Defending the Desert

A 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization



Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, culture, and history of the ecosystems and wild lands of the desert.

Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.






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Basin & Range Watch Celebrates the New Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

Spiriti mountain

Spirit Mountain.

SEARCHLIGHT, Nev.— Basin and Range Watch hailed the formation of a new national monument today, as President Biden signed the proclamation under his power using the Antiquities Act, designating Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.

The new park unit protects a diversity of Mojave Desert lands in the southern tip of Nevada, including Joshua tree woodlands, unique desert grasslands, natural cactus gardens, and cultural landscapes important to the Fort Mojave Paiute, Chemehuevi, and other Tribes along the Colorado River in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
Desert bighorn sheep inhabit the rocky ridges and mountains, while Mojave desert tortoises, Gila monsters and diamondback rattlesnakes occupy desert basins. The Joshua tree woodlands hold several bird species that are found nowhere else in Nevada, including gilded flickers, Harris’s hawks, and occasional curve-billed thrashers.

Basin and Range Watch petitioned the Bureau of Land Management to designate Avi Kwa Ame as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 2018, after multiple battles to fend off industrial-scale energy projects in the area. Western Watersheds Project and Basin and Range Watch also organized a Bioblitz in 2022 to help document the many species of desert plants and animals here.

The hills and broad valleys have come under threat of energy sprawl by both wind and solar project developers. A coalition of local residents and Basin and Range Watch sued the Bureau of Land Management to halt a giant wind project, and successfully prevented its construction on these sensitive habitats. In 2015 District Court Judge Miranda Du vacated the federal permits for construction of the Searchlight Wind Project in Southern Nevada. Judge Du found that environmental analyses prepared by the BLM and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service inadequately evaluated the dangers that the industrial-scale wind project would pose to golden eagles, desert tortoises, and bats.

In 2015 a Swedish company submitted an application to BLM to construct another wind facility, the Crescent Peak Wind Project, on 33,000 acres of the Castle Mountains along the California/Nevada boundary and up to the border of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area. This project would have been mostly within the National Monument boundary. A coalition of environmental groups, tribes, and hunters petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to protect these mountains for bighorn sheep, eagles, and visual resources. In 2018 the Interior Department issued a letter directing BLM to deny the application.

Yet the same developer returned with a new wind application on the Castle Mountains, calling it Kulning Wind Project. Objections voiced by tribes and conservation groups about conflicts with land preservation convinced BLM to place this project on a “low priority” status.”

Recently, Avantus (formerly 8minute Energy) sought to adjust the monument boundary to accommodate their proposed Angora Solar Project on 2,500 acres, most of which overlaps the boundary of the Monument.

In 2018, Basin and Range Watch wrote up a nomination to protect the area as the proposed Castle Mountains Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and gained a wide array of signatories to support the nomination to the Bureau of Land Management. We believe this helped to crystalize a new National Monument campaign in the area. See more >>here.

Lake Tamarisk: "Oasis in a Living Desert"

March 14, 2023 - Lake Tamarisk, CA - Desert community opposes utility-scale solar projects next to town.

Prepared by Candace Ryding, Long Time Resident of Lake Tamarisk

The Lake Tamarisk Community got it’s start when Kaiser Steel was in need of housing for their workers, shortly after World War II. The mine operated until early 1982. At that time the population of Lake Tamarisk began to change. See this community page >>here.

lake tamarisk

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Paleontological Resources May Block Controversial Greenlink West Transmission Project


^Columbian mammoths and sabertooth cat in spring wetlands at Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada, Pleistocene. Drawing by Laura Cunningham, Copyright 2023.

March 8, 2023 - Las Vegas, NV - From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), with help from Basin and Range Watch:

Plans for a mega-transmission corridor in Nevada have hit a roadblock in the form of a survey showing that its route through a national park would likely destroy a trove of prehistoric fossils, according to the results of a ground-penetrating survey released today Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The survey of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument found the strong likelihood of “vertebrate skeletal elements” in areas along the proposed right-of-way for the planned “Greenlink West” high-voltage system to transmit power from Las Vegas to Reno.     

When Congress created the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in 2014 near Las Vegas to protect invaluable Ice Age paleontological discoveries, it also authorized a nearby electric transmission corridor (now called Greenlink) to carry “primarily… renewable energy resources.” In the intervening years, two things changed: 1) the Greenlink line corridor will serve natural gas facilities; and 2) it has been rerouted to cross the Monument. 

More >>HERE.

March 8, 2023 - Good article by High Country News on the flood of renewable energy projects into the Pacific Northwest. See the article here>>

Groups, Tribes Ask Appeals Court to Halt Nevada Lithium Mine

February 28, 2023 Reno NV - A federal judge last week refused to block the Thacker Pass mine from moving forward while appeals are heard. Red about it here:

Conservation Groups Seek Emergency Halt of Destructive Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Pending Court Appeal

February 21, 2023 - RENO, Nev. – Conservation groups filed an emergency motion in federal court today, asking the court to enjoin the development of the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine until their case can be heard on appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this month, Judge Du ruled that the Bureau of Land Management broke the law in approving the mine, but the court’s order didn’t halt development of the enormous open pit mine. Today’s filing requests that the court block ground disturbance and construction until compliance with federal laws is assured.

“This mine should not be allowed to destroy public land unless and until the Ninth Circuit has determined whether it was legally approved. There’s no evidence that Lithium Nevada will be able to establish valid mining claims to lands it plans to bury in waste rock and tailings, but the damage will be done regardless,” said Talasi Brooks, staff attorney with Western Watersheds Project.

If the project is not stopped pursuant to the emergency motion, the company has said it will proceed with the blasting of the mine pit, construction of the sulfuric acid processing plant and the development of other facilities that will imminently destroy critical wildlife habitat and public lands. All of these operations will irreparably damage thousands of acres of public land for a project that was illegally approved. More >>here.

Solar PEIS: One More Virtual Meeting on California and Nevada

February 10, 2023 - The Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS) scoping deadline has been moved to March 1. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently put out a press release stating that, “due to substantial public interest, the Bureau of Land Management has added one more virtual session to its series of public scoping meetings seeking input on potential changes to its solar energy program” on February 14. The BLM stated that “the BLM is especially interested to hear comments related to solar energy development in southern California and southern Nevada, given specific expressed interest in the program in those areas,” indicating huge concern over potential changes to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, as well as controversial resource conflicts in southern Nevada. More on the Solar PEIS >>here.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management Public Meetings on Developing Public Lands For Renewable Energy

February 9, 2023 - Via email from the Bureau of Land Management state office. See here for more, and how to register >>our Solar PEIS page.


2023 Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Update


January 10, 2023 - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing an updated plan to guide solar energy development on public lands through an updated Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS), which will "help accelerate and continue momentum for the clean energy econom" in a statement issued by BLM. The 2012 Solar PEIS will be expanded to all western states, opening up the vast sagebrush habitats to utility-scale solar development.

The comment deadline is February 6, 2023. Stay tuned, Basin and Range Watch will be writing extensive comments, and will provide summary points to write in your own public comments.

In California, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) may need to be updated as well in order to conform to the updated Solar PEIS which overlaps. We will be commenting on this.

Important links:

Register for virtual meetings at

The Bureau of Land Management is holding a series of public scoping meetings to solicit feedback on the recently announced programmatic environmental impact statement for the BLM’s utility-scale solar energy planning. The BLM is considering updates to its 2012 Western Solar Plan that included six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—and is seeking comment regarding expanding its solar planning to include five additional states: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. More >>here at our Solar PEIS page.

Conservation and Public Accountability Groups to Argue the Illegality of the Proposed Thacker Pass Lithium Mine

sage grouse

^Greater sage-grouse hen in Nevada. Photo: Kevin Emmerich.

