THE TRUTH #20 – National Park Service gives Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue all of the wild burros in Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve

Wild Horse Freedom Federation issues THE TRUTH to share Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and information with the public.  Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

THE TRUTH #20 – National Park Service gives Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue all of the wild burros in Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

Wild horses and burros on National Park Service lands fell through the cracks on being protected when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act of 1971 was passed.

The National Park Service (NPS) is not paying Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR) to remove all of the wild burros from Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve over the next 5 years.  NPS seems to just be signing a Memorandum of Understanding to give Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue an estimated 2,500 wild burros, the last remaining wild burros in this Park and Preserve, to do with as he will.  Mark Meyers has to come up with about $5 million to pay for this project.

NPS may have bypassed the U.S. Government’s contracting bidding process open to the public by just giving away the wild burros to Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue and only signing a Memorandum of Understanding.  However, in a 10/17/2017 email, Debra Hughson of NPS notes (in talking about Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue) “They appear to be worried about investing in this project and then us having someone come in and under cut them out of the process or directly competing with them.” 

Josh Hoines of the NPS initially contacted Mark Meyers about this project, but there was no mention in any of the FOIA records we received about any other burro rescue groups being contacted.

A rough draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is below, but it seems that this is still under review by the NPS legal team and is NOT a final version.  This is being posted so that the public can be aware of what is being considered at this point.

This MOU states “Upon capture, the NPS relinquishes any rights to the feral burros.”

Per this version of the MOU, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue “Maintains detailed records of animals collected from the Park and Preserve.”  However, unless PVDR gives these records to the NPS, the detailed records, including the exact number of wild burros that are captured and removed, will not be available to the public with the Freedom of Information Act.

The bottom line is that the NPS is relinquishing any rights upon capture, and these burros become the property of PVDR.  The public will never have accountability regarding what happens to these wild burros down the line.

In an Aug. 3, 2017 email from Mark Meyers to Josh Hoines of NPS, Meyers states “Also, I have been contacted by a person that is interested in underwriting a large part of this project.  More details to follow.”

The big question about this is who would donate almost $5 million for about 2,500 wild burros, and more importantly, why?

Read the rest of this article and see the FOIA documents HERE.

 

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Read all of THE TRUTH and see other FOIA documentation HERE.

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Opposition Swells to Solar Plant Next to Mojave Preserve

SOURCE:  kcet.org

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Looking toward the Mojave National Preserve from the site of Soda Mountain Solar | Photo: Michael Gordon

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A proposed solar power plant that some opponents are calling “the worst renewable energy project currently under consideration” in California just found itself some significant opposition, as a public committee charged with advising the Bureau of Land Management on desert issues agreed to oppose the project.

In a nearly unanimous vote with just one member abstaining, the BLM’s Desert District Advisory Committee agreed at its February 28 meeting to recommend that the BLM say no to the proposed 350-megawatt Soda Mountain Solar project, which would occupy almost 4,200 acres of land adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve near Baker.

“No reconfiguration of this project would remove its harmful effects,” said Advisory Committee member Seth Shteir at the meeting. “And we plan to draft a letter with that statement in it.”

The lone abstention on the Advisory Council vote came from Council member Leslie Barrett, who represents the renewable energy industry on the Council.

The Advisory Council’s letter to State BLM Director Jim Kenna comes in a week when activists tracking the project have learned that the Interior Department is ready to make the project’s final Environmental Impact Statement publicly available. Once that happens, a decision on the project could come in as little as 30 days.

As currently configured, Soda Mountain Solar, owned by the engineering firm Bechtel, would occupy land on both sides of Interstate 15 a few miles southwest of the San Bernardino County community of Baker. So far no utility has stepped forward to agree to buy the power the project would produce.

Opponents of Soda Mountain Solar point out that the project would fragment important spring foraging habitat and migration corridors for desert bighorn sheep, as well as reducing habitat for desert kit foxes, desert tortoises, and burrowing owls.

The project has also come under fire for potentially threatening one of the last remaining populations of the federally Endangered Mojave tui chub, which lives downhill from the project site in Soda Springs near Zzyzx. A recent hydrological study by the U.S. Geological Survey, however, suggested groundwater pumping at the project site may not have much of an effect on Soda Springs.

Regardless of the arguably good news about the tui chub, opponents charge that the project’s location as well as its effect on local wildlife, make Soda Mountain Solar the wrong project in the wrong place, and are calling on the Interior Department to drop the project.

“The proposed Soda Mountain solar project site is clearly a bad spot especially due to the proximity to Mojave National Preserve, the area’s important bighorn sheep corridor and desert tortoise habitat,” said Dennis Schramm, the retired Superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve. “Interior should not be taking actions now which would prevent future restoration of this very important wildlife corridor.”

“The Soda Mountain solar proposal is the worst renewable energy project currently under consideration by Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior,” said G. Sidney Silliman, Professor Emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “It would be a travesty if the Interior Department ignores its duty to protect our National Park System and sides with Bechtel, a billion-dollar corporation, versus the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Mojave National Preserve each year to view wildflowers and wildlife, camp, as well as hunt and explore the back country.”