After a Thursday visit to Joshua Tree National Park, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor approved the first step Friday to transfer public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service.
The Eagle Mountain area, adjacent to the park, was originally part of the Joshua Tree National Monument when it was established in 1936.The withdrawal application will cover approximately 22,500 acres and would also encompass lands privately owned, which would be used to develop a Federal Regulatory Commission-licensed hydroelectric-pump storage project.
“As a conversation agency, the National Park Service had some concerns about this whole prospect because it would open up large bodies of water in the desert for ravens, seagulls and others that can threaten native species,” Smith said. “Another concern was taking water out of the Chuckwalla Aquifer, which is connected to two other aquifers in the park. We have shared those concerns with Eagle Crest and the Department of the Interior has decided they wanted to go ahead with this process; we are going to try to mitigate it as much as possible.”
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