January 4, 2023 - RENO, NV. — On Thursday January 5, 2023, the combined plaintiffs, a coalition of conservation and public accountability groups, Tribes, and Thacker Pass area rancher, will present oral arguments in opposition to the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision in the District of Nevada, challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (“Bureau”) approval of the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine. The mine was fast tracked by the Trump Administration and completed its environmental review process in less than one year despite the enormous environmental impact to the nearly 18,000 acres of public land that would be affected by the operation. More >>here.

Tracy Stone-Manning Visits Nevada to Listen to Comments on the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument Proposal

November 17, 2022 - Laughlin, NV - the Bureau of Land Management hosted a public meeting in Clark County, Nevada, to hear from the community about management of the region’s public lands, including a proposal to designate existing public lands as a national monument in southern Nevada. Tribal support was strong.

Basin and Range Watch was there, supporting the monument designation. Our notes and photos >>here.

Prayers and Calls for Action at the Salton Sea

An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Vigil, Oct 10, 2022 at Desert Shores

Dispatch from the Heart of an Environmental and Social Justice Apocalypse

by Ruth Nolan, Mojave Desert Literary Laureate, October 20, 2022

Not far from the iconic and uber-popular Joshua Tree National Park and even fewer miles from the world’s most fabled music festival, Coachella, a glaringly overshadowed dark side to the love affair with the desert: the Salton Sea. It hovers surrealistically below sea level in a huge basin in the middle of one of the hottest deserts in the world, in a neglected and little-known corner of southern California that borders Mexico, its waters shrinking daily at an alarming rate. See more >>here.

Basin & Range Watch Nominates a New Area of Critical Environmental Concern To Protect Tortoise and Springs

^Lush stands of big galleta grass make excellent Mojave desert tortoise habitat, but are threatened by utility-scale solar applications.

September 19, 2022, Indian Springs Valley NV - Basin & Range Watch and colleagues are nominating the Cactus Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in Clark and Nye Counties, Nevada, north of Indian Springs on Bureau of Land Management land, in order to protect rare plants, cactus diversity, Cactus Springs water resources, and the most significant Mojave desert tortoise connectivity corridor in southern Nevada. Read more here: Cactus Springs ACEC nomination.

Environmental Justice in the Desert

this place matters

^Ivanpah Valley CA, Chemehuevi and Fort Mohave Paiute young people at the Spririt Run before the solar projects were built.

August 13, 2022 - Recently we have been accused of ignoring Environmental Justice, so we want to set the record straight and highlight our concern for these significant issues. Basin and Range Watch has worked for over a decade to listen to Indigenous voices, protect cultural landscapes, and help low income desert communities to have a voice and participate in the environmental review process for large-scale energy development on public lands surrounding them.

Here are some links with a focus on protecting local and low income communities, communities with people of color, and Tribes, that Basin and Range Watch has participated in over the years, and helped organize and fund (such as renting porta-potties for Indigenous-led Spirit Runs on public lands).

Blythe, CA, protests and Indigenous Spirit Runs to protect the deserts and cultural resources.

Cultural values and sacred sites threaetned by the Palen Solar Project.

Ivanpah Valley Spirit Run.

Chuckwalla Valley protests.

Palen Solar Project letter by La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle.

More >>here.

Coalition Letter on the Variance Process for Golden Currant Solar Project


August 9, 2022 - Pahrump NV - The proposed Golden Currant Solar Project is undergoing a Variance Review process and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recently segregated mineral rights for 2 years to consider an application for a 4,300-acre solar project.

A coalition of conservation groups, including the Desert Tortoise Council, Mojave Green, Wildlands Defense, and individuals signed a letter by Basin & Range Watch, see the pdf here.

Under the 2012 Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Variance Areas of public land outside the designated Solar Energy Zones include about 20 million acres where applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Options to combine federal and non-federal land will be looked at, as well as disturbed lands. Presence of conflicts, such as tortoise density, will also be considered. These applications will undergo public scoping. More >here.

Field Trip to Proposed Golden Currant Solar Project Site

July 24, 2022 - Pahrump, NV - Basin & Range Watch undertook a field trip and site visit in early July, 2022, to the proposed Golden Currant Solar Project, along the Fornt Site Road off Tecopa Road. We were amazed at how 40-50% of the proposed project site is full of badlands with deep washes and vertical cliff topography--this is not a flat desert landscape. Also, honey mesquite thickets are common in the badland washes and interfluves. The other parts of the site have ancient desert soils and Mojave yuccas. Our photos are >>here.

Bureau of Land Management Places Golden Currant Solar Project on Medium Priority Satus

July 17, 2022 - Pahrump, NV - In November 2020 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recieved an application nest to the Yellow Pine Solar Project, called the Sagittarius Solar Project. The BLM placed the application on Medium Priority Ststus (not High Priority) due to resource conflicts.

See the Sagittarius (Golden Currant) Prioritization worksheet. The BLM placed this project on what they call "Medium Priority". This does not stop the project, but places other projects on a Higher priority to process the applications. The developers will often lobby and challenge the BLM's decision. Because the Trout Canyon substation is now built and it can carry a large capacity beyond Yellow Pine Solar, there will be demand for about 3 or 4 other projects in this location. There are some factors that will cause BLM to probably reduce the footprint of the project, but it is a real possibility for development. Because it is early in the review, now is the time to tell BLM no. It is close to the Old Spanish Trail. They say they will avoid the mesquite, but they will surround them with solar panels. It is in a high conflict area for Death Valley National Park.

Primergy bought the application and renamed it "Golden Currant"--, a subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables. If you track the corporate subsidiary chart through Googling companies, you see that now Primergy/Avangrid have been bought by the giant utility company Iberdrola, based in Spain--famous for wind projects. Iberdrola is a Spanish multinational electric utility company based in Bilbao, Spain.

See the Plan of Development >>here. See more on the Golden Currant Solar Project.

Biden Signs Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Into Law


^Satellite view of mines and coal power plants in Xinjiang province, China.

July 2, 2022 - Washington DC - In some kind of dystopian nightmare out of a science fiction story, on the other side of the planet away from our North American bubble, 1 million Uyghur ethnic group people are slaving away to mine sand and refine it into polysilicon wafers in high-energy-use factories for the global photovoltaic solar panel industry--half of all polysilicon comes from this Gobi Desert forced labor factory region in eastern China, powered by coal plants spewing out tons of CO2 emissions without regulation. Bloomberg reporters were denied access in 2021, see link below.

While environmental groups proclaim they are fighting for social justice, and the renewable enrgy industry claims solar is cheaper than ever, problems arise as other parts of the world are discovered to use totalitarian methods to reap profits while exploiting ethnic groups using forced labor and genocide. This is not "green" energy, and must be stopped.

This investigative journalism also reveals the high energy cost needed to manufacture high-grade polysilicon for solar panels--fossil fuel is burned without regulation to supply energy to these factories.

Basin and Range Watch supports rooftop solar and solar panels on parking lot canopies, on disturbed lands, and not on ecosystems. We absolutely do not support solar panel manufacture by forced labor and genocide of the Uyghur people. We hope other avenues of solar supply chains can pay workers a fair living wage.

Good news on stopping the US import of solar panels from China with polysilicon produced by Uyghur slave-labor, as Congress agrees and President Biden signs the bipartisan bill into law preventing the import of solar panels from certain Chinese companies that use polysilicon components from these forced labor factories in Xinjiang province:

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Goes into Effect | Center for Strategic and International Studies - June 27, 2022

If other countries don't also halt import of these solar supplies, then the US solar companies should be fine in their supply chains. But if other countries start cracking down on importing slave-made solar compments, then we beleive there could be a shortage of solar panels in the US.

In Broad Daylight Uyghur Forced Labour in the Solar Supply Chain | Sheffield Hallam University

Study the Bloomberg 2021 article with detailed background on this horrible slave labor problem, with quote from Dr. Dustin Mulvaney, a Basin and Range Watch advisor:

Bloomberg: China’s Xinjiang Solar Factories Haunted by Labor Abuse Claims

Proposed Golden Currant Solar Project in Pahrump Valley Moves Forward

pahrump map

^Map of the proposed project in red outline, from the Plan of Development. The yellow shapes are the approved Yellow Pine Solar Project under construction.

