by Frank Buono, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 18, 2000
TO: DESERT ACTIVISTS
SUBJECT: NEW ROAD IN MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE
Late in 1999 or early in 2000, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
approved the use of BLM lands for InterConnect Towers (ICT) to construct
ten 196-foot tall communication towers between Barstow and Needles on
One of the towers is at Blind Hills in T.8N., R.15E., sec. 11, just west
of the Goldhammer Mine. The easiest (but not the only) way of gaining
access to the site is to cross the Mojave National Preserve. The BLM
proposed access to the Blind Hills site by exiting I-40 at the Essex
Road, go north 2.2 miles; turn west at the Hidden Hill dirt road for .7
miles; then south at a "Y" in the road for at least a mile to an
underpass beneath I-40. Thus, 3.9 miles of the access to the Blind Hills
site lies in the Preserve.
On July 15, 1999, the superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve
commented on BLM's environmental assessment. The letter stated that the
NPS would approve use of the road across the Preserve so that ICT could
construct the tower.
BUT there is a huge problem with the access to Blind Hills. There is
actually no road that goes south from Hidden Hill Road and under I-40.
The underpass carries not a road but an unroaded desert wash. NPS rules
confine motor vehicles to designated roads. This was not. The wash is
readily visible as you cross it on I-40. It is a classic wash with
smoketree and other vegetation along its margins, clearly desert tortoise
Overlooking that fact, the NPS issued a Special Use Permit to ICT several
months ago under 36 CFR 5.6(c) that allows commercial vehicles to use
park ROADS, to gain access to PRIVATE LANDS adjacent to a park where
access is OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE. Ignoring the rule requirements, the NPS
instead authorized ICT to gain access through a desert WASH to PUBLIC
LANDS for which OTHER ACCESS WAS AVAILABLE.
Well, the worst happened! ICT, finding that its access "road" was not a
road, simply bulldozed a road through that wash. The NPS recently
revoked the permit, a permit that it should never have issued. And now,
the NPS is attempting the have ICT undo the damage by pulling down the
berms. The NPS needs to contact the U.S. Attorney to commence a civil
action to obtain monetary damages to compensate the park for its injury
(16 U.S.C. 19jj). Who is responsible for the injury? Both parties! The
NPS issued a permit for ICT to use the "road" and now the NPS has a road
where none existed. Brilliant!