Defending the Desert

 

  

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WELCOME

With the increased development plans across our desert and pressure on communities, open spaces, wildlife, and ecosystems, Basin & Range Watch has decided to seek non profit status in the coming months so we can do more. This will include a legal fund. Thank you for your support in 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.

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emailbasinandrange@gmail.com


 


 

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Preserve Juniper Flats Campaign

PRESERVE JUNIPER FLATS IS NEWEST CAMPAIGN FROM ALLIANCE FOR DESERT PRESERVATION

October 16, 2014 - San Bernardino County CA - Petition drive seeks National Conservation Land status for High Desert ridgelines bordering San Bernardino National Forest.

The Alliance for Desert Preservation has announced a campaign to secure National Conservation Land status for Juniper Flats, a 100,000-acre area managed by the Bureau of Land Management, stretching along High Desert ridgelines from Lucerne Valley to Apple Valley, California. National Conservation Land status would effectively prohibit all future development in Juniper Flats, while allowing for traditional uses such as hiking and off-highway driving.

Under the preferred alternative in the recently released draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), Juniper Flats was designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

“Juniper Flats is an extraordinarily beautiful, fragile, and ecologically abundant landscape,” said Rich Ravana, president of the Alliance for Desert Preservation. “The DRECP agencies recognized this by naming it an ACEC. But big energy companies are proven experts in doing end-runs around BLM labels like ACEC. Juniper Flats needs and merits the much stronger level of protection that National Conservation Land status would give it.” See more >>here.

DRECP Webinar Notes

October 15, 2014 - An informational webinar was held on October 9 that was open to the public in order to learn about the Draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Review/Environmental Impact Statement, how to navigate the plan and analysis, and how to provide public comments. The calendar announcement said the webinar would be recorded, but during the webinar it was revealed that the discussion would not be recorded after all despite excellent questions brought up by member of agencies and the public. We took brief notes during the webinar and can provide a summary of topics such as county participation, off-road routes, financial incentives to renewable energy developers, rare plant mitigation, transmission, and the 20,000 megawatt goal for the California Desert. See >>here.

Basin & Range Watch Sends Letter to Sunshine Valley Solar Over Yuma Clapper Rail

October 14, 2014 - Amargosa Valley NV - The Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) is a marsh bird listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to a July 2014 letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to Sunshine Valley Solar providing the agency’s comments on the Project, solar photovoltaic (“PV”) facilities like the Sunshine Valley Solar Project “present a new source of mortality for Yuma clapper rails” because “[t]hese facilities reflect light during the day and night, producing a lake or pond effect that may attract rail species and other water-associated birds.” Several rail bird mortalities caused by this “lake effect” at PV facilities have been documented, and the actual number of mortalities is likely higher than this documentation reflects, as scavengers often remove bird carcasses before they can be accounted for. We believes it would be both prudent and legally appropriate for Sunshine Valley Solar to initiate the application process for an Incidental Take Permit. See our letter >>here.

Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Nevada

amargosa

^Amargosa Valley at sunset near Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada -- area of more proposed Solar Energy Zones.

October 11, 2014 - The Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices Draft RMP/Draft EIS decision area encompasses approximately 3.1 million acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management Southern Nevada District in Clark and Southern Nye Counties, Nevada. Multiple resource uses are addressed which include livestock grazing; minerals development, recreation, and solar and wind energy development. New potential Aresa of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) will be considered, one one possible reduced in size (Ash Meadows ACEC).

Of concern are the new Solar Energy Zones put up for consideration across southern Nevada desert lands, in addition to those already designated during the Solar Programmayic Environmental Impact Statement review. In four alternatives, the older zones and some of the new zones these include:


Amargosa Valley (8,204 acres)
Dry Lake (5,717 acres)
Ash Meadows (3,797 acres) - new
South Beatty (7,142 acres) - new
Lathrop Wells (8,852 acres) - new
Mercury-Tech (179 acres) - new
Dry Lake Expansion (1,521 acres) - new
Off-The-Grid (3,700 acres) - new