July 2, 2022 - Pahrump, Nevada - Pretty name. But an ugly energy project proposed on public lands on tortoise habitat and Mojave Desert ecosystems. This is the former Sagittarius Solar Project in Clark County, west of the Yellow Pine Solar Project now under construction.

Golden Currant Solar is proposed on 4,300 acres of desert tortoise habitat in south Pahrump Valley, NV, along the Tecopa Road. The Bureau of Land Management will segregate the identified lands for two years from appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights. This means no one will be able to stake a new mining claim, in order to help streamline the environmental review of this large solar project. More >>here.

Proposed Bonanza Solar Project on High Quality Mojave Desert Habitat

"The Most Critical Desert Tortoise Connectivity Corridor in Southern Nevada"


^The limestone fans here are habitat for a diversity of Mojave Desert succulents: Mojave yucca, silver cholla, and calico cactus.

June 18, 2020 - Las Vegas, NV - A large, over 2,000-acre, solar energy project is proposed to be built just north of Cactus Springs on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Clark County, Nevada. The site is on the alluvial fans along the eastern side of the Spring Range. The project would harm fragile desert wildlife, remove thousands of desert plants like Mojave yuccas, impact the desert tortoise, destroy archeology sites, create dust, fence off public land, and be visually unsightly.

This is Mojave desert tortoise habitat, and once again as the species is heading towards extinction in the wild, the proposal to build the solar project anyway and translocate tortoises is being pushed.

Yet the agencies acknowledge there are impacts. From the Medium Priority letter whereby BLM determined this area has significant challenges associated with building a utility-scale solar project:


See more on the Bonaza Solar Project >>here.

Southern Nevada Renewable Energy Projects Update

June 9, 2022 - Las Vegas, NV - The Southern Nevada District of Bureau of Land Management released this slide deck in PDF form of a useful summary of all solar and wind applications in Clark County and Nye County south of Beatty. See the BLM Southern Nevada District Renewable Energy Program Update PDF.

Amargosa Valley Solar Projects

June 8, 2022 - Amargosa Valley, NV - The Bureau of Land Management Pahrump Field Office released a map showing the huge number of solar applications filling up, and overlapping, in Amargosa Valley public lands. The original Amargosa Solar Energy Zone was supposed to be the place for solar energy development here, but solar developers have taken advantage of loopholes in the Variance process where they can apply for public lands outside of the Solar Energy Zone and still profit. More >>here.

On a related note, you can comment on the Amargosa Solar Energy Zone leasing.

Rough Hat Clark Solar Project Moves Forward

joshua tree

^Joshua tree on the proposed site of the Rough Hat Clark Solar Project.

June 7, 2022 - Pahrump, NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that the 400-megawatt Rough Hat Clark Solar Project on 2,400 acres of public land just south of Pahrump, in Clark County, is moving forward in its application phase to an environmental review. Last winter BLM held a virtual Variance Process determination meeting, where the agency assessed whether this large-scale solar project should be allowed to be built outside of an established Solar Energy Zone. BLM determined that it could. Now BLM will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and seek public comment.

We made several site visits to this alluvial fan, and it is high quality Mojave desert tortoise habitat and contains Joshua trees. Both can be moved out of the way of energy development. Recreational access will be cut off with 8-foot tall chainlink fences, and dust pollution will be a potential looming problem. Water will be needed to try to suppress dust during construction--where will that come from? The project is proposed for the west side of highway 160 close to the boundary of Nye County in south Pahrump Valley.

Stay tuned for more information as the scoping process begins for this utility-scale solar project by Candela Renewables, LLC--a company out of Spain. More on Rough Hat Clark and Rough Hat Nye solar projects >>here.

Here is the announcement:


LAS VEGAS – The BLM has completed the variance process for the Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project right-of-way application after coordination and consultation with appropriate federal, state, and local agencies and Tribes. After receiving public input, the BLM will initiate an environmental review of the project.

The Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project is a proposed 400 MW utility-scale photovoltaic solar power generation and battery storage facility on approximately 2,400 acres of BLM-managed public land located in the Pahrump Valley in Clark County, southeast of the Town of Pahrump and approximately 38 miles west of Las Vegas.

“After careful consideration, the BLM will continue processing the application and proceed with initiation of the National Environmental Policy Act process,” said Shonna Dooman, Las Vegas Field Office Manager. “Stakeholder engagement efforts by the BLM identified potential concerns and we will use this information during the environmental review for the Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project.”

The BLM hosted two virtual information forums in December 2021 to provide interested parties with a description of the application evaluation process, including the variance process, on the proposed project. The BLM provided opportunities for input from the public and federal, state, and local agencies, and initiated government to government consultation with Tribes, including conducting field trips.

The next step is to publish the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which will kick off the public scoping process and comment period. Comments submitted during the initial evaluation will be further considered during the National Environmental Policy Act process for the project.

Proceeding with processing the Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project does not render project approval or otherwise entitle the applicant in any way, nor does it create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person. The variance determination and supporting documentation, including the Input Summary Report, and additional information for the Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project can be found at

The BLM manages vast stretches of public lands that have the potential to make significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. To promote the development of these energy sources, the BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. The efficient deployment of renewable energy from our nation’s public lands is crucial in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.

Bureau of Land Management Moves Several Solar Projects by Death Valley to Low Priority

^NextEra Energy is proposing to build a large utilit-scale solar project right here in upper Amargosa Valley, in view of the Goldwell Open Air Museum and ghost town of Rhyolite. The Beatty Energy Center is the project application name. The Furnace Creek Range lies in the distance, in Death Valley National Park.

May 26, 2022 - Beatty, NV - At the request of the residents of the region working through their town, letters were sent to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tonopah Field Office requesting the Beatty Energy Center application, Sawtooth Solar Project application, and Bonnie Claire Solar Project application be moved to Low Priority Status. We received the confirming letters from the BLM that this was done. More >>here.

Comment Letter by the Hopi Tribe on the Greenlink West Transmission Proposal

May 22, 2022 - Las Vegas NV - We obtained from the National Park Service this public comment from the Hopi Tribe (pdf) describing their concerns with the Greenlink West Transmission Project.


May 2022 Scoping Meetings for Proposed Greenlink West Transmission Line

May 15, 2022 - Las Vegas NV - See the Bureau of Land Management's Greenlink West Transmission proposal meeting schedule here:

7 77y y

Greenlink West Transmission Project Review Starts May 2


April 29, 2022 - Nevada - This proposed long high-voltage transmission project would open up all of western Nevada to renewable energy development, in some of the most remote basins and ranges. There are already 230 square miles of solar applications that we have tallied and investigated...

We will share talking points for you to write your own letter for the 30-day scoping period for public comments. More on Greenlink West Transmission Project >>here.

Join the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Bioblitz!

^Gilded flicker at Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, NV.

Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific - Meet at Walking Box Ranch

April 17, 2022 - Las Vegas, NV - Basin and Range Watch is reopening its Castle Mountains Bioblitz Project on iNaturalist, in cooperation with the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, Nevada Division of Wildlife, and Friends of Walking Box Ranch, in order to highlight the need to protect this biodiverse desert upland in southern Nevada. This will help support the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.

Register Here:

Nevada Division of Wildlife will be leading the search for rare gilded flickers, and three species of thrashers. Bring binoculars, snacks and liquids, and your smartphone to record iNaturalist observations. Details and directions at the link above. See more about the Castle Mountains region >>here.

