Sunday, March 7, 2010

San Bernardino Valley Audubon helps save Joshua Tree from becoming a dump

Thanks to all of you, we’ve scored a big win for conservation in the Joshua Tree National Park. You might recall that last December, we told you about a proposed landfill just outside of Joshua Tree National Park that threatened some of the most precious desert landscape in the nation. Although two courts had blocked the project, the Department of Interior was giving serious consideration to launching another appeal. This week, Interior decided against the appeal after many of you expressed your opposition to the plan. If the Eagle Mountain landfill ever went forward, this part of California’s fragile desert ecosystem — home to many species of concern such as the Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, California Black Rail, and desert tortoise — would instead become home to huge amounts of waste. The Audubon effort to kill this project was led by the local San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society. A large coalition of conservation and civic organizations fought the Interior move.
The proposed Eagle Mountain dump would have been the repository for Los Angeles County’s garbage for the next 117 years, becoming the nation’s largest garbage dump on 3,481 acres of federal land. Joshua Tree Wilderness areas are located to the north, west, and south, forming an amphitheater around the proposed dump, with a buffer of a mere 2,500 yards to the Park’s boundary. The proposed site was in the heart of an area that a former park superintendent said “offers the most refuge for the greatest number of species from human impacts of any area in southern California.” In addition, the proposed dump site would have been directly across from the Eagle Mountain Elementary School. Idling trains & trucks spewing diesel, landfill gas, dust, and support facilities would have pumped 5,000 tons of air pollution annually, affecting the school children and residents of the surrounding area. Now those residents can breathe a deep sigh of relief.

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