Last December, many Morongo Basin and Mojave Desert residents were among the over 100,000 individuals across the country who commented in opposition to extreme fee increases for a number of National Parks including Joshua Tree National Park. Owing to the huge negative response, the Department of the Interior is reevaluating their plan; increased fees are still expected, but in smaller amounts. This Washington Post article provides background and details, including quotations from some impassioned commenters, and here is the local report by radio station KCDZ.
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for in the Morongo Basin.
The Basin is experiencing growth and more is certain. Along the way, we’ve learned much about working with the County to communicate the concerns of our communities about development that threatens to spoil the characteristics we value. We have the opportunity now to establish more effective measures to serve our communities and protect the natural resources in the Morongo Basin with the San Bernardino County 2018 Countywide Plan.
This MBCA Eblast is devoted to explaining the meaning and status of the Community Plans and why it is so important for you to express concern by submitting a comment by the deadline.
Deadline to submit Comments on Community Plans: Dec 15, 2017
Given that the Policy Plan component of the 2018 Countywide Plan is not yet available, we are only being asked to comment on the draft Community Plans. The difficulty of this is that we do not have knowledge of the policy and development codes that will enforce the goals, vision, and characteristics defined in the Community Plans.
The frustrating and ill-conceived process for revising the 2007 General Plan and Community Plans must be acknowledged! Many Morongo Basin and Lucerne Valley residents have voiced concerns that the policies in the existing Community Plans are being completely eliminated or replaced by what the County admits are really only “Suggested Action Plans.”
It is important that County Planning staff hear our concerns that they are eliminating policy from our Community Plans. Suggested Action Plans are not Community Plans. Real Community Plans must be adopted into the Countywide Plan.
Actions identified in plans have suggested Community advocates lead the various Actions. Many of these suggestions are simply off-base. Hypothetical organizations are imagined to form to meet anticipated needs and in other cases, existing organizations are nominated inappropriately. Other organizations with long-standing roles in serving the community have been overlooked.
For example, in the case of Joshua Tree, the Chamber of Commerce is named in numerous Actions – however, the Chamber was never contacted to explore the feasibility of their championing these responsibilities. With a paid staff of one at the JT Chamber, the County should have known that was a “pie in the sky” solution. The Joshua Tree National Park Association was a second organization mentioned – however, taking on community service of this nature is not within their mission. In the Pioneertown Plan a couple of the organizations are listed that haven’t functioned for years. The County cannot assume the community will - or even can - undertake the Actions in the Plans. It is beyond unreasonable. These communities are “severely economically distressed” and lack the infrastructure and resources to assume responsibility for the Actions listed.
The County cannot shirk the need to provide the leadership and governance – planning and implementation - required. We understand that community residents have vital roles in the fabric of their neighborhoods and community organizations. The rural desert communities are vibrant and resilient. But, they cannot be expected to take on the roles outlined in these Plans as presented. LVEDA’s comments document Action by Action how the community has worked in substantive ways to address egregious developments with County staff – particularly renewable energy in rural residential areas –and efforts have not been successful. What guarantee is there that these Action Plans will provide them with the protections they have clearly proactively called for over recent years?
Residents in Joshua Tree have also protested the Action Plan approach.
The Community Plans are intended “to guide local expectations for County services and set a clear direction for the future of each unincorporated community.” They are to “provide planning and implementation guidance for communities as they pursue their own unique lifestyle choices and goals.” The Suggested Action Plans fall short of these stated goals and threaten to leave desert communities without adequate tools for support and enforcement from the County.
MBCA holds that every community must have the protections of a Detailed Plan, regardless of the services, extent of the built environment, and organizations present. Don’t sell Pioneertown and Homestead Valley Communities, the Morongo Valley, and Wonder Valley short!
We suggest that your comments address environmental and economic concerns affecting your community specifically, as well as the wider Basin.
- climate change
- ecological concerns – wildlife corridors, species protections
- renewable energy
- natural resources – water, soils, air, open space & scenic qualities
- population growth
- growth of tourism
- dark skies
- traffic and transportation
- county services – health and welfare
Read and Comment on your Community Plan by clicking links below:
Joshua Tree – Draft Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan) and the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan
Pioneertown Communities (Gamma Gulch, Pioneertown, Pipes Canyon, Rimrock) – Foundation Plan.
Homestead Valley Communities (Flamingo Heights, Johnson Valley, Landers, Yucca Mesa) - Framework Plan.
Morongo Valley - Framework Plan.
Wonder Valley – “The County is preparing your webpage.”
Lucerne Valley - summary of key elements in Lucerne Valley’s 2007 Community Plan and the current Draft Detailed Community Plan (aka Suggested Action Plan).
Also, here are two support documents created by MBCA Director Pat Flanagan:
A sample result from utilizing keyword searches of County documents to find references to your specific issues and concerns (for example “scenic”).
Where to send Comments:
- online: through the link associated with your draft Community Plan (link above) or;
- e-mail or snail mail to:
(include your signature, printed, name, street address)
Two more issues briefly….
EXTENDED Comment period: fee increase to JTNP
Also call our elected official in D.C., Representative Paul Cook
Palen PV Solar Project Comment period
Read MBCA’s response to Palen Supplemental DEIS, Sept. 13, 2016 that addresses air quality impacts from location sited on Sand Transport Corridor and lack of AQMD regional monitoring for fugitive dust / PM10-2.5:
Your 2017 MBCA Board
Your 2017 MBCA Board
The Morongo Basin is now home to an international Dark Sky Park. Joshua Tree National Park achieved their long-time goal of Dark Sky Park status bestowed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). This significant achievement is the result of several years of work by Park staff, providing data and receiving IDA representatives for review. The Los Angeles Times article announcing the Park's new status mentions Morongo Basin night sky activists Tom O'Key, Luke Sabala, and Caryn Davidson. MBCA supported Joshua Tree National Park’s IDA Dark Sky Park application - here is our June 2016 letter in support of the Park's application.
- 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,
The Altamira Gated Community Housing Project
For background on the history of Altamira Housing Project, click here.
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project
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
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
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
To read MBCA director Pat Flanagan’s op-ed in the San Bernardino County Sun, Efforts to shrink, eliminate national parks will hurt economy, click 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
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
On our News Updates page you will find links to Peter Brooks’ Los Angeles
Your 2017 MBCA Board
that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
and economic well-being.
Thanks for your support.
Your 2017 MBCA Board
Sarah Kennington, President David Fick, Vice President
Steve Bardwell, Treasurer Marina West, Recording Secretary
Pat Flanagan, Director Meg Foley, Director
Ruth Rieman, Director Claudia Sall, Events
Laraine Turk, Director
- Return Eagle Mountain lands to JTNP
- Stop 2,220 home development - Mission Creek
- Black Rock Symposium: "How to Make Your Voice Heard on Conservation Issues in an Uncertain Political Climate."
- UCR Conference: Solar Energy Directions for Inland Southern California: Where is it going?
- Renewable energy Moratorium request - San Bernardino Co.
- Ruth Denison Environmental Conservation Scholarship
- Refreshed and renewed website - mbconservation.org
First of all, I want to remind you of several deadlines and events in coming days:
1) Return Eagle Mountain Lands to JTNP
WHEN: Comment letters due February 16, 2017 – this Thursday!
Support returning BLM Eagle Mountain lands back to Joshua Tree National Park. Take a minute to express your support to BLM for the Final Boundary Study recommendation to add approximately 20,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands to the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park that were withdrawn from the Monument in 1950. Click here for background info from JTNP Superintendent David Smith.Read more