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Showing posts with the label San Bernardino County

Supervisor Lovingood Lays Out Hollow Case Against Monuments

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San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood traveled to Washington last week to testify against the potential establishment of national monuments in the California desert, but his concerns rang hollow.  His most concrete complaints centered on the prospects of a long-shuttered gold mine located over 70 miles from the nearest San Bernardino County city and owned by a Canadian company.  Lovingood's testimony reveals that his opposition to the monuments is politically motivated, rather than practically rooted and that he is out of touch with his constituents.

Lovingood Picks a Battle Over Castle Mountains

Most San Bernardino County residents would fall in love with the Castle Mountains if they saw them.  But Supervisor Lovingood's testimony suggests he has a different vision for this remote stretch of the county.  Lovingood expressed concern to officials in Washington that the nearby Castle Mountain gold mine may have difficulty operating if a desert monument is established …

Ivanpah's Last Summer

For a great write-up by Chris Clarke (and a beautiful photo by Laura Cunningham), visit Coyote Crossing.  Mr. Clarke draws a parallel between the willingness of environmental groups to sell out pristine and threatened desert habitat for the sake of "green energy," and a poor decision by the Sierra Club decades ago when it acquiesced to the Bureau of Reclamation's inundation of Glen Canyon  by constructing a dam there.

While I have written on the California Energy Commission's imposition of mitigation fees on energy companies proposing to build on good quality desert habitat, the damage to the Mojave and Colorado Deserts will ultimately be irreparable.  Every poor decision made by energy companies, and approved by policymakers, will fragment our deserts until what remains is an industrial corridor with small pockets of desert that cannot sustain the rich diversity of life one can encounter in the desert now.  Watching a desert tortoise forage for wildflowers in the mo…

San Bernardino County Opposed to Conservation; Supports Corporations Pilfering Public Land

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 …

Newberry Springs Solar Proposal Draws Opposition

A proposal to construct a 3 Mega-Watt solar power station in Newberry Springs--which was conditionally approved by the San Bernardino County Planning Commission earlier this year--is drawing opposition from neighbors who contend that the Rural Living zoning of the area should preclude industrial scale solar projects.  The site, which would encompass 80 acres and would be built by Solutions for Utilities, is located among disturbed and fallow agricultural land west of the proposed Calico Solar Power project site.  The opposition to the Solutions for Utilities project brings attention to a developing angle in the "solar rush" taking place in the Mojave--pressure placed on rural communities to accept the industrial scale development that should not occur in pristine wilderness, but that would disrupt quality of life in more populated areas.

The appeal by the opponents of the site will be heard by the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors at tonight's (13 July) meeting.  The a…

San Bernardino County Opposes Desert Conservation?

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The San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department recently filed their response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Calico Solar Project, located east of Newberry Springs.  If I am reading it correctly, the County explicitly opposes long-term conservation of Mojave Desert habitat as a means to off-set the negative impacts of industrial scale development. 

The County comments stirred some though on just what a deal energy companies are getting by developing on public land, and how the County's argument cheapens the value of open space for future generations.  As many of you already know, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may require a developer to fund or purchase private land that contains suitable desert habitat and set it aside for conservation.  This is required because the developers are applying to bulldoze thousands of acres of natural resources on public land essentially because they are too lazy or gre…

San Bernardino County Catching up with Mojave Energy Debate

San Bernardino County's Land Use Services Department and Board of Supervisors are trying to keep up with the  gold rush of the century as various energy companies seek to build vast solar and wind energy projects in the Mojave Desert, the bulk of which lies within County lines.  The County's priorities are predictably economic, but this has led County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt to speak out against the acquisition and preservation of land to off-set the loss of Desert tortoise habitat in Ivanpah, according to an article in the Press Enterprise.  You can read more about the mitigation requirement on my previous post on the subject.

The County assesses that the preservation of tortoise land as a mitigation strategy would lock up land and preclude other economic activity. Mitzelfelt and Brightsource seem to favor a different mitigation scenario that does not involve setting aside land, but instead funding tortoise research and existing preservation efforts.  While biologists did …

ORV Damage in Yucca Valley

There is a great editorial in the Hi-Desert Star by Russel Drake drawing attention to off-road vehicle (ORV) damage to a key wildlife corridor connecting the San Bernardino Mountains to the Mojave Desert.  The land, known as Section 11, was set aside as off-limits to ORVs but signs had not yet been posted when the land was trampled in early December 2009.  The Yucca Valley Town Council still plans to post signage prohibiting ORV use and illegal trash dumping.  The land in question was identified in research used by the Morongo Basin Open Space Group to argue for its preservation.  You can access some of the research on ecosystem linkages on the SC Wildlands website here.

Published February 10 on the Hi-Desert Star website:



Land under attack is critical to wild animalsBy Russell Drake
Yucca ValleyPublished: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 1:49 AM CST When wildlife resource advocate Pat Flanagan told the Yucca Valley Town Council last October that Section 11, a square mile of town-owned des…

ORV Ordinance Still Under Consideration

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has not yet voted on whether or not to repeal current County Ordinance # 3973, which mandates that private property owners obtain a permit in order to hold large off-road vehicle (ORV) gatherings. If you are interested in voicing your opinion on this issue, you still have time to call or contact the Supervisors, and there contact info can be found at the County website.  At the time of my previous post on this issue, it appeared that the Board could vote on the ordinance by the end of January.  It is no longer clear when this vote will make the agenda, since it does not appear on the February 9 agenda on their website.

$50 Million Burried in the Mojave

That's right folks, if you are special enough to have access to ample capital, financing and real estate in the Mojave you can lay claim to thousands of acre-feet of water (1 acre foot = 325,851 gallons) deposited underneath the Mojave Desert, and earn $50 million dollars per year for as long as the water lasts, according to a Business Week article.  Unfortunately, this treasure hunt can impact the wildlife and people of the Southwest long after the treasure is spent.   Cadiz Inc, which has been growing lemons and raisins on some of its Mojave land as it conducted studies to ascertain the volume of subterranean water it could sell, is planning to pump that water as soon as it can manage the paper work.  The Cadiz funded study, conducted by CH2M Hill, suggests there is enough water for up to 400,000 people in the aquifer.  Although Feinstein has voiced opposition to the pumping, the political forces in California are likely to swamp the Senator's clout.

So what's the big de…

San Bernardino County Easing On ORV Rules?

As soon as 26 January(delayed vote) the San Bernardino County supervisors may vote to repeal an existing county ordinance (Ordinance 3973) that requires a permit for gatherings of 10 or more Off-Road Vehicle users on private property. This issue should fall into the property rights and public nuisance debate more than a Mojave Desert wilderness preservation issue, but it's a good hook to examine the current state of regulation and enforcement in ORV use in the Mojave Desert area in general.

As the Hi-Desert Star newspaper reported earlier this month, only six individuals have applied for the permits over the past 3 years.  Almost certainly more people have held gatherings that would meet the permit threshold that did not apply.   San Bernardino County may repeal the ordinance and it would take a great deal of pressure to argue that it remain in place, quite simply because it is most likely not an efficient mechanism to control or deter the public nuisance caused by large gathering…