We first heard about a proposed National Monument, called Chuckwalla National Monument, in the California desert last December. This proposal would go from east of Palm Springs to the southeast and cover 660,000 acres in a sort of oval. The proposal is backed by congressman Raul Ruiz, who has east Riverside and Imperial Counties in his district. The congressman wants this to happen and he has both introduced a bill (HR5660) to do it. He has asked President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate it.

While some people champion this idea, many don’t like it at all. There are around 100 small scale miners with claims in the proposed area and, while their claims will still be active, they would have to go through expensive environmental analysis to continue. These are people working with hand tools. People who enjoy looking for interesting minerals (rock hounds) would likely be limited and the famous Hauser Geode Beds falls inside the proposed boundary. Most important to us, the route network in the proposed area would be subject to the creation of a new management plan. Such a plan could very likely reduce opportunities out there. This proposal is designed to “protect” the desert. Our problem with it is the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) looked at the entire BLM California desert area and decided where land will be protected, used for recreation, used for renewable energy and transmission. The DRECP was a big deal, took years and millions of dollars to create and when it was completed, received no litigation. This proposed monument breaks the DRECP deal all the stakeholders had. The BLM Desert Advisory Council does not like this proposal at all and has written a strongly worded letter condemning it and sent it up the BLM ranks. Email [email protected] if you would like to see the letter.

From the BLM
“BLM adopts categorial exclusions to expedite geothermal energy permitting”
“WASHINGTON – To improve permitting of geothermal energy exploration on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management today adopted two existing categorical exclusions from the United States Forest Service and the Department of the Navy. The categorical exclusions will enable the agency to expedite the review and approval of geothermal exploration proposals.”
The problem with this is there is hot water, possibly of geothermal quality, under Ocotillo Wells and a large portion of Ocotillo Wells has BLM subsurface (mineral rights) ownership. We have known this for a long time, but are disturbed that these new categorial exclusions could make it easier to develop there. A few years ago we commented on the DRECP that geothermal should not be allowed in Ocotillo Wells, but were overruled. There is a geothermal project moving forward in the very northeast part of Ocotillo Wells, where there are no legal routes or areas. We will keep our eyes open for this and any lithium projects and will sound the alarm if needed.

At our next membership meeting on May 7 at Ranch House Restaurant we will have state assembly candidates Kristie Bruce-Lane and Carl DeMaio coming to speak. SDORC has already endorsed Andrew Hayes for Assembly, but we would like to hear what these candidates have to offer. Hayes and DeMaio are running for the 75th district while Kristie Bruce-Lane is running for the 76th district.

We had a highway cleanup recently and picked up 46 bags of trash. We are doing this to get our signs back up. Caltrans mistakenly thought we didn’t want the section any longer and took them down. Have you seen our orange signs by Buckman Springs exit off I-8?

April 27 is the Lakeside Parade. All off-road vehicles are welcome to drive down the road with SDORC. I will miss it due to a Desert Advisory Council meeting taking place at the same time. Contact us at [email protected] for details.

On May 4, Corral Canyon is having a trail day to trim brush along trails. SDORC, Tierra Del Sol, San Diego 4 Wheelers and Tread Lightly are hosting, so please come to Four Corners at 9:00am and bring a lopper and an off-vehicle. Food at 1:00pm

Lost Lizard
We are hosting a Lost Lizard planning meeting on May 14 at 6:00pm. Contact us at 619-995-2797 or [email protected] for details. Lost Lizard will be on November 9 this year.

Ed Stovin