Defending the Desert

A 501(c)3 Non-profit organization



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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. Federal and many state agencies are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat and public land in our region to energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems, open spaces, and quality of life for local communities. We support energy efficiency, better rooftop solar policy, and distributed generation alternatives, as well as local, state and national planning for wise energy and land use following the principles of conservation biology.

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

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Wind Project Next to Castle Mountains National Monument Moving Forward

April 23, 2016 - Crescent Peak Wind Project Update: Eolus Wind has submitted a Draft Notice of Intent (NOI) for the Crescent Peak Wind Project to be reviewed by the Bureau of Land Management. An NOI is the first stage of an official federal review of a big project like this. The BLM has placed the NOI on hold until October 1st, 2016 due to other large pending projects including a land exchange with Nellis AFB. But we could be engaged in this issue this coming fall.

The Crescent Peak Wind Project would be built on Nevada public lands and be adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve and the new Castle Mountains National Monument in California. It would surrond the historic Walking Box Rance and be visible from Searchlight, Nevada. A wind project surrounding Searchlight has been held up due to golden eagle and other wildlife threats. More >>here.

Interior Department Approves Soda Mountain Solar Project Despite Opposition and Lack of Need

^Desert lily and Moon, on proposed project site.

April 6, 2016 - San Bernardino County CA - The Interior Department approved the Soda Mountain Solar Energy Project next to the Mojave National Preserve against great public opposition. The project was reduced to 287 megawatts, on 1,767 acres of Bureau of Land Managament lands about six miles southwest of Baker, California. This was reduced from an originally proposed 2,222 acres. Yet Interior calls this site "disturbed," yet it is largely Mojave Desert creosote-bursage ecosystems, with areas of undistrurbed sand sheets and desert rock pavement. We have visited the site numerous times and witnessed beautiful wildflowers displays across the site.

BLM says: "The BLM’s approved design removes an array of solar panels originally proposed for north of the interstate highway, eliminating virtually all visual impacts from the project within neighboring Mojave National Preserve. The project would not be seen from most parts of the Preserve, including from any highway or established route of travel within the Preserve."

Yet the solar project would be highly visible from the hills within the Preserve around Zzyzx, so this project modification would not "eliminate" visual impacts to the park unit. In fact, the solar panels closest to the preserve boundary have been retained.

This area has been mapped as a significant genetic corridor for bighorn sheep across the Mojave Desert, and mitigation for blocking it will apparently be deferred until later, with little public review, as a "bighorn sheep adaptive management strategy to maintain existing foraging, movement and feeding opportunities..." will be develpoed later.

Groundwater studies remain controversial as pumping will be needed during construction and operation so close to highly rare and local Mojave tui chub populations nearby.

A potential issue here is that BLM accepted an amended Plan of Development for the project AFTER the comment/protest period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement closed. That is a new plan and it can be argued that the public never got to review or comment on that. More >>here.

Bird and Bat Mortality Surveys Cut Back at Spring Valley Wind Project

April 2, 2016 - Eastern Nevada next to Great Basin National Park - While this project has one of the better monitoring programs we have seen, they still only surveyed a third of the project every two weeks. According to the Bureau of Land Management: Currently, there are no mortality surveys occurring at the Spring Valley Wind Project. Bat mortality surveys will resume again this fall and then bird and bat fatality monitoring will occur at year 5, 7, 10 and every fifth year following as outlined in the Avian and Bat Protection Plan. More >>here.

Crescent Dunes Solar Power Tower Operational

April 2, 2016 - This photo was taken yesterday around 5:30 pm as the Crescent Dunes solar power tower appeared to be in full operational mode, creating a very bright solar flux as concentrated sunlight was aimed by thousands of mirrors at the central receiver on top of the tower to heat molten salt. More >>here.

Research on Bird Mortality at Photovoltaic Solar Projects in the Desert

March 29, 2016 - We have been following several large-scale photovoltaic power plants in the California and Nevada deserts in order to track monitoring of avian deaths and what best mitigation measures should be developed to minimize these deaths. Avoidance of flyways and creatin artifiical lake effects is always preferable, with solar panels being placed on rooftops and distributed urban locations the best option.

Now Argonne National Laboratory has published a reasearch report: A preliminary assessment of avian mortality at utility-scale solar energy facilities in the United States, with better numbers and assessments of this impact.

The research indicates that estimated annual utility-scale solar project related avian mortality to be between 16,200 and 59,400 birds in the southern California region, which was extrapolated to between 37,800 and 138,600 birds for all facilities across the United States that are either installed or under construction.

See a good blog post summarizing the subject at

Crimson Solar Project: Photovoltaic with Storage

March 27, 2016 - Blythe CA - A 4,000-acre, 450-megawatt solar proposal is proposed for Colorado Desert next to Mule Mountain Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Recurrent seeks to integrate storage -- such as battery banks or fly wheels -- with the solar field. But the area is home to desert tortoises, Mojave fringe-toed lizards, and possible elf owls and gila woodpeckers, as well as being important to Native tribal groups in the region. More >>here.

Ten West Link Transmission Project

March 26, 2016 - Western Arizona - Public scoping meetings for the Ten West Link Transmission Project (partially running through the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge) are taking place for a 500 kiloVolt transmission line in Arizona and California. Calendar of public meetings, map, and Federal Register notice >>here.

Lawsuit Delays Largest Desert Tortoise Translocation in History

March 17, 2016 - The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue on March 8 over military plans to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California, requiring that around 1,500 desert tortoises be tranlocated over a five year period. This would be the largest translocation effort ever in the history of the desert tortoise. The notice, filed under the Endangered Species Act, argues that federal agencies have failed to fully examine how the relocations might harm the tortoises in the Mojave Desert. The Center is challenging the failure of the Bureau of Land Management and Marine Corps to consult adequately with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and fully address impacts both to translocated tortoises and to the habitat and tortoises already living in the relocation sites. More >>here.

Kern County Solar Projects in West Mojave Desert Impact Tortoises

March 16, 2016 - There are many new solar projects popping up in the West Mojave Desert of California, and we are trying to follow them. While many are on previously graded land such as old agricultural areas, a great deal of them are blading undeveloped desert ecosystems. One is right next to the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area. See more >>here.

See News from the last 4 years >>here.






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

Crimson Solar Project

Recurrent seeks to construct a 4,000-acre 450-megawatt photovoltaic project with storage near Blythe, in Riverside County, California>>here

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):




Crescent Peak Wind Project

Reactivated wind project in Clark County NV next to proposed Castle Mountains National Monument and Mojave National Preserve >>here

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

Ten West Link Transmission Project --May 9, 2016 comment deadline >>BLM

DRECP proposed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) --May 9, 2016 >>BLM

Of Interest:

Sign the Petition: Save Searchlight Desert and Mountains >>here

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

Net-Metering Rooftop Solar Presentation >>pdf





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













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