MARINES REVEAL PLANS TO HELICOPTER 1,500 TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

Federal land management and defense officials have signed off on plans by the U.S. Marine Corps to move as many as 1,500 desert tortoises from an area recently acquired for training in Johnson Valley. The largest tortoise relocation effort ever in the Mojave Desert is toward the end of this month or in April. The move, however, cannot occur before March 21, the BLM’s deadline for anyone to appeal the approvals from the Navy and Bureau of Land Management. The move would clear about 88,000 acres of land in the Johnson Valley for expanded live ammunition training. The tortoises will be flown by helicopter to BLM lands mostly west and north of the Marine base. The Marines had planned to move the animals last spring, but the operation was delayed a year after the Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal notice that argued that required environment analysis was lacking. Ileene Anderson, a Los Angeles-based biologist for the center, said the move will be devastating to the species. The tortoises would lose some 136 square miles of quality habitat. What’s more, the displaced animals will move to BLM lands where the species is in decline, she said. “This is the largest translocation of tortoises in the Mojave Desert, and they’re moving them to areas where tortoises are dying off and we don’t know why,” Anderson said.

WILDFLOWER BLOOM JUST WAITING FOR WARMER WEATHER

Wildflower fans this year are being tested by an unusual combination of factors. Reporter David Haldane has the details…
If you like spring colors, you may have to wait a bit longer to see them. That’s the word from Joshua Tree National Park which, while reporting some definite splashes of yellow and red in its southern regions around Cottonwood, has yet to see a major wildflower bloom.
That’s surprising to park personnel who had expected that, with this year’s huge downpours, by now the park would be blazing. The problem, spokesman George Land says, is that while there’s been plenty of rain, nighttime temperatures have hovered near freezing. “The blooms,” he says, “don’t like to poke their heads out when the temperature is that low.”
But don’t despair. With any luck, he says, the heat will rise and the park could still have a record bloom by late March or early April.
Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted.

TWO RANGER-LED TALKS IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK TONIGHT

Joshua Tree National Park will hold two ranger-led talks tonight (Friday, March 3). At the amphitheater in the Jumbo Rocks campground, a ranger will discuss our fear of the dark, how it is polluting our night skies, and how we can help protect our night skies. At the amphitheater in the Cottonwood campground, enjoy the night skies while a ranger discusses the human connection to the stars and their importance throughout time. Both programs are 45 minutes long and begin at 7 p.m.

THEATRE 29 GIVES YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEAVE YOUR MARK WITH LEGACY BRICKS

Theatre 29 has a Serenity Patio under construction now with an opportunity for you to leave your mark with a legacy brick. Reporter Rebecca Havely tells you how…
Theatre goers are enjoying the Serenity Patio at Theatre 29 before, during and after performances. The giant comedy and tragedy mask sculpture, beautiful garden and the legacy brick wall make for a lovely pre-show or intermission gathering place. The wall is now partially filled with bricks custom engraved for the donor and can be sponsored by volunteers, community members, and businesses who wish to leave a mark on this community treasure. There are two sizes, 4×8 for an $85 donation, or 8×8 for $150. Funds raised will be used to support ongoing improvement to the Theatre 29 facility. Be a part of the arts and leave your mark by calling Theatre 29 Board member and Fundraising Chair Cindy Daigneault at 760-366-8471 or order yours in the box office prior to performances.

LANDERS MAN ARRESTED AFTER DEPUTIES INVESTIGATE SHOOTING COMPLAINT

A Landers man was arrested Wednesday after neighbors complained that he was shooting a gun behind his house. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to the 1400 block of Jemez Trail about 12:40 p.m. where they found Danny Avila, 36, who had been shooting a .22-caliber gun. Danny Avila was arrested for investigation of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and negligent discharge of a weapon. Avila was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $50,000.

PORTION OF ROUTE 66 CLOSED STARTING MONDAY

For decades, motorists have been getting their kicks on Route 66, but starting Monday, a small portion of the highway east of Amboy will be closed for several months as deteriorating bridges are replaced. Edica Gonzalez tells you where you will be detoured…
Road and bridge construction on Highway 66, east of Amboy, will close the highway to all through traffic beginning Monday, March 6, through mid-September. Construction will replace the bridges at Dola Ditch, 2 miles east of Kelbaker Road, and Lanzit Ditch, 2 ¾ miles east of Kelbaker Road. Traffic will be detoured using Interstate 40 and Kelbaker Road. Local residents and motorists will have access from Essex Road to the west, but will not be allowed through the construction site. For more information, see this story at z1077fm.com 

ASSEMBLYMAN MAYES OFFERS YUCCA VALLEY OFFICE HOURS MONDAY

District staff representatives for Assemblyman Chad Mayes will hold office hours at the Yucca Valley Community Center Monday, March 6. Staff representatives will be available from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Mesquite Room to answer questions and help residents with any issues they may have with state government. Mayes encourages residents who are not able to make the drive to his main district office in Rancho Mirage to attend the mobile office hours in Yucca Valley.

COPPER MOUNTAIN MESA ASSOCIATION SERVING BREAKFAST TOMORROW

Time for the First Saturday Breakfast at the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Association located at 65336 Winters Road in North Joshua Tree. $7 gets you all your breakfast favorites served from 8 am to 11 am.  Come on out for a hot cuppa and a healthy dose of neighborliness!

TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL IN CIF DIVISION FINAL TOMORROW

The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ basketball team will face the St. Paul Swordsman from Santa Fe Springs in a Southern Section CIF Division 3A final this Saturday. Twentynine Palms High School Principal Justin Monical said the game will be played at a neutral site, selected by CIF as Azusa State University, near Los Angles, at 4:00 p.m. St. Paul, a private school, has a season record of 24-5; Twentynine Palms is 26-3.