(Victor Valley)–After four days of meetings in Washington D.C., First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood said he is concerned that proposed desert legislation could hurt desert-based business seeking to create good-paying mining jobs. “The federal government already controls 80 percent of the land within the First District, and that’s too much,” Lovingood said. “Any further federalization of our desert is cause for serious concern, especially when more regulations hamper my top priority of creating private-sector jobs.
So we deserve to be at the negotiating table to defend our citizens’ interests.” The 1994 Desert Protection Act shut down huge tracts of land across the Mojave Desert. Now new legislation would expand those massive closures by designating new national monuments totaling 1,679 square miles, plus expanding national “wilderness” areas by another 390 square miles. The latest land grab is larger than the state of Delaware. Further federal expansion is a serious issue because the mining industry is the largest private employer in the First District. “I think there is a growing recognition that the people — not the government — have a legal and moral right to our desert and its resources,” Lovingood said. “The government doesn’t have a right to this land. The people do.
The people have a right to the benefits of these natural resources. And the people have a right to feed their families and to the good-paying jobs that come from mining in our backyard.” Even when the government tries to do something good, the unintended consequences often create a mess. Lovingood cited a published report on government regulations that forced a private company to spend $22 million to relocate 202 desert tortoises in the east Mojave. That’s an average of $108,910 per tortoise. “The government needs to get out of the way so we can create more jobs – not more bureaucracy,” Lovingood said.