Press Release Jul 5, 2017

State Legislation Introduced to Protect Water Resources, National Parks and Public Lands in California Desert

Legislation aims to safeguard fragile California desert water sources for the wildlife, people and national parks that depends on it.

Sacramento, CA – California Assemblymember Laura Friedman introduced legislation today to safeguard fragile California desert water sources for the wildlife, people and national parks that depend on them. Assembly Bill 1000, the California Desert Protection Act, seeks to protect groundwater resources in the Mojave Desert helping to ensure our national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and state lands stay resilient in the face of climate change and increasing threats by the Trump administration to remove land and water protections in the region.

National Parks Conservation Association, tribal organizations, water-focused groups, former national park superintendents and leaders from across California commended the Assemblymember for the legislation and call for its successful passage. If passed, the legislation would safeguard the desert from an unsustainable threat that has persisted for 20 years: the Cadiz Inc. water mining proposal.

Cadiz Inc. seeks to pump 16 billion gallons of water each year for 50 years, to send to coastal communities in Southern California, which have less environmentally harmful options for securing water. The Cadiz Inc. proposal would mine groundwater from the heart of the recently-designated Mojave Trails National Monument and the aquifers connected to Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park. The Trump administration recently rescinded policies requiring the project undergo federal environmental review, exposing millions of acres of California’s protected public lands.

“National Parks Conservation Association and desert communities and stakeholders strongly support Assemblymember Friedman’s commonsense legislation to require the State to review water extraction projects that would harm the springs, national parks, and national monuments in this beloved land,” said David Lamfrom, California Desert Director for National Parks Conservation Association. “The California desert is one of the world’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, home to unique wildlife, expansive Joshua tree forests and superblooms that attract visitors from across California and beyond. It is also a fragile and imperiled landscape. The passage of AB 1000 is vital to protect sacred lands and what we collectively worked for generations to protect.”

“The California League of Conservation Voters applaud Assemblymember Friedman for taking a stand against the Trump administration’s fast-tracking of the Cadiz project, which would cause real harm to desert springs and to California’s largest national monument, Mojave Trails,” said Sarah Rose, CEO, California League of Conservation Voters. “Cadiz has been widely opposed for decades by tribes, communities, businesses, veterans, and organizations in the California desert. This project is one of the first examples of how the Trump administration is changing the rules to allow bad projects to move forward without adequate federal review. California must resist this agenda that imperils our beautiful public and state lands.”

“Having worked to protect Orange County’s world famous coasts and waterways for decades, I understand the importance of protecting California’s water resources from exploitation,” said Ray Hiemstra, Associate Director of Programs, Orange County Coastkeeper. “Orange County Coastkeeper supports Assemblymember Friedman’s action to protect desert water.”

Cadiz Inc.’s estimated groundwater recharge rate of the aquifer has been found to be flawed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Park Service. The most recent independent scientific study, conducted by USGS in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2017, found Cadiz Inc. would pump up to 25 times the natural recharge rate of the aquifer. And the National Park Service has also expressed serious concerns about impacts to desert springs that connect to Mojave National Preserve, the third largest national park site in the lower 48 states, stating Cadiz’s recharge rates “are not reasonable and should not even be considered.”

“I served as Mojave National Preserve’s superintendent for 11 years, and know the antics and misrepresents by Cadiz intimately,” said Mary Martin, former Superintendent of Mojave National Preserve. “I applaud Assemblymember Freidman for taking a stand to protect these fragile resources and ensuring the interests of California’s citizens are met – not just those who seek financial benefits. We must sustainably and sensibly manage California’s groundwater and keep our public lands safe.”

To see additional support from local voices, please click here.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.2 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, please visit www.npca.org.