Solar Company First Solar Trespasses On Private Land
<Chuckwalla Valley in spring, with Creosote and Desert dandelion. This is the area where solar companies trespassed and drove over. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
Donna Charpied, Executive Director of Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley and a resident of Desert Center in the Riverside County desert in California, wrote us to reveal the blatant disregard for private property and public land resources that solar companies are showing in their mad rush to find locations for their huge energy-sprawlprojects. The company is First Solar, a maker of photovoltaic panels, which they propose to place over the desert in a large solar field. In a letter to Bureau of Land Management (BLM), she addresses the trespassers' actions, and how they are acting more like ravaging off-roaders. Think these companies are truly "green"? Take a look at these photos and read Donna's letter.
^Illegal road to new survey marker off Kaiser Road. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
Letter To BLM: Land Rush Ignoring Communities
November 3, 2009 -
We request that you send a ranger to Eagle Mountain/Desert Center to enforce BLM laws regarding the surveyors for the proposed Solar One [First Solar] solar field at Eagle Mountain, off Kaiser Road creating their roads which will result in an OHV problem that is now non-existent.
Background: On or about October 2, 2009, we noticed surveyors very near our jojoba farm, and trespassing on private lands. We told them that they need to call us before driving down our road. The conversation boiled down to the surveyors explaining that their boss told them not to talk with us.
^Illegal road and surveyor's tape. The one where the real tall survey marker is, is a couple hundred feet from our property and from the markers: solar will surround us. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
The same day we noticed they had driven through a wash from Kaiser Road to access the area they wanted to survey. This has resulted in a pretty good dirt road that will most definitely invite OHV riders, leading them directly to private property.
^Illegal road. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
We called the Palm Springs office and Allison Shaffer returned our call. We explained what had transpired and she said she will immediately call Wayne Hoffman and tell him that is not acceptable. That private property must be respected, and they cannot create their own roads. Wayne Hoffman telephoned us and apologized and said it will not happen again.
Today, November 3rd, we noticed surveyors north of our property, blatantly driving through the desert to where they placed survey markers. When told they cannot just drive wherever they want, this is tortoise country, one responded "we want to get the job done" and drove quickly away. We have images of the violations, as well as an image of the trespassing vehicle's licence plate. We will be glad to jpeg upon request.
^Road through tortoise country. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
It is not uncommon to see tortoise on warm Fall days such as today. We request that you send a ranger out and give citations to these surveyors driving amuck thinking the laws do not apply to them.
Lastly, all of the surveyors (biological and land) have been tying brightly colored surveyors tape on trees, plants, gas signs and leaving them. We have observed in the past, tortoise approaching these brightly colored tapes once they fall apart and land on the ground, to eat them. We request that BLM insist that they pick up ALL OF THEIR TRASH and properly dispose of it to protect wildlife.
(Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
^Trash left behind. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
We look forward to a swift resolution to these problems,
Donna & Larry Charpied
Donna Charpied, Executive Director
Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley
Desert Center CA
"Don't Waste The Desert"
^Surveyor for solar company. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
^Road through wash from Kaiser Road. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
^Surveyor's vehicle. (Photo by Larry and Donna Charpied)
Solar Contractor Fired for Trespassing
December 18, 2009 - Greg Miller, Renewable Energy Coordinator for California Bureau of Land Management told us (personal communication) that the contractor for First Solar who was trespassing on private land during surveys, leving survey markers on public land (as trash), and driving off roads into Desert tortoise habitat. First Solar wants to build a massive thin-film photovoltaic panel field in Chuckwalla Valley.
Toilet paper and bottled water was thrown in the desert AFTER First Solar fired the contractor who trespassed. No tracks were raked because they did not do it. All they did was to build a very small berm at the opening. Anyone with a high profile vehicle (4X4) could just roll over and drive freely on private property.