Posts

Showing posts from May, 2014

Ivanpah's Toll on Wildlife Mounts

Image
According to reports sent monthly to the California Energy Commission, the NRG and BrightSource Ivanpah Solar project in California continues to incinerate and batter birds and bats, even though the plant is often not running at full capacity.   As many as 165 birds and four bats have been found dead on the project site from February to the end of April, and 6 birds have been found injured.  These numbers are probably only a fraction of the total mortality since surveys cannot cover the whole project site, and it is possible some birds and bats die after flying beyond the project boundary or their carcasses are picked up by scavengers.  As KCET ReWire points out, some of the bird deaths in April were water birds, suggesting they may have flown to the shimmering mirrors of the solar project thinking it was a body of water.




Many of the birds were killed after being burned by the super-heated air above the project site, while others likely collided with one of the thousands of giant mirr…

Silurian Valley Comments Due Soon

Image
Can you spare a few minutes for the Silurian Valley?  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) extended the deadline for comments on Iberdrola's proposal to build a solar project in the Silurian Valley north of Baker, California.  BLM will decide whether or not to allow the project to move forward because it is outside of the established Solar Energy Zones.    BLM's initial solicitation for public comments included an incorrect e-mail address, so the comment period has been extended to May 28.  You can visit this blog's "Take Action" page for more information and the corrected e-mail address to send your comments!


Obama Establishes Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

President Obama on Wednesday designated nearly half a million acres in southern New Mexico as the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, protecting large swaths of soaptree yucca, four-winged saltbush, alligator juniper, and gray oak in the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan desert.  The designation is the second in as many years for New Mexico; the President established the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in March 2013.   Both monuments are administered by the Bureau of Land Management.


Other desert conservation and wilderness proposals are languishing in Congress, including bills to protect desert habitat and recreation areas in California, Nevada and Arizona.  Hopefully the President will once again act to protect our beautiful desert landscapes.

The Future of Zzyzx: Solar Project or Wildlife?

Image
Here we go again.  Do we allow Bechtel to destroy 3.8 square miles of desert habitat, or keep the wildlands intact to preserve a potential wildlife corridor?  Bechtel's proposed 350 megawatt Soda Mountain Solar project could dry up habitat for an endangered desert fish, and foreclose an opportunity to restore bighorn sheep habitat connectivity.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a draft environmental impact statement that signals likely approval for the Soda Mountain  project, although environmental groups, former National Park superintendents, and other citizens are expressing concern regarding the BLM's environmental review.  Prospects for wildlife are dim, however;  BLM also ignored wildlife concerns and environmental group protests when they approved the Stateline and Silver State South Solar projects in the Ivanpah Valley, a critical desert tortoise habitat linkage.  A judge denied a preliminary request from Defenders of Wildlife to stop the Ivanpah projects i…