March 30, 2007

Size, demands of 1st District requires a 'super-dupervisor'

First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt listens to several of his constituents during a meeting at the Hesperia district office. He now sits as supervisor of the county's largest geographic district.

By RYAN ORR Staff Writer
Victorville Daily Press

There are 109,000 residents spread over the 17,000 square miles that make up the unincorporated 1st District. When they have a problem there is one man they turn to, their supervisor.

The size of the district puts any 1st District supervisor at a disadvantage having to cover almost six times the amount of land than of the other four districts combined.

The 1st District, which encompasses the entire Victor Valley, could fit the state of Rhode Island in it 11 times. It is the largest district in the nation and makes up 84 percent of San Bernardino County, the largest county in the contiguous United States.

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt has put more than 12,000 miles on his county car since his appointment to the position in January.

He said he has been to almost all of the 48 communities in the district.

"It's an enormous challenge because of the geographical issue," said Michael Stevens, who worked as the Victor Valley field representative for former 1st District Supervisor Marsha Turoci, who served from 1988 to 1996. "Obviously, everyone can't have an audience with the supervisor,"

Stevens said he spent 70 percent of his time just educating people on what county government does. "We heard a lot of angry constituents saying, 'I'm a voter, fix this, fix that,' " said Stevens. He said many of those problems should have been dealt with by one of the cities, or sometimes the state. He also emphasized the importance of having a good staff that communicates with residents. Robert Eland, district director for Mitzelfelt, said his office fields about 150 calls a month from 1st District citizens and that they usually resolve problems within two days.

"It's a challenge for any supervisor because of the diversity of the population," said Bob Hunter, Victorville city councilman who worked for former 1st District Supervisor Bill Postmus.

"We've had such an influx of people looking for urban living and then we have the residents who want to keep it rural," said Hunter, who is considering running for supervisor in 2008.

Robert T. Older served as 1st District supervisor from 1980 to 1982 but was recalled because his "high-density" policies conflicted with the "balanced-growth" policies of the desert communities.

Residents in rural areas now are fighting the same battles.

Kathy Arch of Oak Hills wrote an e-mail to Mitzelfelt and said she just wanted to discuss a mobile home park that is proposed across the street from her rural home.

"Mr. Mitzelfelt, while handing me your business card, you assured me you would return my call if I left a message at your office. I have left two messages with no responses," the letter states.

Skip Bond of Oak Hills said that when Kathy Davis was supervisor from 1996 to 2000, she didn't pay any attention to their community.

"We just never heard from her up here," he said.

Since the first county supervisors meeting was held, the 1st District has not had one supervisor that has served more than two terms.

"I'd say the district just needs a good supervisor who can handle the job," said Mitzelfelt, who gave a speech at the Red Cross Economic Summit in Victorville on Thursday.

"It doesn't matter who's in that seat, the question is can they do it for long," said Stevens. "They are just so tired from going from one end of the district to the other. Anyone who wants to run, you better put your personal life on hold."

Stevens proposed to break up the 1st District into three separate districts but said that it fell on deaf ears.

The districts are based on population. The 1st District has an estimated 433,000 residents that make up 22 percent of the county's population. The 4th District has 19 percent of population but is less than one percent of the size of the 1st District.

Another solution is taking the Victor Valley, and most of the 1st District, and creating a separate county.

The drive for what would be called Mojave County started in 1988 and made it on to the ballot. High Desert residents approved the secession by more than 60 percent, but because it only received 30 percent of the voters from "down below," the measure was defeated.

"I think it will come up again in the next couple of years," said Hunter. "I think it would be a good thing."

He said they would have to work something out with the Legislature that would only allow prospective residents of the new county to vote for it.

"They don't understand the purpose of us wanting our own county," Hunter said of the population outside of the 1st District.

Stevens and Hunter agree that the district should not be formed based on population.

"The 5th District is the smallest one, yet they have the same clout as us," said Stevens. "Obviously, we have more county issues, more county miles and more county- maintained roads."

March 29, 2007

County scraps dumping ban

Move allows land agency to use trash facilities

Jeff Horwitz, Staff Writer
San Bernardino Sun [Bernardino, CA]

After a seven-year feud over land rights in the desert, San Bernardino County is scrapping a punitive policy denying the Bureau of Land Management access to county dumps.