Copper Rays Solar Project Moves Forward South of Pahrump, Nevada

April 17, 2022 - Pahrump, NV - In an April 12, 2022 email to Basin and Range Watch from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Southern Nevada Office, BLM says: "The plan is to post the Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] in the Federal Register this summer, this will kick start the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis. We are actively working through the steps necessary to prepare that notice and to get everything in order to get the EIS underway."

Copper Rays Solar Project is a proposed 700-megawatt utility-scale photovoltaic solar power generation and battery storage facility on approximately 5,127 acres of BLM-managed public land located in the Pahrump Valley in Nye County immediately adjacent to the Nye-Clark county line, southeast of the Town of Pahrump and approximately 40 miles west of Las Vegas. It would hook into the Gamebird Substation on the SE side of Pahrump.

The project would cut off access to public lands and recreational trails, destroy honey mesquite thickets, take desert tortoise habitat, create dust issues, and the power would go to California. More >>here

Solar Projects Planned Near Death Valley Would Hurt Wildlife, Public Access and the Local Economy

^Detail of map produced by the Town of Beatty showing solar project applications around Beatty, the ghost town of Rhyolite, and the Titus Canyon entrance road.

March 17, 2022 - A new land rush of large-scale solar project proposals have been filed for nearly 60,000 acres of public lands so far adjacent to Death Valley National Park in Nevada.

Two good articles came out recently concerning the many very large utility-scale solar projects in Nevada public lands on the east side of Death Valley National Park, next to Wilderness Areas in the park. These applications are enabled by the proposed Greenlink West Transmission Project that NV Energy is seeking to ship natural gas power generation from the Apex, NV area northwards to the energy-intensive "Silicon Valley" facilities of Reno/Sparks, NV--the Tesla Gigafactory, Amazon wharehouse, Google facility, Blockchain and others.

Good coverage by Scott Streater of E&E News:

Good local coverage by Scott King of the Sierra Nevada Ally:

Much more here >>here, including maps and descriptions of the solar applications.

Lithium Boom Across California and Nevada


^Lithium claim stake on a playa in Sarcobatus Flat, NV, east of Death Valley National Park.

February 22, 2022 - An "ion rush" is currently underway in arid lands of southern California and Nevada as miners literally stake claim markers on playas and open deserts east of Death Valley National park in Nevada. Similarly, the Biden Administration on February 22 announced large investments in so-called "critical minerals" such as Lithium, cobalt, and rare earth minerals used in renewable energy manufacture, batteries, and electric vehicles.

The White House Fact Sheet announced that outdated mining laws and regulations will be updated. This year, the Mining Law of 1872 turns 150. This law still governs mining of most critical minerals on federal public lands. Today, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced it has established an Interagency Working Group (IWG) that will lead an Administration effort on legislative and regulatory reform of mine permitting and oversight. The IWG released a list of Biden-Harris Administration fundamental principles for mining reform to promote responsible mining under strong social, environmental, and labor standards that avoids the historic injustice that too many mining operations have left behind. The IWG will deliver recommendations to Congress by November. They will also host extensive public input and comment sessions to ensure an inclusive process, and will work with the relevant agencies to initiate updates to mining regulations by the end of the calendar year. More >> here.

Solar Leasing on Public Lands

^Northern Amargosa Valley, Nevada, along the east side of Death Valley National Park, proposed for thousands of acres of utility-scale solar development.

February 14, 2022 - Washington, D.C. ­– The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input on draft guidance to promote the use of wind and solar energy on public lands. The proposed update would reduce acreage rental rates and capacity fees for existing and new wind and solar energy authorizations on public lands. Once finalized, the updated guidance will provide enhanced financial and regulatory predictability for solar and wind energy projects authorized on public lands.

“This draft guidance will help us drive an environmentally and economically sound strategy in the development of renewable energy resources on public lands.” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “We are doing our part to meet America’s energy needs by promoting predictable and favorable conditions for the market.”

See the announcement here:

The trouble is, favoring the market over biodiversity and public lands access for all doe not mesh. The Biden Administration is not driving environmentally sound renewable energy development on public lands, especially in places like Nevada, where Mojave desert tortoises are imperiled, and thousands of old-growth yuccas and Joshua trees are slated to be bulldozed down and mulched to make way for photovoltaic projects that would better go ion rooftops and over parking lots in the built environment.

Our comment sent in:

February 2nd, 2022
To: Bureau of Land Management
Email sent to: 

Re: Comments on proposed guidance for Renewable Energy on Public Lands

Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, culture, and history of the ecosystems and wild lands of the desert.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on draft guidance to promote the use of wind and solar energy on public lands. The proposed update would reduce acreage rental rates and capacity fees for existing and new wind and solar energy authorizations on public lands.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) provides that right-ofway holders must generally pay fair market value for their use of the use of public lands. (Section 504(g) of FLPMA authorizes the Secretary to collect less than fair market value in certain narrow circumstances. The statute provides that no rental fees shall be collected for rights-of-way for electric or telephone facilities eligible for financing under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. Additionally, the Secretary has discretion under section 504(g) to authorize rights-of-way at less than fair market value to: a Federal, State, or local government or any agency or instrumentality thereof, to nonprofit associations or nonprofit corporations which are not themselves controlled or owned by profitmaking corporations or business enterprises, or to a holder where he provides without or at reduced charges a valuable benefit to the public or to the programs of the Secretary concerned, or to a holder in connection with the authorized use or occupancy of Federal land for which the United States is already receiving compensation.)

The Energy Act of 2020, 43 U.S.C. 3003, provides the Secretary of the Interior with authority to reduce acreage rental rates and megawatt capacity fees if, among other things, the Secretary determines “that a reduced rental rate or capacity fee is necessary to promote the greatest use of wind and solar energy resources.”

We think it is irresponsible and frivolous to reduce fair market value fees on public lands for renewable energy developers. This will set unfavorable precedents and future administrations will use this tactic to streamline oil and gas leasing, mining and other development on public lands.

Not only would this set precedents, it will increase the negative environmental and cultural impacts that large-scale renewable energy inflicts upon public lands. We see that this Interior Department has a clear agenda to place environmental concerns behind the agenda of these large-scale developers.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act states:  “public lands be managed in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values; that, where appropriate, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition; that will provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife and domestic animals; and that will provide for outdoor recreation and human occupancy and use;” (The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 as amended [])

Large-scale green energy has massive space requirements and is inconsistent with most of the FLPMA conservation guidelines.
Instead of reducing rental rates for large-scale renewable energy developers on public lands, we would like to see the rates increased in order to compensate for the grave environmental damage inflicted by many of these projects.

We recommend increasing rental rates and fees for the use of multiple-use public lands, especially high-value lands which are rich in species diversity, significant cultural landscapes, and natural and cultural resources. 

Utility-scale solar, wind, geothermal, and transmission projects have significant impacts to public lands resources that need to be accounted for, and that have not been adequately mitigated, avoided, or offset. 

To incentivize renewable energy development on public lands with even less fees amounts to a public subsidy by taxpayers of large-scale energy development. This subsidy should instead go towards incentivizing Distributed Energy resources in the built environment, including aiding low-income communities to reach renewable energy goals.

Some of the many impacts of utility-scale renewable energy projects on high-value public lands include:

  • Renewable energy development releases large stores of soil and vegetation Carbon.
  • Visual Resources are greatly impaired by large-scale solar, wind, and associated transmission projects.
  • Site preparation and maintenance of solar fields significantly impacts vegetation communities and rare plants, as well as pollinators.
  • Dark night skies are impacted
  • Public access, recreation, and local tourism economies are heavily impacted by large-scale renewable energy leases.
  • Air quality, dust, and valley fever increase happen with renewable energy development on undisturbed ecosystems.
  • Groundwater pumping can be significant with associated construction and maintenance of renewable energy facilities.
  • Surface hydrology is often severely impacted by large solar projects.
  • Sand-transport corridors are often blocked by utility-scale solar projects.
  • Unique geological and paleontological resources are often destroyed or impaired.
  • Invasive weeds are spread into intact ecosystems, and herbicide applications can harm native species.
  • Imperiled species like the federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise continue to decline towards extinction, and mitigation and compensation measures for current renewable energy development are not working to halt this decline or recover the species.
  • Sensitive species like the Mojave fringe-toed lizard, flat-tailed horned lizard, Gila monster, burrowing owl, sage-grouse, Mohave ground squirrel, and desert kit fox are threatened with population declines by the current build-out of renewable energy.
  • Wildlife connectivity corridors are blocked by large-scale energy projects.
  • Archaeological resources are often damaged, cultural landscapes impacted, and tribal concerns ignored.

