Defending the Desert



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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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Conservation Areas in DRECP With Less Protection Than Hoped For

October 29, 2014 - Basin & Range Watch attended the Ridegrcrest Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) meeting and last night and what was disturbing is how National Conservation Lands do not seem to have as much protection as we had hoped. Vicki Campbell of BLM explained to us that both Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and National Conservation Lands (NCLs) in the DRECP have disturbance caps that differ in the various alternatives and between regions. Some are as high as 12%, others below 1%. Present ACECs have a 1% development cap. The Yuha ACEC (Imperial County California) designated to protect the rare Flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) already has 0.9% development in it.

Looking at the Preferred Alternative maps, some Development Focus Areas are on the California-Nevada border. Talking to Greg Helseth of Nevada BLM recently, asking if there are current plans for big transmission projects in Nevada to serve these? He said all transmission will be on California side. Since there are proposed NCL areas and ACECs next to the DFAs, how are they going to hook these DFAs up to the grid? Campbell said transmission in conservation areas will be decided based on the need of a project proposed in a DFA, such as a solar or wind project. Bottom line, we do not know where future transmission will go, since it will be decided later, and we might be looking at large transmission projects cutting right through new conservation areas.

More on the DRECP soon.

North Peak Wind Project Proposal Withdrawn

October 26, 2014 - Apple Valley. E.ON Climate and Renewables has withdrawn its application to develop the North Peak Wind Project, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The controversial proposal would have placed 71 wind turbines, each as tall as 500 feet, atop ecologically sensitive ridgelines in the Juniper Flats Recreation Area. The 10,433-acre project would have stretched from Lucerne Valley to Apple Valley along north-facing ridges of the High Mojave Desert and San Bernardino Mountains. More >>here

DRECP Meetings

October 24, 2014 - For those planning on attending any of the upcoming Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan meetings, we have the following comment suggestions and have linked the meeting schedule: http://www.drecp.org/meetings/

The following would be some suggested talking points: 1. Ask for the comment deadline to be extended another 90 days. 2. Give the planners a hard time for rejecting a distributed generation alternative. Federal agencies are required under the National Environmental Ppolicy Act (NEPA) to consider alternatives outside of their jurisdiction. 3. Tell them that any energy projects in the Development Focus Areas (DFA's) should not be streamlined and full review should be provided for any development. 4. Ask them how possible it will be to have a transmission project built outside a Development Focus Zone and near or in a conservation area. 5. Tell them that streamlining Endangered Species protection in DFA's should not be permitted. For example, say that no golden eagle Take permits should be allowed through DRECP.

Silver State South Solar Farm Water Needs

October 24, 2014 - “Renewable” energy? “Sustainable” energy? Water is now being used several times a day to control dust for construction of the 2,427 acre Silver State South Project in Ivanpah Valley on the Nevada/California border. While this water is said to recharge, it should be noted that many desert aquifers are composed of fossil aquifers from much wetter climates in the past. The project proponent, First Solar, claims they will use only 200 acre feet of water per year, but the same company is requesting an additional 50 acre feet of water to complete their Desert Sunlight Project in Riverside County, California. In our experience, solar developers usually underestimate their water use in the review process. The Silver State South project is being built on significant desert tortoise linkage habitat. More on the project here:


Ivanpah Solar Power Towers: Cloud Shadows

October 23, 2014 - Ivanpah Valley, CA - A visit to the desert valley south of Las Vegas, NV, showed all three power towers on. Yet some late cumulus clouds formed in the afternoon and slowly moved towards the vast solar fields. Before each cloud shadow reached the mirrors that reflect sunlight intensely onto the tower, each unit was turned off. More >>here plus photos.

Mandalay Bay Resort Installs 6.4 Megawatt Rooftop Solar Array

October 22, 2014 - Las Vegas NV - Basin & Range Watch supports solar energy in the right places, and this is the perfect place: the roof of a resort/casino in the sunny Mojave Desert region of southern Nevada. NRG developed a large photovoltaic rooftop project on the Mandalay Bay convention center, second largest rooftop array in the U.S. and second largest in the world after the 7.52-MW installation in Punjab, India. NRG will lease the power to the resort. At peak production this will power nearly 20% of the resort's energy demand.

The installation uses SMA inverters and 21,324 panels from Hanwha Q CELLS and JA Solar, covering the 20 acres of roofs on the convention center and its neighboring buildings. It will go online in late November. If more buildings could be utilized this way, less Mojave Desert ecosystems would need to be bulldozed.

Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was the special guest at a rooftop event to unveil the project, which received a federal grant.

See more at: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/10/us-energy-secretary-tours-6-4-mw-rooftop-solar-array-in-las-vegas


Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Is Out


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:


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


Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here

Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>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)



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 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:


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


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



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

Draft Las Vegas Resource Management Plan >>here

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:


and Facebook page

Alliance For Desert Preservation:


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










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













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