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. 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.
Department of Interior Announces Secretarial Order for Huge National Mitigation Plan for Public Lands Everywhere
April 10, 2014 - As if the Solar Programmatic Environmental Review Statement and Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan weren't enough, the federal government has announced it will be working on a landscape-level mitigation framework to enable "balanced development" of wind, solar, oil, and natural gas on public lands. The plan will try to incorporate all other conservation plans nationally.
Here is the report, A Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of The Department of the Interior:
Bird Mortality Report for Solar Projects Released
April 8, 2014 - Requests by intervenors in the California Energy Commission proceedings of the Palen solar project for US Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) studies on avian mortality at large-scale solar power plants under construction in the California desert have been answered. The CEC released a forensics report by the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab on birds found dead at Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, and the Genesis Solar Energy Project.
The report concludes: "Given these variables it is difficult to know the true scope of avian mortality at these facilities. The numbers of dead birds are likely underrepresented, perhaps vastly so. Observational and statistical studies to account for carcass loss may help us to gain a better sense of how many birds are being killed. Complete histories would help us to identify factors (such as vertical placement of mirrors) leading to mortalities. Continued monitoring is also advised as these facilities transition from construction to full operation. Of especial concern is the Ivanpah facility which was not fully-functioning at the time of the latest carcass submissions. In fact, all but 7 of the carcasses with solar flux injury and reported dates of collection were found at or prior to the USFWS site visit (October 21-24, 2013) and, therefore, represent flux mortality from a facility operating at only 33% capacity. Investigation into bat and insect mortalities at the power tower site should also be pursued."
Resource Agencies Comment on Silurian Solar Project Application
April 8, 2014 - The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and National Park Service (NPS) sent comment letters to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on their concerns with large-scale solar development in the Silurian Valley.
The USFWS stated strongly that the impacts to desert tortoise connectivity, migratory birds and golden eagles were too great and recommended BLM reject the application since it was in a variance area. Large solar panel arrays would create lake-effects that could negatively impact migrating birds, the agency commented. Saratoga Springs, playa lakes, Salt Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and springs in the Kingston Range all served as stopovers for birds in the region. Birds flying into solar panels that look like water could cause deaths.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife similarly recommended against the project in this relatively undisturbed habitat for numerous special status species. Both agencies cited the lack of surveys of many birds and rare plants, and the number of golden eagle nests in the area.
The National Park Service comment letter can be seen >>here.
Silurian Valley Solar Project Public Meeting Report
April 5, 2014 - On March 27 the Bureau of Land Management held a "pre-meeting" in Barstow CA to gather comments on Iberdrola's application to build a large-scale photovoltaic power plant in a remote desert valley in lands outside of the Solar Programmatic Impact Statement designated Solar Energy Zones. Basin & Rage Watch attended >>here.
First Solar in Action: Tortoises in Ivanpah Valley Face the Beginning of Destruction Today
April 4, 2014 - This Friday, First Solar will start digging threatened desert tortoises out of their burrows on about 2,000 more acres of good quality habitat in Ivanpah Valley, California and Nevada. Then the bulldozers will grade the desert ecosystem here to make room for photovoltaic panels that should be going on urban settings. The Interior Department approved two more massive pubic land photovoltaic projects on a critical linkage habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, on public land. The projects are called Silver State South and Stateline.
New Rail Storage Proposal on the Spring Range, NV
March 29, 2014 - A rail energy storage system north of Pahrump, Nye and Clark Counties, Nevada, is in the beginning stages of examination by the Bureau of Land management.
The company ARES Nevada, LLC proposes to build the rail line in Carpenter Canyon in the Spring Mountains west of Mt. Charleston. The rail line would be 6 miles long. See the preliminary Plan of Development >>here.
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.
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
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
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
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
^March 2014 - Desert lily and Moonrise, Soda Mountains, San Bernardino County CA.
Calendar of Comment Deadlines
DEADLINE EXTENDED to May 28, 2014 - Comment to Bureau of Land Management on the Silurian Valley Solar Project in eastern San Bernardino County CA : email BLM_CA_Siluruan_Valley_Solar@blm.gov
Comment on the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) of Inyo County CA >>Inyo County
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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