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Renewable Energy Action Team Fund Established

An inter-agency forum known as the Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT) seeking to streamline the renewable energy permitting process in California has succeeded in establishing a fund to centralize conservation funds that offset the impact of energy development.  The REAT is composed of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), as I noted in a previous post on the topic.  Among the policy tools REAT hopes to implement is the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which would provide a framework for implementing regionally coordinated land acquisition and mitigation to off-set the negative affects of the renewable energy rush on desert biological resources.  The DRECP is not expect to be completed until 2012, however.

One of the REAT's policy goals was to establish a central fund to which renewable energy developers would pay their required mitigation fees--…

Name that Bird part Two

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I'm posting a couple more photos of the unidentified bird from my previous post to see if it helps anyone in their identification of the species.   One commenter suggested that it perhaps could have been a black-throated gray warbler.  I'm no expert so I could not completely discard this possibility, but the images online for the warbler show more distinct black and white patterns than the bird in my photo, which is mostly gray with the only visible patter being the blue and white streaks by the eyes.   Welcome more comments/ideas.

Name that Bird

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If you have any guesses as to what species of bird is perched on the cholla cactus in the picture below, feel free to leave a comment.  I got a picture of it from a distance, but I'm not sure what species of bird I captured in the photo.  The photo was taken in the western Mojave National Preserve.  Note the streaks of blue and white by its eyes.


Granite Mountain Wind Project Cuts Into Bendire's Thrasher ACEC

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According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Granite Mountain Wind Energy project, part of the project's footprint and the access roads would interfere with the Bendire's Thrasher Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).  The Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project is being proposed for the hills on the outskirts of Apple Valley by Granite Wind LLC.

The Bendire's Thrasher is a threatened species deemed by ornithologists to be so rare that it is difficult to properly assess its recent population trends, although sufficient data suggests that the population has declined approximately 34% since 1966.  The bird's habitat is threatened by urbanization, loss of Joshua Trees, and Off-highway vehicle use resulting in habitat degradation.

Although the Granite Wind Energy project may not be as destructive as other industrial-scale energy projects proposed for the Mojave Desert--such as the Calico Solar Project or the Ridgecrest Solar Power project--it does no…

Mojave Narrows Regional Park

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I took this photo a while back at Mojave Narrows Regional Park.  The lake at Mojave Narrows is man made but it draws from the natural Mojave River, which Indian Americans relied upon for ages before the current cities within the Victor Valley began to draw upon its water and the underground aquifers.  I have been slowly making my way through Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert, which at one point discusses the migratory birds that previously found stopover points at various natural watering holes throughout the arid Southwest.  Government decisions led to the destruction of some of these vital desert waterways to divert water to agricultural use, forcing birds to change their migratory patterns or possibly even jeopardizing their populations.   Such poor policy decisions regarding natural resources in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts may sound familiar.  If the vast number of solar energy sites are constructed in the area, not only will they deprive us of open desert vistas and desert w…

Solar Millenium Study Casts Doubt on Desert Tortoise Significance

Solar Millennium presented the results of a study that it presumably funded regarding the desert tortoise population on the proposed site of the Ridgecrest Solar Power project.  As noted in previous posts, the California Energy Commission (CEC) staff judged that construction on the proposed site would incur harm to the threatened Mohave Ground Squirrel and endangered desert tortoise that could not be corrected by mitigation efforts, and recommended against the project.  Solar Millenium's study, however,  supports its desire to build on the site and argues that the tortoise population present on the site is not worth preserving.

The Study's Findings:
According to the Solar Millennium study, the density of the desert tortoise population on the Ridgecrest site is not significant based on surveys of the West Mojave conducted in 1999.   The study makes this judgment by citing previous surveys (1999 and older) that suggest the desert tortoise population on the Ridgecrest site is comp…

Mohave Ground Squirrel Considered for Endangered Species Listing

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The Department of Interior is currently considering a petition by Defenders of Wildlife to list the Mohave Ground Squirrel as an endangered species.  The Mohave Ground Squirrel--whose range spans portions of the western and north-western Mojave Desert--is currently listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act, but it is not recognized under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

I have to take this opportunity to correct mistaken references to the Mohave Ground Squirrel (MGS; alternatively: Mojave Ground Squirrel) on this blog as an "endangered species," even though it has not technically been listed as such under Federal authorities. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)--part of the Department of the Interior--has deemed the petition contains substantial information indicating that listing the MGS as an endangered species may be warranted.    According to the Federal Register (April 27, 2010; Vol 75, Number 80), the USFWS is soliciting scie…