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The Mojave: California’s Newest National Monument

 

Dry River, Mojave Desert

Dry River, Mojave Desert

Yesterdays LA Times had a story about the proposed National Monument in the Mojave Desert. Senator Dianne Feinstein is writing a bill that would put hundreds of thousands of acres of the Mojave off limits to wind and solar energy development.

The region along old Route 66 between Ludlow and Needles is a wildlife corridor as well as an historic corridor. 

There is no place where energy development does not have consequences for the landscape. Straight oil canals crisscrossing the Louisiana coast have changed the way water and sediment moves through the wetlands. Mountaintop removal, coal mining, in Appalachia has filled streams with debris, changed the way water flows through the mountains, and destroyed communities.

Perhaps, if we learn from the experiences in Louisiana and Appalachia, we can find a way to have both the clean energy development we need (and the Mojave is a natural place for it )  and the landscape we want and need.

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Proposed National Monument in the Mojave Desert would preserve Route 66

Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert

Years ago, while I was working on Route 66, the first book, I was squatting on the edge of the road in the Mojave Desert, making a photograph of the Sleeping Beauty Rock. A tank drove out of the desert and missed me by a few feet. Gen. Pattons tank men learned desert warfare in the Mojove, during WWII. In 1982 who knows who was practicing desert warfare in the desert, but that tank sure scared me.

On another trip across the desert sixteen years later, I became intrigue with the dry rivers that run through the landscape.

Preservationists, concerned that the expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, which would cut off access to miles of Route 66 and the growth of solar farms in the Mojave would have on the proposed  Mother Road National Monument, which would protect 70 miles of old Route 66 between Needles and Ludlow and 2.4 million acres of  desert where the Bureau of Land Management owns most of the land.

Dry River, Mojave Desert

Dry River, Mojave Desert

The proposal would preserve all existing uses of the federal lands and allow for military and solar and wind farms.  It would keep the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area open to off-road vehicles.

However, Pacific Gas and Electric’s proposed solar generation plant on 5, 120 acres east of Amboy would spoil the view from Route 66.

New Route 66 Interpretive Center in Tulsa

The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma  will build a new Route 66 interpretive center. It will be a three story building, housing a restaurant on the top floor, an interpretive center, office space, gift shops, and smaller restaurants on the lower floors. It will cost $10 million and be funded with public and private funds. It is a part of a larger Route 66 master plan.

The former 11th Street Bridge has be renamed the Cyrus Avery Bridge, and the Avery Centennial Plaza and the Avery Centennial Skywalk are located on the east end of the bridge. Cyrus Avery, a member of the American Association of State Highway Officials that laid out the Route 66,  was instrumental in getting the road routed through his hometown of Tulsa.

An oil man, he also owned a tourist court and restaurant at the east end of Tulsa, built before the advent of Route 66.

Along Route 66 Webiste

 

Santa Monica Pier, The End of the Road

Santa Monica Pier, The End of the Road

The Along Route 66 website is up. There is more work to be done, but the basics are there.