National Park Service Conducting Boundary Study of Eagle Mountain Area Near Joshua Tree National Park

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Date: July 13, 2015
Contact: David Smith, 760-367-5500
Contact: George Land, 760-367-5507

The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a boundary study to explore whether it would be appropriate and feasible to add lands in the Eagle Mountain area in Riverside County, California to Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree National Park was established to preserve and protect the scenic, natural, and cultural resources representative of the Colorado and Mojave deserts' rich biological and geological diversity, cultural history, wilderness, recreational values, and outstanding opportunities for education and scientific study.

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:

Date

Location

Address

July 29, 2015, 1:30 -3 pm

(Pacific Standard Time)

Online Meeting

See study website forinformation on how to connect and participate

August 4, 2015, 6-8 pm

Lake Tamarisk Community

Center

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the Desert center Unified School District, the Metropolitan Water District, and private lands, as well as lands withdrawn by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power Act for the Eagle Mountain pumped storage project.The pumped storage project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 Valid existing rights in the public lands, including lands withdrawn by FERC for the pumped storage project, would not be affected by the study.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 https://parkplanning.nps.gov/eaglemountain
  • Introductory newsletter, maps, and more information are available on the project website. 




Last updated: January 31, 2017

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