The California Energy Commission (CEC) held expects to receive a proposal to study Mohave Ground Squirrel habitat connectivity from researchers by 15 October. The Mohave Ground Squirrel is a threatened species that is found only in the western Mojave Desert, and lives in habitat being fragmented by urbanization, transportation corridors and now energy development.
Solar Millennium sought to build the a large solar power installation near the town of Ridgecrest that would have destroyed the Mohave Ground Squirrel's habitat. The CEC opposed the project on the grounds that its ecological impact would be too significant, so Solar Millennium is planning to conduct a multi-year study of Mohave Ground Squirrel activity in the area to identify where in the area it could build an industrial operation. The company's researchers will present their study plan by October 15th.
The CEC also revealed, however, that the Public Interest Energy Research Program is also starting a much wider scale research effort to better improve insight into the Mohave Ground Squirrel and its habitat requirements. As previously noted on this blog, a lack of research funds as hindered efforts to better conserve this threatened species and steer urbanization and industrial construction in such a way that minimizes impact on the species.