Defending the Desert



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Protecting the Basin and Range Province



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.

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Sign the Petition: Save Searchlight Desert and Mountains

November 13, 2015 - Searchlight NV - Please sign this petition to ask the Bureau of Land management to designate the Searchlight Hills a wind-free zone because of very high nesting golden eagle populations and desert tortoise. More >>here.

Federal Judge Rejects Environmental Group Challenge

November 22, 2015 - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that environmental groups including the Desert Protective Council had not shown that the Bureau of Land Management acted arbitrarily in greenlighting the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility project in the desert east of San Diego.

The three-judge panel said BLM did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, as the environmentalists claimed, because BLM “sufficiently evaluated and disclosed the environmental impacts of the Ocotillo wind energy project.”

Basin & Range Watch placed a Freedom of Information Act request on this project. The US Fish and Wildlife Service was not completely satisfied with the qualifications of some of the raptor biologists hired on the Ocotillo Express Wind Project. The environmental review, in our opinion, may have been flawed.

Eagle Mountain Pumped Hydro Storage Project: Ask the Department of Interior to Protect Joshua Tree National Park

November 14, 2015 - ACTION ALERT! Eagle Crest Energy (ECE) has proposed its Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project for an area immediately adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. Email Interior Secretary Jewell and National Park Service Director Jarvis, and tell them you encourage them to halt negotiations with ECE and challenge this project in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to protect Joshua Tree from an environmental disaster. More >>here.

Final Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Announced

November 10, 2015 - Washington DC – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today announced the final environmental review of the landscape-scale blueprint to streamline renewable energy development on 10 million acres of federal public lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the California desert. The release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is part of agency pushes to streamline renewable energy on public lands. More >>here.


--Silurian Valley is protected, but Soda Mountains solar project development area is not.

--The beloved Trona Pinnacles area is made into a new very large Devlopment Focus Area.

--802,000 acres of new "Unallocated Lands" are suddenly open to utility-scale renewable energy development.

--There is a 30 day protest period.

Pahrump Rail Energy Storage Project


November 10, 2015 - Pahrump NV - At a meeting with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a new energy storage technology was discussed that will require public land on a large alluvial slope below Mt. Charleston near Carpenter Canyon in the Spring Range in Nye and Clark Counties. An Environmental Assessment is being prepared to review the project. More >>here.

The Comment deadline is November 11, 2015. Send comments to Greg Helseth, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130.

Riverside East Solar Energy Zone Mitigation and Monitoring Plans

November 6, 2015 - Sacramento CA - A meeting of agencies and to discuss how to proceed with monitoring impacts of solar projects to resources in the Riverside East Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) in eastern Chuckwalla Valley occurred on October 28. This is an ongoing process to work out details of the massive Solar Programmatic Impact Statement (PEIS) developed and approved for federal lands in the western US. Our report on how solar projects will be monitored in this Colorado Desert/Mojave Desert transition valley >>here.

Federal Judge Voids Permits for Searchlight Wind Project

November 2, 2015 - Searchlight NV - Last Friday, U.S. 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 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) inadequately evaluated the dangers that the industrial-scale wind project would pose to desert wildlife. She cited data missing from the agency surveys, inadequate assessment of potential threats to golden eagles, desert tortoises, and bats, and the need for additional explanation of the agencies’ conclusions. If the developer, Apex Clean Energy, wants to proceed with the project, the BLM would need to prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement to address the deficiencies she identified. The USFWS would also have to prepare a new Biological Opinion. This important decision will protect eagles nesting near the project site, the highest-density desert tortoise habitat in Nevada, the viewshed from adjacent parks and tribal sacred areas, as well as property values, recreation, and tourism near the town of Searchlight. More >>here.

New "Streamer" Video Obtained by Basin & Range Watch of Crescent Dunes Solar Project Birds Vaporizing

^Bird "streamer" disintegrating in solar flux. Still frame crop from video.

October 27, 2015 - Near Tonopah NV - The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System power towers have made the news in bird mortality as the intense solar flux creates damaging heat energy to anything that flies through it over formerly biodiverse Mojave Desert habitat in a valley surrounded by bird-rich mountain ranges. Now Basin & Range Watch has obtained a video through Freedom of Information Act Request that shows biologists contracted by SolarReserve filming and commenting on numerous birds flying into solar flux, apparently horned larks, turning white-hot, and vaporizing. This video is from last January during testing when mirrors were focusing solar flux in a "halo" pattern in standby position above and around the tower creating a deadly ring of bird-trapping flux. SolarReserve has replied since then they "fixed" the problem by rearranging the mirrors to create a less intense "pancake" pattern.

The real problem is the operational solar flux, not solar flux during testing when the mirrors are aimed in different configurations around the power tower. During operation, when all mirrors are aimed at the receiver on top of the tower, a high-energy solar flux cone. Simply changing testing configurations does nothing to mitigate the solar flux created in the air space around the tower during normal operation, when temperatures are hot enough to super-heat fluids such as molten salt (as at Crescent Dunes) or water into steam (as at Ivanpah). See more >>here.

