Service Invites Public Comments on New West Entrance Station Plan

The public is invited to comment on a plan to construct a new West Entrance Station in Joshua Tree National Park to alleviate the entrance traffic back-ups that have increasingly occurred as Park visitation has increased. The National Park Service announcement of the West Entrance Plan Environmental Assessment includes all relevant documents and a link to the comment form. The comment deadline is March 11 at 11:59 PM Mountain Standard Time.  
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Plant Spotlight: Agave

In the cool winter days of February when nothing much seems to be going on in the landscape, agaves stand out in the garden with their grey-green palette and strong structure.
Quite a few varieties of agave thrive in the Morongo Basin. Due to the differences in altitude, an agave that does well in Twentynine Palms may be too cold sensitive for Pioneertown's chilly winter temps. Experiment and talk to other gardeners about what works for them. Agaves are great "pass along" plants as they often produce offspring or "pups".
Don't rely on the big box stores to have vetted cold hardiness of agave for our area. They may sell plants in the Morongo Basin that cannot take our low temps. (Note: an agave can sometimes recover from cold damage to leaves.) 
Photos by Stacy Doolittle
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Recording of 2022 Annual Meeting Now Available

The video recording of MBCA's 2022 Annual Meeting with speakers on "The Last Joshua Tree? Climate Change and the Future of this Iconic Species" is now available. For more background, here is the January 22, 2022 Press Release announcing the meeting. You can find the time stamp for the several sections of the meeting on the YouTube page or below.

     0:06  Introduction and Issue Overview by President, Steve Bardwell
   17:16  Laraine Turk Honoring Ruth Rieman, retiring Board member
   20:15  Remarks by Ruth Rieman
   21:16  Introduction and Remarks by Chris Clarke
   41:16  Presentation by Brendan Cummings
1:20:05  Questions and Conversation with Chris Clarke and Brendan Cummings

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County Planning Commission Continues STR Ordinance Consideration

The San Bernardino County Planning Commission's draft Short Term Rental (STR) ordinance agenda item on February 3 was continued to the next meeting, or more likely to a Special meeting to be determined at the next meeting (February 17). More than 5 hours were devoted to the topic, including the staff presentation, more than 60 public comments, and lengthy dialogue among the Commissioners. Key issues of further consideration included whether to allow an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to be an STR, whether different desert and mountain conditions should dictate different ordinance details for those areas, and many other complex issues. MBCA Directors were disappointed at how little acknowledgement there was of housing inequity. The large increase in STRs has greatly reduced affordable rental housing especially in Morongo Basin communities (see Wayne Hamilton letter for more data).

Below is a series of lists, maps, comment letters and other documents that were provided by MBCA to the Planning Commission and other County entities to elaborate on the short-term rental problem in the Morongo Basin particularly.

Chart of STRs by Zipcode January 2022
MBCA’s 2.2.22 STR Comment letter
MBCA’s 10.19.21 STR Comment letter
Map of SB County Supervisorial Districts|
Data comparison of SB County Districts
Map of STRs by Zipcode January 2022
Map of SB County size compared to 4 states
Wayne Hamilton, MUSD Housing Liaison, Letter to Sup. Rowe



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Letter: Housing Element Letter to State Agencies

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Stewardship and Conservation at Coyote Hole in Joshua Tree

The Coyote Hole historic petroglyph site in Joshua Tree, an area of long-time concern due to incidents of graffiti and trash dumping, is now being patrolled and conserved by the Native American Land Conservancy, with volunteer assistance. Transferred by San Bernardino County to the Conservancy for stewardship purposes in 2018, a recent grant from the Rose Foundation provides the Conservancy with funds to increase oversight of 30 acres in the wash area. This Desert Sun article describes the Conservancy's role and provides a series of photos of Coyote Hole.
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