Off Road Vehicle Issues

Off-highway vehicle information specifically for the Morongo Basin can be viewed in this brochure that includes a map clarifying boundaries of no-riding areas as well as approved routes. San Bernardino County Code Enforcement provides this informational flyer that contains excerpts from the County code.


  • MBCA's WEMO Routes Comments to BLM

    Thanks once again to Board member Pat Flanagan, MBCA has submitted a researched, detailed, and illustrated comment letter in response to the BLM's request for comments on the Draft West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment for the California Desert Conservation Area Plan and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, aka "WEMO."

    The areas of most interest to MBCA regarding controlling OHV activity in the Morongo Basin and the Lucerne Valley areas are found within Travel Management Area 3. TMA 3 stretches east and west from south of Apple Valley to Wonder Valley.  The subregions of BLM land are found in Juniper Flats, Rattlesnake Canyon, Sand to Snow National Monument, Joshua Tree, and Wonder Valley.

    Specifically, MBCA asks BLM to implement the provisions of Alternative 2 because they "emphasize protection of physical, biological, and heritage resources, while providing for the smallest transportation and travel network focused on through access, and the most limited acreage and forage allocation dedicated to livestock grazing, comparatively." The BLM's preferred Alternative 4 would yield negative consequences to all those important attributes.

    You can find maps and information specific to the Morongo Basin's OHV regulations on pages 2&3 of the MBCA comment letter.
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  • Eblast June 11, 2018

    WEMO comments DEADLINE this Thursday, 6/14/18

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    Time to get your BLM West Mojave Route system (WEMO) response comments composed and sent by the deadline this Thursday!

    There is some good news in Alternative # 2 – many dirt roads in Wonder Valley and other areas have been designated “Street Legal Vehicles Only.” Let the BLM know you support SLO in rural neighborhoods with checker boarded with BLM and private property!

    For a full update, go to MBCA's previous news update on this topic, which has links to the COW website for insights and recommendations for making substantive comments.

    The Wilderness Society has also posted a website with a form letter that you can use and a link to the BLM for sending comments directly.

    This is our chance to assist the BLM in getting it right – to send a very strong message from Basin residents to make our dirt roads STREET LEGAL ONLY for Motorized vehicle use. This will reduce conflicts with OVH’s that we know only too well

    If you do not have the time to compose individualized comments, use the COW or Wilderness Society templates. Thanks for your attention to this issue that is core to our quality of life in the Mojave desert.


    Sarah Kennington, President

    Morongo Basin Conservation Association


    Your 2018 MBCA Board

       David Fick, Vice President                        Steve Bardwell, Treasure
    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                   Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                              Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                                  Laraine Turk, Director

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures the region’s rural character,
    cultural wealth and economic well-being.


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  • Eblast May 18, 2018

    SB County RECE 4.10: Planning Commission hearing, THURSDAY, 5/24/18

    • Complimentary MBTA bus transportation from JT – RSVP!

    WEMO: comments due Thursday, 6/14/18

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    One last reminder about the critically important …
    San Bernardino Co. Planning Commission hearing: RECE 4.10
    WHEN:  May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE:  County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and remote video-conference facilities in Joshua Tree and Hesperia (see below for locations)

    Speak up to protect our Communities from utility scale Renewable Energy development in existing community plan areas and Rural Living land use districts!

    Advocate for Policy 4.10 as proposed on Aug. 8, 2017! The newly revealed Staff Recommendation for Policy 4.10 opens the door to developers for the industrialization of our communities!

    We can make a difference if we show up and speak out! Speakers have 3 minutes to present their comments. To prepare, carefully read the County's recent report on the original and edited versions of RECE 4.10, then review MBCA’s perspective in this summary that opposes the revisions.

    Participate remotely from the JT or Hesperia’s video conferencing
    WHERE: Burke Government Building, 63665 29 Palms Highway
    OR:Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, Hesperia
             15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131
    WHEN: 9AM

    If you cannot attend the PC Hearing, submit written comments to
    Linda Mawby, Senior Planner (


    The BLM has published the latest draft of the West Mojave Route system (aka WEMO) on March 16, 2018. Public response comments wlll be accepted through June 14th.

