The City of Blythe opposes the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument as currently drafted due to concerns of further public access restriction in the area, tourism, solar development and potential impact to the local economy. The proposed monument would include 660,000 acres reaching from the Coachella Valley to the Colorado River.
“The City recognizes the importance of preserving historical sites, conserving natural resources, and upholding public access to land; and, it is unable to endorse the current draft of the proposed monument,” said Mayor Joseph DeConinck.
The City of Blythe proposes that the area east of Desert Center to the Colorado River be excluded from the monument; with the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan in place the monument designation in this area is not necessary.
As presented at a meeting in Chirico Summit, California on October 12, 2023, the monument designation began as an official and permanent way to block the escalating development of solar fields. Blythe is a staunch supporter of solar development, and these projects have provided numerous economic benefits to the City and its business community.
“As the closest community to the large-scale solar developments occupying the desert, Blythe is the most impacted,” said DeConinck. “Blythe is committed to sustainable development; these projects have not only bolstered our economic landscape but have also played a pivotal role in advancing California’s renewable energy goals.”
As the State of California accelerates efforts to electrify by 2035, these solar projects will be key to the grid. Furthermore, the restriction of solar development does not meet a state or national objective to provide sustainable and renewable energy.
While solar development continues to be a concern for the Blythe City Council, residents are concerned with public access to the desert. The current draft of the proposed monument states it will provide outdoor recreation activities, but the restriction of public access and outdoor recreation is already in place; the Bureau of Land Management has continuously shut down more and more access to the desert. The conservation groups have also mentioned use of the Antiquities Act, which would restrict public access to the desert.
“The conservation groups have yet to conduct outreach in Blythe and Palo Verde Valley – the areas most impacted by this proposal. The only scheduled meeting was canceled and has yet to be rescheduled,” said Interim City Manager Mallory Crecelius. “The closest informational meeting to Blythe occurred over 60 miles away in Chirico Summit. Coachella Valley has been given more opportunity to weigh in on the situation than the residents who will actually be impacted.” The City remains opposed to such a proposal.
About the City of Blythe
Blythe is a dynamic community known for its rich history and strategic position as a gateway between California and Arizona. The city is committed to fostering sustainable growth, economic development, and maintaining a high quality of life for its residents.