Saturday, August 31, 2013

Public meetings Sept. 6th and 7th: Tell our public officials what You think about renewal energy development in the Mojave

The Desert Renewal Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) will guide plans to develop renewal energy (solar and wind) in the California deserts. Federal, state, and county agencies are involved. The plan will cover both public and private land. Nothing final has been drafted yet. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the process that will shape our future.

The DRECP claims to:
·        Provide for the long-term conservation and management of Covered Species within the Plan Area,
·        Preserve, restore, and enhance natural communities and ecosystems that support Covered Species,
·        Streamline environmental review and permitting for compatible renewable energy project, and
·        Identify appropriate areas or zones within the Plan Area for the development of utility-scale renewable energy projects.

But the plan has some big gaps and needs to incorporate current scientific data; bio-studies, and local economic issues.   We asked for a meeting in our area and were granted one. Officials from the California Energy Commission, Fish and Wildlife, the BLM, and San Bernardino County will be present to hear from us about life in the Mojave, the right way to develop renewal energy in our desert, and what we must preserve.

Information about the DRECP is available on the National Parks Conservation Association website;  and on the  California Desert Coalition website.

Also check out Renewable Energy Topics by Chris Clarke. You can read the DRECP at

 Meeting details are below. Please come and be heard.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Susan Luckie Reilly

Susan Luckie Reilly was a founding Board member of MBCA back in 1969, and a tireless leader for MBCA battles against power companies, toxic dumps and other desert-destroying plans.  She has been a champion of desert and Park protection and an inspiration for folks like us for decades.  Please read and enjoy the recent interview with Susan in the Desert Trail:

MBCA is also nominating Susan for Congressman Paul Cook’s inaugural “Women of Distinction” Award.   Attached to this email is our nominating statement.  There will be a ceremony for this award in Apple Valley at 10 AM on August 23, and we will notify you if Susan is one of those to be honored.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Project Bobcat update

Assembly Bill 1213 is still progressing through the State legislative process.  The revised bill prohibits bobcat trapping on lands around Joshua Tree National Park, and on private property without the owner’s permission.  There are additional limits and qualifications, which you can read on on this site that provides a summary and tracks the history of the bill:

Find more info at the Project Bobcat website.

The next hearing in Sacramento is expected to be around August 12.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

MBCA opposes Soda Mountain Solar Project

The MBCA Board of Directors heard a presentation by Seth Shteir of the National Parks Conservation Association last Thursday, and agreed to formally oppose another inappropriately placed solar project, the Soda Mountains Project that borders the Mojave National Preserve.   As you are well aware, MBCA is in favor of renewable energy projects, but not industrial-scale solar projects on lands that host endangered species and unspoiled desert.  Large projects should only be on already-disturbed lands, and rooftop solar and locally distributed generation (DG) are the real way forward.

As David Lamfrom, California Desert Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, wrote in his comments on the DRECP: 

Lands such as those proposed for the Soda Mountains project should not be included within the DRECP because of identified importance to bighorn sheep migration, landscape connectivity, proximity to Mojave National Preserve, and hydrologic connection to MC Spring, a location utilized for the recovery of the listed Mojave Tui-Chub.

Two members of the MBCA Board of Directors, Claudia Sall and Ruth Rieman, are also Board members of the California Desert Coalition, and are meeting with the San Bernardino County Supervisors to educate them about renewable energy issues in the Morongo Basin and the County.  Issues include County input on the DRECP (there will be a meeting in Yucca Valley this fall—date to follow shortly), the County moratorium on energy development in residential neighborhoods, and updating the County General Plan to include appropriate renewable energy language.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Immediate action needed to extend 45-day moratorium on commercial solar in county unincorporated areas

Dear MBCA Members and Supporters:

We are asking our readers to help convince the San Bernardino County Supervisors that they should extend the 45-day moratorium on commercial solar development in County unincorporated areas (which includes Joshua Tree, the Mesa, Flaming Heights, Landers, etc.). We mentioned this issue in our recent news and information email.  We have just learned that we will need a lot of constituents to inform the Supervisors of the need for the extension BEFORE NEXT TUESDAY (July 23).   Letters to the editor, letters to Supervisors, and/or attendance at the next BOS meeting will be very helpful -- more information below.

Our local District 3 Supervisor James Ramos has been very supportive and helpful, and is to be thanked.  Supervisor Lovingood (1st District) agrees with the need for extension, but we are uncertain about the other 3 Supervisors.

Here is a link to the County document describing the moratorium and actions being taken:

Here is Chris Clarke’s KCET story on the moratorium, which nicely summarizes it (we recommend Chris’s KCET blog for all California energy-related issues):

Here is the Riverside Press-Enterprise article:

And here is a website that summarizes the issue in legal terms:

The Supervisors meet next Tuesday, June 23, in San Bernardino, at 10:00 AM and this will be on their agenda.  The time is not yet known, but here is the site where the agenda should be posted by Friday:

Please send emails to any or all of the following addresses expressing your concern that this issue be taken seriously by the entire Board of Supervisors, and that they need to extend the deadline for addressing solar installations in unincorporated County areas.  Issues include possible development code amendments addressing the permitting process, as well as siting and zoning requirements.
There is a need for research to determine the best way to protect the desert while encouraging renewable energy in the right way and the right places.

