Just outside the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, the region known as Eagle Mountain has been at the center of controversy over inappropriate, harmful development proposals for years. Incorporating these lands into the park could help protect them from the latest threat, the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project. This massive energy development stands to pump millions of gallons of water from the fragile desert aquifer in and around the park.

Joshua Tree National Park is a biodiverse gem with a rich history and culture and outstanding recreational opportunities. The park is in an ecologically unique transition zone between the Mojave and Colorado Desert ecosystems, providing the perfect conditions for a diverse assemblage of plants and animals, including a herd of approximately 250 bighorn sheep and 250 species of birds.

The Eagle Mountain area in the southeast region of Joshua Tree National Park is home to golden eagles, desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and important prehistoric and historic resources, from Native American archaeological sites to General Patton’s training camps to a World War II-era mine. The Eagle Mountain area was originally included in the lands that became Joshua Tree National Park, but Congress removed this region from the park for mineral exploration in 1950. The majority of these lands are now managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but also include lands that are owned or managed by private owners and other entities.

Unfortunately, developers have proposed some of the most harmful environmental projects in the California desert during BLM’s management of the area, including the recently defeated Eagle Mountain Landfill and a potential hydropower plant known as the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project.

In 2016, the National Park Service completed the Joshua Tree National Park Eagle Mountain Boundary Study. It found that the transfer of these lands was feasible and desirable. The National Park Service received more than 9,000 comments for their study, the overwhelming majority in support of the transfer.

Now, the transfer is underway, and we must ensure that these BLM lands will not be developed.

Return Eagle Mountain to Joshua Tree National Park

NPCA supports the administrative transfer of over 22,515 acres of BLM and state lands to Joshua Tree National Park. NPCA also supports restoring the historic 1936 boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, including private lands and lands proposed for the Eagle Mountain Mine and the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project, when and if those lands become available.

These actions would give the highest level of protection for these critical resources and important wildlife habitat and offer the best opportunities for public recreation. Now is the time to return these lands to Joshua Tree National Park as originally envisioned decades ago.

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