Monday, June 7, 2010

Desert scraped bare, graded, and the project is put on hold, sound far- fetched? Here’s proof it isn’t.

This is not an intellectual exercise, but an actual event that occurred in Desert Hot
Springs, California. Below is an actual Google Earth image of hundreds of acres, the
actual dimensions are .92 miles from top to bottom and .87 miles from side-to-side, almost
a square mile or 640 acres.

This is the Highland Falls golf and housing development by Roger Snellenberger Development, Inc. references to which can be found online as far back as 2003.
Another in a long string of golf course and residential developments which plague
the Palm Springs and Coachella valley area.

Last week I had to drive up to Joshua Tree to take care of some business and as I
drove up Hwy 62 toward JT I couldn’t help but notice this massive scar on the land
and decided to stop by on my way back down the hill. Get up close and personal
if possible.

Coming back down, you can see this scar on the land from a long way off with a really
good viewing available at Mission Creek Road.
jt_trip060310 012
The view from Mission Creek Road, not a pretty picture is it? This is shot from a distance
of around 2 miles away or so.

Anyway I got back into the morongomobile and headed closer to the site, and drove
down to Pierson Blvd and turned right,west, to get closer. Here is the view:
jt_trip060310 015

At the end of the street is a white sign,the graded area is to the right and goes to the
right or north for about .92 miles and .87 miles beyond the sign toward those hills.
By the way, Pierson used to continue up into the hills, this was the location for the
(in)famous Nude Bowl.

Here is a closeup of the sign.
jt_trip060310 030

By the way, online I found a reference to this Wilson fellow being on the board of some
sort of water agency, make of that what you will. There was a security guard trailer
here with guard for a long time, but now they have just chained and locked the entrance.

After parking the morongomobile and desiring to explore a little without getting incarcerated
for trespassing, I decided to walk a little bit along the outside of the fence. Here’s the view:
jt_trip060310 022

And a better view:
jt_trip060310 028

Note the fancy brick/block wall behind the wire fence. It appears to be about 7 or 8 feet
tall and pretty strong. But to the right and down a ways, the block wall toppled over,
a long section from the force of flash flood water runoff. Oh, by the way, Snellenberger
Development actually stated there were no washes in the project area, per the web. I
give credence to that considering that similar information was submitted to the CEC
for one of the giant proposed solar projects!

Of course we know different:
ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 07 10.34

And below, sorry for the poor quality, these are screen captures from video I shot from inside the wash, on the legal, no trespassing side of the fence, the wash of course
begins on the corporate owned, fenced-in side.
ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 07 10.34

No wash on the property, makes me think they elevated the “art of telling lies”
to a new level! And looking out on the alluvial flood plain:
ScreenHunter_04 Jun. 07 10.47

This next is from my memory, I have no internet access to verify this. I believe this whole
area here to the west of Hwy 62 going up to the hills used to be called the “devil’s
playground” due to the huge numbers and varieties of cactus and succulents, that is
until the residents and gardeners of Los Angeles found out about it, and proceeded to
totally denude the area of everything over just a few years. This was one of the events
that motivated a true original patroness of this area, Minerva Hoyt,to action, one of her
accomplishments leading to the creation of the Joshua Tree National Monument, among
other things.

So in addition to having all its’ cactus’s being ripped off, now they’ve bladed off everything
else and graded it into this monstrous form, and it’s sitting there, blowing away in the
never ending winds of the area. Why is that, you might ask? I don’t know but let me share
my original theory and what I have learned.

At first, my thoughts were that their funding collapsed along with the southern California
property bubble. Then I came across references to the project being put on hold by a
court case. Looking into that didn’t yield much information at all, however I did come across
a document from the Center for Biological Diversity regarding this development’s effect
on the Palm Springs pocket mouse and an emergency application to add it to the federal
endangered species list, which may be the court case being talked about, I don’t know.

Now to the point of this article, what if the same thing happened here, for example:
ivanpahfieldtrip 004

Loyal readers recognize the BrightSource Ivanpah site#1 above and the area below:
ivanpah032410hike 032

The above pic of course looks down across the future site of Ivanpah #3 toward the
metamorphic hill.

The point is a lot can happen during the construction of a huge, expensive plant or
residential development. Lawsuits can be filed, stopping all activity. And since timing
is everything, hopefully those doing the filing don’t wait until the area has been graded.
I can assure you that the contractor knowing this will fire up those earthmovers and get
’er done just as quickly as possible, boots on the ground as they say.

This is a time of great economic and financial uncertainty, to say the least. Since most
construction is done in stages, and payment is received upon completion of a task, what
if Bechtel say, finished the blading and grading for Ivanpah’s 1,2, and 3, and then the bottom fell out from under the capital markets, work stops and we are left with an awesome
whole in the fabric of the north end of the Ivanpah Valley to look at for the rest of our
lives, and our kid’s eyes, on and on for generations.

You may laugh at this or think maybe I should just stick with bus driving, but these are
events that I have seen with my own eyes several times in my 55 years. These are the
worst economic times I have seen in my lifetime, and to be brutally frank about it, I
don’t see any improvement coming anytime soon and I trust these governments and
financial institutions about as far as I can throw them, not very far at all.

My prediction and I feel it is a safe bet is that one or more of these renewable energy
projects slated for our Mojave Desert will be graded and bladed and the money’s
going to run out and then, as they say, it will truly be all over but the crying.

It’s a tragedy just waiting to happen.


Here is a link about Mrs Hoyt: