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.
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
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.
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.
In November a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment was published by the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and other agencies, proposing actions to manage widespread raven problems in California desert military locations. In response, Ed LaRue of the Desert Tortoise Council sent a comment letter that approves of the raven abatement project so far as it’s necessary to protect desert tortoise, but also recommends a number of changes.
The San Bernardino County Light Trespass Ordinance is now official. As we noted in our December 8 news post, "Two of the primary 'wins' of the final version of the ordinance are a shielding requirement and modernization of the terminology and measurement process concerning light trespass. Decorative string lights were one of the final issues of contention, and the approved version of the ordinance will only limit the color temperature and lumen output for residential, not commercial, string lights. The Supervisors agreed to revisit the issue in the future." In the near future, MBCA plans to provide more educational content about the ordinance.
More than a year after submitting initial comments on the Stagecoach project near Lucerne Valley, MBCA has submitted new comments that focus on harm to the Scenic Highway 247 plan and damage to the desert’s valuable and significant natural carbon sequestration. Within the comment letter on pages 2 and 3 are maps and photos that illustrate the potential viewshed deterioration along Highway 247. Photos later in the letter also illustrate the carbon-capturing potential of undisturbed desert lands. A two-page Science Brief created by several environmental advocates including MBCA’s Pat Flanagan provides a simple overview of the desert’s carbon capture capability and value. Finally, a short paper titled Notes on Models of Carbon Dynamics for the California Deserts by Dr. Michael F. Allen of UC Riverside is provided for additional scientific background.
Speaking at an water industry event at the Salton Sea near Mecca on Monday, March 27, Scott Slater, the CEO of Cadiz, Inc, the company that wants to sell water from the Cadiz aquifer for enormous financial gain, shared that the company is considering piping water "to bring water to disadvantaged communities within our reach." Slater also revealed efforts "to pursue a relationship with the Salton Sea Authority...and the Torres...
Wonder Inn Resort Proposal Denied by Planning Commission
In a 4-0 vote, San Bernardino County Planning Commissioners denied the Wonder Inn project opposed by MBCA and hundreds of Morongo Basin area residents. Almost 50 citizens made their comments in person at the meeting. The citizens' group Stop Wonder Inn spent a year doing research to demonstrate how the project if built would have significant negative repercussions not only for Wonder Valley but the entire Morongo Basin. MBCA's initial...