Defending the Desert

A 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization





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.

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





Basin and Range Watch BLOG


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Crescent Peak Wind Project Updates

met tower

^Meteorological tower placed to measure winds (or lack thereof) for the proposed Crescent Peak Wind Project, on the Castle Mountains, Nevada.

September 12, 2018 - Nevada/California border - Obtained by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in July 2018 by Basin and Range Watch, these agency emails show concern about golden eagles in the Crescent Peak and Castle Mountains area of Nevada, and concern noted by Native American tribes about impacts to Spirit Mountain.

A wind exclusion designation is conisdered a valid alternative to analyze. But we are unclear why an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) alternative is not. We have been told by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that this is not an "action alternative." Yet interpretive signs and restoration of the area could be considered "actions." The FOIA emails say the ACEC alternative "is considered, but not carried forward due to not meeting 'relative importance' for the entire area." We disagree with this statement. This area is incredibly significant in the region, with very high biodiversity, historical and culrural treasures, and scenic beauty. Some parts have lands with wilderness characteristics. More >>here.

Naval Air Station Proposes Gigantic Land Grab in Nevada

August 19, 2018 - Central Nevada - The US Navy wants to close and bomb over 700,000 acres of public land in Central Nevada. If Congress agrees to this, there will never be public access again. Several public roads would be closed and several private properties would also just be taken by the government. Beautiful mountains and basins would be closed and anyone caught there would be arrested. The Navy has already bombed 200,000 acres in Nevada. Tell Congress they don't need anymore!

Watch this video Stealth Land Grab in the Great Basin by a friend of Basin and Range Watch:

Stealth Land Grab in the Great Basin from en on Vimeo.

More >>HERE.

UPDATE August 31, 2018 - The Bureau of Land Management has withdrawn almost 700,000 acres of public lands from mining leasing for four years, a step towards reviewing the military land withdrawal upcoming this fall. And we hope this military expansion is not a done deal.

From the Bureau of Land Management:

CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Secretary of the Interior has issued a Public Land Order withdrawing 694,838.84 acres of public lands from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including location and entry under the United States mining laws, and leasing under the mineral, and geothermal leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights, for up to four years for land management evaluation purpose in Churchill, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, and Pershing Counties, Nevada. In addition, 68,809.44 acres of Federal land in the Dixie Valley area (Churchill County, Nevada) are withdrawn from the mineral leasing laws.

This withdrawal keeps the lands closed to these uses in order to maintain the current environmental baseline relative to mineral exploration and development for land management evaluation, subject to valid existing rights, to allow the Department of the Navy (DON) time to complete its environmental evaluations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The DON’s environmental evaluations and NEPA analysis are for a potential legislative withdrawal of 772,370.75 acres of land at Naval Air Station Fallon that the DON intends to propose to Congress to withdraw and reserve for military use.

The Federal Register Notice is available at: For further information, contact Colleen Dingman, Project Manager, at (775) 885-6168 or email at

Gemini Solar Project Would Mar Vista at Valley of Fire State Park and Muddy Mountains Wilderness

^Muddy Mountains Wilderness. (Photo: Jim Boone,

July 16, 2018 - Clark County NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting initial scoping com;ments for the Gemini Solar Project - a 7,000 acre photovoltaic solar facility that would be located on the entrance road to Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. Under the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan, the BLM will potentially allow Arevia Power to blade 10 square miles of great quality desert tortoise habitat on public lands and replace everything with rooftop compatible solar panels. The project would impact the adjacent Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area and Bitter Springs Backcountry Byway so much that the BLM wants to downgrade the Visual Resource Management class to approve the project. The project site has microphyll woodlands and in 2013, the Moapa Solar Project across the basin on the Moapa Reservation excavated 157 tortoises before construction. This project will be over 3 times larger. Comments are being accepted until August 27th, 2018. Click on this link to comment:

More photos >>here.

The Mojave Desert: Unneccesary Sacrifice of Wildlands and Biodiversity

Yellow Pine solar


July 14, 2018 - Pahrump Valley NV - Why does the Mojave Desert not matter anymore when high biodiversity and public lands are at stake? Why after ten years of fighting CO2 emissions have more organizations and politicians not embraced rooftop solar, energy effieicny, and Distributed Energy Resources as the best way to combat climate change without the huge impacts to ecosystems that utility-scale solar projects have on the environment?

