MBCA was well-represented at the launch of the campaign to designate Chuckwalla National Monument and expand Joshua Tree National Park. At the event held at the 29 Palms Spotlight Casino in Indio, Representative Raul Ruiz announced he will sponsor a bill for creation of this monument and will encourage the use of the Antiquities Act by President Biden should passage of a bill not be possible. (Ruiz is pictured with MBCA Board member Pat Flanagan.) Expanding Joshua Tree National Park will also part of the bill. Tribal leaders, government leaders, community leaders, and many non-profit conservation group representatives attended.Read more
A historic co-stewardship agreement was signed by Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Darrell Mike and Superintendent David Smith of Joshua Tree National Park this week. The of tribal lands and federal land acquisitions over time in the area are described in this news story in the Desert Sun. The agreement “will enable the park and the tribe to collaborate on interpretive and educational services, natural and cultural history training, mutual aid for search and rescue and wildland fire operations, and other projects. The park and the tribe also plan on collaborating on a trail connecting the reservation to the park.”
In an outcome not entirely unexpected, the California Fish and Game Commission today chose to delay the decision on whether listing the Western Joshua tree as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act is warranted. Today's meeting focused on additional tribal input, which will continue, while general public comment is closed. Much of the concern comes with how the restrictions will be implemented as relates to development, and the idea of more widespread conservation planning is another issue being considered. The item will next be on the agenda at the Commission's February 8-9, 2023 meeting. Here is the story in more detail as reported by the Desert Sun and here is a short summary by local radio station KCDZ.
Along with 18 other non-profit organizations, MBCA signed a letter encouraging the California Fish and Game Commission to reject the flawed findings of the California Fish and Wildlife Department staff and to permanently list the Western Joshua tree as a threatened species in California.
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.
In the latest update from the Joshua Tree Genome Project, the research team reports that they have been planting Joshua tree seedlings across the Mojave Desert. In this stage of their research, they seek to learn about the relative effects of genetics and environment on the trees' development. On their website you can learn more about the science, the scientists, and the partners supporting the project, which include the Joshua Tree National Park Association and the California Native Plant Society.
Two news stories about OHV patrolling related to the Morongo Basin appeared recently. The Hi Desert Star reported that Lucas Niles, recently promoted to Captain of the Morongo Basin Station of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's office, "plans to continue to strengthen the department's off-highway-vehicle enforcement team." Through grant funding they have added a vehicle focused on patrolling illegal OHV hotspots and have increased staffing levels.Read more
A comprehensive article about the Eagle Mountain pumped storage project and similar projects in other areas of the country was published by the Los Angeles Times. MBCA has had continuing concerns about the use of the old Eagle Mountain mine for many years, especially as it relates to the environmental health of Joshua Tree National Park (which is noted in the article). To review past MBCA News Updates related to Eagle Mountain, go to MBCA's Search page and type in "Eagle" or "Eagle Mountain" and you'll find several dozen links to past relevant MBCA News and EBlasts.
Riverside County Supervisors have denied the Paradise Valley project on a 5-0 vote despite the project applicant's request for the typical 90-day continuance. A number of MBCA representatives attended the November 5th meeting and were among those cheering the result. Read more details in the Desert Sun's November 6 story on the vote, and for background, read our News Update from August 21st when the Riverside County Planning Commission recommended that the Supervisors deny the project.Read more