21
November
2014
|
06:58 PM
America/New_York

Wildlife Advocates Celebrate BLM’s denial of poorly-sited solar project near California’s Death Valley National Park

FOR IMMIDIATE RELEASE

November 21, 2014

Contact: Courtney Sexton; 202.772.0253, csexton@defenders.org

Wildlife Advocates Celebrate BLM’s denial of poorly-sited solar project near California’s Death Valley National Park

Project would harm threatened and endangered species in fragile Mojave Desert region

SACRAMENTO— Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in California denied an application for a large scale solar project in the Mojave Desert’s Silurian Valley near Death Valley National Park – a decision that results in the continued protection of thousands of acres of important desert land habitat for imperiled wildlife including desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise and migratory birds.

The following is a statement by Kim Delfino, California Program Director, Defenders of Wildlife:

“The proposed project would have destroyed important wildlife habitat and compromised the region’s historic, cultural and recreational values. We are really pleased to see the BLM reject this harmful development proposal in the Silurian Valley. This region of the northern Mojave Desert connects Death Valley National Park with the Mojave National Preserve, creating an important wildlife habitat link for desert bighorn sheep and other threatened species, and providing a critical area for migratory birds.

“Renewable energy development can be compatible with our California desert if it is done carefully and in the right places, taking into consideration sensitive and important desert lands and wildlife. After careful review the BLM made the right decision to reject this project, consistent with the framework outlined in the BLM’s Solar Energy Plan. There are appropriate places for large-scale solar in the desert, but the Silurian Valley is not one of those places.” 

Background

The Spanish company Iberdrola Renewables proposed a side-by-side wind and solar facility in the Silurian Valley near Death Valley National Park more than two years ago. Since that time, wildlife advocates, wilderness organizations, recreationists and local residents have worked to demonstrate why this area must be protected from industrial development. This project is located on “variance” lands identified by the BLM in the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS), which was adopted in October 2012. “Variance” lands are areas that the BLM believe may be suitable for solar energy development, but must be subject to an analysis of a strict set of criteria to ensure that the lands are of lower quality and will not compromise wildlife, wilderness, recreation or other important values. The Silurian Solar Project was the first “variance” land project proposed in California.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.