Searchlight Wind Project Retreats, But Future of Wildlands Remains In Doubt

The Searchlight Wind project threatening wildlands in Nevada's Piute Valley has been cancelled, according to Basin & Range Watch communication with the Bureau of Land Management.  The Searchlight Wind project would have converted nearly 29 square miles of wildlands into an industrial zone, with 87 towering wind turbines and at least 35 miles of new access roads carved into the desert around the small outpost of Searchlight.  The project suffered legal setbacks after Basin & Range Watch and the Friends of Searchlight Desert and Mountains pointed out that the Department of Interior's environmental review downplayed the project's potential impacts on wildlife.

Spirit Mountain in the distance as seen from the Searchlight Hills where the proposed wind project would have been built.

The Piute Valley, however, continues to face the threat of industrial-scale energy development.  A Sweden-based company plans to build the Crescent Peak Wind project on the western edge of the Valley along the California-Nevada border.  The project, if built, would industrialize an even larger swath of desert wildlands - nearly 57 square miles - and almost certainly harm a dense population of golden eagles that call nearby mountains home.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to release a supplemental draft resource management plan (RMP) for southern Nevada that will govern how lands in the Piute Valley and elsewhere are managed.  The last draft RMP proposed a wind energy zone where Crescent Peak proposes to build its project, but also designates the Piute Valley as a primitive and unconfined recreation area - two incompatible designations.  Primitive and unconfined recreation requires wildlands with little human disturbance.  You cannot find 'solitude' in a landscape that is dominated for miles by wide access roads connecting dozens of giant wind turbines.   Hopefully the supplemental RMP recognizes the Piute Valley for its amazing wildlife and recreation values.  Stay tuned.


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