FIRE AND INJURIES CAUSED BY ILLEGAL FIREWORKS RAVAGE THE REGION

Illegal use of fireworks and explosives kept regional fire and police departments and emergency rooms busy on the Fourth of July, despite officials’ safety campaigns that included threats of heavy fines and enforcement operations that confiscated literally tons of fireworks. Authorities responded to hundreds of reports of illegal fireworks and wrote scores of citations. Firefighters also rushed to blazes on hillsides, in homes and at commercial buildings; the largest, in the Lake Mathews area, charred about 200 acres, while another in Jurupa Valley burned a barn and killed dozens of chickens and lambs as well as two dogs. A fire attributed to fireworks damaged a 115-year-old house in Corona. In Yucca Valley, illegal fireworks caused a small brush fire. In San Bernardino, an 8-year-old boy had one hand blown off and surgeons were trying to save his other hand when four boys lit off a homemade firework; two of the three other boys also were hospitalized. The stepfather of one of the boys could face child-endangerment charges, police said. “In regard to the number of fires and injuries directly related to fireworks, this was one of the more destructive years in recent memory,” said Eric Sherwin, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
San Bernardino County firefighters responded to 53 vegetation fires between 4 and 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Sherwin said medics treated people—mostly children—for burns and hand and eye injuries

MONDAY IS THE DEADLINE TO COMMENT ON NATIONAL MONUMENT CHANGES

The Department of the Interior is reviewing the boundaries of 27 national monuments, including two in our region, to determine if the boundaries should be revised. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the deadline to comment on making any changes is Monday…
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was ordered by Donald Trump to review the designations of 27 national monuments to determine whether they should remain as is or decrease in size. Zinke has already recommended shrinking the borders of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Two national monuments in our region are under review: Sand to Snow National Monument, and Mojave Trails National Monument. The Department of the Interior is accepting public comments on the department’s review of these national monuments until Monday, July 10.
You may submit written comments online at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240.

NEW LEGISLATION TO FORCE THE STATE TO REVIEW THE CADIZ WATER PUMPING PLAN

A bill introduced Wednesday in the California Legislature aims to protect water resources in the state’s deserts. Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1000, known as the California Desert Protection Act, to strengthen safeguards for desert groundwater so that water transfers don’t negatively impact natural or cultural resources. David Lamfrom, the California deserts director for the National Parks Conservation Association, says the bill came at the right time because the Mojave Desert faces urgent threats.
“Those include the Cadiz project, which stands to pump at least 16 billion gallons of water a year and to ship it out of the California desert. And we’re also concerned about the impact that having, really, a loophole in water policy, what that could mean for the California desert moving forward,” Lamfrom said.
The Trump administration recently paved the way for the Cadiz Water Project to move forward without a federal environmental review. The project to extract and export water from Mojave Desert aquifers and sell the water to Southern Californians has raised serious concerns that it could deplete desert springs vital to wildlife there.
Frazier Haney, the conservation director for the Mojave Desert Land Trust based in Joshua Tree, says the Cadiz project faced an uphill battle during the Obama administration but has found a clearer path to approval under the new president. He points to Donald Trump’s nomination of David Berhardt, a lobbyist for Cadiz, for the number two position in the Department of the Interior as one of the president’s ties to the project. “There are deep financial ties to people that Donald Trump has nominated to his Cabinet and the Cadiz water-pumping project. So, it’s troubling that an administration with financial ties to a project could be pushing a project along.”
Lamfrom says even by Cadiz’s calculations, its water extraction project isn’t sustainable. He says if the federal government won’t provide better oversight of this project, California should.
“It’s vital that the state of California step up and make sure that the science is actually good and that we understand exactly what those impacts will be because there’s a lot at stake here.”
The bill will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee next Tuesday, July 11.

MORONGO BASIN MAC SEEKING A FLAMINGO HEIGHTS REPRESENTATIVE

The County Board of Supervisors has posted a “help wanted’ notice. Reporter David Haldane explains…
If you live in Flamingo Heights and dream of having a say in what happens there, this may be your lucky day.
San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos is calling for applications from people wishing to represent that community on the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, which meets monthly to gather input and advise supervisors on matters pertaining to the county’s unincorporated desert areas.
The vacant seat was last occupied by Lib Koenig, who retired in April.
Applications for the position must be submitted by 5 p.m. on July 14. To get one, follow the link below or pick it up at the Supervisor’s Joshua Tree District Office, 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway.
Application website: http://cms.sbcounty.gov/cob/Forms/BCCApplication.aspx

