Beauty and Biodiversity of the Searchlight Hills

^Harris's hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) on a Joshua tree, a rare visitor in the Searchlight Hills from the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

December 4, 2011 - The low mountain range near the southern edge of the Mojave Desert lies in Clark County, Nevada not far from the Colorado River. This collection of photos show the beauty of the desert here, and the high diversity of plants and animals inhabiting the lush desert hills. These photos show scenes from the area of the proposed Searchlight Wind Project by Duke Energy. Roads would cut through this dense Joshua tree woodland, made wide for truck transport, and 400-foot tall steel wind turbines would be placed over the hills. Hawks and eagles, some not seen elsewhere in Nevada, fly over these hills. The Searchlight area is not an appropriate place for an industrial wind project.

We thank Nevada resident Wayne Bundorf who took many of the photos; other photos are by Basin and Range Watch.

^Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) by the proposed wind project.

^Searchlight Hills.

^Dense Joshua tree woodland.

^Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii) in the Searchlight Hills. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Gambel's quail in Joshua tree. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^The Searchlight Wind Project would cover these hills with new roads and steel turbines.

^Tall Joshua tree along a small dirt road. Roads would have to be widened to bring in huge wind turbine parts, and trees like this removed.

^Cooper's hawk (Accipter cooperi) landing on the ground by yuccas, Searchlight Hills. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae) on a Mojave yucca. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Fall sunset on the Searchlight Hills.

^This is a wild desert, rich in life.

^Barn owl (Tyto alba) nesting in an old mine shaft in the Searchlight area. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Barn owl flying out of an old mine shaft. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Western whiptail lizards (Cnemidophorus tigris) bask in the sun. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Buckhorn cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa) flowering in the Searchlight Hills. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Cholla and Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera). (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Bobcat (Lynx rufus) drinking in a yucca desert, Searchlight Hills. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Searchlight Hills sunset.

^A coyote (Canis latrans) comes by a residence in Searchlight. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Costa's hummingbird flying off a Joshua tree. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Closer view of the flying hummingbird. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Gambel's quail on a Joshua tree. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Sunset in the Joshua tree woodland of the Searchlight Hills, with a Mojave yucca illuminated in the foreground. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^A lightning strike in the desert catches a woodrat (Neotoma) nest on fire. The "packrat" make their nests out of piles of sticks, leaves, stones, and debris often among Mojave yuccas. The nest turns to ash. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Joshua trees on the proposed wind project area.

^Black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) in the Joshua tree woodland. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Searchlight Hills -- will this desert be marked and fragmented by 400-foot tall wind turbines?

^Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii). (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Sunset in the rich Joshua trees, looking northwest.

^Harris's hawk on Joshua tree. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^A total of four Harris's hawks perch in an old Joshua tree in the Searchlight Hills. They are social hunters. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Harris's hawk in the Searchlight Hills, site of a proposed wind project. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Duke Energy's meteorological tower, to measure winds for their proposed industrial wind project in the Searchlight Hills. A Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) flies behind the Met tower. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Enlargement of the Golden eagle seen circling around the Met tower. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^The Golden eagle circles by the Searchlight Wind Project met tower. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Dense Joshua tree woodland, the eagle visible as a speck flying by the met tower. (Photo by Wayne Bundorf)

^Detail of Golden eagle circling by a met tower.


Meteorological Tower on the Wind Project Proposal

400-foot tall wind turbines pose a serious threat to eagles, which are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This 200-foot meteorological tower is located on a hill in the Searchlight Hills range, on the edge of the proposed large-scale wind project. 400-foot-tall turbines could kill or harm Golden eagles that forage and may nest in the area. In addition, Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are winter residents in nearby Lake Mojave, and the National Park Service reports a nest by Bald eagles there.

See the Bald Eagle Monitoring Report for Lake Mead National Recreation Area >>here (753 KB PDF).

^Met tower and Joshua trees.

^Met tower in a low hill in the Searchlight Hills, the place where the Golden eagle was sighted.

^Wires holding up the met tower mar the desert.

^Met tower and Searchlight mountains.

^Wires of the met tower, sunset desert scene.

Fall Raptor Migration is On!

September 26, 2013 - The Searchlights Hills are part of a migration corridor along the Colorado River, and during the late summer and fall seasons dozens of Turkey vultures and hawks may be seen flying southward. At times they land on the Joshua trees cloaking the hills.

^Turkey vultures (Photo: Wayne Bundorf).

^Turkey vulture perched on a Joshua tree (Photo: Wayne Bundorf).

^A Cooper's hawk in the Joshua tree woodland of Searchlight (Photo: Wayne Bundorf).


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