The Bureau of Land Management decided that land donated to the Federal Government for conservation purposes by The Wildlands Conservancy could be bulldozed for the Calico Solar power project. The Wildlands Conservancy vocally opposed the proposal to build an energy project on land that it purchased and donated to the American public. The BLM's decision disregards this opposition, and promises from State and Federal leaders--including President Clinton, the Vice President, and the Department of the Interior--that the goodwill of the donation would be honored and the lands preserved for future generations, according to a submission by the Conservancy to the California Energy Commission.
The Calico Solar power project will destroy nearly 6.5 square miles of desert habitat, displace at least 22 endangered desert tortoises, and potentially drive a rare desert wildflower to extinction. The current project layout still includes some land donated by The Wildlands Conservancy. The BLM's rationale for discarding the donated land was that habitat on the donated parcels was of marginal ecological value due to its proximity to power lines. The BLM also mentioned that Tessera Solar LLC plans to compensate The Wildlands Conservancy by purchasing conservation land elsewhere. It is not clear if The Wildlands Conservancy has accepted this rationale.