    There is some good news in Alternative # 2 – many dirt roads in Wonder Valley and other areas have been designated “street legal vehicles only” per many residents’ suggestions!

    For a full update, go to this May 17 MBCA News Update with links to the COW (Community ORV Watch) website for insights and recommendations on making substantive comments.

    In closing
    See you in San Bernardino next Thursday at the Planning Commission hearing or I’ll watch you comment remotely on the video screen there as you make comments from JT or Hesperia. We’ll make a full-report on RECE in the next E-Blast – hopefully with good news!

    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                      Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   
    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                            Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                               Laraine Turk, Director


    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

    {{ }}
    {{ }}

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  • WEMO Comments Due June 14

    The BLM published the latest draft of the West Mojave Route Network Project (aka WEMO) on March 16, 2018. Public comments on this motorized vehicle management plan will be accepted through June 14. Community ORV Watch has taken the lead in providing a great deal of thoughtful and helpful information to ensure that your comments are substantive and informed - and make a difference. They provide a sample template comment letter but encourage you not only to add your own personalized comments, but also to comment on specific routes that will affect your neighborhood.

    For an introduction to the current WEMO plan, view this WEMO PowerPoint presentation (in PDF format) created by Pat Flanagan.

    MBCA and COW both urge support of Alternative #2 rather than the BLM's Preferred Alternative #4. The Preferred Alternative #4 designates far too many miles of roads on BLM land bordering desert communities as open for any motorized vehicle usage. In Alternative #2, most of the routes would be limited to street-legal only vehicles, reducing the noise, dust, and damage that often accompany extensive use of off-road vehicles thereby reducing quality of life in nearby neighborhoods.

    COW's WEMO page provides excellent and extensive detail and advice on making substantive comments to the BLM. In addition to supporting Alternative #2 over the BLM's Preferred Alternative #4, they will educate you step-by-step on how to decipher the BLM's PDF maps (don't use the online GIS maps-they are not accurate). Explore and then comment on specific routes that you have concerns about. Using the PDF maps provided by BLM (learn how at the COW website) gives you a chance to view the consequences of the proposed plans for your neighborhood.

    Don't forget to complete your comments by June 14.

    By email to;
    By fax with Attn: WMRNP Plan Amendment to 951-697-5299;
    By mail to
      Bureau of Land Management,
      California Desert District,
      Attn: WMRNP Plan Amendment,
      22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos,
      Moreno Valley, CA 92553  
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  • EBlast May 11, 2018

    Protect our Communities Now
    We are not exaggerating

    Learn what you need to know and do at the
    MAC meeting Monday, May 14 @ 5:30 PM in JT Community Center

    WHAT: MAC (Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council)
    WHEN: Monday, May 14, 2018 - NOTE NEW TIME, 5:30 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center – 6171 Sunburst Ave

    • WEMO (BLM West Mojave Routes of Travel)

    Yes, it’s back and we are on it. This time around it will be easier to comment. Learn the what, when, and how at the MAC.

    • Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) Policy 4.10 and subsections

    Utility Scale Solar Projects could be in our future –

    County Land Use Services has drafted a new ‘Staff Recommended’ Policy 4.10 that could bring large scale solar to the Morongo Basin, Lucerne Valley, Daggett, and Newberry Springs – rural communities with flat terrain and transmission. Read between the Staff Recommended lines here.

    Then attend the Planning Commission Hearing,
    Thursday, May 24, 9 AM.

    The Planning Commission will decide to Prohibit Solar or 
    to Allow Solar in rural residential communities.

    WHEN: Thursday, May 24th, 9AM
    WHERE: County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA. 92415 and also remote videoconference sites in Hesperia and Joshua Tree.

    Free bus transportation from Morongo Basin to attend this meeting

    MBCA encourages you to attend the hearing in San Bernardino to make the greatest impact. If you would like to reserve a seat on a free bus to this Planning Commission Hearing, email us: You will receive an email with all details when they are known. Generally, there will be a meeting point in the Morongo Basin at about 7AM on May 24, and the return will be approximately 2-3PM.

    If you are not able to make the trek to San Bernardino, please participate remotely from the video conferencing center at the Joshua Tree Burke Government Building (63665 29 Palms Highway) or the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia (15900 Smoke Tree St., suite 131).

    A strong showing for our position is critical! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments.

