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Scoping Session 8-5-15 re Expanding Boundaries of Joshua Tree Nat. Park

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The National Park Service has scheduled public scoping sessions re appropriateness and feasibility of adding 32,000 acres of (mostly) BLM land in Riverside County. One of these sessions is scheduled for 8-5-15 between 6 and 8PM at the Joshua Tree Community Center (6171 Sunburst Street). If you have any opinions to express and can attend the hearing this is your chance to do so.

The area in question is located in the Eagle Mountain vicinity at the eastern end of the park near Desert Center. This chunk originally was included in the creation of the Joshua Tree National Monument. But it was excluded from the creation of the park to accommodate mining -- most notably the Kaiser Steel operation which has since gone defunct. There are some active gold claims in this 50 square mile tract.

I have emphasized the objectives of the scoping session. Those who have something to say should keep in mind the relevance of their input to these specific issues. The greenies can be counted on to say it is appropriate to take back the 32,000 acres because Kaiser Steel no longer has operations there. Pro-miners might consider pointing out that there is a documented presence of active gold mining claims as listed by BLM. Also, it is inappropriate and un-needed to further restrict public access to what already is available to anyone willing to drive on the existing dirt roads. As to feasibility, pro-miners may consider opposing the expansion on the ground that Congress has not appropriated any money to support such an expensive boundary expansion to a national park that already is the 14th largest in the U.S. Additionally, if a substantial number of local residents oppose the transformation of BLM and other public lands which permit active uses of these public lands into park lands where mostly only passive, intensely regulated visitations are allowed, then these local voices should be given great weight.

Just my two cents.

I, of course, will be there and will speak if given an opportunity in opposition to this park expansion idea. Hope to see some friendly faces show up.

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About a 80 or 90 folks showed up -- maybe 40 -- 50 from the small scale mining community, a half dozen tribal comment givers and the rest green-leaning types. Each group had its isolated share of "the sky is falling" and the conspiracy believers. All in all I'd say the miners carried the day by making some really insightful comments and asking some penetrating questions. Tomorrow the scoping show travels to (I think) Palm Desert or Rancho Mirage where I expect the tribal turnout to be quite heavy and the mining interests less so.

The most telling arguments against the boundary expansion included pointing out that (1) nothing precludes any of the "research" or "educational" opportunities asserted as a major reason for expanding the park from being done on land currently overseen by BLM, (2) that the alleged creation of wildlife corridors will actually be compromised and even frustrated by the construction of paved road, kiosks, picnic tables, garbage collection sites, public rest rooms, automobile traffic and street lighting, i.e., the animals have been traveling around the BLM areas for eons and continue to so now because hardly any humans get vary far into the 50 sq. mile tract to disturb them, (4) there are valuable minerals located in the proposed tract such as high grade iron ore, cobalt and very likely rare earth metals and (4) there is no money appropriated to expend on such a boundary change.

This boundary change process likely will go on for another one or two years. Stay tuned. If this expansion slips through the cracks of the NPS logic, then other, larger chunks may go next -- like the Dale!!!!

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Martin... I posted a comment... Re... The First Class Miners (do I get a silver star stuck to my forehead to take to my momi) :idunno: jim

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Hi Martin,

I agree that one of the ultimate targets of the NPS is the Dale.

If the Eagles become a part of the National Park system

it will become the present-day precedent that enables the setting aside of the Dale as well.

Thank you for the update.

Any follow-up's are appreciated.


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