Poster contest returns for K-12 students; longtime board member retires; air district officials advocate in Washington, D.C.

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Air Mail header - The official digital newsletter of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

Serving the High Desert of San Bernardino County and Palo Verde Valley of Riverside County

Winter 2023

Inside this edition:

But first...

2023 Clean Air Month Poster Contest graphic featuring Joshua tree in the background and MDAQMD 30th anniversary logo in the foreground

Poster contest returns after two-year hiatus

Participating K-12 students eligible for $100 prizes, new bicycles 

After a two-year hiatus, the annual Clean Air Month Poster Contest is RETURNING to give Mojave Desert students an opportunity to show off their artistic skills and win big prizes.

The theme of this year’s contest is, “Our Desert Air.” As MDAQMD celebrates 30 years of reducing emissions in its communities, the District is inviting students to help illustrate all there is to love and protect in the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert.

Students who wish to participate must create an original hand-drawn poster that shows one or more features of the Mojave Desert that make it unique. Whether it’s as detailed as a scene in the midst of Mojave National Preserve, or it’s as simple as an individual Joshua tree, put those creative minds to work to help shine a spotlight on the beauty of our region.

Students compete in one of four categories by grade level: kindergarten through second; third through fifth; sixth through eighth; and ninth through 12th. The top three winners in each category will win $100, $50 and $25 respectively and every accepted entry is automatically entered for a chance to win a new bicycle generously donated by contest cosponsor Victor Valley Transit Authority.

Entry deadline is 5 p.m. April 27, 2023. Students in grades K-12 who attend school in the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County or Palo Verde Valley of Riverside County are eligible to participate. 

For more information including clarification on rules or how to submit, contact MDAQMD Communications Analyst Martial Haprov at

View/download the flyer for rules, submission details and categories

Barbara Riordan, left, accepts a plaque honoring her service from MDAQMD Executive Director Brad Poiriez in January 2023

Barbara Riordan, left, accepts a plaque honoring her service from MDAQMD Executive Director Brad Poiriez at the California Air Resources Board meeting in January 2023.

Riordan honored for decades of service

Riordan served Mojave Desert for 40 years; held seat on California Air Resources Board for 32 years

The MDAQMD Governing Board bid a fond farewell to outgoing and long-serving Board Member Barbara Riordan at the end of January. Her last meeting at the MDAQMD dais was Jan. 23.

Riordan has been a mainstay in San Bernardino County and California government since the 1970s.

Barbara Cram Riordan was appointed to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in the 3rd District in August 1983 to fill the remaining term of then Supervisor David McKenna.

She was only the third woman in the county’s 131 years of history at that time to hold the Supervisor office, and the first in the 3rd District.

She was elected by voters to a full term in 1984. She was selected by her peers as Chair of the Board of Supervisors in 1988, which she occupied until 1990. Through reelection, Mrs. Riordan remained as 3rd District Supervisor until 1996.

As 3rd District Supervisor, Mrs. Riordan also served as a board member of the San Bernardino County Air Pollution Control District. When the county APCD transitioned by legislative statute to an independent agency, Mrs. Riordan was one of the inaugural members of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District Governing Board.

After leaving the Board of Supervisors, Mrs. Riordan was selected by the balance of the MDAQMD Governing Board as its Public Member, a seat she has held through reappointments through January 2023.

Considering her appointment to the Board of Supervisors in 1983 and continuous service, this effectively equates to 40 years of commitment to air quality and the residents of the Mojave Desert Air Basin.

In 1991, Mrs. Riordan was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson to the California Air Resources Board. She was reappointed throughout that service and chose to leave her seat also in January.

“Mrs. Riordan has been part of virtually every incremental, moderate and monumental action this board has taken since its inception,” Brad Poiriez, MDAQMD Executive Director, said at the Jan. 23 MDAQMD Governing Board meeting. “She’s had a storied and endearing demeanor sitting on this board and it’s a quality that’s helped this board be able to navigate through a lot of difficult issues. She’s done that with poise and tact and I know I’ve appreciated it as well as I’m sure the rest of the board members that have worked with her.”

During a presentation to her at the January meeting, Riordan said she had mixed emotions as she prepared to the leave the MDAQMD board, but she called it “the right time” to finish up her service.

“I have such confidence in this board, our APCO, and our wonderful staff, you just are at the pinnacle of I think real accomplishment,” Riordan said. “We obviously need to continue to work toward clean air and economic stability our here in our Mojave district. I recognize you’re going to have a lot of challenges (but) you’re absolutely at the top of your game and that’s how I feel about this board and about this staff right now, you just could not be better off.”

Permits & Compliance

MDAQMD operational numbers at a glance

As of March 1, 2023

  • Active Permits: 4,762
  • Permitted Active Facilities: 1,505

December 2022 to February 2023

  • Applications received: 84
  • Complaints: 27
  • Violation notices: 49
  • Certificates of Occupancy: 116
Brad Poiriez, fourth from left, joins several other air district officials for an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. in February 2023.

Several air agencies were represented during an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. in February. Shown from left: CAPCOA Executive Director Tung Le; CAPCOA Air Quality Specialist Kalie Bonomo; San Joaquin Valley APCD Senior Policy Advisor Tom Jordan; MDAQMD Executive Director Brad Poiriez; San Joaquin Valley APCD Executive Director Samir Sheikh; Tehama County Air Pollution Control Officer Joe Tona; and Northern Sierra Unified APCD Executive Director Gretchen Bennitt.

Poiriez joins other APCOs to voice concerns over air quality issues in California, Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District Executive Director Brad Poiriez joined several colleagues in Washington, D.C. last month for visits with federal officials and elected representatives.