Cadiz Project Groundwater Pumping

October 23, 2015 - San Bernardino County CA - Cadiz Inc. is trying to push ahead a project that would pump as much as 50,000 acre-feet of water from the desert aquifer just south of Mojave National Preserve each year for the next 50 years and store it as a groundwater "bank" to sell to thristy buyers. That plan has long faced strong opposition from environmentalists, including us, who say the plan is unstustainable for desert aquifers which are mostly ancient fossil water and not quickly replenished. Read the story of water pipelines and agency questions, as well as controversial groundwater geology in the southern Mojave Desert.

See the Desert Sun --

Eagle Mountain Pumped Hydro Project: FERC Denies Request for Rehearing

October 15, 2015 - Riverside County CA - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) just denied the request by Desert Protection Society, National Park Service (as Department of Interior), and the mining company Kaiser Eagle Mountain, LLC (Kaiser) for reconsideration of the license granted for the Eagle Mountain hydro project. Department of Interior also filed for a stay which was also denied.

The 1,300-megawatt project would operate as a closed-loop pumped storage facility, with water for the initial reservoir fill and replenishment supplied by groundwater wells. FERC seems to claim that they have jurisdiction over the groundwater as a "waterway" that can be regulated, and even cites federal power of eminent domain to acquire the necessary property rights to develop its project. See the court document.

See the Desert Sun for more.

News Archive: News page 2.....News page 1






















^November 2015 - Joshau trees in a storm, Spring Range looking towards the Sheep Range, southern Nevada.





The Better Alternative: Rooftop Solar and Energy Efficiency (California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan) >>here - Sign the Petition



Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here


Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here - Solar Done Right Response >>here



Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment>>here

Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here

Solar Projects (Active):




Blythe Solar Power Project

A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panel project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)

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)

Desert Quartzite Solar Farm

A 2,500-acre photovoltaic project by First Solar near Blythe, in Riverside County, California >>here

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm

A large-scale First Solar photovoltaic project in Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California >>here (in operation)

I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here

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, CA. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource's solar thermal power tower proposal in Ivanpah Valley, San Bernardino County CA >>here Updates >>here (online)

Luning Solar Energy Project

100 MW photovoltaic project in Mineral County, NV >>here (approved)

McCoy Solar Power Project

750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe CA, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)

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 in eastern CA at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.

Palen Solar Electric Generating System

500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center CA, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. Abengoa Solar. >>here

Silver State South Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County NV >>here (under construction)

Soda Mountain Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County CA>>here

Last Spring at Soda Mountain? >>here

Stateline Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley CA >>here (under construction)

See also Ivanpah Updates page >>here; May 2011 >>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

Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here

Wind Projects (Active):




Ocotillo Express Wind Facility

Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County CA >>here (online)

Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here

Mohave County Wind Farm

On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern AZ, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here

Searchlight Wind Energy Project

Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County NV >>here.

Silurian Valley Wind and Solar Project

Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, CA >>here. (Solar project rejected by Bureau of Land Management)

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 NV, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope >>here (online)

Transmission Projects:


Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow CA south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here

Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project

Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern NV and eastern CA in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)

Sunrise Powerlink

Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja, Mexico to coastal cities in San Diego County CA, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)

SCE Proposes two New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in the Mojave Desert >>here

Inactive or Withdrawn Solar Projects:


Amargosa Farm Road Project

Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County NV >>here (not active)

Big Dune Solar Prohject

7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley NV by Pacific Solar, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (inactive)

Calico Solar Project

This project is larger than the city of Berkeley. K Road project by the proposed Cady Mountains Wilderness, San Bernardino County CA >>here. Updates >>here (withdrawn)

Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (withdrawn)

Imperial Valley Solar Project

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 CA >>here (withdrawn)

Lathrop Wells Solar Facility

An older Abengoa application. In Amargosa Valle NV, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic >>here (withdrawn)

Lucerne Valley Solar Project

Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises in Lucerne Valley CA. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here (inactive)

Rice Solar Energy Project

A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote CA desert by Solar Reserve >>here (inactive)

Ridgecrest Solar Power Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal for Kern County CA, in the West Mojave Desert >>here. Updates page >>here (terminated)

Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (inactive)

Inactive or Withdrawn Wind Projects:

Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project

RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County CA, 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 NV 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

Inactive Transmission Projects:


Green Path North Transmission Project

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County CA >>here (not active)

Storage Projects:


Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project

An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County CA. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor >>here

Better Renewable Energy Alternatives:



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.

Rooftop Solar and Energy Efficiency (California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan) >>here - Sign the Petition






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

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

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

Renewable Energy Issues >>here







Calendar of Comment Deadlines

Advanced Rail Energy Storage Project in Pahrump NV - comment deadline November 11, 2015 - BLM

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan - Final Environmental Impact Statement may be out in November 2015

West Mojave Plan (WEMO) comment deadline January 25, 2016 - BLM

Of Interest:

Federal Judge Voids Permits for Searchlight Wind Project >>here

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project in the California Desert >>here

Robert Lundahl Film: "Who Are My People?" >>here





More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here




Hiking the Desert














"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













All text and photographs Copyright 2014 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is an all-volunteer group which does not accept donations from any corporation, individual, or entity.
Web Design by Laura Cunningham, Basin and Range Watch.