    Thanks for your attention and participation. We can make a difference – only if we show up and speak out!


    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association

    Your 2018 MBCA Board

    David Fick, Vice President                      Steve Bardwell, Treasurer   
    Marina West, Recording Secretary           Pat Flanagan, Director
    Meg Foley, Director                                Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                            Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                               Laraine Turk, Director

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

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  • Eblast October 7, 2017

    October 11 Update:  Click to view and print these condensed "shorthand" versions of the Joshua Tree Draft Community Plan and the Lucerne Valley Draft Community Plan created by Pat Flanagan.  
    Countywide Plan Meeting / Open House – Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
    Update: SB 249 & SB 159
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
    Land use issues are an ongoing concern in the Morongo Basin. Over the years residents have responded to developments that threatened our rural quality of life and were in conflict with an established Community Plan.
    MBCA encourages you to attend the San Bernardino County community outreach meeting in Joshua Tree this Wednesday, October 11, to express concerns for creating Community Plans that ensure local control over land use decisions. The meeting will provide updates on the progress of the Countywide General Plan and to gather community feedback of the planning process – including Draft Community Plans.
    WHEN: October 11, 2017, 5 - 8 PM
    WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Street
    Members of our rural residential communities who have explored the recently released Draft Community Plans have not been kind in their response. The Plans show a lack of familiarity with the communities and residents question whether county planners and consultants were ‘listening’ during the three Listening Sessions. The drafts are in reality action or work plans – for local implementation by each community. In the case of Joshua Tree, the plan has no relationship to the existing 2007 Community Plan.
    Draft Community Plans have been generated for following communities:
    Pioneertown Communities - foundation plan
    MBCA contends that by definition the Draft plans are not Community Plans because they lack the essential goals and policies to guide land use decisions. When a Community Plan is adopted into the County’s General Plan, its goals and policies carry the force of law. However, the draft plans under consideration disenfranchise local communities from the legal process. At the Wednesday session, we suggest attendees to recommend the County more accurately name these draft documents Suggested Action Plans (SAP).
    Local control by Joshua Tree residents (or other unincorporated communities) to maintain rural character can only be maintained if the County General Plan adopts the goals and policies that were adopted in the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan. Goals and policy provide the force of law that supported Joshua Tree residents legal petitions against the Altamira Gated Housing Project, the Joshua Tree Airport Solar, and Dollar General. At Wednesday’s Open House, we want County planners to clearly understand that we expect the Goals and Policies in the Joshua Tree 2007 Community Plan be adopted into the new JT Community Plan.
    Some good news is anticipated at the meeting: a new Land Use map for Joshua Tree with welcomed zoning changes. This is thanks to the efforts of community activists who have worked diligently to provide valuable input to San Bernardino County Land Use Services staff. 
    We have a great opportunity on Wednesday to support the work of those individuals in the Basin who volunteered their time and labored tirelessly to gain knowledge of how our communities can work with the County to gain greater control over land use decisions. It is critical that Basin communities retain power to challenge planning decisions under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) when necessary! This chart will help you understand how CEQA empowers Community Plans.
    We encourage residents in the Pioneertown Communities, Homestead Valley Communities, Morongo Valley, Phelan/Pinon Hills and Lucerne Valley to understand the Joshua Tree Community Plan as they work to create their own Community Plans. The Basin’s community specific plans impact one another and need to be considered as a whole. United we stand, divided we fall! See you Wednesday!
    We hope to see a good turnout at Wednesday’s meeting. But, if you cannot attend – visit this website for the information that will be presented at the Open House, including draft community plans, web-based maps, and digital copies of materials presented at the meeting. You may submit comments at the site or to:
    Update: SB 249 & SB159
    Governor Brown signed these California OHV recreation legislation bills. While the legislation didn’t accomplish all the conservation community sought for the protection of natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation, it will improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration. Thanks for your calls to representatives.
    Community Events
    And finally, on a lighter note, please visit MBCA’s Calendar page to view a number of October and November events that we think may be of interest to readers of this Eblast.  And especially, note that our Fall Desert-Wise Living program focused on Zero Net Energy living will be on Saturday, November 4.
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                          Steve Bardwell, Treasurer  
    Marina West, Recording Secretary            Pat Flanagan, Director        
    Meg Foley, Director                                      Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                Seth Shteir, Director
    Laraine Turk, Director
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.
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  • Eblast September 12 2017

