Defending the Desert



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Protecting the Basin and Range Province



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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California State Lands Commission Exchange in the Desert


^Gavin Newsom was presiding, Lt. Governor, and former mayor of San Francisco. He said this exchange was a "win, win, win for everyone." (We are not so sure the land exchange is a win for Desert tortoises.)

October 1, 2015 - Sacramento CA - We were able to listen to a State Lands Commission (SLC) webcast discussing a Phase 1 land exchange between federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and state lands in the California Desert. Public comments could only be made in person. The proposed land exchange "would advance state and federal conservation and energy strategies of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) by consolidating federal lands within the National Conservation Lands (NCL) area and providing the state with lands that have operational, or the potential for operational, renewable energy facilities. The consolidation of federal lands will promote the continuity of wilderness and wildlife corridors. The conveyance to the state of developed land with renewable energy generation facilities, or proposed facilities, will generate revenue for the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)." The commission authorized a memorandum of intent to start the process.

Phase I of the exchange will include approximately 61,000± acres of State school lands and approximately 5,600± acres of Federal lands that have the potential for, or are previously developed with, renewable energy facilities. Future phases contemplate conveying approximately 150,000 acres of school lands to the BLM in exchange for approximately 16,000 acres of federal lands. The majority of lands subject to the proposed exchanges are located in San Bernardino, Inyo and Riverside counties. More >>here.

Sage Grouse Not Listed - Transmission Lines May be Built Through Deserts

^Transwest Express transmission proposal to connect wind energy from Wyoming to Nevada, and California, through sage grouse habitat and wilderness-quality desert.

September 27, 2015 - The very large wind project proposasl in Wyomi\ng, Chockecherry and Sierra Madre, may get a boost from the recent US Fish and Wildlife Service decision to not list the Greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. This opens the way for new transmission projects such as Transwest Express to cut through undeveloped parts of the Great Basin in Nevada, such as the Clover Mountains in areas with Wilderness Characteristics. Sage grouse need unfragmeneted landscapes free. The wind proposal would have up to 1,000 wind turbines.


West Mojave Plan Update, Comments Needed

September 27, 2015 - In the Federal Register on September 25, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced they are reopening of the public comment period and two ddditional public meetings for the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Plan Amendment, California Desert Conservation Area Plan, West Mojave Planning Area, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. On March 6, 2015, the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), published in the Federal Register a notice of availability for comment on a Draft Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Mojave Route Network Project (WMRNP) for the West Mojave (WEMO) Planning Area of the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA), to amend the Motor Vehicle, Recreation, and Grazing Elements of the CDCA Plan and to designate a transportation network within the planning area. Comments were requested by June 4, 2015. The BLM is reopening the public comment period for the draft LUPA and draft supplemental EIS for an additional 120 days.

According to BLM at a Desert District Advisory Committee meeting last week, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) will be completed, amending to the California Desert Conservation Area plan, then WEMO can come along, conforming to the revised plan.

Comment on the BLM web page:

DRECP: Federal-State Land Exchange to Facilitate Renewable Energy Development in the Desert

September 22. 2015 - An October 1 meeting of the California State Lands Commission seeks to consider authorizing a memorandum of intent with the Bureau of Land Management for the proposed Phase I land exchange transaction involving the conveyance of up to approximately 61,000± acres of state school lands to the Bureau of Land Management in exchange for approximately 5,600± acres of federal lands pursuant to California Public Resources Code Division 7.7, located in San Bernardino, Inyo and Riverside counties.

See the agenda here:

RETI 2.0 Workshop


September 13, 2015 - Sacramento CA - On September 10 we participated in a workshop put on by the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative team about RETI 2.0. Documents can be found >>here. Comments are due September 24, 2015.

California Energy Commission Commissioner Robert Weisenmiller concluded the workshop by saying there is a need to plan robustly for the long term, and not just be concerned so much with cost right now. "We build it, they will come," referring to new transmission lines. He especially emphasized that reliability of the grid was crucial, so new renewable energy generation would be beneficial if it could integrate storage and peaker plant-type storage at that.

We support clean energy in the built environment (rooftop solar and energy efficiency especially), and not as large-scale renewable energy projects on desert ecosystems requiring long expensive transmission lines. More >>here.

News Archive: News page 2.....News page 1






















^September 2015 - Sunset with cirrus clouds, Amargosa River meadows and Bare Mountains, near Beatty NV.





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 (under construction)

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):




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

Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0 (RETI) scoping comment deadline September 24, 2015 - CEC

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan - Final Environmental Impact Statement may be out in November 2015

West Mojave Plan (WEMO) comment deadline January 25, 2016 - BLM

Of Interest:

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

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

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





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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