Basin & Range Watch
|Defending the Desert|
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. Industrial renewable energy companies are seeking to develop millions of acres of unspoiled habitat in our region. 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.
March 8, 2014 - The California Bureau of Land Management will not record your comments at public meetings for largescale energy project proposals on public lands. This has been the case since last fall. We have asked the California State Director, Jim Kenna, to answer this question twice. He always has one of his subordinates answer the question. The answer is that “BLM will not record public comments at public meetings”. They will not give us a reason why. They tell us that the issue will come up on March 14-15th at the Desert Resource Advisory Council (DAC) meeting in Palm Springs. So if you decide to make a trip to a BLM public meeting about a largescale energy project, keep in mind that your comment will not go on the record and not be considered in the formal review process. Your written comment will be accepted and legally recorded. People who can’t write or have a disability that would prevent them from doing so are out of luck. This borders on discrimination.
We beleive public participation should not in any way be lessened during these reviews.
DAC: The Bureau of Land Management, Desert Advisory Committee (DAC), will conduct a field tour on Friday March 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a public meeting on Saturday March 15 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The field trip and formal meeting are open to the public. Field trip and Saturday meeting agenda along with additional reports will be posted to this site as they become available.
How to Deter Birds From Solar Power Towers (Or Not...)
March 8, 2012 - How will BrightSource Energy stop burning birds with their power towers?
BrightSource Energy has not been able to come up with new ideas that would prevent birds from getting burned in the radiant solar flux that would be produced by their Palen Solar Project power towers. BrightSource originally proposed to scare birds off from their power towers with plastic decoy owls, lasers, water cannons, netting, trained dogs, trained raptors and a host of other ideas.
They still are trying to get the agencies to adopt these mitigation ideas. The latest is called The Eagle Eye. Sounding like something that’s on sale in Radio Shack, “the Eagle Eye is an eight-inch tall pyramid-shaped structure covered in reflective materials that spins via a battery- or solar-operated motor atop a pole or other structure (Birdbusters 2012). It reflects constantly-changing beams from sunlight in a pattern that startles and disorients birds. The beams are roughly 150 feet long (WCS 2013). The reflective surface needs to be cleaned regularly as airborne particles dull the surface, reducing its reflectivity (Bird Barrier ® 2014).The constant flashes of light could visually impair low-flying aircraft near the project area and annoy nearby people (Bird Barrier® 2014), but this may not be of concern for a remotely-placed project. The effectiveness of mirrors and reflectors as a bird scaring technique is variable (Bishop et al. 2003), and is best suited for near-flying birds, so strategic placement would be important for large solar arrays.”
And of course the question would be, will birds become so disoriented by the Eagle Eye that they would fly into the solar flux and burn to death? See the proposal docketed at the California Energy Commission >>here.
Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts
February 27, 2014 - Basin & Range Watch attended the 39th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium in Ontario, California, where a session was held on golden eagle and other raptor research being done in the deserts of California and Nevada concerning their status, behavior, movements, nesting and protection. Lessons from the Altamount Pass wind project were also presented >>here.
Dead Northern Saw-whet Owl Found at Spring Valley Wind Project
February 27, 2014 - The bird mortality monitoring compliance for the Spring Valley Wind Project, located next to Great Basin National Park, Nevada on public lands reports a Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) mortality this winter. The find is “incidental” meaning it was not found during an official search. It makes one wonder what else is being missed and killed by the turbines. The nearby Swamp Cedars Area of Critical Environmental Concern is located right next to the wind farm and could be a breeding habitat for these owls. Some photos and information on the Spring Valley Wind Project can be seen >>here.
The Northern saw-whet owl breeds in conifer forests, including pinyon-juniper woodlands. Some owls move seasonally, and saw-whet owls may have been nesting in the swamp cedars or traveling through the area. They usually nest in old woodpecker holes.
In Nevada they may be uncommon, although probably are more widespread because of the difficulty of detecting the bird. Nesting has been confirmed in the White Pine Range, the Toiyabe Range, and in Great Basin National Park.
They are named for their loud persistent night-time song during the breeding season. Mice and other small mammals make up most of their diet.
Sign the Petition to Ask the White House to Protect Mojave National Preserve
February 17, 2014 - Bechtel proposes to build Soda Mountain Solar on 4,179 acres of public land adjacent to Mojave National Preserve, threatening the resources and landscape of this treasured unit of the National Park System.
The Soda Mountain project will interfere markedly with the habitat corridor linking Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks.
The environmental impacts of Soda Mountain include decreased spring discharge at Zzyzx, loss of habitat for the endangered Mohave tui chub, loss of high-quality desert tortoise habitat, increased habitat fragmentation for desert bighorn sheep, and loss of wildlife connectivity with nearby wilderness areas.
Soda Mountain will obstruct dramatic views into the Preserve and degrade the dark skies experience of the park's 550,000 annual visitors. >>more
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.
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. BrightSource Energy and Abengoa partners on project. >>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
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
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
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.
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 (not active)
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)
Ridgecrest Solar Power Project
Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here
Robert Lundahl Films on Solar Issues, the Desert, and Indigenous Rights >>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
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
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
Prioritizing Where to Site Renewable Energy in California: California Energy Commission Workshop May 2012 >>here
Defining Disturbed and Degraded Lands for Renewable Energy >>here
Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here
Solar Done Right Response >>here
Solar Energy Study Areas
Bureau of Land Management plan to designate renewable energy zones in the desert Southwest >>here
West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Zone >>here
Good Plan, Too Late: Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan New Website >>here
BLM Announces Solar Rental Fees for Public Land >>here
Governor's Renewable Energy Policy Conference
March 24, 2010 at UC Riverside, California: Expediting Solar and Wind in the Desert >>here
Expediting Big Solar: Padilla Bill Signed Into Law at Harper Lake (Where CSP Plants May Be Fighting Over Water) >>here
Congressional Field Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Chaired by Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), hosted by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) >>here
Reid and Heller Introduce Competitive Lease Solar and Wind Bill for Public Lands >>here
Nevada: American Solar Energy Pilot Leasing Act of 2010 >>here
Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here
California Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, Renewable Energy Action Team, and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here. California Fast-Track solar and wind projects >>here. November 2009 summary of projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here; more projects >>here
Nevada Fast-Track Projects >>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
^September 2013 - Silurian Valley, north of Baker, California. Sunset after monsoon floods fill the playa with water.
Calendar of Comment Deadlines
Soda Mountain Solar Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement: comments due March 3, 2014 >>BLM
Blythe Solar Project comments due March 24, 2014 >>BLM
Comment on Palen Solar Electric Generating System proceedings >CEC
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/
Visit to Los Angeles Dep of Water and Power Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Proposed Site and Manzanar National Historic Site >>here
Visit to the Northland Power Independence Solar Project >>here
Comment on the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project >>here
Please Sign the Petition: Save the Blythe Sacred Sites from Sprawling Energy Development and Solar Power Projects >>here
Photos of the Raptor Migration on the Searchlight Hills >>here
More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here
Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here
"Best In The Desert" 500-mile Off-road Race Vegas to Reno Starts August 20, 2010 >>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
MORE CARTOONS >>here.
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