June News for Mojave Watch
The month of May turned out well for the Mojave, but many of the threats that face the desert have just been postponed, not eliminated. Desert defenders have to remain vigilant and involved, as some threats may be down, but not out.
California Senate Bill 307, the bill that protects Mojave groundwater and wildlife from projects like the Cadiz Water Project, was passed by the Senate, and is in hearings in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources today, June 10, 2019. While the bill is expected to pass out of the committee, you can support its passage by tweeting the following tweets today:
We'll have more information as SB 307 moves through the Assembly to become law.
Another bill, SB 772, which would have provided support for the Eagle Crest pumped storage hydroelectric power project on the border of Joshua Tree National Park, is essentially dead in the water for this session. There is a slim chance it could be revived this session, and it could be reintroduced next year.
The project depletes the groundwater from the Chuckwalla Basin to support the power project that pumps water from the lower Eagle Mountain Mine pit into the upper pit and then lets the water flow back down hill through turbines to generate power. The project would create a new ecosystem on the park's border which has been determined to be potentially harmful, especially encouraging raven predation on baby tortoises.
Consideration of the new city planned for the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park, Paradise Valley, was continued by the Riverside Planning Commission until August 21. We'll have more on that meeting by the beginning of August. It will be important to voice a strong opposition to the project when it moves to the Planning Commission as if it is approved, it could go quickly to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration. The plan jeopardizes the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and has numerous negative implications for Joshua Tree National Park and the desert.
There are a number of solar project in the works that we're going to keep an eye on, like the Gemini Solar Project near the entrance road to Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada. It's a 7,000 acre photovoltaic project that could result in the complete scalping and grading of 10 square miles of prime desert tortoise habitat. It's a bad project that needs our input.
Basin and Range Watch provide an excellent insight into the project HERE.
The BLM is hosting public meetings on the Gemini project, July 23 and 24, 2019, in Las Vegas and Moapa, Nevada. The public comment period opened last Friday and runs through September 5, 2019. You can get more information HERE.
File your public comment on the Gemini Solar Project HERE.
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