Water Issues

reflected_Joshua_Tree__Kevin_Wong.jpgMorongo Basin residents are among the most water-conscious residents in the County (and probably in the state). Every local water district has information on its web pages in support of water conservation.  California's drought has been in the news for years, and in March 2015 Governor Brown declared new restrictions.  In addition to tips for reducing household water use, each District has some kind of demonstration garden to show the water conservation value of using desert natives and other drought-tolerant plants to create beautiful gardens. 

 

 

 

Photo by Kevin Wong

Below are links to the local Water District websites:

Bighorn Desert View Water Agency

Hi Desert Water District

Joshua Basin Water District

Twentynine Palms Water District

The Mojave Water Agency is also a critical player in water acquisition for the Morongo Basin.

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms encourages water conservation on Base and provides this brochure describing its efforts and providing water conservation tips.

 

  • EBlast October 8, 2018

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum
    San Bernardino Countywide Plan draft
    San Bernardino County Fire District Service Zone FP-5: parcel fee
    Cadiz Inc. groundwater harvesting project: AB 1000 update

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    After a bit of a summer hiatus, fall is here and things seem to be “heating up” again for the conservation community. Here’s what MBCA is tracking for you:

    MBCA Candidates Virtual Forum

    To provide additional perspective on local election contests for conservation minded voters of the Morongo Basin, MBCA contacted 21 candidates for town/city council and water district board positions (contested positions).

    Candidates were offered the opportunity to reply to a single question that was both relevant to the office they seek and that touched on our interest in Morongo Basin’s rural character, economic well-being, and available resources.

    For the candidates who responded to our questions, you can click on their name to read their response. We thank them for sharing their views on the issues that are important to Morongo Basin’s conservation-minded voters.

    Click here to access the Candidate Virtual Forum page.

    NOTE: The Voter Registration deadline is October 22 to vote in the November 6 General Election. For information, including links to online registration and the California General election, click here.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan & Community Plans (aka Action Plans) A full house of residents attended the County Land Use Service (LUS) regional meeting on September 10th at the Joshua Tree Community Center. LUS staff and a consultant working with the County presented up-dated information on the revised draft Countywide Plan and Community specific plans (now known as Action Plans.) After the LUS staff presentation, the audience was invited to ask questions and provide “feedback.”

    Residents in the Morongo Basin expressed great concern in the first round of Open Houses that Community Plans were not to be included within the revised Countywide Plan. The concern is that eliminating Community Plans from the Countywide Plan denies the Community Plans the legal strength of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) In response to a question asked about this, Colin Drucker, the consultant for the County, presented a table showing a “Policy Matrix” listing each goal and policy from the 2007 Joshua Tree Community Plan and where it will be found or addressed in the future County Policy Plan. A “Policy Matrix” was created for each of the existing Community Plan. Click here for the Joshua Tree Community Policy Matrix.

    LUS staff spoke to a primary goal and accomplishment of the draft Countywide Plan as to simplify, eliminate duplication, and make the plan accessible to the LUS staff, as well as the public. This will also be an “interactive” Plan– all pertinent policy, zoning and maps will be accessible and searchable online.

    The County staff accepted every question presented by the audience and responded to each. While concerns and skepticism remain with several local groups in Joshua Tree, Homestead Valley and Lucerne Valley about the Community “Action Plans,” it was my impression that the response overall was that the audience convened in Joshua Tree felt the County made a good effort. Their response to questions was respectful, informed, and clear.

    Per the County’s announcement of the meeting, it was stated that earlier public input lead directly to substantial changes to the Draft Countywide Plan documents and maps. For example, areas of Joshua Tree have been downzoned for lower-density. Also, the commercial district around Turtle Island is to be rezoned as “franchise free” in response to residents’ suggestions.

    The current Countywide Plan is incorporating two laws passed since the last general plan update: SB 379 and SB 1000. SB 379 requires that a general plan include a safety element for the protection of the community from unreasonable risks associated with the effects of various geologic hazards, flooding, and wildland and urban fires. SB 1000 further requires that the safety element plan address climate adaptation and resilience. The Countywide Plan will encourage growth within areas that have existing infrastructure. This encouragement is reflected within the very low growth rate anticipated for the desert areas.