If you know folks in the other supervisorial districts, please ask them to contact their Supervisor.  Here’s a link to a list of communities by District:

San Bernardino Sun Newspaper

Riverside Press Enterprise newspaper

Supervisor Ramos

Supervisor Rutherford

Thanks for whatever you can do.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

DRECP – Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

The California Desert Coalition held a meeting about the DRECP in Yucca Valley on April 11 to update residents about the most recent DRECP published “alternatives.”  Large-scale color maps located around the room showed that lands all around the Morongo Basin areas are at risk of becoming sites for industrial scale renewable energy development projects, as are Johnson Valley and Lucerne Valley, who were also well-represented at this well-attended presentation. Chris Carrillo, Deputy Chief of Staff for new San Bernardino County Superintendent James Ramos, was among the speakers, and carried to Supervisor Ramos the sense of concern and urgency that his constituents shared at the meeting.  Supervisor Ramos then requested that the entire Board of Supervisors have a DRECP workshop with state agency representatives.  This occurred on April 16 because of the strong showing and deep concern of many desert residents.  The Supervisors requested that DRECP leaders hold a Workshop in the Morongo Basin, and possibly another desert location, to share information and allow residents to ask questions and express concerns.  Prior meetings have all been held in Ontario, even though it is the desert residents that will be most affected.

CDC plans to seek meetings with individual Supervisors to make the case that it is imperative that the Board of Supervisors engages in the DRECP process and develops San Bernardino County policy and ordinances regarding commercial renewable energy projects within the County on private lands.  Comprehensive information about the DRECP is available on the CDC website. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and concern for maintaining the highest possible quality of life in “our” Morongo Basin and the Mojave Desert region.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Winners of the Landscape Tour Essay Contest!

Congratulations to the three winners of the 2013 Post-Tour Essay Contest!  Many thanks to the “literary gentlemen” of MBCA who served as judges:  Curt Duffy, Greg Gilbert, and Mike Lipsitz.

1st place winner, Susan Jordon, receives a $200 gift certificate for Unique Nursery.
2nd place winner, Sylvia LaBonte’, receives a $150 gift certificate for Cactus Mart.
3rd place winner, Carole Hiestand, receives a $100 gift certificate for Wind Walkers.

We will alert you when the winners’ creative submissions are posted on the MBCA website.  Reading them will make you happily reminisce about your experience if you participated in the Tour, and are likely to make you want to participate next year if you haven’t!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Live stream the SB County Board of Supervisors Meeting tommorrow

Dear MBCA Members and Supporters:

Many Morongo Basin residents live in unincorporated areas and must rely on communication with the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to express their interests and concerns.  At the Supervisors’ meeting tomorrow, June 4, there are several critical issues on the agenda for Joshua Tree and other unincorporated Morongo Basin communities. 

Here is the news item from KCDZ radio news on June 3 describing the issues of interest:

While some concerned residents will be attending the meeting in person in San Bernardino, and some will attend via the video link available at the Government Center in Joshua Tree, we wanted our readers to know that the meetings are broadcast live-stream on the internet, and encourage you to view this important meeting if you can.

Here’s how to view the Board of Supervisors meeting via your computer:

The link to the meeting's live stream will appear about half an hour before the meeting schedule of 10 AM on Tuesday, June 4.

Click this link after 9:30 AM on Tuesday:
Then in the heading of Upcoming Events is the Board of Supervisors Meeting, the date, and then on the right is the link called  "View Event.”

Click that "View Event" link and there you are (hopefully!).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Update: Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

DRECP is still an issue, and will continue to be one of our concerns.  The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan has produced six alternatives and a no-action alternative, and because of potential encroachment of “development focus areas” and “variance lands” in the Morongo Basin, the California Desert Coalition has launched a “1000 letters campaign.”  CDC Board members are staffing tables and making presentations across the Basin and in the Lucerne Valley area to explain problems with the alternatives and why Morongo Basin residents MUST be heard.  Please go to and read the latest update, then print out, sign and send a letter, and be part of a strong voice for keeping industrial wind and solar out of the Basin and urging appropriate placement in already-disturbed areas and on rooftops.

We are uncertain when the DRECP will publish its preferred alternative; rumors range from summer to the end of 2013. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Update on Project Bobcat

Project Bobcat supporters from the Morongo Basin traveled to Sacramento last week to show support for AB 1213, the bill proposing a statewide ban on bobcat trapping.  The bill has been amended to limit trapping ban to a 2-mile radius around Joshua National Park while the Department of Fish and Wildlife would be directed to develop a bobcat management plan.  It’s not ideal, but better than nothing, and a start toward statewide restrictions. 

Here’s the Hi Desert Star article about AB 1213 presented on the Project Bobcat website:

For more information, visit Project Bobcat.