SHERIFF INVESTIGATING FOUR STOLEN VEHICLE REPORTS

The Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station is investigating four stolen vehicle reports in Yucca Valley from just Monday and Tuesday. According to Sheriff’s reports, the first vehicle, a gray 2008 Honda Accord was stolen from the driveway of a home in the 58600 block of Barron Drive sometime between June 30 and July 3. Also on Monday, a car was stolen from the Walmart parking lot between 6:45 and 8:30 a.m. The car’s owner had lost her key inside the store, and by the time she got a replacement key, her silver 2005 Toyota Camry was missing. On Tuesday, the owners of a Harley Davidson Street Bob motorcycle reported someone had driven off on their motorcycle from the 74800 block of Serrano Avenue about 7 p.m. And finally, an employee working at the “old” Stater Brothers grocery store, in the 57000 block of 29 Palms Highway, discovered that her white 1995 Honda Prelude had been stolen from the parking lot about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Anyone with information on any of these vehicle thefts should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS ARRESTED WOMAN IN TWENTYNINE PALMS FOR VEHICLE THEFT AND FRAUD

A Desert Hot Springs woman was arrested in Twentynine Palms Tuesday, accused of grand theft and fraud. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy saw a white 1992 Toyota 4 Runner, being driven by Lisa Pierson, 39, near El Paseo Drive and Mojave Avenue about 1:30 p.m. The 4-Runner’s license plate displayed a 2017 registration tab, which the deputy noted was an obvious photocopy that had been glued onto the license plate. In addition, the license plates belonged to another vehicle, a 2003 Saturn. The registration for the 4 Runner had expired in 2015. Lisa Pierson was arrested for investigation of vehicle registration fraud and grand theft, booked into the Morongo Basin jail, with her bail set at $75,000.

REACH OUT OFFERING ADDITIONAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

Morongo Basin residents in need of specialty medical services must often travel great distances for appointments at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Loma Linda, or throughout the Coachella Valley. But getting to those appointments doesn’t have to be the physical or financial burden you might think, thanks to Reach Out Morongo Basin. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has details…
Reach Out Morongo Basin provides Transportation to medical, dental, hospital, and therapy appointments. These rides are not meant to be emergency transport nor anyone’s primary means of transportation; they are a supplemental means of transportation. There are no fees for rides; however, donations are accepted and help offset fuel costs, insurance, maintenance, and other expenses. Local rides must be scheduled a week in advance and rides “down the hill” must be scheduled two weeks ahead. First-time riders should allow enough time for an assessment to be done prior to transportation. To schedule a ride, call Reach Out Morongo Basin in Twentynine Palms at 760-361-1410 or in Yucca Valley at 760-369-8971.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN HELD AFTER IMPERSONATING HIS BROTHER

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Tuesday, accused of trying to pass himself off as his brother. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped Christopher Herrick, 40, near Balboa Avenue and Barron Drive about 1:30 p.m. Herrick, who had a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest. allegedly gave the deputy his brother’s information. Christopher Herrick was arrested for investigation of false impersonation, and for his arrest warrant on a drug charge, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $75,000.

TWO YUCCA VALLEY RESIDENTS HELD REGARDING A STOLEN GUN

Two Yucca Valley residents were arrested Tuesday, accused of various charges concerning a stolen gun. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy performed a traffic stop on a blue Saturn about 5:15 p.m. near Old Woman Springs Road and Sunnyslope Drive. The car did not have a license plate tab. Driving the car was Dustin Walsh, 27. During a search of the car, the deputy found a Ruger 10/22 takedown rifle and ammunition. The deputy discovered that the rifle had been reported stolen in Yucca Valley in January 2017. Dustin Walsh was arrested for investigation of possession of a stolen gun, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000. During a follow-up investigation, the deputy went to a home in the 7600 block of Joshua View in Yucca Valley and contacted Leslie Maxwell, 39. Maxwell admitted to buying the rifle and putting it in the car. Leslie Maxwell was arrested on suspicion of possession of a stolen weapon, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $25,000.

IT’S SUMMER MOVIE IN THE PARK NIGHT IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

It’s Thursday again and that means free summer movie in Luckie Park. Reporter Eric Knabe has the musical details…
Tonight’s is the 2016 animated movie “Sing,” with vocal talents of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Hudson. It the story of a koala and the theater he attempts to save with a singing competition, and the various animal finalists’ that find that their lives will never be the same.
The movie starts at 8:30 p.m., at the north end of the racquetball court, with refreshments offered by the Twentynine Palms Youth Club.

OPENING RECEPTION TOMORROW FOR THE TWENTYNINE PALMS DOWNTOWN ART GALLERY

The Twentynine Palms Art in Public Places commission will hold an opening reception Friday, July 7, for its new exhibition “Summer Nights.” The art show features work created by desert artists in paintings, photography, mosaics, ceramics, assemblage, and metal sculpture. Light refreshments and music will be provided. The reception is free and the public is invited to attend. The exhibition will be on display at the Twentynine Palms Visitor’s Center in downtown Twentynine Palms through September 30. The visitor center’s hours are 10 to 4 daily. For more information, call 760-367-6197.