    We’re still waiting to know when section 4.10 of the RECE (the County Renewable Conservation Element), long delayed in implementation, is expected to be on the Supervisors’ agenda in October. Section 4.10 concerns utility scale development in existing Community Plan boundaries and in RL zoned land. We will want to be present in the Supervisors’ chambers to continue our pressure for implementation of the original language vs. the developer friendly version. If you’ve been following this saga, you know that after a vigilant community effort the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the original language be implemented – residents must continue to weigh in as the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas. Read about the Planning Commission action in MBCA’s May 25 News Update.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 A special meeting on August 27th at the Joshua Tree Community Center and other locations was sponsored by County Fire to provide information about the expansion of the boundaries Service Zone FP-5 boundaries and increased assessment fees.

    The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, as well as the County Fire Protection Districts Fire Chief, announced plans to expand Service Zone FP-5 as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. They also stated that current property tax revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of providing fire and emergency medical services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year. Public Notices have been mailed to all parcel owners.

    For detailed information, including San Bernardino County Fire Chief’s PowerPoint presentation on FP-5, including a PDF of the protest form – click here.

    Opposition has been expressed by organizations that include the Homestead Valley Communities (HVCC) and LVEDA (Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.)  Here’s the link to the Fire Tax Q&A posed by Chuck Bell, President of LVEDA to Supervisor Ramos. For an edited list of Molly Wilshire’s, Supervisor Ramos chief of staff, responses to some questions posed by LVEDA, see below:

      ‘All FP-5 proceeds must be spent in the service zone in which they were generated.

    Any contiguous parcels, improved or unimproved may be combined through the Assessor’s Office process, for a one-time fee of $108.00.  This is for the purpose of the assessment only.  There is a link on our website that will take you to the Assessor’s Office form and procedure(s). (Here is the link for the County's contiguous parcels combination and recession form AOS-047 which also contains directions for this process.)

    The assessment will provide parity across the district for all parcel owners to pay the same amount for fire, rescue and EMS services.  Whether developed or undeveloped, the need for service on vacant or improved land cannot be anticipated whether the need for service be due to man-made or natural disaster. 

    The protest forms can be obtained by those not having computer access by calling the fire district to request a form to be mailed to any address provided.  The absence of the protest form in the mailer was not contrived, but was simply following the accepted protest process procedures.’

    • October 15, 2018: Last day to receive mail in protest letters. Must be received by close of business.
    • October 16, 2018: Last day to receive walk in protest letters. Must be received by the closing of the public hearing.
    • October 16, 2018: Public Hearing 10am, San Bernardino County Government Center, 1st Floor Covington Chamber.

    Desert Groundwater Protection – State Assembly bill AB 1000

    As you probably know by now, after strong public lobbying to state legislators in support of AB 1000 – “Desert Groundwater Protection” - that sought to increase California’s involvement in the Cadiz project by requiring “a state review process for potential groundwater extraction projects in the California desert,” the bill died after being shelved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the final day of the legislative session. This outcome struck a huge blow to all advocates of California desert conservation.

    The bill would have required a new state environmental review before the company could move forward with its plan to pump groundwater out of the Mojave Desert to sell for their profit to Southern California cities.

    As reported in the Desert Sun: “It is a failure of the legislative leadership to follow through on its stated commitment to preserve California from the onslaughts of the Trump administration” said Chris Clarke, California desert program manager for the NPCA. “We had the votes in the Senate. The legislature as a whole was ready to act on this. They were prevented by leadership”.

    A major hurdle to be cleared before up to 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater per year is pumped from land surrounded by the Mojave Trails National Monument is the conveyance of the water from the desert via the Colorado aqueduct.  As of today the Metropolitan Water District has not granted permission to utilize the aqueduct, citing potential concerns of mixing chromium 6 tainted water with Colorado River water.

    MBCA will continue to track this threat to desert springs and wildlife. We will join conservation partners in lobbying that the project must undergo a state environmental review. Here’s a link to our August 30 News Update about Cadiz.

    MBCA’s Community Calendar

    Don’t forget to check the Calendar for the MBCA curated community events that we think are of interest to Members and Supporters! Several events have been added since our previous E-Blast, including several on desert-wise plants and landscaping, both locally and in the Coachella Valley.

