National Parks Conservation Association Praises Department of Interior Decision to Protect Joshua Tree National Park from Eagle Mountain Landfill

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 24, 2010
Contact:   Michael Cipra, NPCA California Desert Program Manager, 760.799.5911
Libby Fayad, NPCA General Counsel, 202.329.6926


National Parks Conservation Association Praises Department of Interior Decision to Protect Joshua Tree National Park from Eagle Mountain Landfill

Joshua Tree, Calif.—The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), along with local community leaders, applauded the decision of Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar not to appeal a U.S. 9th Circuit Court ruling overturning the Bureau of Land Management’s land exchange with Kaiser Ventures, effectively putting a halt to the Eagle Mountain landfill project on the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park.

“Secretary Salazar has made a courageous decision to protect the long-term health of Joshua Tree National Park,” said George Kopp, President of the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce. “By protecting the park, he’s not only standing up for tortoises and bighorn sheep, he’s standing up for the businesses, communities, and tourists who know that our national park is far more valuable than a garbage dump.”


In September 2005, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Timlin ruled to overturn the federal land exchange needed for the proposed garbage dump to move forward. NPCA, represented by the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, based their opposition to the landfill on the illegality of the land exchange as well as adverse impacts the garbage dump would have on the park and other adjacent public lands. On November 10, 2009, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Timlin’s ruling.


“I’m happy to see that the Department of Interior is reconsidering the environmental health danger that the Eagle Mountain landfill poses to our communities and to Joshua Tree National Park,” said La Quinta Mayor Don Adolph. “I’ve always felt that inviting trash trains into our backyard was a poor decision, and it looks like folks in Washington have come to that conclusion too.”


The proposed Eagle Mountain landfill would have been surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park's wilderness and, as the nation’s largest landfill, would have collected up to 20,000 tons of trash per day for 117 years, primarily delivered by trains from Los Angeles County, putting park wilderness areas and wildlife at risk.


“Secretary Salazar made the right decision to protect our national treasure—Joshua Tree National Park—from a literal mountain of trash,” said Mike Cipra, NPCA’s California Desert Program Manager. “Los Angeles’ future garbage disposal needs can be offset with existing landfills and increased recycling.”


Leading desert wildlife and ecology experts have determined that the landfill would have severely disrupted the surrounding desert ecosystem by inflating the population of predators, such as ravens and coyotes, which in turn would reduce numbers of desert tortoise, reptiles, songbirds, and other park wildlife. In addition, air and noise pollution, diminishment of the dark night sky, and the possible contamination of groundwater all threatened to alter Joshua Tree National Park.


To see the U.S. Ninth Circuit ruling overturning the land exchange, visit: http://www.npca.org/media_center/pdf/Ninth_Circuit_Opinion.pdf

For additional background information, visit: http://www.npca.org/pacific/desert/threats/eaglemountaindump.pdf


                                                       
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