According to the minutes from the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor's meeting from 13 July, the County approved a position requesting that Federal Agencies avoid purchasing private land for conservation purposes, and also requested that additional land be set aside for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use. At the end of the day, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors showed just how short-sighted their policy decisions are, and supported a subsidy for corporations that are swallowing up open space and desert wilderness for their own profit.
Summary: We (the County Supervisors) support industrial scale development of pristine, public desert wilderness, but we do not want you to conserve additional land in order to off-set the damage. We should, however, allow more OHV use, which is well known to destroy wilderness. Net effect: Less wilderness, less wildlife, less camping, less hiking, less photography, less beautiful vistas, less nature, less open space, less natural heritage, less America.
This Blogger's position on OHV Recreation:
I want to be clear on something-- I do not oppose OHV use on some public land. It is a form of recreation. That said, it is a destructive form of recreation and I don't think any OHV rider of average intelligence would argue that their form of recreation is compatible with the preservation of our natural resources. Take a look at any photo of an area frequently used for OHV recreation, and the scars on the land stare back at you. That damage will take generations before it is reclaimed by nature. I do not mind that the County wants to speak up for the interest of the OHV riders. But the County is also opposed to the purchase of private lands for conservation.
San Bernardino County Interfering with a Free Economy
By opposing the purchase of private land for conservation purposes but supporting unrestricted energy development on public land, San Bernardino County is adding another layer of interference to a free economy. The first layer of interference is the political pressure that approves energy development on vast tracts of public land on a scale that is not sustainable, instead of asking the energy developers to build on private land instead. The second layer of economic interference is the government financing of these energy projects, which only encourages more industrial applications and more destruction of public land. Another layer of interference with a free economy is the misinformation disseminated regarding "renewable energy"--bulldozing miles and miles of wilderness, and consuming millions of gallons of water to cool the solar plants is not much different than mountain-top coal mining which also pollute waterways.
CEC Attempting to Correct for Economic Interference:
Energy companies are developing public land because it is cheaper for them, and they can earn a higher profit. When the California Energy Commission asks that the companies set aside private land for conservation, they are trying to correct for an imperfect process that brought the companies to public land in the first place (political encouragement, poor policy, and profit margins mixed together). The American public values nature and biodiversity. If Federal agencies and energy companies do not account for that, we are ultimately going to be left with a lot of industrial development, and no natural heritage. Without our natural heritage, America would have more in common with countries like Pakistan or Iraq, where natural heritage was never valued, and they let private interests and poor government decisions squander public land.
San Bernardino County Adopts Short-Sighted Policy
But it appears that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is okay with throwing away our natural heritage to help out corporations. How do they support their position-- they claim that the California Energy Commission's attempts to correct for poor land management by setting aside additional conservation land will harm the economy of San Bernardino County and lower the tax base. Has the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors asked what the economy would look like if property values were depressed by more frequent dust storms, wildfires, depletion of groundwater, and reduced tourism? Poor land management will lead to erosion of some desert topsoil, and more invasive plant species which are not fire resistant. Solar plants that use water cooling will suck up millions of gallons of water a year. And destroyed natural vistas will lead to fewer visitors.
If you do not like the Board of Supervisors selling your natural heritage for a quick buck, you can contact them through their website.