In 2000, the county revoked the BLM's privilege to dump trash at county facilities in retaliation for the agency's decision to settle a lawsuit over desert tortoise habitat at the expense of a small group of local ranchers. The BLM's move infuriated then-1st District Supervisor Bill Postmus and his chief of staff Brad Mitzelfelt, who believed the agency had an obligation to stand up for the ranchers.

On Tuesday, Mitzelfelt, 10 weeks into an appointment to his former boss' seat, said that it was time to junk the disagreement.

"I think we made our point," Mitzelfelt said. Because of the county's prohibition, Mitzelfelt said, the BLM had been forced to either pay for dumping privileges or enlist volunteer groups to dump their trash for them.

Stephen Razo, spokesman for the BLM's Desert District, said the BLM's access to the dump would be a benefit to county taxpayers.

"We do a lot of volunteer cleanups out in the desert, picking up refuse on public land," he said.

The decision had been made at a meeting between BLM staff and Mitzelfelt last week, he said, which had been "very positive."

Mitzelfelt, who has sometimes sparred with the federal government over preserving and expanding recreational and commercial access to public lands, said he hoped to see the county and the BLM work more closely together in the future.

March 28, 2007

Endangered Species Act changes in the works

Officials are considering changing enforcement of the 1973 law to protect animals, a leaked draft reveals.

By Janet Wilson and Julie Cart, Times Staff Writers
Los Angeles Times

Bush administration officials said Tuesday that they were reviewing proposed changes to the way the 34-year-old Endangered Species Act is enforced, a move that critics say would weaken the law in ways that a Republican majority in Congress was unable to do.

A draft of suggested changes, which was leaked Tuesday, would reduce protection for wildlife habitat and transfer some authority over vulnerable species to states.

Acting under orders from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who has long fought for changes in the law, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall said he had asked his senior field staff to evaluate proposals in the draft by policy advisors in the Departments of Interior and Commerce, which oversee almost 1,300 imperiled species.

"What we're attempting to do is to update our implementation of the existing law," said Hall, who said any changes would not need to be approved by Congress and would be signed by Kempthorne or a representative.

"The act is written or not written by Congress, but we have the responsibility to implement the law through regulations and policies. We're trying to bring consistency and clarity. That has been a significant problem from one area of the country to another," Hall said.

Hall made his comments after environmental groups and the online journal published a draft version of the proposals Tuesday. He said that the version was "a beginning point" circulated internally to eight senior Fish and Wildlife staff in early February, and that it had changed a great deal since. He refused to make public the current version, saying he wanted his staff to be free from "outside interference" while they evaluated possible changes.

He and a Wildlife Service spokesman said that if any of the ideas were formally proposed, they would be posted online and there would be an opportunity for public comment.

"It's sort of a work in progress," spokesman Chris Tollefson said. "Nothing is proposed at this point; we're still working through this."

Contending that the act penalized property owners and made the cost of public works projects prohibitive, House Republicans in particular have been trying to make changes since 1995.

Last year, the House and Senate failed to agree on changes that proponents said could have helped speed approvals for dams, housing developments, highways and other projects where protected species live. Changes in the act could have a significant effect in California, which has the second-highest number of endangered species in the nation after Hawaii.

Congressional staffers said Tuesday that they were studying the draft and could not immediately comment. Senate environment and public works chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) issued a brief statement, saying: "I will vigorously oppose any weakening of the Endangered Species Act, which has saved the American bald eagle, and which is now playing a role in saving the polar bear."

Environmental groups said the draft changes would cripple the law.

"Taken together, this proposal would fundamentally gut the purpose and the intent of the Endangered Species Act. Fewer species would be protected, the standards intended to help them survive and recover would be fundamentally weakened, and very likely more species will go extinct," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice.

Since Bush became president, 57 species have been declared endangered, usually as a result of lawsuits — fewer than any president since the law was signed by President Nixon in 1973.

Damien Schiff, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation representing landowners and developers battling endangered species restrictions, said of the draft: "It's certainly not a gutting of the Endangered Species Act. It is at most an incremental change that might provide moderate or small benefits to the regulated community."

He said that under the version made public, plans for dams to provide electricity and irrigation for farming could proceed with less hindrance even if endangered or threatened species were present. He said that in an extreme case, it was possible a species could become extinct, but only if it was determined that a greater public value such as providing water or power was being served.