Question 6 on the Nevada ballot should increase rooftop solar and distributed battery storage towards the 50% Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, and not sacrifice more public land Mojave Desert ecosystems. The desert tortoise continues to decline, we are losing wildlands crucial to eco-tourism in the desert, and we are ignoring the easiest, least-cost solution to climate change: solar in the built environment free of the need for long transmission lines and bulldozers on desert lands that release CO2 from destroyed vegetation and biological soil crusts.

The first photo above is Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the southern Pahrump Valley, Mojave Desert, Nevada, along the Old Spanish Trail Highway. Nextera Energy wants to build the Yellow Pine Solar Project on 3,000 acres of this good quality habitat for the desert tortoise.



The second photo is the 2014 construction of the Stateline Solar Project located on BLM land in the Ivanpah Valley, California. Every living organism was either obliterated or moved out of the way. While new buildings are being constructed in Las Vegas everyday, BLM still will probably approve the destruction of 4 square miles of desert for solar panels that do very well on rooftops.

Joshua Trees Will Be Chipped and Mulched on Solar Project in Desert

Johsua tree sunset

^Joshaue tree on the proposed site of the utlity-scale Yellow Pine Solar Project. This will be shredded and mulched.

July 1, 2018 - Pahrump, Nevada - Basin & Range Watch attended a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) scoping meeting for the Yellow Pine Solar Project last Wednesday – a 3,000 acre photovoltaic facility which would be built on good quality Mojave Desert habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise. We were informed by the BLM that it is too expensive to salvage or transplant the thousands of Mojave Yuccas and Joshua trees on the site. These plants, many hundreds of years old, will all be shredded and mulched. We believe that the site is very inappropriate for solar panels. Nearby Las Vegas is expanding and destroying Mojave Desert habitat on an expedited basis and has plenty of room for solar panels in developed areas. More >>here.

Yellow Pine Solar Project in Southern Nevada Starts Review

^Mojave yucca on the footprint of the proposed solar project.

June 2, 2018 - South Pahrump Valley NV - The Notice of Intent is now officially in the Federal Register for the Yellow Pine Solar Project – a 2,500 acre to 3,000 acre photovoltaic facility with integrated battery storage on BLM lands, with a Right of Way of over 9,000 acres. The project will be located in Nevada, near the California border in the southern Pahrump Valley. It will be on top of the Old Spanish Trail, next to the Stump Spring Area of Critical Environmental Concern and visible along the Hwy 160 and the Tecopa Road/Old Spanish Trail turn off. The project will also be visible from California Wilderness areas like the Kingston Range. It will be developed in the recently approved Stump Spring Desert Tortoise Translocation Area – designated to place displaced tortoises from other development regions. The actual translocation area is larger than the solar project, but we do not approve of bulldozing a recently established recovery habitat for a species. We visited the site yeterday and found a healthy large adult tortoise on the project footprint.

Here is the federal register notice:

More photos >>here.

Palen Solar Project Final Environmental Impact Statement Out

^Palen Dunes.

May 18, 2018 - Chuckwalla Valley CA - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the availability of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report and California Desert Conservation Area Land Use Plan Amendment for the proposed Palen Photovoltaic Solar Project in Riverside County.

The massive utilit-scale project would be 500 megawatts. There's just one problem: no storage. Other large-scale solar projects are integrating battery storage on site, such as the Crimson Solar Project proposed for nearby eastern Chuckwalla Valley. The increasing overgeneration problem in California is forcing the California Independent System Operator to look for other options in an attempt to balance the grid: use of hydropower, long transmission lines to high-quality wind areas in the Great Plains, time of use charges, and storage.

Yet this large-scale solar proposal offers nothing. What will the impacts be to ratepayers and the California grid?

BLM says, "The Palen Solar Project is consistent with the Trump Administration’s priority of pursuing energy independence, while improving infrastructure and creating jobs in local economies."


The Notice of Availability for the Final SEIS/EIR and proposed LUPA will publish in the Federal Register on May 21 and opens a 30-day protest period as well as a governor’s consistency review.

Explore the Amazing Castle Mountains Nevada Area in a Bioblitz

UPDATE May 4, 2018 - See the article in the Las Vegas Sun.

