• Steve Brown

Pipes Canyon Wash Glamping Resort Zoom Forum

Development of glamping resorts and other large scale resort facilities - from a proposed "bubble hotel" in Joshua Tree, to a proposal for a new large resort in Pioneertown, to this resort with 75 sites, dining, shopping, and more, all situated on a 640 acre parcel directly off of Highway 247 (Old Woman Springs Road) near Flamingo Heights, has become popular in the Joshua Tree National Park gateway communities of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Pioneertown, Landers, Twentynine Palms, and Wonder Valley.

The glamping resort planned for Highway 247 is located on a full section (one square-mile) of undeveloped land that includes a large swath of the Pipes Canyon Wash. Morongo Basin residents are rightfully concerned about how large scale development will be approached by San Bernardino County and local governments, as there can be consequential impacts created by these developments, ranging from increased traffic and more dangerous traffic patterns, to light pollution, groundwater contamination, and other environmental impacts.

The National Parks Conservation Association is hosting an online Zoom community meeting about the Highway 247 glamping resort plans and its potential impacts on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. PST. According to the NPCA's Chris Clarke, "Given the intense public interest and relatively short timeframe for public comment (April 26 being the soft deadline), NPCA will be holding a community meeting on Zoom this Thursday, April 15, at 6:30 PM. The purpose of this meeting will be to cover how to make effective comments to the county on various topics, as well as planning to organize a broader community response to the project if appropriate."

Clark notes, "Development in the Morongo Basin to address ever-growing visitation is almost certainly inevitable. Offering new places for visitors to camp is an important long-term goal, and can reduce development pressure inside and outside the park. It’s fair to question, however, whether deliberately catering to the most affluent visitors, as is the case with the burgeoning “glamping” trend, is either wise or fair to residents and less-affluent visitors.

"Personally, I also have strong concerns about this location in particular, and have heard similar concerns from others. Included in the reasons why this site might not be the best place to build a large camping resort:

  • The site is a priority connectivity corridor between Sand to Snow National Monument, the Bighorn Wilderness, Joshua Tree National Park, and points north.

  • The configuration of Route 247 near the site means adding large amounts of traffic entering the roadway could be extremely dangerous

  • 75 campsites potentially means frequent nights with 75 simultaneous campfires, raising serious concerns about both air quality and fire safety, with a large population of State Threatened species candidate western Joshua Trees just downwind

  • Potential for pollution of groundwater in Pipes Canyon Wash from septic systems, visitor vehicle oil and coolant leaks, or campers carelessly discarding dishwater and similar items into the soil or wash

  • Effect on the immediate vicinity from increased unplanned tourism development"

Mojave Watch has reviewed the available plans we have been able to find online (see above), and has requested full information from San Bernardino County Land Use Services, which has not, so far, responded to our request. San Bernardino County Land Use Services has a record of doing the absolute required minimum when it comes to alerting the public about large projects that could significantly impact their communities, so we recommend participating in this Zoom meeting if possible.

Resort plans do not appear to include individual fire pits, however, so we hope for the danger of open fires to be contained with the plan for a communal fire pit. We strongly recommend that CalTrans, in charge of California highways, mandates construction of dedicated turn lanes for both directions of traffic , for this resort, if plans are approved. To not require them would be to allow for the strong possibilities of increased accidents on Highway 247.

We are concerned about the impacts of this new resort on the wildlife that lives in and around Pipes Canyon Wash, and that which uses the wash as a corridor to reach other areas. The wash does serve as a wildlife corridor from the mountains to the west, out into the Landers and Johnson Valley areas, which themselves offer connection with a number of wilderness areas, Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, national forest lands, and other areas of the Mojave Desert.

While the area in the wash is by no means pristine, and is used for frequent illegal off-roading, it remains relatively undeveloped and suitable habitat for many species found in the hi-desert.

We hope you will have the chance to learn about this project - and other factors common with the numerous other projects planned for the Joshua Tree National Park gateway communities - so you can have the opportunity to comment upon them with your concerns.

Of course, there may be other possibilities when it comes to this land and its developer, the RoBott Land Company. For a look at how the parcel - not the development - is treated on their website, check HERE.

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