    OHMVR legislation: SB 249 & AB 159
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
    WHY: OHV damage is outpacing California’s ability to repair and regulate OHV use.
    The Assembly votes tomorrow, Wednesday, September 13th
    The Senate votes this Friday, September 15th
    MBCA has supported Community OHV Watch (COW) since their inception. COW and many other conservation partners have worked diligently for a better balance of OHV recreation interests and the protection of our state’s natural resources.
    SB 249 and SB 159 will reform California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle recreation and repair, reduce, and prevent OVH damage to California’s natural and cultural resources. Last reauthorized 10 years ago – it has become clear the program needs to include improved natural resource management techniques, oversight by the Department, and increased funding for project that repair lands damaged from motorized recreation.
    This legislation will protect natural resources from illegal riding and environmental degradation and will continue to improve OHMVR (off-road motor vehicle registration) funding for enforcement and landscape restoration.
    Urge your representatives to vote YES on SB 249 & SB 159!
    Residents in the Morongo Basin call:
    Assemblyman Chad Mayes – Rancho Mirage office (760) 346-6342; Sacramento office (916) 319-2042
    Senator Jean Fuller – Sacramento office (916) 651-4016
    Sample wording for calls:
    "I am a voting constituent in your district, and I'm calling to urge Assembly Member/Senator [NAME] to vote YES on SB 249, California's OHV Reform Bill. SB 249 has been amended to address priority needs for OHV Program reform. The Morongo Basin Conservation Association, our partner organizations, the State Parks Department, and the Governor's office all support this bill. Please join them in support and vote YES on SB 249. Thank you."
    For information on OHV reform bills SB 249 & AB 159:
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                             Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
    Marina West, Recording Secretary                Pat Flanagan, Director          
    Meg Foley, Director                                        Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                    Laraine Turk, Director
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.