UPDATE April 16, 2018 - The battle is heating up to conserve this remote desert grassland and Mojave Joshua tree savanna along the border of Mojave National Preserve and Castle Mountains in Nevada. See our interview in The Nevada Independent:

"It's not the windiest place..." says the developer, but it is one of the most biodiverse places in the Mojave Desert.

Basin and Range Watch, along with many supporters, friends, and fellow organizations, are nominating an Area of Critical Environmental Concern on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Piute Valley, Castle Mountains, Crescent Peak, and McCullough Mountains of Nevada, along the border of California and the Mojave National Preserve and the new Castle Mountains National Monument. These lands are primarily located in Clark County, Nevada and the bioblitz covers the "place" named Castle Mountains Nevada over roughly 38,000 acres in extent. As part of the revision of the BLM Southern Nevada Office Resource Management Plan, we are taking this opportunity to seek heightened conservation status for this area, which is threatened by urban development, mining, and the Crescent Peak Wind Project proposal.

Come out to the Bioblitz on the weekend of April 28-29, the launch date! We are keeping the project into November so we can all return at our leisure to add observations when we can. So please feel to send us any observations if you do not upload them to iNaturalist.

Castle Mtns NV

We have two botanists, birders, and Dr. James Patton of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley who, will undertake small mammal surveys here. BRW volunteers will observe reptiles and record our photographs. We also have a park historian participating, to record the unique history and archaeology of the region. More >>here.

See more beautiful photos of blooming cactus and wildlife at Mojave Desert Blog.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Reverses its Position on Take Permit for Yuma Clapper Rail

clapper rail

^Field sketch of Clapper rail, Laura Cunningham. Ballpoint pen on paper.

April 15, 2018 - Amargosa Valley NV - Without scientific evidence, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reversed their position that big solar projects pose a risk to endangered birds such as the Yuma Ridgeway (clapper) Rail (Rallus obsoletus yumanensis). They claim the risk is now "unquantifiably low" even though two have turned up dead on solar projects. Since the large build out of large-scale solar projects in the western US, thousands of dead birds have turned up under the panels and heliostats. It is believed that large solar projects mimic lakes and that attracts birds and can result in collision or other mortality. FWS had worked out a Habitat Conservation Plan/Take permit for the Sunshine Solar Project on private land with the developer, First Solar, and it was cancelled overnight in February.

This is a bad precedent for Habitat Conservation Plans everywhere, and for declining species such as the Yuma clapper rail.

See the Mojave Desert Blog excellent analysis of this.

More Public Meetings Discovered for Crimson Solar Project


^March 2018 map of the proposed project footprint wrapping around Mule Mountain.

April 5, 2018 - We just found out after a phone call with the Bureau of Land Management that two new public meetings are scheduled for the Crimson Solar Project. These were not on any BLM website about the project that we could find. It's difficult to have public input when there is no notification of meetings.

Wednesday, April 11, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
UCR Palm Desert
75080 Frank Sinatra Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211

Thursday, April 12, 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm
City of Blythe City Hall, Multipurpose Room
235 North Broadway
Blythe, CA 92225

Yellow Pine Solar Project


^The project site would be bulldozed for a solar field. Spring Range in the background.

March 26, 2018 - Pahrump Valley NV - The Bureau of Land Management, Nevada, will officially start the review of the Yellow Pine Solar Project in a fewweeks. There will be a Federal Register notice asking for comments on this photovoltaic facility which would be built in the southern Pahrump Valley on top of the Old Spanish Trail. The project would be constructed on up to 3,000 acres and will have a lithium ion battery storage element on site. The transmission will go through Boulder City, Nevada to Southern California. If built, a very large unbroken landscape in this part of the Mojave Desert will be fragmented. It will be located right in the center of a recently approved desert tortoise translocation area. If tortoises are moved here, does it make sense to later bulldoze the habitat for solar panels? More >>here.

Public Meetings for Crescent Peak Wind Project

March 26, 2018 - LAS VEGAS - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Vegas Field Office will host four public scoping meetings to seek input on the Crescent Peak Wind Energy Project which is proposed on 32,531 acres of public lands 10 miles west of Searchlight, Nevada and extends 22 miles north-to-south and five miles east-to-west, adjacent to the California/Nevada border. The associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will identify needs for the construction, operation and eventual decommissioning of wind turbines and associated facilities necessary to generate up to 500 megawatts of electricity. More on this project >>here.

