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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Wildfire Dangers of High-Voltage Transmission Lines

^High-voltage transmission lines near Jacumba in the eastern San Diego backcountry.

January 28, 2019 - We have supported better Distributed Energy Resources and policy for ten years now, as the better alternative to bulldozing desert ecosystems and public lands wild areas.

Now, the Camp Fire has revealed some of the under-appreciated benefits of pairing residential and local solar systems with battery storage in local grid areas in load centers. Instead of long high-voltage transmission lines from remote power stations (such as those far out in the desert), crossing wildlands with forest and brush fuels.

The Los Angeles Times has detailed how potentially 2,000 wildfires have been ignited by utility transmission and electrical equipment in California.

Those claiming Distributed Generation (DG) such as rooftop solar is too expensive compared to remote utility-scale solar and wind projects, are not taking into account the benefits that should be priced in to DG that does not need expensive transmission lines stretching often hundreds of miles (and which ratepayers pay for).

PG&E, after claims of their transmission equipment sparking the Camp Fire last year--the most deadly wildfire in California history, says it cannot afford the insurance, liability, and litigation, and will undergo Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing supposedly this week. A U. S. District Court judge ordered the Investor Owned Utility to plan and fund a gigantic transmission inspection and vegetation clearing from around their transmission infrastructure--a plan which PG&E said it could not afford. High winds knocking tree branches onto wires is apparently a big problem.

The large northern and central California utility's bankruptcy calls into question existing Power Purchase Agreements, including Topax Solar Project in Carrizo Plain, and a unit of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. We will be watching to see what happens.

Basin and Range Watch Signs On to Freedom of Information Act Comment Letter

January 28, 2019 - A proposed revision of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Department of Interior is not going well with many national and regional groups. Basin and Range Watch included.

We use FOIA commonly, and have put in numerous requests for information on public lands management and renewable energy projects that threaten the rich biodiversity of the desert. We also sued the Bureau of Land Management and won a case where information about bird mortality was withheld for an unressonable anmount of time over the Crescent Dunes Solar Project near Tonopah, Nevada.

Therefore we were happy to sign onto a coalition letter written by legal experts at Southern Environmental Law Center.

Multiple letters went in to Interior asking for an extension for commenting. No response.

The worst of the revision is seeking to limit the number of FOIA requests that each organization sends in per month.

There are issues involving fee waivers, with additional burdens attempting to be placed on organizations to make it more difficult to get a fee waiver.

The letter is technical, and we will share it when it is finalized and sent in. The comment period for the revision process is today.

Our Magazine of the Desert: El Paisano Continued!

El Paisano

December 23, 2018 -- It's finally here! Our newsletter of the desert. As an all-volunteer group we slowly developed this continuation of the venerable El Paisano, which dates back to 1955, as published by the Desert Protective Council (DPC). DPC gave us permission to continue to publish this newsletter.

Download the 6.5 MB PDF of El Paisano December 2018 (Vol.1 No. 1)

Here is a summary of El Paisano by Jim Styles in The Canyon Country Zephyr, 2014:

"The DPC began to publish the El Paisano in the Spring of 1955. In these fascinating 1950s quarterly volumes, the reader learns that the founders and members of the fledgling organization hit the ground running, immediately forming issues committees, informing themselves about issues related to their particular interest and taking action on controversial plans for the desert across Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

"There apparently was no scarcity of ill-advised proposals for the desert even in the 1950s. Early newsletters document the political savvy and lack of timidity of the early Board and advisory panel members. Some of the problems DPC tackled in the early years, such as the threat from uranium mining in Joshua Tree and the battle to save the Grand Canyon from a dam, have been solved, but a plethora of new threats to the desert have arisen that could not have been conceived of in the 1950s. The onslaught of bad ideas for the use of our deserts has increased with the growing human population of the southwest. Exploitation of the desert for minerals and desert ground water, military expansion, poaching, rampant resort development, industrialization by massive energy projects and transmission lines, new freeways and the proliferation of off-road vehicles continue to fragment desert habitats."

Stay tuned for more issues of El Paisano. We may make this a quarterly magazine, possibly with print and digital versions in the future. For now this will be a downloadable PDF digital magazine.

Thank you for your support to help us publish this! We are honored to continue El Paisano.

