Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band has long history of stewardship

A view of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in southern California. Photo by Geographer / Wikipedia

Jeff Grubbe, the chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, addresses concerns about a land exchange between the tribe and the Bureau of Land Management:
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, within which the proposed land exchange is considered, was established in 2000 to preserve this special area and secure it for future generations. The Tribe has been a management partner in the Monument since the beginning and continues to be an active partner. The exchange, which has been in the works for 13 years, fulfills the 1999 agreement between Agua Caliente and the BLM to manage lands within the Monument in a cooperative and coordinated manner.

Concerns have been raised about the fairness of this proposal -- that the Tribe is getting a “deal” by trading 1,470 acres for 5,799 acres. The truth is that federal law prohibits any land exchange that doesn’t meet standards of parity and fairness. How much land gets exchanged will be based on the appraised value of the lands. Up to 5,799 acres of rugged BLM land could be exchanged for up to 1,470 acres of gently rolling and accessible Tribal land. The Tribe’s longstanding land management philosophy is nearly identical to the BLM except oversight is local, right here in the Coachella Valley. Much of the area is already out of the public domain including portions of some trails that have been enjoyed by locals and visitors for many generations. Let’s not forget the Tribe and its members are also locals who enjoy the trail system too. The Tribe and its members have for generations known every rock, plant and animal in this area and respected them and their role in our shared environment.

Map shows land swap area location. Source: Bureau of Land Management
Regarding the trails within the exchange, relatively little of them are in BLM control today, and of those few that are part of the exchange, the Tribe has demonstrated an excellent record of trail maintenance and access.

Get the Story:
Jeff L. Grubbe: The tribe has history of good stewardship (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 2/1)

Other Opinions:
Editorial; Pull Palm Springs parcels from land swap (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 2/2)
Cynthia Williams: Swap is a ‘giveaway’ of valued public trails (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 2/2)
Charles Nisbet: One land swap scenario benefits all (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 2/2)

Earlier Story:
Palm Springs preparing land swap response (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 1/19)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Land Exchange Between the Bureau of Land Management and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, California (December 29, 2014)

Related Stories
BLM still working on draft report for Agua Caliente land swap (02/05)

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