Public scoping meetings will be held:

Monday, April 9 – Searchlight Community Center, 200 Michael Wendell Way, Searchlight, NV 89046
Tuesday, April 10 – Palo Verde College, Room CS123/124, 725 West Broadway Street, Needles, CA 92363
Wednesday, April 11 – Santa Fe Station, Centennial Room, 4949 North Rancho Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130
Thursday, April 12 – Henderson Convention Center, Sierra Rooms A, B & C, 200 South Water Street, Henderson, NV 89015

All meetings will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. and will follow the same format. Presentations will be given at 5 p.m. followed by an open house meeting where BLM staffers and project proponents will be available to answer questions until 5:45 p.m. At 5:45 p.m., a second presentation (duplicate of first) will be given followed by an open house meeting where BLM staffers and project proponents will again be available to answer questions until 6:30 p.m. The final hour and half will be a public hearing where individuals will have the opportunity to offer public comment. A court reporter will be available to record comments during the entirety of the public scoping meetings.

The public comment period opened on March 15 and will close June 13, 2018.

Public Meeting Scheduled for Crimson Solar Project

March 26, 2018 - Calfornia Desert - The Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, has scheduled a public scoping meeting for the proposed Crimson Solar Project in eastern Riverside County on April 3 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the BLM Palm Springs South Coast Field Office, 1201 Bird Center Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. More >>here.

Crescent Peak Wind Project to Start Review on Border of Castle Mountains

^No place for a wind project: border of Nevada and California with Joshua trees and desert grassland, next to Castle Mountains National Monument.

March 15, 2018 - Southern tip of Nevada - The 32,000 acre Crescent Peak Wind Project, located right on the border of Mojave National Preserve and the new Castle Mountains National Monument is now undergoing a 90 day scoping period in the Federal Register. Notice of Intent here:

The impacts to the scenery will be significant, so that the Bureau of Land Manageent (BLM) will need to downgrade the Visual Classification to approve the project.

We have submitted a nomination to the BLM to designate the entire project site as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This will be looked at under the review for the Southern Nevada Office Resource Management Plan. More >>here.

Crimson Solar Project with Battery Storage Proposal Back

^An ocotillo leafs out on the site of the proposed Crimson Solar Project in eastern Chuckwallla Valley CA.

March 9, 2018 - Blythe CA - The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on the proposed Crimson Solar Project, located near Blythe in eastern Riverside. We have been following this project for years, and it went quiet fir a few years until today. That the project is seeking battery storage shows just how important this part of renewable energy will be in the future, as the overgeneration problem looms larger and larger with grid destabilization.

Sonoran West Solar Holding LLC., has requested a rights-of-way authorization to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission an up to 350-megawatt photovoltaic facility along with necessary ancillary facilities, including up to eight project substations, access roads, operations and maintenance buildings, and lay-down areas. The project site consists of approximately 2,700 acres of BLM-managed land.

“The Crimson Solar Project supports the economy and is an example of the Administration’s America First Energy Plan,” said Doug Herrema, BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Manager.

Our concerns include desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, kit fox, microphyll woodland, Colorado Desert Natural Communities with ocotillos, as well as cultural values. More >>here.

Designated Leasing Areas are BLM's new name for Solar Energy Zones

March 8, 2018 - Las Vegas NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding a workshop on March 13th in Las Vegas, Nevada, to create more sacrifice areas on public lands for large-scale solar energy sprawl. We maintain our same position that solar energy is much more green when it is utilized in the built environment (rooftops, parking areas). The new urban housing boom is taking off in Southern Nevada. Planned communities are rapidly eating up desert habitat in Clark County. It seems like a no-brainer that solar energy can be used in these spaces and not on additional public lands in Nevada. We are even asking the BLM to abolish the 8,000 acre Amargosa Solar Energy Zone (Designated Leasing Area) in Southern Nevada. It would be built along an avian flyway and would cause bird mortality. Solar Energy Zones were created so large-scale energy development could be streamlined on public lands. Under the revised Southern Nevada Resource Management Plan, these zones can be removed. Large-scale solar energy has been over- built in the west. Lack of energy storage has reduced the need for so many projects.