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  • Eblast July 14 2017

    • Ord Mountain Solar Project
    • Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General plan
    • Air quality monitoring
    • Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act (OHVRA) - SB 249
    • Desert Water – Cadiz project & AB 1000
    • Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert Defenders
    • NPCA Desert Manager – good-bye Seth Shteir & welcome Chris Clarke
    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
    Hope you’re staying in the shade and otherwise cool during the record-breaking heat this summer! Summer hasn’t brought any breaks for MBCA directors working to monitor several proposed projects and initiatives. But, we will take a bit of a break in August for the annual MBCA board retreat where we review the year and look ahead to what’s coming our way – time to reflect and gear-up!
    Ord Mountain Solar Project – scoping comments
    This 484-acre, 60 MW industrial scale solar project that includes a Southern California Edison sub-station is proposed to be constructed north of Lucerne Valley straddling Highway 247. The County has mandated that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared for this project with the first step being to obtain scoping comments describing the issues to be included within this EIR. MBCA has submitted a letter emphasizing the deficiencies inherent in this project, and has joined our high desert conservation partners in the Lucerne Valley by signing onto a comprehensive letter of scoping comments – for this ill-conceived project. During the very well attended scoping meeting held in Lucerne Valley, many residents articulately expressed their concern about the County accepting an application for this project while the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the General Plan is being considered. We will continue to follow this project as the preparation of the EIR proceeds.
    Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE)
    This Element is critical to establishing the goals and principals that will guide the County in planning for the future of renewables in our desert areas. The RECE is on the agenda to be considered by the Board of Supervisors at their August 8 meeting. This meeting will be broadcast at the Bob Burke conference room at the Joshua Tree government center. Plan to attend and let the County hear again our local concerns.
    Neil Nadler of The Alliance for Desert Preservation reports that 1,500 Lucerne Valley residents have signed a petition that asks the County to include within the RECE, a restriction on the approval of any industrial scale renewable energy project, after appropriate review, to five specific areas that that are away from local communities and close to existing transmission lines where the land has already been severely degraded: Kramer Junction, El Mirage, Hinckley, Trona, and Amboy. MBCA will have a table with maps in front of JT Health Food this Saturday, July 15th to collect signatures from the Morongo Basin. Please stop by, sign and say hello!
    Air Quality Monitoring
    The unsolved problem: No economical or truly effective way of taming dust raised during construction or blown from pathways between hundreds of solar panels.
    What: Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC)
    Where: Lucerne Valley Community Center on Hwy 247 next to Pioneer Park
    When: Thursday, July 20, 5:00 p.m.
    The Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley MAC will consider endorsing a letter to County planners recommending installation before construction, at the developer's cost, of instruments to measure the dust particles in the air, to be monitored by the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD). Representatives of the AQMD will speak at the meeting and residents will have the opportunity to comment.
    The scraping of the crust of desert soils multiplies the air pollution with the desert’s high winds and traveling sands. Lucerne residents have expressed great concern about the health effects of breathing dust generated by industrial scale renewable energy projects, as well as impacts on residential property values. Proposed pollution monitoring and controls by the MDAQMD will be valuable to prove the harm industrial scale solar projects have on the region’s air quality.
    The Morongo Basin also experiences negative cumulative impacts of industrial scale solar development. MBCA strongly supports our neighbors to the north in Lucerne Valley calling for regulations for monitoring equipment to document harmful air quality impacts of developments scraping the desert.  
    Support for Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act - SB 249
    MBCA has written a letter in support of this important piece of legislation that would continue to fund OHV enforcement. Here in the Morongo Basin many properties are afflicted by illegal OHV trespass exacerbated by the patchwork of BLM and County roads. Remember to call or email State Senators to ask for their support of the OHVRA/ SB 249 (for details see: ORV Watch/COW website.)
    Desert Water  
    MBCA signed on to a letter initiated by the National Parks Conservation Association  to Senator Hertzberg, Chair, California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The letter stated a coalition of conservation partners’ opposition to federal administration actions to waive the federal review of the Cadiz project and roll back of environmental protections.
    MBCA is in support of California legislation AB 1000 that seeks to increase California's involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring "a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert." Some alterations to the bill are expected to prevent onerous state review requirements of district water agencies. We will update you as this legislation progresses.
    MBCA member & Basin resident Peter Brooks made a presentation to the Senate Committee Natural Resources and Water Committee on July 11th. Brooks highlighted serious flaws in the Cadiz project from the industry perspective in an effort to protect the desert and its residents.
    Peter Brook’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the Cadiz water project, “The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.” provides overview and update about why MBCA and many conservation groups and desert residents oppose the Cadiz project. You may recall that Peter was a featured speaker at two of MBCA's Desert-Wise Lectures. We are privileged to have Peter’s expertise working with us in defense of desert!
    Support for the Desert National Monuments – MDLT Desert Defenders
    The Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaignProtect our Desert National Monuments collected names and messages to demonstrate public support for our National Monuments.
    As the comment period closed, MDLT submitted 1,259 public comments to the Department of the Interior! Thanks to all of you who participated as Desert Defenders!
    Good-by Seth Shteir & Welcome Chris Clarke
    Many of you knew Seth Shteir as California Desert Program Manager for the Joshua Tree National Park Conservation Association from August 2015 through March 2017. Seth led many initiatives in the Basin in protection of the JTNP. He also served as a Director on the Board of the MBCA where he provided invaluable perspective on national and regional conservation issues. While we’re sad to lose Seth – a good friend and powerful desert advocate - we wish him all the best in his new position as Conservation Manager for Seattle Audubon.
    I’m pleased to announce that Chris Clarke has accepted the California Desert Program Manager’s position at NPCA. After starting the job on July 10th, Chris immediately flew to Sacramento to begin work on the campaign to oppose the Cadiz water project where NPCA staff met with the State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in support of AB 1000. Chris is a seasoned conservation professional and journalist – a founder of Solar Done Right, and until joining NPCA was KCET Link Environment Editor where he contributed powerful and insightful articles in defense of the Mojave desert. MBCA Directors look forward to working closely with Chris in the opposition to Cadiz project and the protection of the desert in and around the national parks and preserves.
    MBCA’s conservation partnerships, including MDLT, NPCA and Alliance for Desert Preservation work to create a coordinated force to be reckoned with. Thanks to you for your individual support and keeping us strong!
    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President
    Your 2017 MBCA Board 
    David Fick, Vice President                            Steve Bardwell, Treasurer    
    Marina West, Recording Secretary                Pat Flanagan, Director          
    Meg Foley, Director                                     Ruth Rieman, Director
    Claudia Sall, Director for Events                   Laraine Turk, Director
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.
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  • MBCA Support Letter for Off Highway Vehicle Bill SB 249

    In early June, MBCA sent to the state Assembly's Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife a comment letter in support of SB 249 - Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Act.  It was also signed by representatives of the Alliance for Responsible Recreation and Community Off-Highway Vehicle Watch.

