The Department of Interior today approved the Desert Sunlight solar power project, which will destroy nearly 6 square-miles of public land less than two miles from Joshua Tree National Park. Initial biological surveys counted at least 22 active desert tortoise burrows, but desert biologists are concerned that the surveys may have underestimated the number of tortoises on site.
Ironically, Secretary Salazar announced the project on the 75th anniversary of Joshua Tree National Park, a shameless disregard for the legacy desert conservation. Joshua Tree National Park may be further encircled by industrial development if the Department of Interior continues its policy of favoring energy companies over wildlands. Additional proposals for large wind and solar energy applications just outside the Park's boundary include Desert Harvest solar project, the 31 square-mile Pinto Mountain wind project, and the 4.2 square-mile Eagle Mountain wind project.