DRECP Public Meetings Contentious

March 2, 2018 - Lone Pine CA - We attended the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) public meeting hosted by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on February 26 in Lone Pine CA held in the local Film History Museum. It was a rather fun and bizarre venue to hold a government meeting, the small size of the building and theater meant everyone was crowded into an area filled with life-sized cut-outs of Western Movie Stars such as Roy Rogers, and large posters of 1930s and later Hollywood movies.

The building was plainly not large enough for the audience of at least 150 people, both locals and others (like us) who traveled hours to come to the meeting because we value the California Desert. And when BLM announced they would not take spoken public comments (only written or typed into the government laptop), the crowed complained vociferously. See more >>here.

Larger Changes to Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Proposed by Bureau of Land Management

February 8, 2018 - California Desert - The Trump Administration would apparently like to open up even more California Desert to massive renewable energy sprawl. We predicted this would happen as the original 22.6 million-acre DRECP was weakly made, vague, and did not include the counties and private land owners. Too much streamlining was built into the plan, opening it up to attack in different administrations.


More >>here, including dates of public meetings.

Interior Allows Mining Claims to be Staked in Conservation Lands

February 7, 2018 - California Desert - The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it is canceling the mineral withdrawal proposal from public lands managed now under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). This inlcudes 1.3 million acres of National Conservation Lands designated under the DRECP. Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) may also be involved.

The BLM press release says: "In making its decision, the BLM recently reviewed mineral exploration levels and mining data in the California desert, as well as the expected impacts from future activities associated with locatable mineral extraction. The BLM concluded that impacts of future mineral exploration and mining, subject to existing environmental regulations, do not pose a significant threat to the protection of cultural, biological and scientific values."

We talked with BLM, and they told us now any new mining activity would have to undergo individual Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BLM could say, no exploration with vehicle entry, helicopter only (which would have its own impacts) based on the stipulations of the National Conservation Areas. Unless of course, Interior can somehow change those regs too.

Disturbance caps still apply for how much land can be subjected to these projects, although these may be raised in the future with the Trump revision of the DRECP.

Conservation Designation Proposed by Groups for Castle Mountains Area in Nevada

February 5, 2018 - Basin and Range Watch wrote a petition to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to nominate public lands in the Piute Valley, Castle Mountains, New York Mountains and McCullough Mountains for status as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). These lands are primarily located in Clark County, Nevada and are roughly 38,000 acres in extent. Part of the reivsion of the Southern Nevada Resource Management Plan, we are taking this opportunity to seek heightened conservation status for this area, which is threatened by urban development, mining, and the Crescent Peak Wind Project proposal.

The Castle Mountains contain a unique arid grassland community in both California and Nevada. This area contains the only stands of diverse C4 perennial grasslands west of the Colorado River, subtropical grasslands that are normally found in the Sonoran Desert uplands in Arizona and Mexico. Grass species common in this plant community flower and seed during the warm seasons of summer and fall, especially after strong monsoon rainfall events. Normally found in the Sonoran Region, and even as far east as the Great Plains, grasses such as Black grama (Boutelua eriopoda), Blue grama (B. gracilis), Sideoats grama (B. curtipendula), are found in this corner of the Mojave Desert uplands, ranging into a small area of adjacent California in the Castle Mountains National Monument and Mojave National Preserve. This arid summer monsoon grassland community grades below into diverse creosote scrub (Larrea tridentata) and above into Blackbrush scrub (Coleogyne ramosissima) and one of the world’s largest Joshua tree woodlands (Yucca brevifolia), providing a
wide diversity of habitats for reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Read the ACEC Nomination >>here.

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Thrown Open for Revision by Trump

^Construction equipment on the Palo Verde Mesa during construction of a utility-scale solar project near Blythe CA. The desert was graded away here. Do we need more?

February 2, 2018 - California Desert - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is opening a comment period and review of the DRECP, a gigantic plan that itself revised the original California Desert Protection Act, and that we opposed because it carved up the Mojave and Colorado Deserts for massive renewable energy development. As a trade off, the DRECP designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and National Conservation Lands (NCLs) to protect the remaining areas of the desert. The DRECP was finalized in 2016. Now that seems to be going backwards.

