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Message to supervisors: Hands off public lands

JOSHUA TREE – Residents urged county supervisors to act in defense of rural communities against the development of large-scale solar and wind energy projects during the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Some spoke directly to board members at their meeting in San Bernardino. Others address the board via video link from Hesperia and Joshua Tree.

All were concerned that federal officials recently embarked on a reconsideration of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. They urged the county’s board members to speak out against the expansion of sites where solar and wind energy farms will be allowed.

Sarah Kennington, representing the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, and Pat Flanagan, who represents Desert Heights on the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, both spoke.

“We don’t need more big energy projects and we certainly don’t need to ruin our rural communities,” Steve Mills, speaking in San Bernardino, said.

“We need the board of supervisors to step up yet again,” said Neil Nadler. “You have to walk the walk.”

Bryan Hammer of Lucerne Valley said his community is facing the possibly of 17 square miles of solar power fields.

“We just want it built in rational places,” he said.

Victoria Paulson of Newberry Springs spoke of the sand loosened by solar projects and blowing onto neighboring property.

“Blowing sand buries the houses across the street,” she said. “When you disturb the desert just a little bit, the sand is like a blizzard.”

“We are once again at a crossroads,” Kennington said, urging board members to submit a comment during the DRECP comment period, which will end March 22.