Distributed Energy Resources Are the Alternative to Public Lands Energy Devlopment

December 9, 2018 - We thank the Las Vegas Review-Journal for publishing our response in its entirety, to their editorial. We need a wider dissussion about this important topic. More >>here.

Read our Opinion piece here:

Interior Letter Canceling Wind Project Notes High Value Area for Bighorn Sheep, Eagles

Wee Thump

^Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, with Crescent Peak in the background--wind turbines would have lined that ridge.

December 7, 2018 - Southern Nevada - Basin & Range Watch, working with Western Watersheds Project (WWP), obtained the letter from the Department of Interior cancelling the Crescent Peak Wind Project. It notes the high resource value of this area.

The Interior letter can be viewed as a >>PDF.

Interior letter

The Right-of-Way was canceled by the Department of the Interior, based on high resources values. These extensive Joshua tree woodlands and rich Mojave desert grasslands that have been recovering from livestock grazing, will now be better protected from new roads and energy project development. But the area still needs a higher level of protection, such as designation as an Area of Critical Environmental Concerns. WWP, BRW, and other conservation groups are continuing to work towards that goal. More >>here.

Editorial Attacks Basin and Range Watch as "NIMBYs"

Castle Peaks

^Castle Peaks as seen from the Nevada side. This is no place for a wind project.

December 5, 2018 - Southern Nevada Desert - In an Editorial today by the Las-Vegas Review Journal, we were chided for our efforts to conserve the beautiful wildlands south of Las Vegas in southern Nevada, an area beloved by locals, tourists, hunters, bird-watchers, and others. You can read it here.

Our repsonse:

We Support Renewable Energy: Distributed Generation

In response to the editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal dated December 5, 2018, we would like to point out that Basin and Range Watch supports renewable energy and increases Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards in Nevada. But these must be designed in a smart way, not large-scale developments in the most sensitive natural wildlands that are habitat for desert tortoises, golden eagles, bighorn sheep, and the largest Joshua tree woodland in the state next to National Monuments and Wilderness Areas. Yes we opposed the large-scale development of the Crescent Peak Wind Project here.

As renewable energy technologies mature after more than 10 years of build-out in the desert, we should be able to have a more critical and nuanced approach to siting projects, and to crafting policies. These should include a much higher amount of energy efficiency policies and advanced Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar plus battery storage.

That net energy metering policies in Nevada have undergone a roller-coaster should be considered when relying solely on public lands for utility-scale solar and wind development. If rooftop solar policies were crafted that incentivize, instead of punish, residential solar generators, then an RPS could be vastly increased without the destruction of biologically rich Mojave Desert habitats on public lands.

We need to fight climate change with better policies, quality of decisions, not simply blind quantities of renewable energy projects placed willy-nilly on the landscape.

Any RPS in Nevada should have at the very least, a 33% carve-out requiring rooftop solar plus battery storage, solar projects built on disturbed lands such as empty lots in the built environmental, and increased energy efficiency. It’s time for a smarter renewable energy push.

Rooftop Solar is the Way To Go

Cleantechnica had this to say recently: If other states follow the California proposal to require solar on all new home builds, the United States could have three times as much solar power as it does now, reckon analysts at Environment America who have produced a new report on the issue.

New Grid Architecture Needed

And here is an excellent, although long and technical, article recently from David Roberts, on how the grid should move from top down to bottom up:

BREAKING: Crescent Peak Wind Project Canceled!

Castle Mtns

^Castle Mountains, Nevada. Site of a meteorological tower for a proposed wind project.

November 30, 2018 - Southern Nevada - , UPDATE - The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviews Basin and Range Watch and confirms with BLM that the project is canceled:

The Department of Interior canceled the Crescent Peak Wind Project in southern Nevada next to Castle Mountains National Monument and South McCullough Wilderness Area, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) confirms to Basin and Range Watch. Thanks to a large local grassroots push to halt this ill-sited wind project and protect the rare desert grasslands and biodiverse Joshua tree woodlands here. Interior cited recreational values of this area, mining and hunting, as well as the BLM's cancellation of its Southern Nevada Resource Management Plan. Historic resources, tribal concerns and archaeology were also concerns.

Our grassroots network helped write many letters to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke telling him this area was a valuable area for recreation. Hunters wrote that this place was a significant area. Birdwatchers come here to see the unusual gilded flicker.