If you read this Federal Register announcement, it indicates that this revision might be for President Trump's upcoming Infrastructure Funding proposal.

The Interior Department announcement says in part: "In particular, the BLM seeks comment on the Areas of Critical Environmental Concern that were designated, including where private lands lie within the external boundaries of such designations, as well as comments on increasing opportunities for increased renewable energy development, recreational and off-highway vehicle (OHV) access, mining access, and grazing."

BLM is seeking to possibly remove or reduce ACECs that were designated under the lengthy DRECP pprocess, and lift disturnbacne caps on ACECs to allow more transmission lines, communication lines, etc. Given the present Interior Department stance on National Monuments, the National Conservation Lands designated in the California Desert under DRECP may not even be safe.

We will oppose this, especially since the overgeneration problem of utility-scale solar power plants has not been solved. We do not need more large-scale solar in the remote desert, we need more energy efficiency, conservation, and rooftop solar with battery storage.

See the Mojave Desert Blog for an excellent overview of this new threat to the desert.

Public Meetings Show Huge Opposition to Southern Nevada Military Base Expansion

January 24, 2018 - North Las Vegas NV and Beatty NV - We attended public hearings hosted by the Air Force, and gave public comments opposing the plans to expand the Nellis Test and Training Range into 300,000 acres of public land. This includes over 200,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge just north of Las Vegas, Nevada. More photos >>here.

New Owner Wants Nipton to Grow

January 21, 2018 - Nipton CA - This little corner of the East Mojave Desert in San Bernardino Valley, nestled in Ivanpah Valley next to the Mojave National Preserve, has been a favorite stop for travelers for decades. But the new owners want to build housing on the 80 acre property, for as many as 2000 people.

”We fully expect to acquire additional real estate to build additional housing to support hundreds, if not a couple thousand more people in the area, gainfully employed,” said the owner and general manager Stephen Shearin.

“I think between two and a half to five years you’ll see 2,000 people living and working and paying taxes in a vibrant economy.”

This is partly based on an existing housing need for workers at the nearby Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine and the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal says.

A new "city" in this wildland area could impact the park unit adjacent to Nipton, as well as cut off desert tortoise connectivity in critical habitat to the north and east.

Groundwater Pumping and Land Subsidence

January 21, 2018 - Apple Valley CA - The Mojave Water Agency is hosting a talk by Michelle Sneed, hydrologist for US Geological Survey, in Apple Valley this Tuesday, January 23 from 5-7:30 PM. For more information and to register for this free event, see the pdf.

Military Expansion Proposal in Southern Nevada

^Sketch by Laura Cunningham, 2004, while working as a biologist at Dogbone Lake in the South Range, Nellis Test and Training Range.

January 16, 2018 - We are reviewing the Draft Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (LEIS) for the Nellis Test and Training Range (NTTR) public land withdrawal. Some of our comments follow.

The Military Land Withdrawal Act of 1999 withdrew about 2.9 million acres of public land for military use at the Air Force Range in southern Nevada--a huge area of desert basins and mountains--and now that the current withdrawal is set to expire on November 6, 2021, the military wants to take more. Congress will have to make the final decision on the withdrawal through legislation.

We support the status quo, that Congress should renew the current withdrawal, maintaining the present acreage as Department of Defense (DOD) land, closed to the public.

We do not support any of the Alternatives that ask Congress to increase the size of the NTTR and take more public land (managed by US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management). See our complete coverage >>here.

Southern Nevada Public Land Planning

January 14, 2018 - Las Vegas NV - We attended the public meeting held by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in their Resource Management Plan revision. We commented specifically on how the public land deserts of the region do not need any more Solar Energy Zones--there are already five designated, with only one actually being used by developers for solar projects, and another with a speculative application that has gone nowhere.

More precisely, these solar energy zones are labeled by BLM as "Designated Leasing Areas" (DLAs), preferred areas for solar and wind development by the agency. Feedback about whether or not these are preferred by public land users and the lands themselves, are sought by BLM. We support the alternatives of Distributed Energy Resources, such as rooftop solar, instead of grading and bulldozing pristine desert ecosystems and wildlands.

We also commented on a wind-free designation we are proposing for the tortoise-rich Piute Valley area, to prevent the beautiful hills near Searchlight from being developed by wind projects next to the California border and the new Castle Mountains National Monument.