Again, we recommend that rents and fees for the private corporate use of public lands not be lowered, but should be raised to account for the significant costs associated with large-scale development of high-value ecosystems, natural and cultural resources, and loss of recreation and access.

More Greenlink West Transmission Project Public Meetings

February 1, 2022-

To join the Zoom:

Bureau of Land Management page:

Mojave Literary Journeys #1


by Ruth Nolan, Mojave Literary Laureate
January 28, 2022

Dispatch from California’s Coachella Valley Preserve:  Leave only Footprints and Stories in the Sand

Once upon a time, the stunning Coachella Valley Preserve near my home in Palm Desert was just a place to hike. An incredible place to hike, with its twisted mud and rock uplifts of landscape, gnarled and heaved by major earthquake events since time immemorial. A place filled with life-giving, Washingtonian fan palm-lined arroyos and washes that carve through this searing dry terrain in surprising places; a place where seeps and running water seem an oxymoron in this desolate place where summer temps often soar upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

This unique desert landscape, protected by federal wilderness designation, was once upon a time a backdrop for my two decades spent living in this area while teaching at College of the Desert and raising my daughter. I’ve bonded with this unique place whose geology and natural features have been shaped so deeply by this part of California’s infamous an Andreas Fault. I’ve taught writing workshops in the shady beauty of Thousand Palms Oasis, a significant Native village site, and brought my college students on hikes to see the pupfish at McCallum Grove pond. I’ve done field research for my wildfire project and also written many of my own poems here on my favorite bench next to the palm-log house built in the mid-20th century by legendary desert poet Paul Wilhelm. More >>here.

Oberon Solar Project Approved

^These old-growth desert ironwood trees are threatened by habitat fragmentation, weed invasion, and even some taken down to make room for a solar developer's project in Riverside County, Colorado Desert, California. Some of these trees are 30-35 feet tall. Site visit in September 2021 on the Oberon Solar Project site, Chuckwalla Valley. Photo: Kevin Emmerich.

January 13, 2022 - Palm Springs, CA - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the 2,700-acre Oberon Solar Project, in Riverside County, California Desert. The project would be rated at up to 500 megawatts (MW), with 200 MW of Lithium-ion battery storage.

This is one of the first new utility-scale solar projects approved under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) that was not grandfathered in from older applications, and thus is significant in setting a precedent for how future solar projects are negotiated and approved under the DRECP. In spite of BLM's new mitigation measures negotiated between the contentious environmental assessment and final decision under the DRECP, this project will still kill a significant amount of desert ironwood trees--an imperiled vegetation community in California. More >>here.

February Jackrabbit Reading

January 6, 2022 - Pahrump Valley, NV - Join us for another sereies of readings in opposition to utility-scale solar development of the beautiful Mojave Desert south of Pahrump, Nevada, with Mojave Green and Basin and Range Watch.

More >>here

County Commission Votes to Oppose Rough Hat Nye Solar Project!

Pahrump solar sign

^Signs were apparent at PLAN and County Commission meetings in Pahrump, Nevada.

December 23, 2021 - Pahrump NV - In a decisive vistory for local residents facing an industrial solar project in their backyard, Nye County Commissioners voted 5-0 to oppose the controversial Rough Hat Nye Solar Project, which is proposed on public lands on the southern edge of Pahrump. The decision comes afrer weeks of public meetings and presentations by the developer Candela Renewables from Spain to the Public Lands Advisory Committee (PLAN), which heard arguments and passionate pleas from local residents. The Committee eventually made its recommendation to the full County Commission.

Good coverage in the Pahrump Valley Times:

Basin and Range Watch has attended the meetings held by PLAN, made public comments opposing this project, and participated by Zoom to this County Commission meeting. We live in Nye County, our office is in Nye County, and we regularly visit Pahrump and the surrounding beautiful desert--so this is a priority for us.

Although a setback for the proposed utility-scale solar project, Linda Bullen, attorney for many solar project developers including Candela, said they would be moving forward. She said this is very early in the application process.

The Rough Hat Nye Solar Project will still need to undergo environmental review with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in order to obtain a Right-of-Way to develop on these public lands. This will involve the development of an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with more opportunities for public comment.

But local public outcry is important, as the County decision not to issue a Special Use Permit can help sway the federal government (BLM) to not moving this solar application forward.

We are writing up our notes from the last PLAN meeting, which gives a good picture of how local opposition influenced the County. Stay tuned. More >>here.

Environmental Groups Pushed to Sacrifice South Pahrump Valley

December 22, 2021 - Pahrump NV - Seeveral national environmental organizations pushed for a solar energy zone in the Mojave Desert, claiming "low conflict", yet the public was explcuded. Now it is happening.

An official Solar Energy Zone was never designated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), yet several environmental organizations pushed for a virtual solar energy zone in south Pahrump Valley, citing "low conflict." We know they were wrong. The public was never given a chance to comment on this "Designated Leasing Area" for solar energy.

This letter from January 2020 is from four large environmental organizations to BLM. Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Wilderness Society request that the area located south of Pahrump be sacrificed for solar energy. More >>here, scroll down.

Equity is Being Ignored With Proposed Massive Lava Ridge Wind Energy Project in Idaho


December 20, 2021 - Twin Falls, Id - This massive Idaho wind project is being pushed through by the Interior Department in spite of strong opposition from Japanese Americans. The Lava Ridge Wind Project in Idaho would be built next to the Minidoka National Historic Site, a World War II Japanese American incarceration camp. 400 gigantic wind turbine generators are proposed across 76,000 acres of mostly public lands lands, next to Craters of the Moon National Monument. More information and maps >>here.

Kulning Wind Project Placed on Low Priority Status

November 14, 2021 - Searchlight, NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) placed the unpopular Kulning Wind Project on a Low Priority Status. Low priority means this application will not move forward for a year or more, and the project has been placed on the back burner.

Conservationists applauded the decision, since this wind project application lies in the midst of a dense and beautiful Joshua tree forest and rare desert grasslands, and overlaps with the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument proposal.

The Southern Nevada District of BLM, Energy and Infrastructure Team confirmed the decision on November 13, to Basin and Range Watch, attaching the letter for the BLM's Application Prioritization Decision for the Kulning Wind Energy Project. More >>here, and read the letter.

West Mojave Desert Taking Brunt of Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development

October 29, 2021 - West Mojave Desert and Antelope Valley, CA - At what cost to Western Joshua trees and low to moderate income communities in rural areas of the desert in California? The Aratina Solar Project surrounding the local community of Boron, California, would destroy over 4,000 Western Joshua trees. We thought the Western Joshua tree was moved forward for further protection under state law? See our long history of investigation of impacts of utility-scale energy development in these high-value habitats and public and private lands and communities in the West Mojave and Antelope Valley >>here. We know these areas well, we have lived here.

Proposed Rough Hat Solar Projects Would Take Up Huge Amount of Desert On Southern Edge of Pahrump

^October 12 Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee meeting.

October 18, 2021 - Pahrump, NV - On October 12 we attended the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee meeting at 5 p.m., Oct. 12 at the Nye County commissioners’ chambers in Pahrump, to listen and comment on the proposed 500-megawatt Rough Hat Solar Nye Project on 3,400 acres next to the south end of town. See the Nevada Public Utilities Commission filing here: The committee was discussing and bringing up recommendations for the solar projects proposed for southern Nye County: 6 projects in total (see maps below). That equals 18,000 acres of public lands.