    Permaculture lecture and 2-day course at the Harrison House (October 12-14)

    Climate Change Assessment Symposium at UCR. (October 12)

    Giant Rock Round Table (October 18)

    Desert Garden Community Day at UCR (October 27)

    Bats of the Coachella Valley Lecture and Film Premiere (October 30)

    Healing, Helpful, and Edible Native Plants workshop (November 3)

    Thanks again for your attention and support in these challenging times. We need to be vigilant and keep informed! MBCA remains strong in commitment to our mission to protect our rural lifestyle. We so appreciate everything our community does to protect the healthy desert environment that sustains our well-being.

    Sincerely,

    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

    www.mbconservation.org

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

     

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  • Committee Stops Senate Vote on SB 120

    Unfortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee decided not to forward SB 120 for a Senate vote. Supporters believe it would have passed. Read a comprehensive news report about the SB 120 non-vote in the Desert Sun and a shorter overview about the SB 120 vote at Mojave Watch
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  • Last Minute Action Against Cadiz Water Project

    The Cadiz company's long battle to pump desert groundwater and sell it to coastal cities, and desert protectors' long battle to prevent damage to desert ecosystems will likely come to a head on Friday, August 31, via a vote on California Senate Bill 120. The August 28 Desert Sun article by Sammy Roth includes a quotation from David Lamfrom of the National Parks Conservation Association, stating that passing SB 120 is "the immediate and only opportunity we have to make sure that this project would not cause substantial harm to Mojave Trails National Monument."  Roth's article gives an overall and detailed view of this ongoing battle to preserve precious desert water.

    Also consider this message from the National Parks Conservation Association:

    Mojave_Trails_Cadiz_Dunes_2_days_left_Atkins_Call.jpg

    MBCA thanks the many MBCA EBlast subscribers who responded to our August 27 EBlast request to contact legislators about the vote on SB 120. Calls to Senator Jean Fuller would still be helpful today and tomorrow (August 30/31).

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  • Eblast2 August 27, 2018

    UPDATE: Extended deadline to make calls to stop Cadiz - Friday, Aug. 31st

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    I have additional details on the Cadiz water-harvesting bill before the State Senate. If you haven’t already made calls to both Senator Fuller and Assemblyman Mayes there is still time: the Senate deadline to vote on the bill is midnight Friday, August 31st.  

    Continue to make calls to both Senator Fuller & Assemblyman Mayes through Friday!

    Please also note a corrected phone number for Senator Fuller’s Morongo Basin office, listed below. As I mentioned in the E-Blast earlier today, even if you made calls on behalf of the previous version (AB-1000), we need you to call again now in support of SB-120!

    Takes less than a minute each to make phone calls to:

    Assemblyman Chad Mayes 
    Capitol office 916-319-2042
    District office 760-346-6342

    Senator Jean Fuller
    Capitol office 916-651-4016

    Morongo Basin office 760-228-3136 (apologies, there was a typo in the phone number listed in previous E-Blast – this is the correct number.)

    Provide the staffer who answers the phone or the answering machine:

    1) your name,
    2) the city you live in,
    3) that you (or your business/organization) support SB-120, and
    4) that you urge the Senator/Assemblyman to support SB-120 to protect California from the disastrous Cadiz project.

    Thanks again for taking a few minutes out of your day – to stop the horrendous Cadiz water-harvesting scheme!

     

    Sincerely,
    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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

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

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  • EBlast August 27, 2018

    TODAY, Monday, August 27th call to protect Mojave desert ground water: SB-120 goes to vote tomorrow, Tuesday.

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    We’ve come down to the wire! We need you make two calls TODAY, Monday, August 27th to our State Senator and Assemblyman in the California legislature urging their support of SB-120 to protect Mojave Desert springs and ground water.

    Even if you made calls on behalf of the previous version (AB-1000), we need you to call again now in support of SB-120!

    You know about the Cadiz corporation planned project to pump 16 billion gallons of ground water each year for 50 years that would affect springs within Mojave Trails National Monument to sell to a water company in coastal Orange County.

    MBCA and our conservation partners, including the National Park Conservation Association have been engaged in a lengthy struggle to defeat the Trump-backed Cadiz water-mining project.

    Takes less than a minute each to make phone calls to:

    Assemblyman Chad Mayes
    Capitol office 916-319-2042
    District office 760-346-6342

    Senator Jean Fuller
    Capitol office 916-651-4016
    Morongo Basin office 760-228-3136

    Provide the staffer who answers the phone or the answering machine:

    1) your name,
    2) the city you live in,
    3) that you (or your business/organization) support SB-120, and
    4) that you urge the Senator/Assemblyman to support SB-120 to protect California from the disastrous Cadiz project.