Other concerns about how BLM manages the southern Nevada public lands we all own, are national monuments such as Gold Butte, OHV routes and races, and protection of natural resources.

Stay tuned, we will be submitting written comments on this Resource Management Plan and will share.

Public Input Needed on the Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan Revision

December 31, 2017 - Las Vegas, Nevada - The original 1998 Resource Management Plan of this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office is being revised. The area covers southern Nevada, and includes how our public lands are managed with respect to renewable energy development, land disposal, conservation areas such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concer, lands with Wilderness characteristics, and Gold Butte National Monument.

The public information meetings will be held at the following locations:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – Old Overton Gym, 353 W. Thomas Overton, Nevada 89040

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 – Mesquite City Council Chambers, 10 E. Mesquite Blvd, Mesquite, Nevada 89027

Thursday, January 11, 2018 – Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino, 4949 N. Rancho Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino, 681 S. Hwy 160, Pahrump, Nevada 89048

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – Heritage Park Senior Facility, 300 S. Racetrack Road, Henderson, Nevada 89015

Thursday, January 18, 2018 – Searchlight Community Center, 200 Michael Wendell Way, Searchlight, Nevada 89046

The public information meetings will be held from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. on the day of each scheduled meeting. The meetings will begin with an open house format where participants can ask questions and visit various resource stations, with formal presentations at 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. The public will be able to verbally provide information beginning at 7:00 p.m. with a three minute time limit. Court reporters will be available to record verbal provided information. See¤tPageId=12407

Our Comments to Save the Palen Desert in the Colorado Desert of California

^Summer rains brought a lush wildflower bloom to the Palen desert even in November and December 2017. Sand verbena (Abronia villosa) iss abundant. Shall this be graded and crushed when solar panels can easily be placed on rooftops in the built environment?

December 10, 2017 - Our comment letter opposing the proposed Palen Solar Project on desert managed by Bureu of Land Management in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County CA>>here.

Nellis Military Base Expansion Draft Environmental Review Document Out

^Will desert bighron sheep in the Sheep Range, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, be threatened with increase noise, war games, live-fire ordinance testing, road-building and training exercises?

December 8, 2017 - The Legislative Environmental Impact Statement for the Nellis Test and Training Range Expansion, which will possibly take 220,000 acres of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Desert National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada, has been released.

The new Desert Report has a good article explaining the basics and here is the web page from DOD:

We met with Congresswoman Dina Titus, (D-Nevada) about this issue ten days ago. She represents many people in her district who support the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and we made her aware of the how the area protects desert bighorn sheep, and has a recreational value to the public.

This decision will be made by a DOD team designated by Congress so it is very important to tell Congress you oppose the expansion now! More on this soon.

Here is the announcement:

The Air Force has published a Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the Draft Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Nevada Test and Training Range Land Withdrawal. The publication of the NOA began a 90-day public comment period which will end on 8 March, 2018.

The Draft Legislative EIS and supporting documents are available on the project website at The Draft Legislative EIS is also available at various libraries and repositories - a list of locations is also provided on the project website.

The Air Force plans to hold five public hearings from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the dates and at the locations listed below. During the meetings, the Air Force will provide information on the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed action and solicit public comments on the Draft LEIS.

•Wednesday, January 17, 2018: Caliente Elementary School, 289 Lincoln Street, Caliente, NV 89008

•Thursday, January 18, 2018: Pahranagat Valley High School, 151 S. Main Street, Alamo, NV 89001

•Tuesday, January 23, 2018: Aliante Hotel, 7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas, NV 89084

•Wednesday, January 24, 2018: Beatty Community Center, 100 A Avenue South, Beatty, NV 89003

•Thursday, January 25, 2018: Tonopah Convention Center, 301 Brougher Avenue, Tonopah, NV 89049

The agenda for each public hearing is as follows:

•5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. – Open House and written comment submission

•6:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – Air Force Presentation

•7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – Public Hearing/Oral Comments

The project website ( can be used to submit comments on the Draft Legislative EIS or comments may also be submitted by mail to the 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, 4430 Grissom Ave., Ste. 107, Nellis AFB, NV 89191. Please direct any requests for information or other inquiries to the 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, 4430 Grissom Ave., Ste. 107, Nellis AFB, NV 89191, by e-mail at, or by phone at (702) 652-2750.