The public was incensed, and no person supported this in their public comments. Access to the desert on the south edge of town was a huge issue, with recreational OHV, hiking, walking, exploration, and horse riding mentioned as important to why people moved to Pahrump. The beauty of the desert landscape was brought up.

Do we want to address this as a body? the committee asked. There would apparently be no way through the "road b lock" solar projects for off-highway vehicles and horsemen. The Trout Canyon Translocation Area to the south of the Tecopa Road--the area where hundreds of federally threatened Mojave desert tortoises would be moved to from the solar developments before construction--also raised questions concerning future access of those areas. The solar developer said this had not been finslaized yet, but an option to move tortoises to the Stump Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern was under consideration. The committee admitted there were a lot of loose ends about the solar projects, public lands access, and visual resource management.

The solar developers were present, from Candela Renewables out of San Francisco, a subsidiary of a multinational Spanish natural gas company. They were scheduled to give a presentation to the committee that evening.

Much more >>here.

Desert Apocalypse Film Series: Three Episodes Available On Our YouTube Channel

October 1, 2021 - Thanks to creative filmmaker Justin McAffee for filming and producing these videos in the film series Desert Apocalypse. We are grateful for his expertise in telling our story of conserving desert ecosystems, preserving history and culture, and highlighting the threats to local communities. See the links to the complete film series to date >>here, and stay tuned for more!

October 16 Poetry Reading at the Yellow Pine Solar Project

September 18, 2021 - Please join Shannon Salter and other readers at the site of the approved Yellow Pine Solar Project in south Pahrump Valley, Nevada, for poetry, campout and art party! This will be fun. We will film live clips and share on social media. Thank you Shannon! More >>here.

Oberon Solar Project Application Would Destroy Desert Ironwood Forests

^Desert irownoods on the higher site of the proposed Oberon Solar Project, looking down at Desert Harvest and Desert Sunlight Solar farms in operation, Chuckwalla Valley CA.

UPDATE September 8, 2021 - Our quick notes and Zoom screenshots of tonight's public meeting about the Oberson Solar Project Environmental Assessment hotsed by Bureau of Land Management and Intersect Power >>here.

September 4, 2021 - Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, CA - We visited the site of the proposed Oberon Renewable Energy Project, a photovoltaic solar project propised on one of the worst sites in Chuckwalla Valley--full of microphyll woodland, washes, a crucial connectivity corridor for wildlife, archaeological sites, Federally Threatened Mojave desert tortoise Critical Habitat, and a healthy population of Mojave fringe-toed lizards (Uma scoparia). This Colorado Desert landscape should be protected in full as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and not included as part of a large Development Focus Area for energy under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

During the planning process for the DRECP, the environmental review for this amendment of the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) under the Federal Lands and Policy management Act (FLMPA), none of us were consulted about where this Development Focus Area (DFA), or "solar energy zone" should be located. This was all decided behind closed doors, with vague maps, not generally available to the public. We never agreed to this desert being developed for utility-scale solar energy sprawl. More photos and information on how to comment in public meetings >>here.

100 Square Miles of Solar on Public Lands: Esmeralda County, Nevada, Solar Applications

Lone Mtn

^Lone Mountain with snow, March 2019, Nye County, Nevada, with utility-scale solar projects proposed for the basin just below.

September 1, 2021 - Tonopah, Nye County, NV - Various solar developers are scurrying to place applications for very large photovoltaic solar projects on public lands in the Great Basin, in the latest solar gold rush to mark territory along the proposed high-voltage Greenlink West Transmission Project. If this 525 kiloVolt long transmission line were to be built, it would open up nearly every basin in southwestern Nevada from Reno to Las Vegas to large-scale solar energy project development.

So far the applications amount to approximately 63,000 acres--nearly 100 square miles of solar development!

Basin and Range Watch toured the area today along with filmmaker Justin McAffee, despite the heavy smoke flowing from the Caldor Fire and other California wildfires--which raises the question: with so many hundreds of thousands of acres of Sierran and Cascade habitats going up in flames, do we need to destroy more desert habitat for industrial energy projects, when solar panels can very easily go on already-disturbed lands, and onto rooftops and over parking lots? With climate change looming, we need to preserve every last acre of intact, healthy native plant communities and wildlife habitat, including these undisturbed Nevada basins.


^A core Pronghorn antelope herd area exists in this basin. We saw a herd of antelope on our tour of the proposed solar development application area today, at the far southern end of Big Smoky Valley. Solar projects would impact these antelope. Photo by Kevin Emmerich.

Here is the press release from Bureau of Land Management in full, which we distributed far and wide throughout our grassroots network, since BLM failed to notice this widely to the public and local communities which would be effected (we noted that after repeated calls today by Basin and Range Watch for more information, and threats of Freedom of Information Act requests, BLM has updated this page today to include links to Plans of Development for most of these solar projects--we attempt to include these links, but please visit the original BLM press release page if links do not work; we also are archiving these PDFs because we have noticed renewable energy documents disappearing over the years from government websites):


CARSON CITY, Nev. – In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to permit 25 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2025 and to achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free energy by 2035, the Bureau of Land Management will host two virtual public meetings to discuss proposed solar and energy storage projects on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and Thursday, Sept. 9.

These proposed projects would be located in the vicinity of the Esmeralda Substation and the proposed 525-kilovolt GreenLink West transmission line in unincorporated Esmeralda County. Six applicants have requested right-of-way grants to construct, operate and decommission seven solar projects on public lands, as follows:

Esmeralda Solar Energy Center Project [link removed as of 9-1-2021?], NextEra Energy Resources: 500-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,804 acres of public lands.

Nivloc Solar Energy Project, Invenergy Solar: 500-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,635 acres of public lands.

Smoky Valley Solar Project, ConnectGen: 1,000-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 5,128 acres of public lands.

Rhyolite Ridge I Solar Project, 8minute Solar Energy: 600-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 6,368 acres of public lands.

Rhyolite Ridge II Solar Project, 8minute Solar Energy: 600-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 6,810 acres of public lands.

Gold Dust Solar, Arevia Power: 1500-megawatt solar photovoltaic and 1,000 MW battery energy storage project on approximately 17,018 acres of public lands.

Esmeralda Solar Project, Leeward Renewable Energy: 650 MW solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,700 acres of public lands.

The purpose of these public meetings is to provide information on the proposed projects and to solicit public input which will be incorporated into applications for Variance Approval as required by the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision. Topics will include an overview of the projects, discussion of size, capacity, structures, timeline and environmental concerns that are known at this time.

Meeting information for Sept. 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PDT is as follows:

Video conference: To access by phone, dial 1-866-807-9684. Please ask to be connected to the Pine Nut and Mason Valley call.

Meeting information for Sept. 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PDT is as follows:

Video conference: To access by phone, dial 1-669-900-6833 or 1-929-205-6099, passcode 971-8284-4088. You will be connected to the Esmerelda Solar Variance Projects meeting.

For more information contact Greg Helseth at 775-885-6000.

Lone mountain may

Lone Mountain, an ancient granitic core of a Jurassic volcano from 200 million years ago when this part of Nevada was part the Limestone Sea. This was then a volcanic island in that sea, perhaps inhabited by dinosaurs. The basin in the foreground, with widespread greasewood plant communities and playas, is the site of one of the many proposed solar projects in this area west of Tonopah, Nevada. This is intact, undisturbed habitat. Photo May 2016, by Laura Cunningham.

vast view

^Lone Mountain and Smoky Valley seen from a volcanic hill. October 2016.

Check back here at our page on the Esmeralda Solar Complex in the coming days with more updates. Basin and Range Watch is the only organization, apparently, tracking these energy projects on public lands, and reporting the information in detail.