    Add your reaction Share
  • Eblast May 31, 2017

    • Altamira Gate Community Housing Project
    • Joshua Tree Airport solar project
    • Eagle Crest Gen-Tie Project
    • Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Act: Senate Bill 249
    • Protecting Integrity of National Monuments


    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
    We can now provide you with updates on several projects and issues MBCA tracks. Let’s start with MBCA director David Fick’s news on three long-standing thorns in our sides: Altamira Gated Housing, JT Airport Solar and Eagle Crest.

    The Altamira Gated Community Housing Project
    Resident activist Janet Johnston and others tenaciously researched California law regarding the standing of Community Plans. Their organization, JT105, LLP Alliance appealed the Planning Commission decision and CEQA litigated after the San Bernardino Supervisors decision to allow the project to go forward. Their efforts proved to be a strong offense in the success of their lawsuit. Altamira is in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by the proponent YV105, LLP.
    The project is now for sale through a San Diego area real estate broker for $3 million dollars. The proponent has stated that they've invested $4.5 million dollars on the proposed project.

    For background on the history of Altamira Housing Project, click here.

    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project 
    NextEra /JT Solar project is also officially in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by NextEra. The Southern California Edison’s RAM Power Purchase Agreement for the project has expired and NextEra has stated no work on the project has gone forward. The group Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar took the lead in opposing the project and initiated legal action.

    The JT Airport Solar page on our website contains a chronological history of MBCA’s reports on the JT Airport Solar Project via our E-blasts.

    Eagle Crest Gen-Tie Project
    The Desert Protection Society (DPS), Donna Charpied and Larry Charpied, have formally submitted comments appealing the BLM approval of the California Desert Conservation (CDCA) Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) Finding of No
    Significant Impact and Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for Crest Energy Gen-Tie Project. They contend that the LUPA and EA are based on deficient environmental review that violate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and FLPMA (Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976).

    BLM proposes to grant to the Eagle Crest Energy Company (Eagle Crest) a right of-way (ROW) to construct, operate, and decommission a 5000-kV gen-tie line and water pipeline to transmit electricity generated by Eagle Crest’s proposed pumped storage facility. This facility would be placed within a private inholding carved out of and surrounded on three sides by JTNP, and would have permanent and severe adverse impacts on Joshua Tree National Park.

    DPS’s comments note that the area’s natural, ecological, scenic, wildlife and wilderness values should be preserved rather than sacrificed for unneeded industrial-scale energy development that uses more energy than it would generate, and exacerbates the ongoing overdraft of the Chuckwalla Basin aquifer. Further, they hold that an environmental impact statement (EIS) must be prepared as NEPA requires – to take a “hard look” at the Project’s cumulative impacts in compliance with NEPA.

    MBCA joined conservation partners in an Environmental Assessment Comment letter to BLM state Director Jerome Perez. For MBCA’s background on opposition to Eagle Crest with a link to the comment letter detailing all the stages of insufficient analysis, click here.

    Thanks, David for tracking these developments that threaten Joshua Tree and JTNP. Next, MBCA director Pat Flanagan reports on an OHV issue with important consequences for the Basin.

    OHMVR, Senate Bill 249
    MBCA initiated a letter also signed by representatives of Community ORV Watch
    (COW) and the Alliance for Responsible Recreation, asking the California
    Appropriations Committee to take action on Senate Bill 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Act (OHMVR). Here is a reader-friendly summary of key points in the bill, introduced by Senator Ben Allen.  This bill would reauthorize the State Parks Off Highway Vehicle Recreation division that provides increased safeguards for landscape resources.