    We have support from Senator Feinstein, Governor Brown, Lt. Governor Newsom, and Assembly Speaker Rendon, but Cadiz is a formidable opponent with power and money that is influencing the political process. Still, we have a good chance of getting this bill passed this week – with your help.

    Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day – this is a once in our life-time critical step to protect the fragile Mojave ecosystem groundwater! I know we can count on you!

    Sincerely,

    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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

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

     

    Add your reaction Share
  • EBlast August 19, 2018

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan – LUS regional meetings
    San Bernardino County Fire Service Zone parcel fees – special meeting
    San Bernardino County RECE 4.10
    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project
    Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    When it rains in the desert, it pours! We have another round of issue updates for you this week. A few “save the dates” along with other updates. Thanks for your attention.

    San Bernardino Countywide Plan & Community Plans: regional meeting

    When: Monday, Sept.10, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

    Where: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Ave

    The County is hosting a second round of regional meetings in September to hear feedback on the revised Countywide Plan and Community Plans (see below for note on Community Plans,) draft goals and policies, community actions, and the land use map. It will be the main agenda item for the monthly Morongo Basin MAC meeting. After a presentation by LUS staff, the audience will have the chance to respond with “feedback.”

    Per the County’s announcement of the meeting, earlier public input lead directly to substantial changes to the Draft Countywide Plan documents and maps.

     Residents in the Morongo Basin expressed great concern in the first round of Open Houses that Community Plans were not to be included within the revised Countywide Plan. Eliminating Community Plans from the Countywide Plan denies the Community Plans the legal strength of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.) Our Community Plans must be respected and have adequate power of law to function with authority. How will this be addressed in the revised Draft Countywide and Community Plans? The flyer for this round of regional meetings notes that Draft Community Plans have been renamed ‘Community Action Guides’. Please attend to understand the implications of this re-name, and what the other proposed revisions, could be!

    Check the County’s Open House page for the flyer announcement of all 9 Community Meetings across the County, plus more details about the Open House format and links to Community Plans.

     San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District: special meeting

    A special meeting sponsored by County Fire to provide information about the expansion of the boundaries Service Zone FP-5 boundaries and increased assessment fees.

    When: Monday, August 27th

    Where: Joshua Tree Community Center, 6:00 PM

    The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, as well as the County Fire Protection Districts Fire Chief, announced plans to expand Service Zone FP-5 as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. They also state that current property tax revenues are insufficient to cover the costs of providing fire and emergency medical services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year.

    A 30 day protest period has been established along with a scheduled public hearing set for October 16, 2018 to allow the public to express their opinions regarding the expansion of the FP-5 Service Zone.

    • September 14, 2018: Public Notices mailed to all parcel owners.
    • October 15, 2018: Last day to receive mail in protest letters. Must be received by close of business.
    • October 16, 2018: Last day to receive walk in protest letters. Must be received by the closing of the public hearing.
    • October 16, 2018: Public Hearing 10am, San Bernardino County Government Center, 1st Floor Covington Chamber.

    Go to the County’s Service Zone FP-5 page for more detailed information including a map, FAQs, and listings of other community meetings about the issue.

    The Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE), section 4.10

    RECE, section 4.10 will be scheduled on the County Board of Supervisors agenda within the next two months. When it is announced, we’ll let you know to “save the date.” It will be important again for residents to weigh in as the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas. If we don’t tell our story to defend our communities from large-scale RE, the RE industry will tell theirs and tip the balance! Desert communities have spoken clearly: no large scale RE in residential communities!

    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project

    As reported in previous the e-Blast, Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar sued the developers of JT Solar in CEQA court and the project is in a court monitored “stay.” There is another impediment to the project: the developer NextEra’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison Power expired in early 2017.

    Eagle Crest Energy Company Pumped Storage Project

    The previous E-Blast reviewed the status of this project. We can now confirm that the Desert Protection Society (DPS) will file an Appeal to the BLM right-of-way approval. It is hoped this action will block Congressman Paul Cook’s sponsored bill H.R. 5817 to authorize an extension of Eagle Crest’s missed deadline to commence construction.

