According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Granite Mountain Wind Energy project, part of the project's footprint and the access roads would interfere with the Bendire's Thrasher Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project is being proposed for the hills on the outskirts of Apple Valley by Granite Wind LLC.
The Bendire's Thrasher is a threatened species deemed by ornithologists to be so rare that it is difficult to properly assess its recent population trends, although sufficient data suggests that the population has declined approximately 34% since 1966. The bird's habitat is threatened by urbanization, loss of Joshua Trees, and Off-highway vehicle use resulting in habitat degradation.
Although the Granite Wind Energy project may not be as destructive as other industrial-scale energy projects proposed for the Mojave Desert--such as the Calico Solar Project or the Ridgecrest Solar Power project--it does not make sense to build access roads through land specifically designated as an area of critical environmental concern for a threatened species. While the environmental report maintains that the habitat immediately adjacent to the proposed access road is not suitable for the Bendire's Thrasher, a paved road through the area is likely to invite more vehicle access and probably off-highway vehicle access that could lead to the degradation of the ACEC further from the access road.
Additionally, the potential for the deaths of birds or bats striking the wind turbines exist, and if construction is approved, the site should be monitored for such biological impact and halt operations if the turbines result in the deaths of sensitive species.
If you wish to submit comments for the Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project, you can follow the instructions on the BLM Barstow Field Office website, which are copied below for your reference.
Publication of the notice of availability for the draft EIS initiates a 90-day public comment period, ending July 1, 2010. Written comments will be accepted by Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office, Attn: Granite Wind Project Manager, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311, or by email to email@example.com. Additionally, comments may be mailed to Carrie Hyke, Principal Planner, County of San Bernardino Land Use Services Department, 385 North Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0182.
The screenshot below was copied from the Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project Draft EIS posted on the website of the San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department website and depicts the project overlap with the Bendire's Thrasher ACEC (shown in green):