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Illegal Road Building in the Mojave National Preserve

by (posted by) Daniel Patterson, AZ IMC Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2000 at 12:49 AM
roundriver@hotmail.com Tucson Arizona 85702-0172

Cell Phone Corp. Blades Sensitive Desert Wash in S. Cal's Mojave National Preserve, Park Service Lax Management At Issue.

by Frank Buono, fbuono@juno.com

December 18, 2000



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


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!

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