Thank you,

Michael Ackerman

Program Manager


Streamlining an Already Questionable Sage Grouse Conservation Initiative?

sage grouse hen

^A controversial bird, Greater sage grouse hen at Hart Mountain, Oregon.

November 25, 2017 - We have been contemplating how to comment on the report titled "Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Cooperation with Western States" put out by the Department of Interior under Secretary Ryan Zinke, apparently put out in response to Western states' feedback to the complex federal-state-private set of agreements set under Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in 2015.

And this was in response to the decision by US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010 that the Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that listing was precluded because of a backlog of "higher priority species" (see

The Service admitted that such factors as habitat fragmentation, energy development, and grazing were part of the problem causing a drop in populations of sage grouse. Yet they forged ahead to work with private landowners to conserve the candidate species. This would include financial and technical assistance, and the ability to develop conservation agreements among various federal agencies to provide regulatory assurances to landowners who take actions to benefit the species, including cattle ranchers, mining companies, and fossil fuel drillers. Thus the Sage Grouse Initiative was born (subtitled "Wildlife Conservation Through Sustainable Ranching"), as well as individual state initiatives that attempt to conserve the grouse but also continue economic development in its habitat.

An unsustainable deal for the species? The exact nature of the conservation agreements, and whether they actually work or not, is a main question we have. More >>here.

Ruby Mountains Oil and Gas Lease--We Oppose!

October 25, 2017 - Ruby Mountains, Nevada - Basin and Range Watch opposes any energy project that is ill-sited and would cause harm to the natural ecology of a region in the deserts and mountains of the Great Basin of Nevada. A recent slough of poorly placed oil and gas exploratory drilling leases on public lands is simply unacceptable. One region with pending leases is in the Ruby Mountains of northern Nevada, an area comparable to the Sierra Nevada on a small scale, full of glacially-carved U-shaped valleys, and lakes. Lamoille Canyon is a spectacular Great Basin hike. We have hiked here a lot in the past and will post photos of our travels in an upcoming article. The birding and wildlife-viewing of this area is unparelled.

We have joined a coalition of organizations that oppose drilling and fracking in this region.

Please add your support to this coaliton. See the Center for Biological Diversity action alert page here:

See the article in the Nevada Independant.

See also the Elko Daily Free Press article.

Help Stop Remote Nevada Deforestation Project

^Old growth pinyon-juniper woodland in the wild and remote North Egan Range of eastern Nevada is threatened with removal.

August 24, 2017 - Ely, Nevada -The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is seeking public comments on the Egan and Johnson Basin Restoration Project Preliminary Environmental Assessment. The project location is in both the Egan and Cherry Creek Ranges, located north of Ely, Nevada. Comments are due by Monday, August 28, 2017. While the BLM is calling this "restoration", the reality is that they intend to thin out this native forest on over 84,000 acres. The tree removal treatment methods being considered for this project include hand thinning, chaining, mastication (shredding), whole tree thinning, mulching/chipping, prescribed fire and fuelwood harvest. Treatments would focus primarily on removing pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) from sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities. More >>here.



^Desert near the town of Ocotillo CA, west side of the Imperial Valley.

Basin and Range Watch is honored to be able to continue the mission and many of the projects of the Desert Protective Council, as it dissolves in 2017. We are saddened to see this great desert group, founded in 1954, leave the scene. DPC members voted to formally dissolve the organization into Basin and Range Watch, and we will work hard to continue the excellent educational programs and tradition of desert conservation of the Desert Protective Council. We will of course continue publication of El Paisano, the magazine of news and education in the desert.








Calendar of Comment Deadlines:

Crescent Peak Wind Project scoping comment deadline June 13, 2018 >>BLM

Gemini Solar Project scoping comment deadline August 27, 2018 >>BLM

Yellow Pine Solar Project scoping comment deadline August 30, 2018 >>BLM





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"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


"Only within the 20th Century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment. Awareness of ecological relationships is — or should be — the basis of modern conservation programs, for it is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved."

Rachel Carson, Essay on the Biological Sciences, in, Good Reading (1958)















Text and photographs Copyright 2018 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.