EARTH DAY CELEBRATION IN YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

Saturday is the annual Earth Day event at the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex from 9-2. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the celebration is a hugely popular, family-friendly event……
Celebrate Earth Day during a festival filled with activities, entertainment, and demonstrations in Yucca Valley Saturday. Local experts will give demonstrations on gardening, permaculture, and composting, recycling, alternative energy, and organic foods. This family-oriented event includes arts and crafts, live music and dancing, a bounce house, face painting, food, and more. The Earth Day festivities run from 9 to 2 in the Yucca Valley Community Center courtyard. Z1077’s own Gary and Cindy Daigneault will broadcast live from the event and will give away reusable tote bags, coloring books, and more. Admission is free.

APPROVAL OF HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT NEAR JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK CLOSER

A controversial hydroelectric power project on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park is another step closer to reality after the Bureau of Land Management said Thursday that pumping billions of gallons of water from the aquifer, and building power transmission lines would have “no significant impact” on the environment. Eagle Crest Energy Company intends to build a 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plant that would pump nine billion gallons of water from the aquifer into a hydroelectric dam at the site while energy from solar farms and windmills is meeting or exceeding demand, and then release the water to generate power when demand for electricity is high. Supporters, who include Governor Jerry Brown, say it will help the state reach its mandate of producing 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy. Critics, including Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith, say the project will have several negative impacts on the environment, including depleting the aquifer and harming the environment and threatened species. A 30-day protest period on the proposed plan opened yesterday. More information can be found at https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-announces-next-steps-eagle-crest-hydroelectric-project-riverside-county

FACING CHECKMATE: ALTAMIRA HOUSING PROJECT GOES TO MARKET 

Like a high stakes game of chess, since 2006 developers of the proposed Altamira housing project and those opposed have come to what appeared to be the last possible move, only to avoid a “checkmate” by some unexpected stroke of luck. Hanging in the balance is the fate of the proposed 248 new homes on 105 acres next to Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree. Reporter Mike Lipsitz fills us in on where the players now stand…
After the Planning Commission approved the project (4 to 1), a group of those opposed to it formed an alliance and appealed the decision to county supervisors. Then following a cliffhanger continuance last September, the Board of Supervisors upheld the Planning Commission’s approval. A month later, the JT105 Alliance, as they called themselves, filed a CEQA, or California Environmental Quality Act, lawsuit. They contend the County failed to require an Environmental Impact Report, and did not properly review the project for consistency with either the County General Plan, or the Joshua Tree Community Plan, which is a required “finding” for approval by both State and County Law. Next, a six-month stay was agreed on so the developers could explore options proposed by the JT105 Alliance during a mandatory settlement discussion. That’s when the Alliance got wind that the project was listed for sale online. The price tag? $3 million and all the headaches that come with it.
Follow the link at www.mbconservation.org/alta_mira_housing_project

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK VISITOR SPENDING LOCALLY GOING UP

Visitor spending to Joshua Tree National Park in 2016 increased by more than $25 million over the previous year, according to a new report released by the National Park Service. The report shows that last year, more than 2.5 million visitors to Joshua Tree National Park spent $123.3 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,701 jobs in the local area. Superintendent David Smith said, “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.” According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging, at 39 percent, followed by food and beverages at 25 percent. Gas, oil, and transportation, recreation, and souvenirs round out the spending. For more information, go to a link at
www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

THEATRE 29 SUMMER YOUTH THEATRE APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE

The Theatre 29 summer youth theater program has applications available now. The first 30 applicants approved in each age group will be accepted. The program will run Monday Through Friday from June 26 through July 30 (with July 4 off) culminating with six performances of “Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.” Reporter Rebecca Havely shares how to apply…
The Theatre 29 Summer Youth Theater program will break into two age groups of 30 students each with “Juniors” (ages 7-11 years old) meeting weekdays from 10:00 a.m. until noon. The “Seniors” (ages 12-17) will meet from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The cost for the program is $60 per student. The program will teach a wide variety of theatrical skills, including auditioning, acting, singing, choreography, costuming, make-up, backstage skills, set construction, lighting, sound, and much more. Applications will be available at the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation offices, the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Z107.7 studios in Joshua Tree and must be turned in to an address on the application by June 12, 2017. Applications are available online at
http://www.theatre29.org/summer-youth-theatre-2016

PIONEERTOWN WOMAN ACCUSED OF FELONY SPOUSAL ABUSE

A Pioneertown woman was arrested about 11:15 Wednesday morning, after her husband said she punched and bit him. According to a Sheriff’s report, the man said he was driving and back-handed his wife, Rachel Kee, 47, in the face several times. Kee retaliated by punching her husband and biting him on the face, causing significant bruising. Kee allegedly showed the deputy a video she took after they arrived at their home in the 51300 block of Chateau Road in which she could be heard saying that she hit her husband. After an investigation, Rachel Kee was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $50,000.

BLM PONDERING LOCAL OFF-ROAD VEHICLE ROUTES

Earlier this week, officials from the Bureau of Land Management
held an open house in Yucca Valley. The aim was to provide information on a proposal that would bar ORV, or off-road vehicle, traffic from various types of local roads, and to gather public comment on the proposal. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
The issue is related to a larger project called the West Mojave (WEMO) Route Access Plan which proposes to regulate ORV traffic across more than three million acres in the western Mojave Desert. By all accounts, the larger plan is exceedingly complex, poorly understood and inadequately documented. Those characteristics came into play at Wednesday night’s meeting with BLM focus on just 148 miles of county maintained roads where they cross Federal land. But of concern to many are the hundreds of miles of non-county maintained roads in the unincorporated areas here. Those roads are maintained by assessments added to the property tax bills of those who live along them. Public comment on permitting only street-legal traffic on the 148-miles of roads in question ends May 12. For more information, follow the link at http://www.orvwatch.com/
Public comment on route designations in the larger WEMO plan will be accepted until September 2017. A draft report is expected January 2018 with finalization of the route access plan forecast for October 2019.

BLOOD DRIVE IN YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

LifeStream will conduct a community blood drive on Saturday, April 22, at Wal-Mart in Yucca Valley from 11 to 3. Due to a nationwide blood shortage, all blood types and all types of blood donations are needed. Donors will receive incentives. In addition, Desert Blood Services now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 800-TRY-GIVING.

STAR TWIRLERS SQUARE DANCING AT A NEW LOCATION TOMORROW

The Star Twirlers Square Dance club has found a new place to hold its dances. Its new location is at the Evangelical Free Church on Mohawk Trail in Yucca Valley. Its next dance on Saturday, April 22, will be a picnic theme. Line dance will start at 7 and between tips; square dancing is from 7:30 to 10. The cost is $7. John Walters will call squares, and Linda Sande will call lines. Handicap parking is available at top behind the gym; all others should park in the tiered parking lot. Bring your favorite “picnic” fare to share.

BILLY IDOL TRIBUTE AT TORTOISE ROCK CASINO TONIGHT

Kick off your weekend at tonight’s Live at the Rock free concert series where Generation Idol pays tribute to rocker Billy Idol. Generation Idol nails the iconic sound and sneer of the singer that has sold over 20 million albums and has such well known rock hits as “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding” and “Eyes Without a Face.” Catch this fun tribute to Billy Idol at tonight’s free 8 p.m. outdoor concert at Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms. Now in its third season, “Live at the Rock” presents a new tribute band each Friday night through October. To get to Tortoise Rock Casino heading east on Highway 62, make a right on Adobe Road. Live at the Rock is presented by Z107.7 FM.