Increased Recycling and Diversion Needed, Not Eagle Mountain Mega-Dump
Joshua Tree National Park is known worldwide as a crown jewel of California’s desert, containing unique lands and resources that have been specifically set aside for unimpaired protection and enjoyment by present and future generations. These resources include the remnants of human cultures that span several thousand years and two desert ecosystems—the Mojave and Colorado deserts—that converge dramatically within the national park.
But efforts by Kaiser Ventures, LLC, and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (SDLAC) to build the Eagle Mountain Landfill in Riverside County—surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park—would treat this icon as if it were just another place to take out the garbage. Operation of the world’s largest landfill less than two miles from Joshua Tree’s border would threaten much of what the park was set aside to protect. Virgin canyons and hillsides would be buried with millions of tons of garbage. This would severely disrupt the surrounding desert ecosystem by subsidizing and inflating the population of predators, such as ravens and coyotes, which in turn would reduce numbers of desert tortoise, reptiles, songbirds, and other wildlife. In addition, light, air, and noise pollution, other impacts to wildlife, and the eventual contamination of groundwater would permanently alter Joshua Tree and the adjacent Chuckwalla Valley.
While these are reasons enough to oppose the Eagle Mountain Landfill, the proposed dump is not needed to meet the trash disposal needs of Los Angeles County. The less harmfully located Mesquite Regional Landfill, along with currently operating landfills, will be adequate to meet the projected solid waste disposal needs of the county through at least 2018. In addition, if countywide diversion rates are increased beyond 50 percent, which has already been achieved elsewhere in California and across the nation, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (SDLAC) can expect to have a surplus of waste disposal capacity for decades. Such action would help ensure that Joshua Tree National Park’s unique resources remain unspoiled and available for future generations to enjoy as we do today.