Solar Millennium Intent on Building on Poorly Chosen Ridgecrest Site

Despite an array of potentially disastrous impacts on Mojave Desert species, water resources for the community of Ridgecrest, and even the risk of spreading Valley Fever among residents, Solar Millennium LLC appears intent to build the proposed Ridgecrest Solar Power project.   During a 17 May status conference, Solar Millennium demanded clarity from the CEC and wildlife agencies on specifically what mitigation measures could be instituted to overcome the biological impacts.  I previously posted on the Ridgecrest project in March after the California Energy Commission (CEC) issued a preliminary assessment recommending against construction on the site, claiming that no mitigation measures--habitat restoration, translocation of tortoises, etc--would adequately make up for the damage Solar Millennium would incur on our natural resources. The site is home to a high density population of desert tortoise--to include a healthy juvenile tortoise population--and the site functions as a key c

What Next for the California Desert Protection Act?

The mid-May Senate hearing for the California Desert Protection Act of 2010 ( CDPA 2010 or S.2921) was a positive step for the legislation proposed by Senator Feinstein, considering most proposed legislation never makes it beyond the committee.   However, the hearings revealed technical objections from government agencies and some deeper concerns expressed by fellow Senators on the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources.   As noted in a previous post, the legislative calendar and political dynamics outside of California could eclipse the need for near-term sensible land management in the Mojave Desert, and CDPA may not even get the attention it deserves until next year.  If Senator Feinstein's office can work with the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture to quickly incorporate the technical modifications sought by these agencies during the hearings, the Senator will still face more hurdles before the bill can be put to the full Senate before Co

Granite Wind Energy Project Comment Period...

Someone recently commented on a blog post regarding the impact of wind energy on bats that the comment period for the Granite Wind Energy project proposed for the Apple Valley/Barstow area will close on 01 July.  I have been meaning to catch up with the wind energy projects in the Mojave Desert and should have a post on this soon, but I wanted to share this in the meantime.

New Layout for Calico Solar Project May Not Provide Adequate Wildlife Corridor

Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems, the companies proposing to build the Calico Solar Power project in the Mojave Desert, filed details on an alternative layout for the site with the California Energy Commission (CEC).  Although the companies claim that the reduced site footprint provides a 4000 foot wildlife corridor between the solar project and the Cady Mountains to allow desert tortoise and other species passage through the area, the maps presented in the documents filed with the CEC suggest that the layout falls short of this goal. The Calico Solar Project is currently the largest solar project proposed for the Mojave Desert that is currently under review by the CEC and Bureau of Land Management for approval.  The project would be built on public land and would be partially funded by the taxpayers.  The original proposed project would take up 8,230 acres, and potentially displace or kill at least 100 desert tortoises, and jeopardize the white-margined beardtongue, a rare

The Sunset Glow of the Cholla Cactus

I got these shots of cholla cactus near the Granite Hills in the Mojave National Preserve practically glowing as the sun set, which provided a back light to their needles.

San Bernardino County Opposes Desert Conservation?

The San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department recently filed their response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Calico Solar Project, located east of Newberry Springs.  If I am reading it correctly, the County explicitly opposes long-term conservation of Mojave Desert habitat as a means to off-set the negative impacts of industrial scale development.  The County comments stirred some though on just what a deal energy companies are getting by developing on public land, and how the County's argument cheapens the value of open space for future generations.  As many of you already know, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may require a developer to fund or purchase private land that contains suitable desert habitat and set it aside for conservation.  This is required because the developers are applying to bulldoze thousands of acres of natural resources on public land essentially because they are too lazy or g

Desert Blooms

My brother Todd took some photos during a recent bike ride in the desert around Hesperia.  The rains this year seem to have prolonged a colorful Mojave landscape.