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DeathValley.com has learned that Alan Stein replaced Richard Crowe as the Bureau of Land Management's lead on the Surprise Canyon EIS project.  Stein is the Deputy District Manager for the BLM's California Desert District Office in Moreno Valley and has served in the past as Interim District Manager.  As the signing officer for the 2002 Notice of Intent for the project Stein is well versed in the issues and history of the road that has been under a temporary closure since February 2001.

Crowe was replaced due to his recent retirement.  Many members of the access community expressed concern over Crowe's service as the project lead once they learned that he owned property in the disputed area within Surprise Canyon.

Read more: New Lead on Surprise EIS

Soon we may see new wind turbines and solar power plants spring up across the California Desert like Spring wildflowers.  Applications for new alternate energy production facilities have inundated staff throughout the Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District.

BLM Solar Energy Project Applications According to reports available on the BLM web site, through February 2008 the Desert District received some 95 applications for new solar energy projects totaling more than 875,000 acres, and approximately 70 applications for new wind energy projects totaling more than 450,000 acres.  Combined, some 165 applications were submitted covering over 1.3 million acres, nearly one-eighth of the 10.7 million acres managed by the BLM's California Desert District.

In January 2008 the BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office rejected eight of the thirteen applications it received for solar energy projects, seven of which were denied because the proposed sites were within the newly created Mojave Ground Squirrel Habitat Conservation Area.

Read more: BLM Nixes Solar Apps

The next time you are out exploring the Panamint Valley area you might cross paths with a nice, new, white Jeep.  Inside is likely to be Bureau of Land Management's Law Enforcement Ranger for the Panamint Valley area.

New BLM Jeep Wranger Rubicon

Read more: New BLM Rig for Panamint Patrols

In court documents filed on August 6, 2007, a group of property owners are asking a U.S. District Court Judge to hold the Bureau of Land Management in contempt of a 2001 order that closed Surprise Canyon Road to vehicle use by the public, but did provide owners of private property vehicular access to their property near Panamint City, California.

"The BLM has continually disregarded Federal District Judge Alsup's order by refusing to provide land owners a key to the gate across Surprise Canyon Road" said Kris Tholke, a property owner. "We are asking the court to ensure the BLM and other parties involved abide by the original court order".

Read more: Owners File For Access

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