The draft contains language from Kempthorne's proposed 1998 legislation and from a controversial bill by former Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), both of which died in Congress. Kempthorne could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tollefson said of the proposals: "The initial work was done before Mr. Kempthorne took office, but really the impetus happened when he came. He has … had a special interest in the Endangered Species Act for a long time, and he asked [Fish and Wildlife chief] Dale [Hall] to figure out a way to take a look at the act and figure out what we could do."

March 27, 2007

County to fund Pioneertown water improvements

On March 27, 2007, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors adopted the following resolution (Item 24 on the consent calendar) to seek a loan from the State of California to bring the Pioneertown water system into compliance with state water regulations. - Editor


RECOMMENDATION: Acting as the governing body of County Service Area 70, Improvement Zone W-4 (Pioneertown):

1. Adopt Resolution No. 07-______, authorizing submission of a loan application to the State of California, Department of Health Services (DHS) - the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF), in the amount of $1,460,480, for the purpose of funding the construction of water improvements that will bring the Pioneertown water system into compliance with the DHS requirements.

2. Authorize the Director of the Special Districts Department, or his designee, to apply for and execute all necessary documents, agreements and amendments for the purposes of securing these loan funds.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Special Districts Department, Water and Sanitation Division manages, operates and maintains water facilities in County Service Area 70, Improvement Zone W-4 (CSA 70 W-4) that provide water service to the residents of this area.

The water system encompasses approximately 640 acres, serves 126-metered connections, includes 9 domestic water wells (6 of which are active), maintains 310,000 gallons of storage, and distributes water to its customers through 4.4 miles of distribution piping.

CSA 70 W-4 extracts water from a declining aquifer resulting in system deficiencies in both water quality and quantity. Currently, the water supply experiences contaminant levels near or above the maximum contaminant levels for uranium, arsenic and iron content. As the water level in the aquifer continues to decline, it is anticipated that water quality will also continue to degrade.

Customers in CSA 70 W-4 are notified annually that CSA 70 W-4 cannot consistently provide water that meets the DHS standards and are advised to use bottled water or treat their water for consumption.

The main goal of the SDWSRF loan program is to provide necessary financing for small water systems to make improvements that will bring the systems into compliance with the DHS requirements.

The proposed project to correct the system deficiencies includes an interconnection to the neighboring High Desert Water District (HDWD) for water supply, and HDWD has indicated informally that they consent to sell water to CSA 70 W-4.

Delivery of the water to CSA 70 W-4 requires the construction of approximately 3.5 miles of 8-inch diameter waterline and a booster station to get the HDWD water to CSA 70 W-4’s existing water storage reservoirs. The proposed off-site pipeline will connect to the existing CSA 70 W-4 water distribution system for delivery to customers and the storage reservoirs.

The cost to purchase water supply from the HDWD and the additional operations and maintenance costs for the new facilities will result in a substantial increase in user fees.

Approval of these recommendations will adopt a resolution authorizing the submission of a SDWSRF loan application to the DHS for the purpose of constructing water improvements that will bring the CSA 70 W-4 water system into compliance with DHS requirements, and authorize the Director of the Special Districts Department, or his designee, to apply for and execute all necessary documents, agreements and amendments for the purposes of securing these loan funds.

REVIEW BY OTHERS: This item has been reviewed by County Counsel (L. Thomas Krahelski, Deputy County Counsel, 387-5436 and Dawn M. Messer, Deputy County Counsel, 387-8900) on March 7, 2007; and by the County Administrative Office (Wayne Thies, Administrative Analyst, 387-5409) on March 16, 2007.

FINANCIAL IMPACT: The loan proposal requests $1,460,480 in funding through the SDWSRF loan program. If approved, it is anticipated that funding would be received toward the end of the current fiscal year and the budgetary provisions for the loan would be included within the 2007/08 CSA 70 W-4 budget. A loan covenant will be prepared for future Board approval, in conjunction with the acceptance of the loan, and will address the user rates to cover the debt service on the loan.


March 26, 2007

County stonewalling conservation efforts

Policy prefers private ownership to keep desert land on tax rolls

San Bernardino Sun [San Bernardino, CA]
Jeff Horwitz, Staff Writer

For three years, San Bernardino County has quietly blocked nonprofit land conservancies from acquiring tax-defaulted desert land and giving it to federal preserves.