    While purported to be a renewable energy project, damage to Joshua Tree National Park’s ecological balance seems certain.

    We should note for those of you who are not aware, the passing of renowned desert activist, Donna Charpied on November 11, 2017.  A true champion of the desert and an inspiration to many, Donna and her husband Larry were recipients of the Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award in 2005. Donna devoted her life to fighting assaults on Eagle Mountain and founded the Desert Protection Society. While she is genuinely irreplaceable, the DPS carries on with the work Donna was so passionate about. Thank you DPS board of directors!

     

    Sincerely,

    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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    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 August 9, 2018

    Cadiz / Assembly Bill 1000
    Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project
    San Bernardino County RECE 4.10
    Altamira Gated Community Project
    Joshua Tree Solar Project

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    The previous e-Blasts in May and June encouraged you to submit comments to BLM for WEMO (West Mojave route network), along with a call to turn out for the County Planning Commission hearing on RECE (Renewable Energy Conservation Element) section 4.10 - since then we’ve had a welcomed hiatus from deadlines!

    I hope you’ve been able to catch your breath this summer, relax and attend to your personal lives. The need to respond in defense of the desert environment often competes for our attention and precious time! Along with the other MBCA directors, know that we appreciate the time you give - your attention, support and activism to the MBCA mission.

    So with optimism that you are recharged, there is something to put on your “to do” list, plus updates to long-standing issues.

    Cadiz / Assembly Bill 1000 – the “to do”

    The California Assembly has one more opportunity to curtail the Cadiz corporation plan to pump 16 billion gallons of ground water each year for 50 years from springs within Mojave Trails National Monument to sell to a water company in coastal Orange County. AB 1000 was introduced to the California Assembly last year and is now held by the State Appropriations committee. This bill is intended to reverse the Trump administration action that eliminated Federal requirements for the project. AB 1000 would require additional scrutiny before allowing plans to commence the export of desert groundwater for profit.

    If Cadiz begins pumping, the consequences will be dire to natural springs and the plants and animals that depend on them. It would do irreparable damage to Mojave Trails National Monument. Let’s do what we can do curtail this!

    Contact the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, State Senator Anthony Portantino, with this simple message:

    • protect the Mojave desert’s natural springs and ground water;
    • as a leader you expect him to release & help pass AB1000. 

    Phone calls to Mr. Portantino’s district office are best:

    (818) 409-0400(ask for Vickere Murphy or the environmental staff member)

    - or send an e-mail.

    Also make calls to your state legislators. Morongo Basin residents can open MBCA's Decision-Maker Contact Information page to find clickable links to email State Assemblyman Chad Mayes and State Senator Jean Fuller.

    For more background read the Mojave Desert Blog’s overview, “Should Orange County Get Mojave Desert Groundwater?”

    Eagle Crest Energy Company Pumped Storage Project

    As reported in MBCA News recently, BLM approved the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project. The most recent News Update highlighted that the Company missed the mid-June construction deadline at the former Eagle Mountain Mine site near Desert Center. Intending to breathe new life into the project, Congressman Paul Cook sponsored Congressional bill H.R. 5817 to authorize an extension of Eagle Crest's commencement of construction. It was introduced into the House of Representatives and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The next action for the bill will be Mark Up where it can be amended and then Ordered to be Reported for a floor vote in the House.

    Eagle Crest Energy Company has yet to find a buyer for the power generated in the proposed hydro-pumping plant, it is also likely they would have to go through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process again, and there’s new science about aquifer recharge rates that could jeopardize the project.

    Environmental activist Donna Charpied devoted her life to fighting assaults on Eagle Mountain, including the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage project and other schemes that preceeded it. The organization she founded, The Desert Protection Society (DPS) continues the fight. It is expected DPS will appeal the BLM right-of-way approval. While purported to be a renewable energy project, damage to Joshua Tree National Park’s ecological balance seems certain.

    MBCA signed a letter along with conservation partners including the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds, Basin and Ranch Watch, opposing the bill or any other legislative extension of the Eagle Crest construction permit.

