NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS NEWS

941 E Ridgecrest Blvd

Ridgecrest, California 93555

1-760-375-3181

http://www.nplnews.com

 

October 20, 2013

 

Lorelei Oviatt, Director

Planning and Community Development Department                                                  

1115 Truxtun Avenue

Bakersfield, California 93301

 

Attention:  Craig Murphy

Re:  Fremont Valley Preservation Project

Enclosure (1) NPLNews Letter dated 12/07 /12

                

To Whom It May Concern:

 

National Public Lands News has been commenting on land issues since 1999 and as a resident of Kern County, I have been commenting on Kern County issues since 1983 and Federal Land Issues since 1976.  To date, we have not been notified of any meetings or discussions of this very complex plan by Kern County.  Our initial letter was included in the original scoping, however our concerns were not addressed.  It is for this reason, we are including a copy of our original Scoping Letter dated December 7, 2012.

 

We understand a closed meeting was held on September 24, 2013, however the public was not invited and then again another closed meeting was held on October 16th.  The public has been asking for a meeting to be held on the eastern side of County.  Now we understand a public meeting will be held, but it will be after the closed comment period. Why is the public being excluded to these meetings?  

 

Given the extreme complexity of this plan, the published time limit for review is too short.  We propose that, given the thousands of pages to be reviewed, the deadline be extended to at least 31 December 2013 so that notification of a public meeting can be announced, and answers can be given to the public before a decision is made.

 

Now that the EIR is out, why was it not explored as to why the solar project and the water project was to be one project versus two separate projects as the cumulative impacts are so different.  The alternatives do not clearly identify the specificity nor do they address just the solar project without the water project.  The purpose and need should clearly identify Kern County’s responsibility to all the laws pertinent in this instance.

 

The segmentation of the projects (4 sites) minimizes cumulative impacts, which will be felt in the whole Freemont Valley.  There are DWMA’s, the DTNA, historical monuments and impacts to Red Rock State Park to be considered, just to name a few.  

 

One or our major concerns was that there are to be pipelines and electrical corridors that are to be approved through the BLM and impact other counties.  In the EIR, it is mentioned over 200 times that this was to occur, however, as of this date, there has been no application or MOU established with the BLM nor was it explored that this should be an EIR/EIS and fall under NEPA regulations. . Is there compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 7 of the Endangered species act and tribal consultation?  If yes, then we have NEPA compliance to complete and full public disclosure is required

 

There are grave problems to be addressed in Fremont Valley:  water quality, water quantity, land subsidence, air quality, effects on native flora and fauna, property values, quality of life and historical values.  It appears to us that the County should ensure review by an independent, certified hydro geologist, seismic specialist and other specialists.

 

  1. The Garlock Fault runs directs under this critical area and although it does not have a lot of movement, it does have interconnection with other faults and is the second largest fault line in the State. We believe that there is not enough data to support the suppositions that by introducing water near a major fault line will bring the desired effects that are interwoven in this report.  
  2. The Rand Community Water District may be affected by this water proposal and has 50 water connections in San Bernardino County that is not being addressed besides the 250 water connections in Kern County.
  3. Valley Fever, which we brought up in our initial letter, is only addressed in an offhand way, i.e., the workers are to be given respirator masks.  What about the residents that live in that community?
  4. What constitutes an abundance of water from all the sources (Inyo County) to initiate the water banking process?  What type of metering device will be used to clearly appraise the source of water going in and the quality and what type of metering device will be used to clearly appraise the source of water going out and whose source it is?
  5. In the case of land subsidence, how is that to be a mitigated?  By segmenting this EIR, the cumulative mitigation is not fully addressed in this document. 

 

Please make a written reply to address our initial concerns so that we may make a reasonable review and response to this EIR.

 

Very truly yours,

Sophia Anne Merk (SAM)

Director, NPLNews

 

CC:  Clerk of the Board

        Lahonton Regional Water Quality Control Board

        California Natural Resources

        Inyo County Planning Department

        San Bernardino County Planning Department

        Rand Community Water District

        Carl Symons, Ridgecrest BLM Office

        USGS

        USF&W