Basin & Range Watch
Defending the Desert
Protecting the Basin and Range
Basin and Range Watch is a group of volunteers who live in the deserts of Nevada and California, working to stop the destruction of our desert homeland. Federal and many state agencies and some local governments are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat in our region to industrial renewable energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems and open spaces. We support renewable energy but advocate for better national and state planning.
Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.
Conservationists Ask for New Decision on the Searchlight Wind Project
March 12, 2015 - Last week conservation groups, including Basin & Range Watch, asked the U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada to order Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to take a fresh look at a controversial wind project in an area with the densest concentrations of protected golden eagles and one of the densest desert tortoise populations in Nevada. The latest motion asks Judge Miranda Du to vacate the Record of Decision and require the Secretary of the Interior to make a new decision whether to approve the project after the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provide additional explanation for their wildlife analyses. More >>here.
"Phased Approach" to DRECP Announced
March 11, 2015 - The The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) yesterday announced the next steps in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) after the close of the comment period.
According to the press release from www.drecp.org, based on an initial review of public comments received (12,000 or so were received) on the draft DRECP that were submitted by a diverse group of stakeholders, the agencies are adjusting the planning process and will use a phased approach to approve the plan's three fundamental components: the BLM Land Use Plan Amendment; federal General Conservation Plan; and the state Natural Community Conservation Plan.
The agencies will start by completing the BLM component of the DRECP that designates development focus areas and conservation areas on public lands while providing additional time for the state and federal agencies to work with counties and other stakeholders to address issues and concerns with the General Conservation Plan and the Natural Community Conservation Plan components, including the proposed permitting processes.
Continued engagement with the counties will help determine the best options and timing for proceeding with the private land components and better align renewable energy development and conservation at the local, state and federal level. It will also allow the agencies to explore opportunities for a tailored, county-by-county approach that fits with the DRECP plan.
What we really think may be happening is the counties are pushing back against this massive renewable energy development plan, so the agencies are delaying implementation of the private lands component until later, and moving forward instead with the mostly-federal lands component. But this raises the question of why a DRECP plan is necessary at all if it entails re-writing BLM land use plans for solar and wind energy that have already been written in such massive documents as the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which already has Solar Energy Zones and areas set aside for non-development.
See more at Chris Clarke's KCET ReWire blog.
Desert Quartzite Solar Project Moving Forward
March 5, 2015 - In the Federal Register this morning: the Bureau of Land Management has opened up the official review for the Desert Quartzite Solar Project, a First Solar photovoltaic thin-film facility. This will be located near Blythe, California and will be about 2,500 acres. It will be just south of the community of Mesa Verde. The residents of Mesa Verde are now complaining about all of the dust that is being kicked up from the Blythe Solar Farm being bulldozed right now. The project could threaten desert tortoises, Mojave fringe-toed lizards, and Yuma clapper rails.
Public scoping comments will be accepted until April 6th. They can be mailed to
Inyo County Planning Commission Votes on Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment
March 5, 2015 - Independence CA - The Inyo County Planning Commission voted 5-0 in favor of a recommendation on the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) on March 4, to the applause of many in the room. The Commission recommended limiting solar development in Inyo County to projects less than 20 MW. The Commission also recommended reducing the Solar Energy Development Areas (SEDAs), eliminating Charleston View SEDA and Chicago Valley SEDA completely, and reducing Rose Valley SEDA, Pearsonville SEDA, and Owens Lake SEDA significantly in size. The Inyo County Board of Supervisors will vote on the Planning Commission’s REGPA recommendations on March 24th in Independence, CA
Large Bird Kill at Crescent Dunes Solar Power Tower During Testing
^"Halo" testing solar flux above the tower that killed birds.
February 18, 2015 - Basin & Range Watch visited the Crescent Dunes solar power tower to observe testing on February 17 and we talked in person with Bureau of Land Management personnel in Tonopah to discuss a recent bird mortality event.
We learned that 130 waterbirds (although we have yet to see a purported video, other sources say they were passerines) were killed in the solar flux of the power tower during a four hour period on January 14, as the birds flew into the intense solar flux of a special test arrangement of mirrors above the tower receiver. A January 2014 compliance report explains what biologists on the ground saw and reported to BLM, the species of bird is not yet clarified. During this survey, several biologists on the project site during surveys reported seeing the birds fly into the solar flux, "turn white, and vaporize." No remains were found. More >>here.
Second Golden Eagle Killed at Spring Valley Wind Project
February 18, 2015 - Spring Valley NV - A second golden eagle was found dead on January 9, 2015, next to a wind turbine generator at the Spring Valley Wind Project next to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. The first golden eagle was found two years ago in February 2013. We found the second mortality record while examining the Year two cumulative impacts list October 2014 to Feb 14, 2015.
The following is from WEST, Inc. (Bureau of Land Management personal communication):
US Fish and Wildlife Service told us in a personal communication that this is under investigation. More >>here.
Soda Mountain Solar Project Protest
February 14, 2015 - California/Nevada Desert Committee members protest Soda Mountain Solar, a Bechtel proposed project that will disrupt bighorn sheep migration and damage burrowing owl, kit fox and desert tortoise habitat.
Sign Our Petition to Push for a Rooftop Solar and Energy Efficiency Alternative to the DRECP
February 14, 2015 - If you didn't get to sign the letter, you can sign on to our comment letter you can sign the petition!
Basin & Range Watch Comment Letter on the DRECP
January 30, 2015 - Basin & Range Watch submitted this comment letter today to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan website. Instead of massive bulldozing of desert ecosystems and fragmentation of rural communities, we propose an alternative that utilizies the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which is already state law. Enough rooftop and parking lot sites exist to more than fulfill the California electricity need, as well as pushing for more energy efficiency to save energy. More >>here.
