The initial comment period for the scoping phase of the study has started, and will extend through August 21, 2015. The NPS has published a newsletter on its public planning website that provides an overview of the study process and some preliminary findings and options under consideration. The NPS is also hosting several public meetings to explain the study process, answer questions, gather information, and listen to public ideas and concerns:
July 29, 2015, 1:30 -3 pm
(Pacific Standard Time)
See study website for information on how to connect and participate
August 4, 2015, 6-8 pm
Lake Tamarisk Community
26- 251 Parkview Dr
Desert Center, CA 92239
August 5, 2015, 6-8 pm
Joshua Tree Community Center
6171 Sunburst Street
Joshua Tree, CA 92252-2147
August 6, 2015, 6-8 pm
University of California, Riverside - Palm Desert Center
75080 Frank Sinatra Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211-5202
The area of study includes approximately 32,000 acres of land in the Eagle Mountains and Chuckwalla Valley. Federal lands in the study area, comprising approximately 22,500 acres, are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The area also contains lands owned by the State of California, the Desert center Unified School District, the Metropolitan Water District, and private lands, as well as lands withdrawn by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power Act for the Eagle Mountain pumped storage project. The pumped storage project received a 50-year license from FERC in June 2014. Valid existing rights in the public lands, including lands withdrawn by FERC for the pumped storage project, would not be affected by the study.
Bounded to the south, west, and north by Joshua Tree National Park, the eastern border of the study area is defined by the Colorado River Aqueduct, which roughly formed the original Joshua Tree National Monument boundary established in 1936. Originally part of Joshua Tree National Monument when designated in 1936, the study area was later removed for mineral extraction activities in 1950. Major mining activities in the study area ceased in 1983. In 1989, the area was proposed for a landfill. After decades of challenges and litigation, the landfill proposal was withdrawn in 2013. The Eagle Mountain area remains a key building block for landscape-scale conservation in the California desert. However, lands within the area and surrounding region continue to be open to various development proposals that could affect protection of the fragile desert ecosystems.
Inclusion of the study area in the national park boundary could help to achieve landscape-scale conservation objectives for the California desert region. Recent studies have documented the particular importance of the area for the migration of bighorn sheep populations. In addition, the study area: 1) contains prehistoric and historic resources that expand on cultural themes interpreted at the national park; 2) may offer new opportunities for public enjoyment; and 3) contains areas important for maintaining wilderness values within Joshua Tree National Park.
The NPS will work in partnership with agencies, organizations, and tribes active within the area, including communities and jurisdictions adjacent to the study area.
The study process includes the following steps, with several opportunities for public involvement:
1. Public scoping of the study process (Summer 2015)
2. Evaluation of study area resources, land uses, and opportunities (Summer/Fall 2015);
3. Application of NPS criteria for national park boundary adjustments (Summer/ Fall 2015)
4. Environmental and socioeconomic impact analysis (Fall 2015)
5. Preparation and publication of draft report (Winter 2015/2016)
6. Completion of study (mid-2016).
For more information:
● Contact: David Smith, Superintendent, Joshua Tree National Park, Phone: 760-367-5500
● E-mail the study team at JOTR_study@nps.gov
● View the project web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/eaglemountain
● Introductory newsletter, maps, and more information are available on the project website.