Desert flight

February 21, 2020
by Lois Henry
Lois Henry

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SJV Water was invited to tag along on an flight out of California City Saturday morning to get a glimpse of a small part of the Mojave Desert.

The flight was arranged by Defenders of Wildlife, a conservationist group dedicated to preserving habitat for native critters. The expedition was led by Tom Egan, Defenders’ desert representative. The plane and pilot were provided by Eco Flight, a nonprofit group that works to give people a bird’s eye view of lands they might not otherwise be able to see.

Though we did talk water per the Indian Wells Valley and its difficulties, as water managers try to find a way to make 7,000 acre feet of annual natural recharge serve more than 20,000 acre feet of annual demand. But mostly we talked about Defenders’ efforts to establish voluntary agreements with private landowners to preserve key habitat.

The biggest concern on Defenders’ agenda is a revisitation of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, adopted under the Obama administration in 2016. The DRECP lays out conservation areas and management actions to protect various species while also allowing for development of energy development as well as off road vehicle recreation.

The fear is that many of the conservation protections will be gutted under a Trump administration decree for agencies to do away with “regulations that unnecessarily impede energy development.”  The reconsideration process began in February 2018. The process is still ongoing. Those interested in the issue can track the process on the BLM’s page HERE.

Meanwhile, here are photos of the trip with Eco Flight.

 

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.

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