Vast Utility-scale Solar Projects Threaten Rhyolite and Death Valley National Park

August 28, 2021 - Beatty NV - This is how long it takes to drive through the proposed Beatty Solar Energy Center. Film-maker Justin McAffee followed Basin and Range Watch on a drive from ribbon to ribbon placed by Beatty townspeople along State Route 374, just west of town, for miles and miles, to the entrance of Death Valley National Park in Amargosa Valley, Nevada (YouTube video here: We wanted to give people an idea of how vast and gigantic these utility-scale solar projects truly are, on the gound, in the real world. Not maps or acreage figures.

Another large solar project, SB Solar, also is proposed for this region of the northern Amargosa Valley on public land in Nevada next to Death Valley. The proposed Greenlink West Transmission Project would open up this remote and beautiful northern Mojave Desert region for large-scale energy development, and the local town and many visitors say No!

For more on this controversial solar project proposed on land managed by the Bureau of Land Manegament, see >>here.

Yellow Pine Solar: First in Film Series by Justin McAffee

August 29, 2021 - Pahrump Valley, NV - Filmmaker Justin McAffee travels with Basin and Range Watch to explore what's at stake at the Yellow Pine Solar project site in Pahrump Valley. They discover thousands of old-growth yucca and the endangered desert tortoise, among countless other species in the Mojave Desert that are threatened here and throughout thousands of square miles in Nevada.

More on the Yellow Pine Solar Project >>here.

Battle Born Solar Project Withdrawn!

July 29, 201 - Overton and Logandale, NV - The developer proposing to build one of the largest solar projects on public lands in the West, withdrew its application in a letter, shared by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on July 21. Oustanding resource concerns that were not resolved, lead to this decision. The BLM told us in an email they would accept the withdrawal.

We credit the local communities for stepping up and protecting the Lower Mormon Mesa in their backyard, proud to be "NIMBYs" in order to care for the lands they recreate on and live next to.

Local resident Lisa Hayes Childs in particular, organized a persistent effort to push back against energy development on the Mesa, forming a group Save Our Mesa, organizing film projects, tours, events, trash clean-ups, and other days highlighting how special the Mesa is to the local communities. They successfully highlighted this special land, its artworks, scenery, Jeep routes, and how people come here to watch the sunset, camp, and explore the incredible vistas of rivers and mountain views. We participated in a few of these events.

Read more about the letter from Arevia Power, and a statement by grassroots organizer Lisa Hayes Childs >>here.

Media articles of interest:

New Film Series Debut: DESERT APOCALYPSE, Assault on Desert Habitats

July 26, 2021 - Las Vegas, NV - Nevada is moving forward with the GreenLink transmission system, which would enable an unprecedented opening up of 9 million acres of public lands for industrial energy development, mostly solar, with no regard for the fragile but rich ecosystems in the Mojave and Great Basin. Massive utility-scale solar projects are planned or already under construction on desert tortoise habitat. Desert Apocalypse, as the name suggests, is an exposé of this plan to destroy our deserts.

Nevada independent filmmaker Justin McAffee is producing a series of short films, in cooperation with the Nevada-based conservation nonprofit Basin and Range Watch, to go out into the field to observe the destruction first-hand.

Desert Apocalypseboldly questions assumptions concerning our renewable energy future, the toll taken on biodiversity, and how local people forge paths to protecting these high-value public lands. McAffee describes the film series as about the assault on desert habitats.

“The extinction rate is currently 1,000 times the background rate of the last 60 million years,” described Justin McAffee, filmmaker. “Scientists everywhere are now warning that the biodiversity crisis is as much a threat to humanity as the climate crisis. Destroying millions of acres of fragile ecosystems isn’t a solution to any of our problems, and would in fact be part of it.”

Conservation groups and many local communities in the Silver State have been for years questioning how “green” these large-scale solar projects really are. The film follows some of the desert activists who have been fighting to defend the desert.

“I live here in the Mojave Desert, and see the destruction of habitats and public lands first-hand,” said Laura Cunningham, Co-Founder of Basin and Range Watch. “We recreate here, hike here, enjoy the dark night skies here. Nevada has an incredible heritage of wide open spaces, a rare thing that many people seek out, and rich biodiversity. We should not make our state the national sacrifice zone for solar panels that can easily go on the abundant urban rooftops and carports.”

The impacts of large-scale solar projects on Nevada’s public lands are plain to see. The Yellow Pine Solar Project is already under construction on over 3,000 acres of public lands in south Pahrump Valley, Nevada. The solar project will destroy an estimated 92,000 Mojave yucca plants—too many to transplant. Badgers have killed a third of the desert tortoises translocated off the project site, and the Bureau of Land Management is re-initiating consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over this federally threatened species.

"It is a myth that any large-scale energy can be renewable when entire ecosystems are sacrificed just to build one or two solar projects," said Kevin Emmeriich, Co-Founder of Basin and Range Watch. "We are seeing large-numbers of Mojave Desert imperiled species like the desert tortoise be needlessly killed and displaced by these projects."

Recently the poorly-sited Battle Born Solar Project--proposed to tear apart the unique lower Mormon Mesa in Clark County, Nevada--was withdrawn by the developer over popular protests and acknowledgement of the unique biological, geological, recreational, and public land values this land holds.

Filmmaker Justin McAffee intends to cover a wide range of geographic areas in Nevada, and the many solar projects planned or built on public lands, as well as track the people who are trying to defend these unique desert landscapes. The first film in the series can now be viewed.

“While it isn’t the most popular opinion to oppose solar development right now, the science backs up finding ways to reduce energy use and at a minimum, properly siting solar on the ample areas that are solar ready, rather than destroying vast areas of habitat,” said McAffee. “I don’t apologize for defending living ecosystems. Thankfully there are many others in Nevada who feel the same way. I look forward to telling their stories too.”

View the film and trailers now live on the new website Desert Apocalypse.

See the trailer here.

Solar Project Causes Tortoise Die-off

July 7, 2021 - South Pahrump Valley, NV-

Read the rest of the story >>here

Rhyolite Ghost Town View In Danger From Proposed Beatty Solar Energy Center Next to Death Valley

June 5, 2021 - Rhyolite NV - NextEra as Boulevard Associates is proposing a utilty-scale solar project of 6,500 acres next to the famous Rhyolite Ghost Town, along the boundary of Death Valley National Park, and the project would surround the Titus Canyon Road entrance. It can't get much worse than this on how to locate energy sprawl. See photos, maps, and more >>here.

Greenlink Transmission Project: Public Meetings To Be Held in Nevada Towns in Late June

June 3, 2021 - Beatty NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has informed us by telephone that they plan to hold two informational public meetings on the Greenlink Transmission Line project:

Monday, June 21 - Centennial Hills Library, Multipurpose Room, 6711 North Buffalo Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89131.

Tuesday, June 22 - Beatty Town Community Center, 100 Avenue South, Beatty NV 89003

Wednesday June 23 - Mineral County Library, 110 First St., Hawthorne, NV 89415.

Thursday June 24 - Yerington City Hall Building, 102 South Main St., Yerington NV89447.

Each meeting workshop will start at 5:00 PM, and repeat at 6:00 PM Pacific.

BLM tells us the Notice of Intent to start an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act will be published in April 2022, the start of an Environmental Impact Statement and public comment.

Greenlink West and North Transmission Lines: Opening Up Energy Development in Nevada Wildlands

March 6, 2021 - Western Nevada public lands and private properties - New Nevada Transmission Lines: Green Link West and North are coming to the wildlands and deserts near you.

Green Link West will go from the Mira Loma Substation near Reno to Las Vegas. NV Energy has already hired contractors to do biology studies. The new Interior Department is using Secretarial Order 3355 issued by the Trump Administration to fast track this one. That means the entire review must be complete in one year. The Environmental Impact Statement will come out in 2023 and Bureau of Land Management says the project will be built by 2026. That is the Biden Administration falling back on the Trump Administration. We are told there will be a number of eminent domain cases just for the Greenlink West line. The goal of both projects is to enable tens of thousands of acres of new solar, wind, pumped storage and geothermal projects in remote Nevada locations. We will have more info soon, check back >>here.

