Ridgecrest Public Lands Roundtable
September 24, 2015
Meeting began with Welcome from Chairman Randy Banis.† The Agenda was approved. †Minutes were distributed and approval were tabled until end of meeting to allow members the opportunity to review them. †Introductions and comments were asked to be limited to items not on agenda.† Earl Wilson commented that on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, the California State Lands Commission (SLC) will hold a special meeting to consider a memorandum of intent with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a proposed land exchange. †An announcement was sent out to the members by Jim Kenney via email.† Lori Acton, Vice-Mayor for city of Ridgecrest announced many changes happening around the community. †Bowman Road will be closed September 28, 2015 until May 2016 for purpose of building the Super WalMart. †Richmond Rd. will be redone also. †Ms. Acton also announced that 4 new businesses may possibly be coming to Ridgecrest to create more jobs. †Mark Algazy of (DAC) announced that Section 106 programmatic agreement for cultural resources in the West Mojave has been completed and it will be one of the last documents the State Director Jim Kenna will sign. †He is retiring and last work day will be September 30th.†† At this time it is unknown who will be replacing him as State Director.† †Bob Wood of the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee announced the hiring of Jillian Estrada. †The newly hired BLM wildlife biologist was introduced; Carrie Woods.
BLM Reports- The due date is now November 2016 for WEMO decision back with the court. †The comment period will be opening for 120 days on WEMO. †It will be announced in federal register soon and 2 public meetings will be held regarding the comment period, however, time and dates have not yet been set.† The section 106 PA signing is on September 30th, 2015. †BLM is getting ready to submit the RTP Grant for the South Park Bridge.† The Section 106 evaluation on 6 cabins in the El Paso Mountains will be done in October 2015.
Randy Banis continued meeting with the Feinstein/Cook Bill update. †Several meetings ago it was discussed that Feinstein introduced S414 in February 2015 known as the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act. †It will designate 2 National Monuments, 4 or 5 wilderness areas, 5 OHV open areas, it would also add some land to Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve. †Supervisor Lovingood which most the changes will occur in his district, opposed the bill and asked his supporters to no longer show their support for the bill. ††As a result the bill lost momentum and began to stall out. †During the Congressional Recess with the bill stalling out, Feinstein wrote a letter the President Obama requesting that he designate the 2 National Monuments that are in the bill, adding a 3rd in the Sacramento Mountains. †Issue appeared dead until recently when Congressman Cook released his public draft of the California Desert Mining Off -Road Recreation and Conservation Act. †The two bills are similar however, rather than designating the giant 1.2 million acre Mojave Trails National Monument he proposes a Mojave Trails Special Management Area. †It would exclude renewable energy development and other kinds of development but does have provisions for limited exploratory mineral development. †He also proposes an additional wilderness in Inyo County in the Conglomerate Mesa Area that Feinsteinís Bill does not. †Sen. Cook is releasing 5 wilderness study areas opposed to Feinstein releasing only 2. †Randy assures that he will study the Cook Bill as deeply as he has the Feinstein Bill and will be putting together a side by side analysis of the two.
Tim Fox gave an update on the China Lake Legislative EIS. The Final EIS was submitted to the Federal Register on September 4th and there is a 30 day public review process which will close on October 5th. †A ROD (record of decision) is expected in mid October 2015.
Randy concluded meeting with an announcement that next month will be election of officers. The nominations and the elections are done at same time. †Next meeting is October 22 and the Nov. / Dec. meeting will be December 10th due to holidays. †Minutes were approved and meeting adjourned.