Under state law, nonprofits and public entities can apply to redeem defaulted properties before they are sold at public auction. Instead of being considered by the board, however, the status of 90 parcels accounting for at least 2,500 acres remains pending.

The de-facto policy was established around three years ago at the request of then-1st District Supervisor Bill Postmus and his chief of staff and successor, Brad Mitzelfelt. Although the Mojave Preserve is an asset to his district, Mitzelfelt said, it doesn't make sense to help conservancies expand it by removing property from county tax rolls.

"Private property ownership, in really the most desirable parts of the desert, is a public benefit," he said. "Once we lose it, we'll never get it back."

Conservancies' representatives, however, said that the former owners' default on taxes demonstrates that the property has little monetary value.

"Our position is that this is a really positive thing for the county," said Sheldon Douthit, who handles land acquisition for the Mojave Desert Land Trust and the Wilderness Land Trust. "We're doing this at the request of the federal government."

Gail Egenes, an administrative director of the Riverside Land Conservancy, said she was surprised that the county would be concerned with the disposition of the 44 parcels her group wants to purchase.

"From a conservation standpoint, these are valuable properties, but that's really the extent of their value," she said.

Frequently, the parcels are remote - miles from any road or infrastructure. Among the most accessible are properties in the desert mining town of Leastalk, an early 20th-century mining town that has been abandoned.

Normally, the county's treasurer-tax collector would review the conservancies' intentions for the land and then send the groups' requests to the board.

"They put it on the agenda or they don't put it on the agenda," Treasurer-Tax Collector Dick Larsen said of the board. "We're just the administrators on this."

But Mitzelfelt said that he and Postmus became concerned a few years ago that the conservancies were sometimes buying up land they believed had a "higher use," whether residential or economic.

Although the Chapter 8 sales would make sense if the land was going to build a school or church, Mitzelfelt said, his office is skeptical that indirectly passing the land to the federal government would do constituents any good. Postmus and he intended to write a new policy restricting the sales but never reached a final draft, he said.

San Bernardino County's 1st District has long had an uneasy relationship with the federal agencies that own more than 8 million acres of its territory, suing over road access and other land-use issues. In 2001, the county excoriated the Bureau of Land Management's decision to remove ranchers from its Mojave Desert lands as part of a plan to protect desert tortoises.

Egenes said her organization simply hoped to convince the county that the land has no practical value.

"You're looking at mountain sides and hilltops," she said. "If these don't go through, an opportunity to place land in conservation where it can be managed appropriately is lost."

Ultimately, Mitzelfelt said, he hopes to see the direct sales to conservancies largely eliminated. "I just believe that there's room in the Mojave National Preserve for private-property ownership," he said.

The conservancies would still be able to buy the land at public auction, he said, assuming they could out-muscle public bidders.

"If we're going to lose the tax base, we might as well get the best price," he said.

March 19, 2007

Sentencing For Attempted Carjacking/Kidnapping

National Park News
Mojave National Preserve

On the morning of December 31, 2006, James Morris, 19, who’d been in an argument with a friend and had been left behind along Kelbaker Road, saw a motor home parked about a half mile away. He walked over and knocked on the door.

When the motor home’s driver opened the door, Morris asked if he and his three companions had broken down. When the driver told him that they were okay and just taking a break, Morris pulled a gun on the driver in an attempt to carjack the RV.

The driver began struggling with Morris for control of the gun; with the assistance of his three passengers, he was eventually able to get it away from Morris. The driver then pulled the trigger on the gun in an attempt to shoot Morris, but the gun proved to be empty.

The struggle continued until the RV’s four occupants subdued Morris. They continued to beat him until they could tie him up with their belts. They then held Morris until CHP and sheriff’s department officers arrived on scene and arrested him.

On March 9th, Morris was convicted in state court and sentenced to nine years in prison, plus four years of parole.

March 18, 2007

They shoot down Old West myths


The Los Angeles Corral of the Westerners historical group has been separating fact from fiction for more than 60 years.

Los Angeles Times
By Cecilia Rasmussen, Times Staff Writer

Crime busters they aren't.

But for more than 60 years, a group of myth busters, led by a literary "sheriff" and his posse of fact-checking historians, has pursued the legends of Western lore as doggedly as real lawmen chase outlaws.