The trip was a joint effort to voice concerns regarding issues facing California air districts and the residents and businesses within those districts.

Poiriez joined representatives from South Coast Air Quality Management District, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, Tehama County Air Pollution Control District, and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association.

Among the numerous meetings, Poiriez and colleagues met with 23rd Congressional District Rep. Jay Obernolte, representatives of 25th Congressional District Rep. Raul Ruiz, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Alex Padilla, the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation.

Kari Leon, left, is MDAQMD Governing Board Chair for 2023, and Brigit Bennington, right, is vice chair.

MDAQMD’s Governing Board recently selected board member and Apple Valley Town Councilwoman Kari Leon, left, as its chair, and board member and Hesperia Mayor Brigit Bennington as vice chair for 2023.

Board selects new chair, vice chair

New MDAQMD Governing Board members Gabriel Reyes, left, and Carmen Hernandez, right, take the oath of office.

Apple Valley Kari Leon takes gavel; Reyes, Hernandez, McCorkle sworn in

At its first meeting of 2023, the MDAQMD Governing Board welcomed new members while also appointing a new chair and vice-chair for the next year.

The board unanimously selected Apple Valley Town Councilwoman Kari Leon to chair the board. The Apple Valley Town Council originally appointed Leon to the board in 2019. She became MDAQMD’s vice chair in 2021. She replaces Yucca Valley Town Councilman Merl Abel, who served as MDAQMD chair for two consecutive years.

Replacing Leon as MDAQMD board vice chair is Hesperia Mayor Brigit Bennington, who was appointed to the board in January 2021.

The board also welcomed two first-time members, Mayor Gabriel Reyes of Adelanto, and City Councilmember Jamie McCorkle of Needles. Additionally, the Barstow City Council appointed recently elected Councilwoman Carmen Hernandez to the MDAQMD dais. Hernandez previously served on the MDAQMD board for eight years beginning in 2012.

The MDAQMD's Governing Board is the decision-making body for the District. The Board is responsible for adopting rules, setting policies and providing direction on important air quality issues that affect the Mojave Desert. This 13-member body is composed of representatives for each municipality and county supervisorial district located within the MDAQMD’s boundaries, and one public member appointed by the balance of the Board.

The Governing Board meets on the fourth Monday of each month.

Learn more about the board here.

Riverside County 4th District Supervisor and MDAQMD Governing Board Member V. Manuel Perez

Perez appointed to Air Resources Board

Riverside County 4th District Supervisor and MDAQMD Governing Board Member V. Manuel Perez was recently appointed to the California Air Resources Board. Board Chair Liane Randolph welcomed Perez to his seat as the MDAQMD representative at its Feb. 23 meeting. 

Perez, 50, of Coachella, has been supervisor for the 4th District of Riverside County since 2017. He was Chief Government and Public Affairs Officer at Borrego Community Health Foundation from 2014 to 2017, a Coachella City Councilmember from 2014 to 2017 and an Assemblymember in the California State Assembly from 2008 to 2013, where he served as Majority Leader from 2012 to 2013. Perez served on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2008. Perez earned a Master of Education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

MDAQMD Governing Board adopts, CARB approves Mojave Desert ozone attainment plan

MDAQMD recently adopted a plan, the most recent in a long series of ozone attainment plans, that shows how the Mojave Desert region will attain the latest federal ozone standard by 2033. This plan is notable because it calls for the adoption of a control measure for residential gas-fired water heaters, which will require new and replacement water heaters to be the cleanest possible

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) designated the Western Mojave Desert Nonattainment Area (WMDONA) as nonattainment for the 2015 70 ppb 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Clean Air Act (FCAA). A portion of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD or District) is included in the WMDONA. This plan, adopted by the MDAQMD Governing Board on Jan. 23 and approved by the California Air Resources  Board on Feb. 23, addresses all Federal attainment planning requirements for the 70 ppb federal 8-hour ozone standard.

The District has reviewed and updated all elements of the ozone plan. The portion of the District designated as a Federal 8-hour ozone nonattainment area will be in attainment of the 70 ppb ozone NAAQS by August 3, 2033.

District Planning Section staff developed the plan, which includes the latest planning assumptions regarding population, vehicle activity and industrial activity. This plan addresses all existing and forecast ozone precursor-producing activities within the District through the year 2032. It includes all necessary information to allow general and transportation conformity findings to be made within the District.

View the full planning document here.

Brad Poiriez, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer

MDAQMD is the air pollution control authority and permitting agency for the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County and the Palo Verde Valley in Riverside County. It’s governed by a board of 13 members representing nine incorporated municipalities and two counties within its boundaries:

MDAQMD Governing Board

Board Chair: Kari Leon, Town of Apple Valley

Board Vice Chair: Brigit Bennington, City of Hesperia;

Gabriel Reyes, City of Adelanto;
Carmen Hernandez, City of Barstow;
Joseph DeConinck, City of Blythe;
Jamie McCorkle, City of Needles;
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, County of Riverside, 4th District;
Supervisor Col. (Ret.) Paul Cook, County of San Bernardino, 1st District;
Supervisor Dawn Rowe, County of San Bernardino, 3rd District;
Dan Mintz, City of Twentynine Palms;
Elizabeth "Liz" Becerra, City of Victorville;
Merl Abel, Town of Yucca Valley;
Vacant, public member

The Governing Board meets on the fourth Monday of each month at the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District at 14306 Park Ave., Victorville, California.

Air Mail is a quarterly newsletter published by the Communications section of the MDAQMD.