|Ivanpah Valley, with the Clark Mountains in the background.|
According to the petition for an ACEC, the Ivanpah Valley has been identified as an area of excellent quality desert tortoise habitat with some of the highest tortoise population densities in the eastern Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Valley is one of few places where the tortoise continues to thrive, despite the species' decline throughout most of its range. The valley provides a north-south corridor that is crucial for genetic diversity in the Mojave desert tortoise populations. If all of the proposed solar projects are built the connectivity will be lost, isolating and destroying a genetically significant population of tortoises.
The ACEC would preserve foraging habitat for Nelson bighorn sheep and golden eagles, and protect at least 36 special status plants have been identified in the Ivanpah Valley, including desert pincushion and white-margined penstemon. The petition had this to say about the area's significance for rare plants:
"Ivanpah Valley lies at the hub of a floristic frontier where botanists continue to discover new species to science, and it harbors high concentrations of rare plant species. Twelve rare plants species were documented on the approved Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project site."
|The cave-dwelling evening primrose, a plant only recently discovered in the Ivanpah Valley, would be protected if the ACEC is accepted, and destroyed if First Solar's developments are approved. Photo by James M. Andre, copyright 2008.|
|Click on the image to expand. This Google Earth image depicts the boundary of the proposed ACEC (in blue), and also shows the footprints of the most significant approved and proposed projects that could impact the viability of the ecosystem.|