Protect Joshua Tree National Park: URGENT ACTION REQUESTED


Let’s tell the Bureau of Land Management to Protect Joshua Tree National Park by conducting a full Environmental Impact Study for the harmful Eagle Crest Transmission Line.


Jerome E. Perez, State Director
Bureau of Land Management
Sacramento, CA 95825

Dear Mr. Perez:

The undersigned individuals, businesses and organizations from throughout the State of California urge the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct a full and comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Eagle Crest Transmission Line and Water Pipeline.

We care deeply about the California desert and Joshua Tree National Park, which is one of the key economic drivers of the desert region. We also recognize that there is a direct relationship between the protection of national park resources- its ecosystems, rich history and archaeology, night skies and air quality- and the further development of the regional tourism economy.

This year recreational visits to Joshua Tree National Park will probably surpass 2.5 million people from around the globe who come with the expectation that they will observe wildlife, rock climb, hike, stargaze or picnic in one of our most celebrated national treasures.

We have grave concerns about the proposed Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project because it would deplete regional groundwater resources, result in an increase of ravens that prey on desert tortoise living within Joshua Tree National Park and impede a critical bighorn sheep wildlife corridor between the Coxcomb and Eagle Mountains within the park.  The associated Eagle Crest Transmission Line under consideration also has significant adverse impacts to desert tortoise and resident and migrating birds.

We strongly argue that the current transmission line environmental assessment (EA) should not be able to draw upon resource information from the hydroelectric project’s prior Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that contained scientific information related to natural resources that was more than 20 years old.

Therefore, for the project’s associated transmission line, we urge the BLM to take a “hard look” at the significant impacts of the proposed transmission line and water pipeline and develop a full and comprehensive EIS with adequate opportunities for citizen participation.




Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project Fact Sheet

Joshua Tree National Park

  • Joshua Tree National Park was created with passage of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act which raised its status from a national monument to a national park.
  • The park protects the convergence of three distinct and diverse ecosystems: the Colorado Desert, Mojave Desert and the high elevation Little San Bernardino Mountains.
  • These ecosystems create the perfect conditions for a unique assemblage of plants and animals that call the park home including a herd of approximately 250 bighorn sheep, 250 species of migratory and resident birds and numerous insects and reptiles. The park is also botanically diverse and has a rich history and culture.
  • JTNP is almost 800,000 acres of which 84% of Joshua Tree is federally designated wilderness and includes areas on three sides of the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project. Wilderness is the highest, most protective designation of land in our country.
  • Joshua Tree National Park is a powerful economic engine. Today the park is visited by over 2 million people from all over the world who spend over $96 million in the communities surrounding the park and support over 1000 full and part time jobs, making it a powerful economic engine.

Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project

  • Would be located less than 2 miles from the national park border.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) has stated that, “Eagle Crest’s Project threatens to adversely impact Park resources, resulting in both immediate and long term negative consequences for the preservation and management of the Park.”
  • The Eagle Crest Project would use 9 billion gallons of groundwater over 4 years pumped from the aquifer beneath the Chuckwalla Valley just to fill the project’s two reservoirs.
  • Evaporative losses alone from the project are greater than 1500 acre feet/year (1 acre foot is 325,000 gallons!)
  • Over the 50 year life of the project, it stands to use 100,000 acre feet of groundwater, including evaporative losses pumped from the aquifer beneath the Chuckwalla Valley.
  • The aquifer beneath the Chuckwalla Valley is hydraulically connected to some of those that lie beneath Joshua Tree National Park, as well as the Colorado River, and the impacts of the aggressive pumping from the Eagle Crest Project and other numerous renewable energy projects in the area, are a gamble with one of our national treasures.
  • The Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project failed to obtain adequate baseline data and surveys of resources in the project area; threatens bighorn sheep by disrupting connectivity between the Eagle and Coxcomb Mountains, fails to address the effects of the project’s brine ponds on birds; and would produce acid mine drainage that could threaten groundwater resources. 

joshua tree

Transmission Line Right of Way

  • The Eagle Crest Energy Company has obtained a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate, but still needs and has applied for a right-of-way (ROW) grant to construct, operate, maintain and decommission a 500 kilovolt [kV) generation interconnect [gen-tie) line and a water pipeline. The gen-tie line would transmit electricity generated by Eagle Crest’s pumped storage facility to the Southern California Edison’s Red Bluff sub-station located on BLM lands in Riverside County, California. The water line would draw water from private land, traverse BLM land, and fill the reservoirs at the pumped storage facility.
  • The proposed transmission line EA should be changed to a full, comprehensive EIS that evaluates the cumulative impacts of the proposed Eagle Crest Project and current, foreseeable and future projects within the area in regard to groundwater use; impact on sensitive, threatened and endangered species; birds, impacts to wilderness, DRECP National Conservation Lands and the lands identified as the project study area for the Joshua Tree National Park Eagle Mountain Boundary Study.
  • The new Eagle Crest Transmission Line EIS should incorporate the resource findings related to the Joshua Tree National Park Eagle Mountain Boundary Study, which is currently underway, and is evaluating natural and cultural resources within the Eagle Mountain area.
  • It is highly inappropriate for the BLM to develop an Environmental Assessment that uses the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2014 Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project Final Environmental Impact Statement as the Department of the Interior, on behalf of the National Park Service challenged that document on its insufficient, inaccurate and inadequate data.
  • The proposed project and the entire Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project are highly controversial. Thousands of stakeholders throughout the desert and the nation have written letters and e-mails to the Department of Interior and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stating that they oppose the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project and want the Eagle Mountain area protected in perpetuity for the American people.