County continues to improve Route 66
San Bernardino County Public Works crews continue working to get National Trails Highway reopened after incurring damage from the September 2014 storms.
The storms in September damaged sections of National Trails Highway from Hector Road to Amboy, said San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood.
The most extensive damage was along National Trails Highway (Route 66) where approximately 40 bridges were damaged along with major portions of the roadway. Sections between Hector Road to Crucero Road (Newberry Springs/Ludlow area), Crucero Road to Amboy Road, and Cadiz Road to Mountain Springs Road at Interstate 40 have been closed pending roadway repairs, shoulder repairs and bridge evaluations.
Public Works crews reopened the first stretch of the road, Hector Road to Crucero Road, in November. The crews are anticipating opening this next section from Ludlow to Amboy sometime in January 2015.
San Bernardino County helps veterans find benefits
The San Bernardino County Department of Veterans Affairs has helped more local veterans obtain the federal benefits they earned, according to a new state report.
“I am committed to ensuring local veterans receive the help they have earned and deserve,” said First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood. “This report confirms that San Bernardino County is very effective is helping our veterans.”
San Bernardino County was responsible for generating nearly $85 million in new federal monetary benefits, according to CalVet’s annual report to the State Legislature. That is more than neighboring counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside. The new benefits to San Bernardino County vets represent more than 15 percent of the total $545 million produced by 55 California counties.
Last year CalVet credited San Bernardino County with $53 million earned. This year’s report represents a significant increase in new federal benefit dollars received by our county residents.
“Once again Veterans Affairs employees have far exceeded my expectations and continue to work diligently for our veterans and their families,” said Bill Moseley, director of the County Department of Veterans Affairs.
In June 2014, nearly 200 local veterans of all age groups attended a veterans resource fair hosted by Lovingood, an Air Force veteran. The next veterans resource fair is planned for May.
Under a new program, San Bernardino County offers free Veterans ID cards. The main purpose of the ID card is to make our county’s veterans easily and surely recognizable to any area merchant that offers a benefit to veterans who patronize their business. Some local merchants already offer various benefits to veterans, such as a discount on purchase, a free item, or preferred status. With this card, the veteran will not need to carry a copy of their military discharge papers to prove their Veteran status. Honorably-discharged veterans can also apply for an ID card from the County V.A. office at 15900 Smoke Tree St. in Hesperia. To speak to a San Bernardino County Department of Veterans Affairs representative, call (760) 995-8010.
Lovingood welcomes rejection of Silurian Valley solar project
A section of pristine desert near the entrance of Death Valley will not become home to a massive 2.5-square-mile solar project – a move welcomed by First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood.
“We need to be very careful in locating renewable energy projects,” Lovingood said. “We have listened to our constituents that these projects should first be located on already-disturbed land rather than on beautiful, untouched desert near the gateway to Death Valley.”
Lovingood’s remarks came on the heels of the Bureau of Land Management’s rejection of an application for a solar energy right-of-way in the Silurian Valley, 10 miles north of Baker.
BLM California Director Jim Kenna turned down the proposal by a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, LLC, for a 200 megawatt photovoltaic solar project on 1,616 acres along Highway 127. A proposed wind project remains in the planning phase.
In making its determination on the Silurian Valley project, the BLM analyzed environmental data in addition to gathering information from the public and local, state, federal and tribal governments.
The initial review and analysis indicated that the impacts to the Silurian Valley, a largely undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values, had too great of an impact on the resources. The BLM concluded that these impacts likely could not be mitigated and that the project would not be in the public interest.
The BLM has approved 18 solar, wind and geothermal projects on public lands in California since 2010. The Silurian Valley project is the first to be denied through the variance process.
North Peak Wind Project withdrawn in late October
The developer of the North Peak Wind Project has withdrawn its application, bringing the proposal to an end.
The North Peak project would have built 71, 500-foot wind turbines on 16.4 square miles of mountain ridges overlooking the Victor Valley.
In July, San Bernardino County Supervisors Robert Lovingood and James Ramos sent a letter to the BLM strongly opposing the project.
“We cited anticipated harm to property values, viewsheds, Native American cultural resources, interference with radar tracking of aircraft and a wide variety of environmental concerns,” Lovingood said. “I am happy to report that the developer saw the wisdom in withdrawing this proposal.”
The wind turbines would have also bald eagles, golden eagles, bats and numerous migratory bird species that use the avian corridor along the ridgelines in question.
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument may exclude County
Following meetings with federal officials on a proposed National Monument in the San Gabriel Mountains, First District Robert Lovingood said on October 7 that he is hopeful that recent talks will convince the administration to exclude San Bernardino County from the monument proposal.
“I have spoken face-to-face with the senior administration official handling the San Gabriel Mountains proposal,” Lovingood said. “I believe the administration is seriously considering San Bernardino County’s objections, and I am cautiously optimistic that if the President signs the National Monument into law, that the boundaries will not include San Bernardino County.”
In September, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution opposing the designation of a National Monument in the San Bernardino County portion of the San Gabriel Mountain range.
In June of 2014, Congresswoman Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, proposed creating a National Recreation Area for the expansive range, which runs from Pasadena to the Cajon Pass. When the idea did not move forward in Congress, the President reportedly indicated he was willing to bypass Congress and sign an order under the Antiquities Act designating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
“I firmly support protecting public lands,” Lovingood said. “While discussions have taken place in Los Angeles County, no such public sessions have been held in San Bernardino County. The National Monument proposal has bypassed public input from San Bernardino County residents, skirts Congress, and has failed to answer even the most basic questions on how this will impact the public.”
National Monument designation could interfere with property rights, recreational activities as well as economic development, especially around Wrightwood, which would be encircled by the national monument designation. There is no written plan yet outlining how the National Monument status would impact recreation in the lands currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service.