Defending the Desert



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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.

>>About Us




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Spring Valley Wind Project with More Bat Deaths than Predicted

August 18, 2014 - The eastern Nevada wind project that was built too close to a major roosting colony of Mexican free-tailed bats has been forced to change operations after its turbines killed triple the number of bats allowed under an agreement with federal regulators. Read more at the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Birds Igniting in Midair: CBS News Reports on Ivanpah and Palen Solar Powwer Towers

August 18, 2014 - CBS News headlines the controversy over bird deaths at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System raised by biologists:

California Energy Commission Evidentiary Hearing on the Palen Solar Electric Generating System

August 10, 2014 - Blythe CA - Basin & Range Watch intervened in the California Energy Commission (CEC) proceeding of this petition to amend the original Palen solar project application after BrightSource Energy bought the application from now bankrupt Solar Millennium. The current project would involve two solar power towers that would superheat water into steam to turn steam turbines in power blocks. Hundreds of thousands of mirrors (heliostats) in circles around the towers would aim sunlight onto the receiver of the tower to heat the water into steam.

The California Energy Commission held an evidentiary hearing in Blythe over two long days, July 29 and 30, 2014, where all intervenors, the petitioner BrightSource Energy, staff of the Energy Commission, and the public gathered. Intervenors include Basin & Range Watch, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), and Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE) - La Cuna de Aztlan. More >>here.

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project Meetings

August 10, 2014 - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has scheduled four public scoping meetings for the proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project. These meeting are supposed to be set up to allow the public to provide input over the pending impacts a large project like this project will have. Please remember to submit a WRITTEN comment because the BLM’s California Desert District will not record spoken comments at public meetings. The transmission line will open up energy sprawl to the Mojave Desert and rural communities in Lucerne, Johnson and Apple Valleys, San Bernardino County, California.

Joint BLM and the California Public Utilities Commission public meetings are scheduled on the following dates:

Barstow City Council Chambers - 220 E. Mountain View Street, Barstow, CA
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Lucerne Valley Community Center - 33187 Highway 247, Lucerne Valley, CA
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Percy Bakker Community Center - 9333 E Avenue, Hesperia, CA
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Victor Valley Museum - 11873 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA
Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

US Fish & Wildlife Service Says Yuma Clapper Rail Kill Likely for Solar Project

August 1, 2014 - Amargosa Valley NV - The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) sent a letter dated July 11, 2014 to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission concerning the likely killing of a rare Yuma clapper rail which is federally endangered, at the 110 MW Sunshine Valley Solar Project on private land in Amargosa Valley. The proposed project would be 8 miles northwest of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge where occupied marsh habitat exists. FWS said it beleives an incidental take of Yuma clapper rail is likely. At least one Yuma clapper rail has been found killed at the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in Riverside County. FWS recommended that the parent company First Solar develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to support an application for an incidental take permit for Yuma clapper rail. Additionally the Service wants the developer to have a Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy to avoid, minimize, and mitigate deaths of birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Large Numbers of Tortoise Moved at Silver State South Solar Project

July 23, 2014 - The Bureau of Land Management informed us in a personal communication today that biologists have found and removed a total of 38 desert tortoises from First Solar's Silver State South Solar Farm in eastern Ivanpah Valley, Clark County NV, within view of the three solar power towers of the first Ivanpah solar power plant in adjacent California. Small tortoises accounted for 21 of the total (under 160 millimeters), and 17 were large (over 160 mm). Tortoises were moved to recipient sites (where 15 large tortoises were found to be resident)

The numbers for Silver State South Phase 1 translocation: 13 transmittered/retransmittered tortoises from Phase I this spring, on approximately 700 acres cleared of tortoises for fence installation. Fifteen Phase II tortoises have already been transmittered (mainly retransmittered) this spring.

There are about 1,700 acres remaining to be cleared in Phase II.

Bids Come In at Auction for Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone

July 3, 2014 - North Las Vegas, NV - After approval of the federal Programmatic Solar Environmental Impact Statement detailing several Solar Energy Zones in the Southwest states, on May 30, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office published a Notice of Competitive Auction for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands in Nevada. This notice announces that the BLM will hold an oral auction on June 30, 2014, at the City of North Las Vegas Council Chambers, 2250 Las Vegas Blvd, North Las Vegas, NV 89030, to select high bidders and preferred applicants to submit right-of-way applications for solar energy projects within the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone. The BLM is offering up to approximately 3,083 acres of public land in 6 parcels within the SEZ.