    San Bernardino County General Plan RECE 4.10

    We’re still waiting to hear when the Board of Supervisors will hear and decide on Renewable Energy Conservation Element (RECE), section 4.10. You may recall in May the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the original version endorsed by MBCA and residents throughout the rural desert to prohibit industrial scale RE development in Community Plan areas. The Commission wisely rejected an Alternative 4.10 version that favored developers. When RECE comes back before the Supervisors it will be another call-to-action for us to emphatically demand defense of the rural residential quality of life in the desert areas. It is assured that the solar industry representatives are lobbying Land Use Services and the Supervisors on behalf of development. We must be present when the Supervisors decide the future renewable energy in RL (Rural Living) zoned areas - to tell our story and defend our communities from RE industrialization. When MBCA hears news about 4.10 appearing on the Supervisors’ Agenda, we will let you know to “save the date”!

    Altamira Gated Community Project

    MBCA Director David Fick working with other Joshua Tree residents reports another ‘settlement meeting’ was held in July 2018 with the Altamira project developers. The project remains in a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) court-monitored “stay” which halts the legal process in a trial or other legal proceeding. It is unclear how much longer or even if the “stay” would be extended or how the issues with the developers will be resolved. The opposition remains vigilant in monitoring and negotiating a settlement that favors concerns about the harmful environmental and social impacts to the Joshua Tree community.

    We wanted you to know that MBCA has not forgotten about Altamira. When there is news to report, MBCA will relay it to you.

    Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project

    Joshua Tree residents opposing the solar project also sued the developers of JT Solar in CEQA court. This project is also in a court monitored “stay.” The developer, NextEra, has completely fenced 110 acres of one million dollar land, but can proceed no further during the “stay.”

    Again, we have not lost sight of the project. This is another case of opponents slowing down a controversial project from moving forward. You will be notified when there is news about JT Solar.

    Calendar of Community Events

    The MBCA website’s Calendar of Community Events is a terrific way to keep tabs on events in the Basin of interest to the environmental, historical and community minded. You’ll find the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory meetings, Morongo Basin Historical Society lectures, MBCA Board meetings, Hi Desert Nature Museum Brown Bag Lunch lectures, Old Schoolhouse Lectures by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and The Desert Institute of JT National Park Association, and more. Check it out!

    In closing

    The MBCA directors will meet for our annual board retreat later in August. This is our opportunity to have a full day to take in the big picture, assess the past year and look ahead to what’s ahead. 2018 will mark MBCA’s 50thanniversary in service to the Morongo Basin. As the Basin’s oldest organization with a focus on the natural environment and our communities’ quality of life, we take our role seriously as challenges mount with increased pressures from growth and the effects of climate change. Directors will work to be prepared to anticipate and equipped to respond. We welcome your input – if you have ideas, critiques, or suggestions, please let us know: http://www.mbconservation.org/contact_us. We look to you to join us in the work, as well as in the 50thcelebrations ahead!

    Sincerely,

    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

     

    www.mbconservation.org

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

     

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  • BLM Approves Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project

    On August 1, BLM issued a press release indicating its approval of the Eagle Crest Energy Company's plan for a "pumped storage" project at the former Eagle Mountain Mine near Desert Center. MBCA and many environmental groups and Joshua Tree National Park supporters have opposed the project. Even though it is described as a project that supports renewable energy, damage to the Park's ecological balance seems certain. MBCA's most recent News Update about this issue highlighted the Company's missed construction start deadline.  In his August 1 story on the Eagle Crest project, Sammy Roth of the Desert Sun has included a history of the issues and status of the project and perspectives from both sides.

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  • Nestle Water Extraction Permit Renewed

    Nestle Corporation has been given a 3-year permit to extract water for their "Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water," with new monitoring requirements. This US Forest Service decision came after news stories and lawsuits that began in 2015 brought attention to Nestle's long-expired permit and reports of damage to fragile habitats due to the water extraction. The new monitoring requirements are perceived as inadequate by activists who brought lawsuits against Nestle.  Learn more in Ian James' Desert Sun article "Nestle granted new three-year water permit to keep piping water out of California national forest." 
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  • Deadline Missed on Eagle Crest Pumping Project Near JTNP

    The Desert Sun has reported that construction on the Eagle Crest hydropower plant on the southeastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park did not begin on June 19, a deadline approved as part of its license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  While the consequences of this missed deadline are not known immediately, National Park Conservation Association representative Chris Clarke expresses the hope that it will result eventually in the area being returned to the National Park. Read his statement and more about the issue in Sammy Roth's June 21 story. (Article link updated 6/22/18 with more information about Congressional action possibilities.)
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