The Reno state office of the Nevada BLM issued this statement today:

"Here is the BLM statement regarding this project:

"The BLM is denying the right-of-way application made by Crescent Peak Renewables LLC for the proposed Crescent Peak Wind project near Searchlight, Nevada. The BLM had previously determined that the proposed project would not conform with the Las Vegas Resource Management Plan – a conflict that in many cases results in immediate rejection of project proposals. Nonetheless, the agency conducted a significant public scoping process and engaged a number of cooperators, including Federal, county, and state governments, to provide information on potential project impacts. This review, however, identified multiple issues and concerns that prompted the agency’s decision to deny the application.

"These issues include that access to the turbines would potentially affect the development of more than 300 mining claims; the turbines could interfere with radar at two regional air facilities – one military and one civilian; and impacts to the visual landscape."

Rudy Evenson
Acting Chief of Communications
Bureau of Land Management - Nevada

More on this project >>here.

Public Meetings Scheduled For Fallon Naval Range Expansion Proposal

^Parts of Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for waterbirds on migration, would be taken by the military under this proposal.

November 14, 2018 - Central Nevada - The US Navy proposes to transfer over 700,000 acres of public land to the military range at Fallon and they will bomb sage grouse habitat, pronghorn habitat, bighorn sheep, and Wilderness Study Areas. The bombs will leave toxic residue. Potentially over 60,000 acres of private property will need to be taken too. Comment here:

The Department of the Navy has prepared and filed with the United States Environmental Protection Agency a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of modernization of the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC), Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, to include renewing the current public land withdrawal, expanding land ranges, expanding and modifying airspace, and upgrading range infrastructure.

Parts of Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge would be taken.

For more photos of the beautiful public lands proposed to be taken, and the schedule of meetings where you can comment, see >>here.

Desert Quartzite Solar Project In Sand Transport Corridor

Desert Quartzite map sand

November 11, 2018 - Blythe CA - Comments have past for the Desert Quartzite Solar Project draft Environmental Impact Statement. This would be a 3,800 acre (5 square mile) photovoltaic project with battery storage built on public lands near Blythe, California. It will be right next to the Mule Mountain Area of Critical Environmental Concern which has abundant archeological sites. Most of the project site is habitat for Mojave fringe-toed lizards. The project is located in an avian flyway and is expected to cause bird mortality. For some reason the developer deiced to place the entire solar field in the Chuckwalla Valley to palo Verde Mesa sand transport corridor. With chainlink fences surrounding the project, we are not sure how the company will deal with moving sand piling up against the fence. More >>here.

The entire region is being sacrificed for rooftop compatible solar panels.

Palen Solar Project Approved


November 3, 2018 - Riverside County CA - After years of design changes, bankruptices, and new companies taking over the project, the Bureau of Land Management approved their preferred alternative of the Palen Solar Project in a Record of Decision that allows no appeal. The only way to stop the project now is litigation in federal court.

Margket forces may, however, slow the project down, since it is outdated now lacking battery storage. Cuurently all photovoltaic projects being built in California have battery storage. More >>here.

Questioning Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Now That Do Not Include Rooftop Solar

October 29, 2018 - Nevada - Several states are ramping up Renewable Energy Portfoolio Standards (RPS for short), to increase renewable energy on their grids. But many are too broad, and we are concerned will lead to more bulldozing of valuable desert habitats. In the past ten years we have seen the default choice of solar developers go onto public lands desert ecosystems and grasslands, while rooftop solar alternatives fall by the wayside (often because of unfavorable policies rigged by utilities).

The company proposing to build Crescent Peak Wind Project is backing Nevada's Question 6 which would amend the constitution to require electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. While that initially sounds good, huge developers are hovering around this one like Eolus Wind. They would build the Crescent Peak Wind Project next to the Mojave National Preserve. Question 6 says nothing about developing renewable energy on rooftops and old mine sites. If it passes, Eolus will have a much easier time getting a Power Purchas Agreement to build 600 foot turbines next to Mojave National Preserve and Wee Thump Wilderness.

Eolus, the Swedish wind company proposing to build the ill-sited Crescent Peak Wind Project in southern Nevada, wrote a supportive opinion piece on Question 6 in Nevada, that would raise the RPS to 50% but without a rooftop solar or Distributed Energy Resources carveout.

