COUNTY SAYS ACTION ON BADLY NEGLECTED SECTION 6 IN JOSHUA TREE IS COMING

COUNTY TAKING NOTICE OF JOSHUA TREE SECTION 6 DEGRADATION

After numerous citizen complaints and media pressure, the County said it is finally taking steps towards fulfilling its obligations on Section 6 in Joshua Tree. The 605-acre parcel, bisected by a dirt portion of Onaga Trail East of Quail Springs Road, has turned into an unregulated, wild-west ad hoc campground, climbing, off-road vehicle and open play area.

In June of 2016, the County Board of Supervisors deeded the property to the Joshua Tree CSA 20, a County Special District, for use as a designated “Desert Conservation Area.” In exchange for the land, the County received two $200,00 grants, one from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and one from the State Habitat Conservation Fund. The grants required establishing trails, parking areas, restrooms, informational kiosks, and reducing habitat degradation. To date, none of the $400,000 has been used and the county has not fulfilled any of the funding requirements.

While a way-too-small, way-too-hard-to-read sign at the chained-open gate clearly says, among a long list, that camping and fires are prohibited, the area is pockmarked with fire pits, ad-hoc camping areas, cables strung between rock formations, trash, and human excrement. Z107.7 News observed fire pits with Joshua Trees torn down and burned, an entire network of roads created by vehicles driving over open desert and scattered encampments with up to 20 vehicles.

We spoke to one resident, angry that his taxes support an area perceived as a free overflow camping area, that is being trashed by illegal activities while the county does nothing. Another resident said at night they can see up to 30 illegal campfires and up to 100 vehicles in illegal campgrounds. They said they fear the fire danger to surrounding homes and “Every day we lose more and more irreplaceable desert.”

We contacted County Field Representative Mark Lundquist; he said that the while the area is supposed to be enforced by the Sheriff’s Department and Code Enforcement, it has been insufficient. He said “Arrangements had recently been made” with the Sheriff for enhanced enforcement. After we visited, Lundquist informed us that a Porta-Potty was being placed in the area used as an outdoor bathroom, and that County Special Districts are issuing RFP’s for the infrastructure requirements of the grants. Hearing of the upcoming enforcement and enhancements, locals say they will believe it when they see it, remarking, “That is great news, but we’ve been hearing the same thing for the past year.”

 

Permanent cables are illegally installed between two rock formations.

Illegal fire pits litter the area.

One ad-hoc campground with 20 vehicles and 50 people.

Difficult-to-read signage.

 

1 comment to COUNTY SAYS ACTION ON BADLY NEGLECTED SECTION 6 IN JOSHUA TREE IS COMING

Leave a Reply