Press Release Jul 15, 2015

National Park Group Calls Joshua Tree Expansion Study a Step Forward but with Lingering Development Concerns

Statement by Seth Shteir, Senior Desert Field Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association

“The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), which has worked to protect the Eagle Mountain region for nearly two decades, welcomes the National Park Service’s study for the potential to return these lands to Joshua Tree National Park. The Eagle Mountain area, home to golden eagles, desert tortoises, and historically and culturally-significant sites, would be a welcome addition to Joshua Tree National Park and its 2 million annual visitors.”

“Eagle Mountain, which is surrounded on three sides by the national park, has been ground-zero for misguided development threats over the years and continues to be in jeopardy. After the 2013 defeat of the Interior Department-supported landfill proposal for this wildlife-rich area, it is time to preserve this landscape for ours and future generations.”

“While we welcome the boundary study, this effort also raises significant questions about the Department of Interior’s commitment to landscape-level conservation planning in the area. While the park service is studying the lands for potential future inclusion in the national park, Interior has not yet publicly shared how this study will inform the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) forthcoming review of the Eagle Crest transmission line and pumped storage project, and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The 2,500 acre Eagle Crest project, which would threaten fragile desert water resources within and outside of the park, would undermine conservation in the region and is opposed by the National Park Service and local communities. And the draft DRECP may as well recommend hanging a ‘welcome’ sign for new developers in the Eagle Mountain area.”

“It’s well past time for the Interior Department to honor desert communities’ call for landscape-level conservation within the Eagle Mountain area and share a new vision that the public can support, trust, and celebrate.”