    If the California Senate does not proceed to reauthorize the OHMVR, the program will end on December 31, 2017. This needed legislation will provide for both reasonable off-highway recreation and also for resource protection and appropriate law enforcement. Morongo Basin is among the many rural communities that have miles of trails incorrectly viewed as suitable for open riding. MBCA's letter states "Our concern is not with the legal but the illegal riders." While the bill is not everything the conservation community would like to see, it is a step forward in protecting California’s precious and fragile landscapes from rampant ORV damage.

    Your letters in support of SB 249 are needed right now – this week is best!
     You can find all the details you need at the ORV Watch/COW website.  In particular, most readers of MBCA’s E-blasts are likely to be constituents of 16th District’s State Senator Jean Fuller.  She is not on the Appropriations Committee, but you should call her (1-916-651-4016) and email her a message that you want her to support SB 249 when it comes to a vote.  Readers outside of the Morongo Basin should check this list provided by ORV Watch to see if your State Senator is a critical voter – if so, please email them as a constituent.

    Although emails from non-constituents are not accepted, you can make a phone call or send a faxed letter to any senator to urge their support of SB 249; again, a list of numbers and a sample script are available at the COW website.

    Protect our National Monuments
    I suspect you are already well aware of the threat the President is directing to the integrity of national monuments. The Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Desert Defender campaign: Protect our Desert National Monuments provides a forum for public expression in support of Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow National Monuments. Names and messages will be collected at this website during the open public comment period and sent to the Department of the Interior in demonstration of our support of these national treasures. If you haven’t already, it’s easy to do and important to register your support here – even if you’ve commented elsewhere.

    To read MBCA director Pat Flanagan’s op-ed in the San Bernardino County Sun, Efforts to shrink, eliminate national parks will hurt economyclick here.

    Thanks to David, Pat and all the stellar MBCA directors. It truly takes all of us on the Board of Directors in our attempt to track these issues, create informed opinions and generate a course of action in a timely way to educate our members and supporters. It is critical that MBCA as an organization and you as individuals submit comments to decision makers. Thanks also for your attention – we know we make a difference.

    Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship Award
    MBCA presented the first annual Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation
    Scholarship award of $500.00 to Nicole Serrano on May 17th at the Yucca Valley
    High School’s Senior Awards and Scholarships Program. Nicole also received The Wildlands Conservancy’s Environmental Education Scholarship presented by Cindy Zacks, and was honored as the Valedictorian of her 2017 graduating class. She will attend UC, Davis with majors in animal and environmental science. All our best, Nicole – you are an inspiration. We wish you every success in your studies!

    This first award represents a fulfillment of a longstanding goal to increase MBCA’s support of environmental education of local students who plan to attend a university or college and prepare for employment in careers related to environmental or conservation work. You can learn more about the bequest from Ruth Denison that made this scholarship possible at MBCA website’s Denison Scholarship page. 

    MBCA Desert Wise Landscape Tour’s Essay Contest Winners
    We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Desert-Wise Living Landscape Tour.  Congratulations to the winners Rosalie Mendoza, Ken Brock, and Susan Jordan, and to the 2017 Desert-Wise Landscape Committee. Job well done!  The May 30 News Update about the Contest includes links to their essays. They do a great job of capturing the joy of the day for the many visitors. These are gratifying to the Landscape Tour Committee – they strongly reflect that the goal of educating and inspiring water-wise gardens is being accomplished.

    On our News Updates page you will find links to Peter Brooks’ Los Angeles
    Times op-ed on Cadiz: The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave Water to L.A.; Director Ruth Rieman’s presentation from the Black Rock lecture series on grassroots activism; a link to the story reported by KCDZ on the progress for the Morongo Basin bike trails; and much more! Thanks to Laraine Turk and the dedicated committee of Cathy Zarakov, Nora Lousignant, and Steve Bardwell in developing and maintaining MBCA’s digital communications. This dedicated committee works to keep you informed of conservation & quality of life issues in a timely fashion so that you are able to respond in defense of the Basin environment.

    Sarah Kennington, MBCA President

    Your 2017 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                      Laraine Turk, Director
    Steve Bardwell, Treasurer                      Meg Foley, Director
    Marina West, Recording Secretary         Claudia Sall, Events
    Pat Flanagan, Director                                     
    Ruth Rieman, Director        
    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment 
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth 
    and economic well-being.


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