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here
Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here
Renewable Energy Projects We Are Following:
Proposal for an Ivanpah Valley Area of Critical Environmental Concern >>here
Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County, Nevada >>here.
Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, California >>here. (Solar project rejected by Bureau of Land Management)
Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project
A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here
Sunshine Valley Solar Project
A 110 MW photovoltaic project by First Solar on private land in Amargosa Valley NV that is close to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refgue. Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rails may be threatened by the "lake effect" of the solar panels >>here
Palen Solar Electric Generating System
500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. Abengoa Solar. >>here
Silver State South Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County, Nevada >>here
Stateline Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, CA >>here (under construction)
Soda Mountain Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County, California >>here
Many applications for giant solar developments in this Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley in Riverside County, California >>here. (under construction)
Genesis Solar Energy Project
NextEra Energy proposes to build a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Ford Dry Lake in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)
McCoy Solar Power Project
750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)
Blythe Solar Power Project
A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panelproject in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)
I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here
Crescent Dunes Solar Project
Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here. (under construction)
Solar Reserve Rice Solar Energy Project
A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote California desert >>here. (inactive)
Owens Valley solar projects
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.
Ocotillo Express Wind Facility
Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County, California >>here (online)
Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here
Spring Valley Wind Energy Project
Pattern Energy wants to build up to 85 giant 400-foot tall wind turbines in Spring Valley east of Ely, Nevada, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope. DEADLINE for Comments January 15, 2010! >>here (online)
Mohave County Wind Farm Project
On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern Arizona, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here
Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (not active)
Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility
BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (not active)
Abengoa Lathrop Wells Solar Facility
This project is no longer active. In Amargosa Valley, Nevada, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic. >>here (withdrawn)
Imperial Valley Solar Project
This project is no longer active. Former Tessera Stirling dish project on 6,500 acres sited on archaeologically sensitive Colorado Desert with Flat-tailed horned lizards, west of El Centro, Imperial County, California >>here (withdrawn)
Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project
Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here
Pacific Solar Big Dune Photovoltaic Project
7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (not active)
Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County, Nevada >>here (not active)
Basin & Range Watch Sends Advising Letter to Sunshine Valley Solar
October 14, 2014 - Amargosa Valley NV - Basin & Range Watch retained an attorney to write a letter of advice to Sinshine Valley Solar LLC over the potential for Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rail "take" (mortality) on the proposed Sunshine Valley Solar Project in Amargosa Valley near the wetlands of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nye County NV. We believes it would be both prudent and legally appropriate for Sunshine Valley Solar to initiate the application process for an Incidental Take Permit.
The Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) is a marsh bird listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to a July 2014 letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to Sunshine Valley Solar providing the agency’s comments on the Project, solar photovoltaic (“PV”) facilities like the Sunshine Valley Solar Project “present a new source of mortality for Yuma clapper rails” because “[t]hese facilities reflect light during the day and night, producing a lake or pond effect that may attract rail species and other water-associated birds.” Several rail bird mortalities caused by this “lake effect” at PV facilities have been documented, and the actual number of mortalities is likely higher than this documentation reflects, as scavengers often remove bird carcasses before they can be accounted for. See the letter >>here.
Ridgecrest Solar Power Project
Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here
Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project
RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County, California, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail. >>here
Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project
This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County, Nevada near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)
Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here
Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here
Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project
An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County, California. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County, California >>here (not active)
Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern Nevada and eastern California in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)
Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja to coastal cities in San Diego County, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)
SCE Proposes 2 New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in Mojave Desert >>here
Renewable Energy Alternatives:
CALL to ACTION for ENERGY DEMOCRACY
Sign the Petition by Solar Done Right (scroll down to petition on left front page)
This initiative will bring citizens together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move renewable energy development away from our ecologically rich and agriculturally important lands and onto rooftops and already-developed areas. Solar Done Right will take this petition to top energy policymakers in our government: the White House, Department of Interior, Department of Energy.
Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California by Al Weinrub >>1.22 MB PDF
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here
Solar Done Right Response >>here
Bureau of Land Management plan to designate renewable energy zones in the desert Southwest >>here
Defining Disturbed and Degraded Lands for Renewable Energy >>here
Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here
BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here
Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here
New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here
Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here
Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here
Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here
Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here
Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here
Water in the Desert: Wet-Cooling and Dry-Cooling Technology for Solar Thermal Projects >>here
Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here
Solar Done Right Response >>here
Senator Feinstein Bill: California Desert Protection Act of 2010
Proposal for Mojave Trails National Monument and Sands to Snow National Monument, some new wilderness areas, some wilderness study areas removed, and a giant plan for a Mitigation Zone for renewable energy projects >>here. Abengoa Solar and Cogentrix Energy support the bill, according to the California Wilderness Coalition
January 2011: Senator Feinstein Crafts New California Desert Protection Bill Minus Solar Provisions >>here
All Renewable Energy Issues >>here
^October 2014 - Cinammon teal, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Calendar of Comment Deadlines
April 6, 2015 - Comment deadline on Desert Quartzite Solar Project >>BLM
Draft Las Vegas Resource Management Plan >>here
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project in the California Desert >>here
Great New Website Helping to Preserve Rural Communities, Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative:
and Facebook page
Alliance For Desert Preservation:
New Website of Interest: Deepest Valley: The Story of Inyo Continues
Check Out the Watch East Kern Website - Good Information on Our Precious Desert Groundwater http://watcheastkern.info/
Robert Lundahl Film: "Who Are My People?" >>here
More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here
MINING NEWS >>here
Reward Mine Gets Permit >>here
"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."
MORE CARTOONS >>here.
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