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Return Eagle Mountain Lands to Joshua Tree National Park!

Joshua Tree National Park at sunset with cactus in foreground.

Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit: Lian Law/NPS.

International Dark Sky Association Alert

Take Action by May 27, 2016! A sample letter is provided below. 

In October 2015 we called on you to support the designation of the proposed Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments by contacting President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel. You answered that call, and the President acted. Now, another public land in the California desert is at stake, and the region’s dark skies need your help.

There’s no doubt that one of the best gifts the National Park Service can receive in 2016 – the centennial of its founding – is returning the Eagle Mountain lands back to Joshua Tree National Park. It’s particularly important in terms of night sky protection, because Joshua Tree National Park is currently working toward accreditation as an IDA International Dark Sky Park and this area has some of the darkest, most pristine skies in the region!

The Eagle Mountain lands are currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but there are also private ownership, state lands, Metropolitan Water District lands and land withdrawn for the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These lands were all once part of what was then known as Joshua Tree National Monument, but in 1950 Congress removed those lands from the monument for mineral exploration. The lands have wilderness characteristics and are home to desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and golden eagles. They are also rich with archaeological and historical resources. But most importantly, they share the pristine, naturally dark night skies of the eastern half of the National Park.

Unfortunately, BLM management of the Eagle Mountain lands has brought some of the California desert’s most environmentally harmful development projects like the defeated Eagle Mountain Landfill and the proposed Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project. Outdoor lighting associated with projects like these imperils Joshua Tree National Park, which almost completely encompasses the Eagle Mountain lands. The transfer of these lands back to the park would help stop inappropriate development and protect important night sky, recreational, ecological and historical resources.

This protection can’t come without your help! Contact Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent Dave Smith and ask him to protect dark skies in Joshua Tree by returning the Eagle Mountain lands to the park once and for all! The sample letter below offers important factual information to help you craft a personal message of your own. Remember, the public comment period closes on Friday, May 27.


SAMPLE LETTER

Please send email to:  JOTR_Study@nps.gov

Protect Dark Skies: Return the Eagle Mountain Lands to Joshua Tree National Park!

Dear Superintendent Smith:

I care deeply about the California desert and want to preserve its dark skies, wildlife and historical resources.  I support the return of the Eagle Mountain lands once and for all to Joshua Tree National Park.  This is particularly important because Joshua Tree National Park is applying to become an IDA International Dark Sky Park and I truly believe the transfer of these lands to the National Park Service would best protect this precious resource.

I respectfully request that the NPS adopt a mixture of the Joshua Tree National Park Eagle Mountain Boundary Study’s Alternative C and Alternative D.  I Urge NPS to transfer the maximum amount of BLM lands as soon as possible through administrative action as described in Alternative C, but also to adopt the broad and sweeping vision of land protection in Alternative D that restores the 1936 boundary of Joshua Tree National Monument and includes private and state lands, the Eagle Mountain Mine and the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project when and if those lands become available in the future.

The return of the Eagle Mountain lands to Joshua Tree National Park would be a fitting 100th birthday present for the National Park Service Centennial!

Sincerely,

(name)

 

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