The Bureau of Land Management has just announced that they would like an additional 39,113 acres of Solar Energy Zones on public lands in Nevada. The Obama Administration has made it OK for parties to nominate new Solar Energy Zones on Federal Lands when BLM Resource Management Plans are updated. In this case, it is the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement Available for BLM Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices. There are now over 20,000 new acres of potential Solar Energy Zones in the Amargosa Valley, Nevada. Permitting of large solar is streamlined in Solar Zones. One of these “zones” is called the Ash Meadows Solar Energy Zone. Now the BLM has been extensively told the facts about birds being killed by the false “lake effect” of sig solar plants. They are killing birds by the thousands throughout the southwest. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a very important wetlands for birds and Devils Hole would only be a few miles from this solar zone. There should not be any solar zones in this migratory corridor.

"Assuming new SEZs identified in Alternative 3 [the BLM preferred alternative] are approved and that 75 percent of the SEZs could be developed, it is expected that the acres utilized for renewable solar energy would grow to approximately 28,787 acres to meet the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard in multiple states, including California." (page 472 of the PDF)

There are also areas that would be designated as "open" to wind energy and "wind avoidance" areas. Several open wind areas in the mountain pass between Pahrump and Las Vegas, and areas around Mojave National Preserve.

SPARC Comments to San Bernardino County, California, Over Renewable Energy

October 8, 2014 - San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable Energy and Conservation comments on the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project and Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, as well as better alternatives for renweable energy >>here.

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Is Out

DRECP

September 23, 2014 - Here is the summary of the preferred DRECP alternative:

It calls for 2 million acres of development focus areas and acknowledges in the back of the document unmitigatable impacts to scenic vistas near national parks and wilderness areas.

See the 60-page summary:

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1304035-desert-renewable-energy-conservation-plan.html

Here is the link to the entire draft DRECP: http://drecp.org/draftdrecp/

 

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here

Renewable Energy Projects We Are Following:

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

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

 

Proposal for an Ivanpah Valley Area of Critical Environmental Concern >>here

SearchlightSearchlight Wind Energy Project

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

 

SilurianSilurian Valley Wind and Solar Energy Project

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.

 

transmissionCoolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

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

 

clapper railSunshine 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

 

UmaPalen 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 (withdrawn)

 

 

Silver StateSilver State South Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County, Nevada >>here

(under construction)

 

statelineStateline Solar Project

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

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

 

sodaSoda Mountain Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County, California >>here

 

fsDesert Sunlight Solar Farm

Many applications for giant solar developments in this Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley in Riverside County, California >>here. (under construction)

 

GensisGenesis 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 (under construction)

 

BlytheBlythe 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 (under construction)

 

 

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)

 

Rice

Solar Reserve Rice Solar Energy Project

A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote California desert >>here. (inactive)

 

 

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.

See also: Deepest Valley: The Story of Inyo Continues

 

ocotilloOcotillo 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 vallySpring 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)

 

tiptonMohave 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

CalicoCalico Solar Project (SES Solar 1)

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

 

hidden hillsHidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (not active)

 

eagleRio 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)

 

AmargosaAmargosa Farm Road Project

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

 

 

Desert dandelionRidgecrest Solar Power Project

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

 

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

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

 

Storage Projects:

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 >>here

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, California >>here (not active)

 

 


Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project

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)

 

 

 

Sunrise Powerlink

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.

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Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California by Al Weinrub >>1.22 MB PDF

Policy:

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

SolarSolar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here

Solar Done Right Response >>here

Bureau of Land Management plan to designate renewable energy zones in the desert Southwest >>here

Defining Disturbed and Degraded Lands for Renewable Energy >>here

 

Science:

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

 

 

 

Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here

Solar Done Right Response >>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

Summary of Solar

^October 2014 - Cinammon teal, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calendar of Comment Deadlines

January 7, 2015 deadline - Comment on Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Nevada>>www.blm.gov

January 9, 2015 deadline - Comment on the Draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to >>www.drecp.org

Comment on the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) of Inyo County CA >>Inyo County

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

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

Great New Website Helping to Preserve Rural Communities, Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative:

http://www.MojaveC3.org/

and Facebook page

Alliance For Desert Preservation:

http://a4dp.org/#Home

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/

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

 

 

 

 

More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here

 

 

 

Hiking the Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.