The organization was founded in 1944 by a group of Chicagoans who considered themselves Westerners, not Easterners. They dedicated their group, the Westerners, to "fun and scholarship." Since then, it's spun off more than 140 chapters around the world.

The Los Angeles "Corral," founded in 1946, has perhaps 75 active members, a number that also approximates some of their ages.

"I'm a living dinosaur," quipped Glen Dawson, 94, the group's oldest living charter member and the retired owner of the landmark Dawson's bookstore in Larchmont Village. The shop was started downtown by his father, Ernest, in 1905.

"The original [Los Angeles] group began with some artists and authors whose purpose was to get together to record some of the Old West cowboy and Indian history," Dawson said in an interview.

The Westerners group is dedicated to ensuring that storytellers separate the truth from tall tales. Its Los Angeles Corral members — half of whom are professional historians and half amateurs — have published more than 1,000 accounts about major episodes in the history of the West, including Gen. George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn and Billy the Kid, a.k.a. William Bonney.

They have sifted fact from fiction about vigilante groups, gunfights and lynchings, the lasting legends of Pony Express riders and the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach. Their findings are compiled in nearly 250 issues of quarterly booklets called the Branding Iron, as well as in 22 Brand Books and 33 commemorative pamphlets.

Many in the group — doctors, lawyers, merchants and a priest — also spend an evening a month breaking bread and bending elbows.

Dawson said the group was founded in part because, at the time, the Zamorano Club, an organization of rare book collectors, printers and librarians, "wouldn't allow booksellers into their group, so we started our own." Not long afterward, Dawson was invited to join the Zamoranos. He did.

The Los Angeles Corral was started by Homer Britzman, an oil executive who collected paintings by Western artist Charles Russell, and by Robert J. Woods, a book collector whose extensive library included volumes on explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Dawson said.

On Dec. 19, 1946, the group's 26 charter members met for the first time at a restaurant-bar called the Redwood House, known as the Red Dog, at 1st Street and Broadway next to The Times.

Today, it's about a block away and is known as the Redwood Bar & Grill.

Iron Eyes Cody, the actor who played many Native American parts but was born to Italian immigrants, "dressed up in Indian garb and gave the opening 'Great Spirit Prayer,' " Dawson said.
On that inaugural evening, J. Gregg Layne, president of the Historical Society of Southern California, spun yarns about outlaws, gamblers and ladies of the evening — as well as about Los Angeles' first vigilante committee, The Times reported in 1946.

"More than 100 years ago," Layne began, in 1836, Domingo Feliz — a descendant of original rancho owner Jose Vicente Feliz, who gave his name to the area and the boulevard south of Griffith Park — was stabbed to death by the lover of his young wife. The amorous plotters were jailed, but punishment was not meted out quickly enough to suit some outraged citizens. So a vigilante group snatched them from jail and hanged them.

In 1948, Hollywood set designer Ernie Hickson played host to a "roundup" at his 110-acre Placeritos Ranch in Newhall. Hickson, who collected old Western buildings, created a movie set on his ranch.

When Hickson died in 1952, singing cowboy Gene Autry bought the site, renamed it Melody Ranch and continued it as a working movie set.

In 1962, a fire ravaged the ranch and movie set, destroying numerous Western items, including stagecoaches, guns and Indian relics, The Times reported. Three decades later, a film production company bought the ranch and began restoring and rebuilding the sets, using them most recently in HBO's acclaimed western series "Deadwood."

Dawson, a Pasadena resident, once enthralled Westerners with his story and slide show of how he signed on with three other Sierra Club members to be the first to climb the east face of Mt. Whitney, in 1931. His only gear: heavy rope and sneakers.

Dawson isn't the oldest Westerner. That distinction belongs to Earl Nation, 97, a retired Pasadena-area urologist who joined in 1964. Nation has written about and given speeches on his fabled ancestor, Carry Nation, the temperance crusader who made her name chopping up saloons with a hatchet in one hand and a Bible in the other.

Once, when Earl Nation was giving a speech about George Goodfellow, the "gunfighters' surgeon" who achieved legendary status for tending to Tombstone's outlaws and lawmen, another member stopped him mid-sentence.

