Citizens, job well done, cross that off our to-do list! ... or not ...
The New Attack In March 2017, President Trump issued executive order 13783 “Promoting Energy Independence & Economic Growth” which directs the BLM to review the DRECP including “potential burdens on domestic energy production in California without the State. To that end, BLM has reopened the DRECP and announced a schedule of scoping meetings to solicit written public comments.
This re-opening disregards the 16,000 comments offered over the 8 years of study and negotiations and could puts at risk tens of thousands of acres of recreation and conservation lands that were set aside in the recorded DRECP.
Once again the public voice is critical . . .we need to take action now!
The Immediate Issues
After 8 years of hard work . . . Never mind! • Undue Burden placed on Citizens, Industry, and Decisionmakers: The DRECP was deeply and thoroughly vetted by citizens, businesses, the industry, and decisionmakers over a period of 8 years. A review of that Plan disregards those efforts and places undue burden on the stakeholders and other participants. The proposed 45-day review will add little value to those 8 years of exhaustive study.
• Premature Review Action: As the DRECP was only filed 17 months ago, the management plans that might provide new data have not been developed. This review is not being done due to BLM’s 89580: “BLM may revise a resource management plan . . . when monitoring and evaluation findings (§ 1610.6-4), new data, new or revised policy, or other relevant changes in circumstances affect the entire resource management plan or major portions of the resource management plan.” The Plan has not been operational long enough to need or merit revision.
• Vague and Broad Review Scope Not Warranted: With the revision of the Plan being premature, little value can be added to the previous years of study, changes to the plan will be narrow issues of the conservation management issues. An appropriate alternative to a cumbersome review and a recommendation is resolving these kinds of issues with provisions of rulemaking or specific rulemaking within the DRECP in local jurisdictions.
• Unintended Consequences of the Review: West Mojave Travel Management Plan [WEMO] & Jeopardy to Government-to-Government Consultation. - Finalization of the BLM WEMO, long-awaited, federal plan to manage off-road travel in the western California Desert, has been halted from its planned, summer release. Concerns of jeopardy have been voiced by offroad organizations. - As an organized collaboration between the State of California and the United States, the newly-announced DRECP review was ordered in bad faith and without the inclusion of the State, tribes, and other governments. As such the review is a breach of the trust upon which the Plan was developed and jeopardizes the trust necessary for government to government consultation and cooperation. The Department of Interior has unfairly singled out California through its agency the BLM by including the DRECP in its review of land use of renewable energy development.
The peoples’ Green Path North victory over LADWP! 2010
Thursday, at 6pm on March 1, about 200 residents from the Morongo Basin descended on the Joshua Tree Community Center [JTCC] for the BLM scoping meeting to consider amending three land use plans of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Planapproved Sept 2016. This meeting is the 4th of 8 meetings being held during a 45-day scoping period ending on March 19th.
California State Director Jerry Perez [ https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-california-welcomes-new-state-director-jerry-perez ] addressed the standing room only audience about the review. He stated that since its inception in 1980 the California Desert Protection Plan has been amended 158 times and that this review was part of a norm. A brief power point overview of the DRECP was delivered with emphasis on the public submitting written comments. No questions were allowed nor oral comments taken. Information stations where the public could ask questions of staff were set up.
Following the official presentation:
At 7pm in the Lachman Room of the JTCC, a coalition of non-profits hosted a complementary DRECP-review meeting for about 100 enthused people. Chris Clarke, [ https://www.kcet.org/author/chris-clarke ] National Parks Conservation Assn [NPCA] program director monitored a panel of citizen DRECP experts, April Sall of California Desert Coalition, Frazier Haney of Mojave Desert Land Trust, with Kate Hoit, California State Director for Vet Voice Foundation. The panel provided the only opportunity for the public to ask and have answered questions about the impending DRECP review. The public could also offer oral comments which were recorded by a court reporter to be delivered for official record to the BLM. The entire meeting was also videotaped. Additionally, the public was encouraged to engage the support of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors[BOS] to oppose the reopening and either sign a petition prepared by the Morongo Basin Conservation Assn and/or send a CDC sample letter to the BOS.
In closing comments, NPCA desert director David Lamfrom exhorted the audience for their continued engagement and stressed the important contribution of their local expertise about the Mojave Desert.
The last of the 8 scoping meetings will be held 5-7pm, this Wednesday, March 7th, in the UC Riverside Palm Desert Center at Frank Sinatra Dr, Palm Desert. It is important for desert residents in Riverside County to attend this meeting in force.
• Morongo Basin residents will have the opportunity to express their concerns about the newly-ordered review of the re-opened DRECP. This Thursday, March 1st at 6pm, BLM has scheduled a public scoping meeting in Joshua Tree to solicit written-only public comments in the Elliott Room of the Joshua Tree Community center at 6171 Sunset Rd, Joshua Tree. View Directions Map here