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Showing posts with the label Basin and Range Watch

Amargosa Toad

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I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a rare desert amphibian this month, thanks to the folks at Basin and Range Watch.  The Amargosa toad lives along a roughly ten mile stretch of the Amargosa River and associated springs in the Nevada desert.  The toad's habitat is threatened by human development and pumping of water resources, but luckily some local residents and the Nature Conservancy are working to preserve some of its habitat along the river.

Although this toad only inhabits a small stretch, the Amargosa River actually stretches about 185 miles from Nevada into the Mojave Desert, just east of Death Valley National Park, and supports an array of wildlife, including migratory birds. 

BrightSource Energy's proposed Hidden Hills Solar project may be a potential threat to the Amargosa River and its tributaries.  Although the California Energy Commission (CEC) staff acknowledges that the Hidden Hills project impacts will be most severe for the Pahrump Valley groundwater basin…

Pressure Mounts on First Solar Projects as Ivanpah Recognized As Crucial Tortoise Habitat

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More conservation groups have expressed support for preserving desert wildlands in the Ivanpah Valley, an early warning signal that First Solar should back away from their ill-sited solar projects there.  Located in the northeastern Mojave Desert and spanning the California/Nevada border, the Ivanpah Valley hosts a robust population of desert tortoises and provides a critical wildlife corridor for this species whose population has declined nearly 90% since the 1980s.  Biological surveys and US Fish and Wildlife Service findings increasingly indicate that First Solar is proposing to build in one of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the Mojave Desert, and threatens a level of damage that it cannot buy its way out of with "mitigation" as it did with its other projects.

Basin and Range Watch and a coalition of other desert conservation groups submitted a petition to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on 23 October asking that much of the Ivanpah Valley be designated as an…

Ivanpah Conservation Initiative Presented to BLM Officials

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Basin and Range Watch members met with officials from the Bureau of Land Management's California and Nevada state offices earlier this month to present the proposed Ivanpah Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), which is also supported by the Desert Tortoise Council and Desert Protective Council.  The ACEC is needed to protect biological and cultural resources that would be imperiled by additional solar energy development in the Ivanpah Valley, including a connectivity corridor for the endangered desert tortoise.  As human-induced  climate change challenges desert ecosystems, the genetic connectivity and healthy habitat offered by the Ivanpah Valley will be critical to the survival of many desert species.

The productive meeting with BLM, which took place in Reno,  represents potential reprieve for the beleaguered valley in the northeastern Mojave Desert as a coalition of smaller groups and concerned citizens speak up for a smarter renewable energy policy that does not invol…

Conservationists Offer Alternative to First Solar Projects in Ivanpah Valley

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Wednesday hosted a public meeting to discuss one of two solar projects that would be built in the Ivanpah Valley by First Solar Inc, drawing concerned citizens who expressed deep frustrations with a misguided renewable energy policy.   Desert experts and conservation advocates in attendance presented an alternative proposal to designate much of the valley as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in order to protect a crucial genetic linkage for the threatened desert tortoise and habitat for rare plants and other wildlife.   The full ACEC petition can be viewed at Basin and Range Watch's website.   Many citizens at the meeting have long called for distributed solar generation (such as rooftop solar), or placing solar facilities on lands that are already disturbed instead of on ecologically intact areas such as the Ivanpah Valley.

The two projects proposed by First Solar--Stateline and Silver State South--would essentially shut off a …

CEC Flaunting Endangered Species Act Obligations?

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The petition filed by Basin and Range Watch asking the California Energy Commission (CEC) to reconsider its decision on the BrightSource Energy Ivanpah Solar power project raises new information regarding the potential impact of the solar project on the survivability of desert tortoises.  The CEC approved the project earlier this month based on the assumption that a translocation plan and mitigation funds could offset the likely loss of endangered desert tortoises.  Such mitigation funds were designated for the purchase of land elsewhere in the Mojave Desert to be set aside for tortoise conservation.

Genetically Significant Tortoise Population In Decline

The Basin and Range Watch petition highlights new information from the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) biological opinion for another proposed project in the Ivanpah Valley that charactierized the tortoise population in the area -- identified as the Northeastern Mojave Recovery Unit--as the least abundant of all of the tortoise …