Yellow Pine Poet Rally!


February 27, 2021 - South Pahrump Valley, Nevada - Basin and Range Watch held a live and virtual gathering along the Old Spanish Trail Highway at the Stump Spring turnoff to bring attention to the grand plans to industrialize the entire area with 5 large-scale solar project and a new substation and transmission lines. One project, Yellow Pine Solar, has already been approved by BLM and will destroy 90,000 old growth Mojave yucca plants on 3,000 acres (4.6 square miles) of lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management. In total, there are 5 more proposed solar projects in this area. One for the California side and 4 for the Nevada side. In total, over 17,000 acres are being considered for development of huge solar projects in the region. We estimate that over 600,000 Mojave yuccas, 30,000 Joshua trees and 2,000 desert tortoises would all be impacted by these plans. Also being sacrificed are archeological sites and public access to BLM lands.

In addition, Congress recently passed a spending bill that included building five times the current number of renewable energy projects on public land by 2025. We need an urgent discussion about where to build this infrastructure, and how to do it without ruining our desert ecosystems.

Poetry Readings in the Desert: photos, poems, videos >> here!

Occupy Yellow Pine Desert

March 15, 2021 - Pahrump Valley, NV - Join us for an impromptu meet-up along Tecopa Road, to witness the Yellow Pine Solar Project construction. PDF of the flyer.



Clark County, Nevada, Lands Bill -- No!

^White-margined beardtongue (Penstemon albomarginatus):

March 3, 2021 - Senator Cortez-Masto will introduce the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act today. Also known as the Clark County Public Lands Bill, this will give over 42,000 acres of Mojave Desert away to sprawl developers around Jean, Nevada, and the northern Ivanpah Valley where desert tortoises and rare plants such as white-margined beardtoungue live. It will encourage thousands of more people to move to southern Nevada and increase smog. It will create new off-highway vehicle areas in tortoise habitat. It is also said to encourage water pipelines, pumped storage and wind projects.

The bill will encourage almost one million additional people in the area by developing public lands, but they are spinning it as conservation. The wilderness areas would not likely see development pressure. This is a cookie cutter sprawl bill.

Too many environmental groups got behind this. To be clear, it will expand the blob of Las Vegas by over 30,000 acres. More smog, roads and less Mojave Desert habitat for wilderness in areas that never would be developed anyway. The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is already protected. If the military wants to take it again, Congress can override the wilderness designations.

Sprawl legislation:

Gives away too much public land to developers. Creates huge off highway vehicle zones in unwanted areas like Sandy Valley. Pushes a water pipeline under the McCullough Range to support unwanted growth. The wilderness areas are not a good trade. Developers can go right up boundaries.

More >>here.

Basin and Range Watch Co-Founder Interview

November 14, 2020 - KNPR in Nevada interviews Kevin Emmerich on his vision for deefending the desert. A must read!

Yellow Pine Solar Project Approved and New De Facto Solar Energy Zone in South Pahrump Valley

November 6, 2020 - Pahrump NV - The Bureau of Land Management approved the Yellow Pine Solar Project On November 6, 2020. Impacts to desert tortoise, over 80,000 Mojave yuccas, desert pavement and old soil crust will not be adequately mitigated. Basin and Range Watch will appeal the decision.

But several new applications surrounding the Yellow Pine project, on equally pristine Mojave Desert, call into question the entire process of the Solar Programmatic environmental review of years ago where solar developers were supposed to be incentived to build in supposedly lower value Solar Energy Zones. No Solar Energy Zone exists in Pahrump Valley, yet developers are flocking here because of the availability of existing high-voltage transmission lines. More >>here.


Our Magazine of the Desert: El Paisano Continued!

El Paisano

December 23, 2018 -- It's finally here! Our newsletter of the desert. As an all-volunteer group we slowly developed this continuation of the venerable El Paisano, which dates back to 1955, as published by the Desert Protective Council (DPC). DPC gave us permission to continue to publish this newsletter.

Download the 6.5 MB PDF of El Paisano December 2018 (Vol.1 No. 1)

Here is a summary of El Paisano by Jim Styles in The Canyon Country Zephyr, 2014:

"The DPC began to publish the El Paisano in the Spring of 1955. In these fascinating 1950s quarterly volumes, the reader learns that the founders and members of the fledgling organization hit the ground running, immediately forming issues committees, informing themselves about issues related to their particular interest and taking action on controversial plans for the desert across Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

"There apparently was no scarcity of ill-advised proposals for the desert even in the 1950s. Early newsletters document the political savvy and lack of timidity of the early Board and advisory panel members. Some of the problems DPC tackled in the early years, such as the threat from uranium mining in Joshua Tree and the battle to save the Grand Canyon from a dam, have been solved, but a plethora of new threats to the desert have arisen that could not have been conceived of in the 1950s. The onslaught of bad ideas for the use of our deserts has increased with the growing human population of the southwest. Exploitation of the desert for minerals and desert ground water, military expansion, poaching, rampant resort development, industrialization by massive energy projects and transmission lines, new freeways and the proliferation of off-road vehicles continue to fragment desert habitats."

Stay tuned for more issues of El Paisano. We may make this a quarterly magazine, possibly with print and digital versions in the future. For now this will be a downloadable PDF digital magazine.

Thank you for your support to help us publish this! We are honored to continueEl Paisano.






Calendar of Comment Deadlines:

Greenlink West Transmission Line Project Scoping for Envirommental Impact Statement deadline June 1 for public comments >>BLM

Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement comments due March 1, 2023 >>BLM

Solar applications on east side of Death Valley National Park in pre-NEPA stages

Lava Ridge Wind Project, Idaho-Draft EIS may be out summer 2022

Rough Hat Nye Solar Project, Nevada-in Variance Process, pre-NEPA-stay tuned!

Rough Hat Clark Solar Project, Nevada-in Variance Process, pre-NEPA-stay tuned!

Copper Rays Solar Project, Nevada-in Varance Process, pre-NEPA-stay tuned!

Yellow Pine Solar Project, Nevada-join Rabbit Camp to protest! >>

Support Proposed New Avi Kwa Ame National Monument Under Antiquities Act >>here




Sign up for our Email Newsletter! >>here


About Us




We Support Rooftop Solar

Poorly Sited Solar, Wind, and Storage Projects on Public Lands


Environmental Justice in the Desert

Public Lands and Renewable Energy

Lithium Mining

Pumped Hydro Storage Projects

The Hill-Opinion Pieces

El Paisano

Literary Laureate

Natural History of the Desert and Great Basin

We Support Proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

Clark County, Nevada, Lands Bill

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

Military Base Expansions

Desert Art Installations

Highways and Rail

Groundwater Hydrology



Public Lands

Land Exchanges


Groundwater Mining

News Archive







Giving Thanks to the People who have lived and live in these Deserts for thousands of years. We live today on the unceded homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Chemehuevi, and many many more Tribes and Indigenous Peoples.


“You've got to get people to believe that change is possible... You have to show that you can fight things successfully even if you don't win.”

-- Winona LaDuke


“What our Seventh Generation will have is a consequence of our actions today.”

-- Winona LaDuke


"In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."

--Edward Abbey, 1967, Desert Solitaire


"Polite conversationalists leave no mark, save the scar upon the earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground."

--David Brower


"Only within the 20th Century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment. Awareness of ecological relationships is — or should be — the basis of modern conservation programs, for it is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved."

--Rachel Carson, Essay on the Biological Sciences, in Good Reading (1958)





^Amargosa Valley view from near Longstreet, Nevada.








Text and photographs Copyright 2020 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.