"Just beyond the southeast corner of Joshua Tree National Park, rows of boarded-up houses, gouged mountainsides and concrete ruins are an ugly reminder of the never-ending battle over the West’s public lands.
This scarred piece of California desert is what’s left of one of the country’s largest open-pit mining operations and the little company town that Kaiser Steel Corp. built after World War II. More than three decades after the Eagle Mountain iron mine closed, it still haunts the park that borders it on three sides.
Plans to turn the site into a huge landfill and dump as much as 20,000 tons a day of Southland garbage into the gaping mine pits died in 2013 after years of court battles. Now, a private company wants to use the pits for a $2-billion hydropower project."