"I had inadvertently referred to the Aztec Indians," Nation said in an interview. "And Earl Adams, a prominent attorney who worked on the political campaigns of Richard M. Nixon, picked up on it, saying, 'Don't you mean the Apaches?' "

"I didn't take umbrage," Nation said.

A few members took umbrage in 1995, when the club finally admitted women. "We were one of the last groups to allow women," said Msgr. Francis J. Weber, chief archivist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "Especially as we approached the 21st century, it was kind of silly" to bar them.

The first female member was high school teacher Jeanette Davis of Pomona. She gave a soaring tribute to legendary flier Pancho Barnes, a socialite turned aviatrix.

This year, for the first time, "the Los Angeles Corral has a woman 'sheriff,' " former sheriff Kenneth Pauley said: Dee Dee Ruhlow, a retired insurance adjuster.

Members sometimes donate their personal collections to universities and libraries, or pass them on to fellow members. Former Los Angeles Police Officer Ernie Hovard gave Glendale attorney Eric Nelson a device that in 1912 had held a homemade bomb with which, The Times reported, a disgruntled Pacific Eletric Railway employee had threatened to blow up downtown.

Nelson, a former "sheriff," is editing the next Brand Book, due out at the end of the year. Its title: "Los Angeles Aviation to 1940."

"We're hoping to sell it to the public," Nelson said. "It would be the first time."

March 13, 2007

Big game guzzler is threat to wilderness area


Hi-Desert Star [Yucca Valley, CA,]
By Patrick Donnelly / Yucca Valley

Morongo Basin residents should be aware of an action that may be taking place in one of our beloved local wilderness Areas. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is seeking approval from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to construct six new artificial water sources (called “big game guzzlers”) in the Sheephole Valley Wilderness Area, just northeast of Wonder Valley, on the eastern border of our Basin.

These planned six guzzlers are to be a part of a vast network of 93 new guzzlers envisioned by DFG, of which dozens are within designated Wilderness.

Guzzlers have a long and checkered history in our desert. They are put in place in order to bolster declining populations of big game, specifically desert bighorn sheep. However, their presence within designated Wilderness Areas has caused conflict, as DFG employees regularly drive through Wilderness (an action that is barely legal, at best) in order to maintain or refill the guzzlers.

Also, there is one particularly infamous case near the Granite Mountains, up in Mojave National Preserve, where in 1995 a bighorn lamb fell into a guzzler and drowned. As its body decomposed, the water in the tank became poisoned, ultimately killing 38 other bighorn that drank from it.

The first of the six proposed guzzlers in the Sheephole Valley Wilderness Area has had an environmental assessment completed, and is up for public comment right now.

This guzzler, given the name “SD,” would consist of a 50-foot-wide concrete diversion dam across a wash that comes off the high Sheephole Mountain crest; a 30-foot long, 10,000 gallon storage tank; another 2,500 gallon “drinker” tank which would be where wildlife would access the water; and a concrete apron to feed water into the tanks. DFG would also need vehicular access into the Wilderness Area in order to do construction and maintenance. To accomplish this, they would be re-opening an old mining road that has long hence begun returning to its natural state.

They would then be bringing an excavator, dump truck and passenger trucks into the Wilderness Area for construction, and potentially again and again over the coming years for maintenance and refilling. However, the Wilderness Act specifically prohibits vehicular access except to meet the “minimum administrative requirements.”

Unfortunately, the BLM appears complicit in approving this over-reaching action by DFG.
The environmental assessment prepared by the Needles Field Office is sorely lacking. It does not fully analyze potential alternatives to the proposed action, including using non-mechanized means of installation; locating the guzzler outside of Wilderness; or removing invasive weeds like tamarisk, that may be taking seasonal water. In addition, while the environmental assessment contains a narrative analysis of the SD guzzler as a part of a larger guzzler installation program, there is no detailed scientific analysis.

The BLM needs to re-do the environmental assessment as a full Environmental Impact Statement, and to analyze new guzzler installation on a programmatic scale, not just guzzler-by-guzzler.

Online environmental assessment

BLM is accepting comments from the public until March 21 at or by mailing the Needles Field Office.

If you disagree with the government violating its own laws by constructing artificial water sources in Wilderness, I encourage you to make your voice heard.

Bighorn sheep have existed for millions of years in our desert, without artificial water sources.

If the three bighorn I once saw bounding up a canyon in the Sheephole Mountains are any indication, they will continue to do fine without our help.