Biologists have warned that tortoises relocated from their home territory can be more susceptible to predation, may have difficulty finding water, or may expose themselves to heat or predators as they try and return to their home territory. Translocation of tortoises is simply not an effective measure to mitigate for the impacts of giant solar facilities on intact desert wildlands.
The hundreds of tortoises displaced or handled by the company to make way for the project are just part of the environmental destruction caused by the project. In July, a female Cooper's hawk was found dead in an area cleared to make way for thousands of mirrors in phase 2 of the project. The compliance report does not state how close the nearest heliostat mirror was to the dead raptor, which had trauma to its right wing.
Dozens of bird nests have been lost as desert plants are mowed down, including those of cactus wrens, loggerhead shrike, Le Conte's thrashers, sparrows and ash-throated flycatchers. A couple of nests remain in phases 1 and 2, whereas more nests still await destruction in phase 3, which has not yet completed vegetation clearing. Golden eagles have been spotted flying over the BrightSource project site, which used to serve as foraging grounds for the raptors.
|This map shows the locations of mammal burrows found throughout the Ivanpah Solar project site over the past year, although many others were identified and excavated before this year.|