BLM Seeks Public Input on Wind Project That Would Jeopardize Joshua Tree Woodland

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on a Sweden-based company's plans to replace several thousand acres of public lands in southern Nevada with towering wind turbines and dozens of miles of wide access roads.  The Crescent Peak Wind project would involve as many as 220 wind turbines each standing 410 feet tall.  Public comments can be e-mailed to by June 13.

I have hiked and camped on the wildlands that would be industrialized by this project.  The area hosts a beautiful Joshua tree woodland that is rich with wildlife.  The photos below were all taken within the proposed footprint of the Crescent Peak Wind project.   The BLM should deny the permit for this wind project, and instead protect this area for its amazing biodiversity and opportunities for primitive recreation.

Las Vegas Sprawl Plan Would Undermine Wildlands, Recreation

Local officials in Las Vegas have are looking to expand the metropolitan area's urban sprawl much deeper into desert wildlands, encroaching on two National Conservation Areas and bolstering plans for an ill-conceived major airport south of the city that would send air traffic over the Mojave National Preserve.

The Nevada Independent reported that Clark County - home of Las Vegas - wants Congress to consider legislation that would hand over nearly 62 square miles of public lands to the County for future urban development.  The effect of continued urban sprawl would span across much more than just the 62 square miles of land bulldozed for more roads, housing, strip malls and warehouses.   For one, urban encroachment would reach the doorstep - or begin to surround - prized recreation areas.  Hiking in Sloan Canyon or parts of Red Rock Canyon will be less desirable if the sights and sounds of human develop begin to intrude on areas that currently offer a natural escape from these eleme…

Trump Planning to Hand Over Desert Wildlands to Industry

The Trump Administration is expected to initiate an administrative process this week likely intended to undo protections for public lands in the California desert and allow more large-scale renewable energy projects and mining.  A notice of intent filed by the Department of Interior indicates that its plans to weaken the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) are driven by unspecified "public concerns," but particularly states that Interior wants to review limitations that the DRECP places on large-scale renewable energy projects, including wind, solar and geothermal. The DRECP was finalized in 2016 after a lengthy public comment and review process that involved extensive consultation between the Department of Interior and State of California.

Undermining our Desert Backcountry

The DRECP was initially implemented in response to significant public concern sparked by industry proposals for renewable energy projects that would have destroyed vast swaths of desert wil…

Air Force Proposal to Close Public Lands Lacks Justification

The Air Force this month released the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposal to take control of hundreds of square miles of public lands to expand training activities at its Nellis Test and Training Range (NTTR) in Nevada, although the report does not adequately explain why alternatives that require less impacts on public lands were abandoned.  The proposal would shut down a significant portion of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, remove protections from key wildlife habitat, and call for building 115 miles of new fence that would block wildlife movement.  The document portrays these steps as the only viable path forward to accommodate expanded training and testing scenarios, but leaves significant gaps in its review of alternatives.

Three Primary Activities: Emitters, Bombing, and Irregular Warfare

To understand why the Air Force needs more land - and to identify alternatives to shutting down portions of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge - we can take a look …

An Attack On One Is An Attack On All

President Trump this week significantly reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, a move likely intended to benefit oil, gas and coal mining companies.  If Trump's unprecedented attack is left unchallenged, it not only opens these beautiful wildlands in Utah to potential drilling and mining, it puts every single acre of America's national monuments at risk.  The Antiquities Act allows the President to establish national monuments that protect natural and historical wonders. But undoing or modifying a national monument takes an act of Congress.

Through his attack on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Trump is ignoring the law and establishing a precedent that anybody in the Oval office can erase our natural and cultural heritage and hand it to private interests.  If Trump can do this to Bears Ears, then he or any of his successors can undo Mojave Trails, Giant Sequoia, Muir Woods, Vermillion Cliffs, or any other national monument that w…

Proposed Gold Mine Threatens Remote Wildlands, Tests Conservation Designation

Canadian firm SSR Mining plans to drill samples in the Conglomerate Mesa area just east of Owens Lake in the Inyo Mountains, and eventually open a giant gold mine there.  The lands that the company wants to destroy are not just popular among outdoors enthusiasts, they have also been designated by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Conservation Lands (NCL) system.   How the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) handles the mine proposal could test the purpose and durability of the NCL designation that we were told would protect our desert wildlands from industrial-scale destruction.

The BLM just received public comments on a draft environmental assessment for the Perdito exploratory drilling project.  If the company drills for samples and deems the area lucrative,  it could build miles of new roads, bring in heavy equipment to excavate a large strip mine, and use a toxic cyanide leaching process to extract gold.  That plan would drastically alter the rugged backcountry tha…

Will the Military Take Over the Desert National Wildlife Refuge?

The Department of Defense (DOD) is poised to release details next month regarding its proposal to take over a significant portion of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR), close public lands, and incorporate them into the Nellis Test and Training Range.  A review of documents made public so far, however, suggests DOD may be inflating its need to close public lands and assume control of the wildlife refuge.  The Nellis Test and Training Range already spans 4,608 square miles, and within those vast lands there probably are opportunities to accommodate DOD's training needs without significantly eroding public access or wildlife protection.  The options that DOD has proposed so far, however, seem to ignore innovative management approaches and technological solutions that can limit the impact on our public lands.

Lay of the Land:
4,608 Square Miles:  Total area of the current Nellis Test and Training Range.3,292 Square Miles: Portion of the Nellis Test and Training Range where the …