Attendees at the auction report that several bids came in. Each parcel had at least two active bidders and resulted in bids totaling $5,835,000. Apparently five active bidders were present. It was not clear from the names given who the bidders represented.

Ivanpah Solar Power Towers Allowed to Burn More Natural Gas


June 28, 2014 - The California Energy Commission approved a request to raise the limit on the amount of natural gas burned in boilers at the Ivanpah solar project which requires steam heated by the sun and auxilliary boilers to power steam turbines to generate electricity. The notice states:

“Solar Partners have stated in their petition that the auxiliary boilers will need to operate an average of approximately 5 hours a day during daily startup (instead of the original expectation of an average of approximately 1 hour per day) in order to ensure that steam flow is sufficient to carry excess heat from the receivers in the towers and to ensure that equipment components continue to operate as designed. Based on ISEGS experience since December, 2013, Solar Partners became aware of a need for
additional fuel use in the auxiliary boiler during periods of intermittent cloud cover, after
the turbine tripped off-line during extensive cloud cover, and at the end of the day to
extend solar power production.” More >>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.

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


Silver StateSilver State South Solar Project

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


statelineStateline Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, CA >>here

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


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



I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here

Crescent Dunes Solar Project

Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here. (under construction)



Solar Reserve Rice Solar Energy Project

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


Owens Valley solar projects

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.

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

Robert Lundahl Films on Solar Issues, the Desert, and Indigenous Rights >>here

Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project

RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County, California, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail. >>here


Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project

This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County, Nevada near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)


Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here

Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here


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


Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here

BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here


Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here



Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here


New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here

Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here


Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here



Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here


Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here

Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here

Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here

Water in the Desert: Wet-Cooling and Dry-Cooling Technology for Solar Thermal Projects >>here





Prioritizing Where to Site Renewable Energy in California: California Energy Commission Workshop May 2012 >>here

Defining Disturbed and Degraded Lands for Renewable Energy >>here

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

Solar Done Right Response >>here

Solar Energy Study Areas

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

West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Zone >>here

Good Plan, Too Late: Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan New Website >>here

BLM Announces Solar Rental Fees for Public Land >>here

Governor's Renewable Energy Policy Conference

March 24, 2010 at UC Riverside, California: Expediting Solar and Wind in the Desert >>here


Expediting Big Solar: Padilla Bill Signed Into Law at Harper Lake (Where CSP Plants May Be Fighting Over Water) >>here

Solar Energy Development on Federal Lands: The Road to Consensus

Congressional Field Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Chaired by Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), hosted by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) >>here

Reid and Heller Introduce Competitive Lease Solar and Wind Bill for Public Lands >>here

Nevada: American Solar Energy Pilot Leasing Act of 2010 >>here

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

Fast-Tracking Renewable Energy

California Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, Renewable Energy Action Team, and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here. California Fast-Track solar and wind projects >>here. November 2009 summary of projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here; more projects >>here

Nevada Fast-Track Projects >>here

Senator Feinstein Bill: California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Proposal for Mojave Trails National Monument and Sands to Snow National Monument, some new wilderness areas, some wilderness study areas removed, and a giant plan for a Mitigation Zone for renewable energy projects >>here. Abengoa Solar and Cogentrix Energy support the bill, according to the California Wilderness Coalition

January 2011: Senator Feinstein Crafts New California Desert Protection Bill Minus Solar Provisions >>here

All Renewable Energy Issues >>here

Summary of Solar

^July 2014 - Desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) in the Mojave Desert of Nevada.







Calendar of Comment Deadlines

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

Comment on Palen Solar Electric Generating System proceedings >CEC

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

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

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

Visit to Los Angeles Dep of Water and Power Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Proposed Site and Manzanar National Historic Site >>here

Visit to the Northland Power Independence Solar Project >>here

Comment on the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project >>here

Please Sign the Petition: Save the Blythe Sacred Sites from Sprawling Energy Development and Solar Power Projects >>here

Photos of the Raptor Migration on the Searchlight Hills >>here






More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here



Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here

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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