Our FOIA requests are showing that Bureau of Land Management is working closely with Eolus Wind to approve the project. The Bureau of Land Management is not considering an Area of Critical Environmental Concern alternative or a wind free alternative and has told the company they are trying to make their project as successful as possible. If Question 6 passes, you may see this huge development next to the Mojave National Preserve.

Arizona's RPS includes a requirement that utilities must meet 4.5% of total retail sales from distributed generation. One half of the DG requirement must come from residential sources and the other half must come from non-residential, non-utility sources. This is a small rooftop solar carve-out, but it is a good start, and one Nevada should consider before we support any RPS here. See more on carve-outs.

Nevada's Question 6 is a vague amendment that does nothing to foster energy democracy in the Silver State. Germany was able to vastly increased Distributed Solar Generation by enacting laws giving a fair margket price to residential generators, as well as mandating free access to the grid. This is a far cry from what NV Energy has done to penalize any Community Choice Aggregators for their use of microgrids, or punishing resodential rooftop solar generators.

We need Renewable Energy Democracy, not caps on net-energy metering, grid fees, declining prices paid to residential solar energy generators, utility monopolies, and relying on companies to build renewables. In an era of climate change emergency, much more consideration should be given to local energy generation in the built environment.

What surprises us the most is how many environmentalists question Distributed Energy Resources, such as rooftop solar, as not viable. Which is simply untrue. We need a diversity of renewable energy, especially in light of the overgeneration problem in California, where storage will be ever more important. See this page >>here.

Nevada Test and Training Range Expansion Over Desert National Wildlife Refuge Taking Next Step

October 25, 2018 - The Air Force will publish a Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on October 26, 2018 announcing the availability of the Final Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Nevada Test and Training Range Land Withdrawal.

The Final Legislative EIS and supporting documents are available on the project website at

In our opinion the best course of action would be to get a petition to Congress going, asking them to oppose this expansion and keep the status quo. When we visited Representative Dina Titus in her Las Vegas office last year, this is what she recommended--she wanted to see a grassroots groundswell opposing the military takeover of so much public land. Stay tuned! More on the military base expansions proposed in Nevada >>here.

Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, Nevada, is Under Threat

gilded flicker

October 24, 2018 - Near Searchlight Nevada - The beautiful Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, managed by the Bureau of Land managament, is home to dense Joshua tree woodlands, cholla thickets, and desert grasslands. This unique habitat in Nevada is home to many species of birds usually only found in adjacent Arizona. The Sonoran monsoon is strong here, and creates habitats that mix the Sonoran Desert with the Mojave Desert.

We went searching for the gilded flicker (Colaptes chrysoides), a bird normally associated with giant saguaro cactus, this summer. We found a few birds and got these photos. The flickers have yellow or orangish wing and tail feathers. More >>here.

Crescent Peak Wind Project Updates

Crescent Peak Wind simulation

^Eolus made these simulations of what their proposed wind project woud look like near Walking Box Ranch on the Crescent Peak area of southern Nevada. Note the new roads carving up the ridge. Many Joshua trees would have to be removed in order to get these massive towers and rotors delivered on over-sized truck loads. The area is presently almost roadless and has Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.

October 23, 2018 - Searchlight NV - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told us they have delayed the release of their Environmental Impact Statement on the Crescent Peak Wind Project to January 2019.

According to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) documents obtained by Basin and Range Watch, BLM is not even going to consider a No Wind Alternative in their upcoming environmental review.

This PDF file is the minutes for the August 23rd bi-weekly conference call meeting between Eolus, POWER Engineers and the BLM.

Of particular interest is Item 4 - under section I. Quoted here:

"Last Thursday, got final direction that the no build/wind exclusion alternative could not be retained in this EIS and should be listed as considered, but not carried forward."

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, a reasonable range of alternatives muct be analuzed by the federal agency in any proposed action. BLM will also not consider our Castle Mountains Area of Critical Environmental Concern nomination for similar reasons. But these are not good reasons, in our opinion. 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 on the military base expansions proposed in Nevada >>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:

EXTENDED! Fallon Naval Range Expansion draft EIS comment deadline February 14, 2019 >>here

Nevada Test and Training Range US Air Force expansion over Desert National Wildlife Refuge and BLM lands near Beatty -- no more comments will be taken, no protest period, Congress will vote yes or no -- Contact your Senator and Representative and tell them to vote NO! >>



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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.