Press Release Sep 23, 2014

Draft Plan Lays Groundwork for Renewable Energy Development in the California Desert

Elected Officials, Business Owners, National Parks Group Call for More Thoughtful Planning, Public Involvement to Ensure a Conservation Legacy for the Region

Palm Springs, CA – The Bureau of Land Management and California Energy Commission today released the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) – a guide for how to protect and develop on 22 million acres of land in the California desert. The DRECP seeks to strike a thoughtful balance between protecting the values important to residents and visitors and the national objective to decrease our dependence on foreign energy supplies by moving to renewable energy sources.

“The California desert is a world-class destination and we encourage careful planning to protect what is special about our lands while providing feedback on the best locations for renewable energy development. We want to enhance our economies and quality of life, and that can only be done through an open process that listens to public voice,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos.

The DRECP is the product of several years of data collection and public process, and would refine and replace the Solar Programmatic plan, adopted in 2012, as the policy governing how and where the California desert develops green energy. The DRECP also discusses opportunities for recreation, protection of access, protection of key species, and shifts the focus of development opportunities towards communities that have called for it.

“Our communities understand that a better comprehensive plan is needed, as previously approved projects have been built in places that have hurt wildlife, cultural resources, beautiful views, and our national parks,” said David Lamfrom, associate director of the California Desert Program for the National Park Conservation Association. “The National Parks Conservation Association is actively working in partnership with a broad community of stakeholders on this plan to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. However, we are concerned that this desert-wide plan appears to ignore three major proposals that would negatively impact our national parks: Soda Mountain Solar, at the doorstep of Mojave National Preserve; Silurian Valley solar and wind, near Death Valley National Park; and the Eagle Crest pumped storage proposal, near Joshua Tree National Park. Renewable resources in our region include tourism to these three national treasures, which welcomed nearly three million visitors in 2013 and generated more than $168 million in local visitor spending. Our communities understand that a comprehensive plan is needed to protect our desert and its many valuable resources, and to improve on the last solar plan.”

“The Wildlands Conservancy purchased over 600,000 acres of land in the California desert for natural, cultural and recreation values,” said April Sall, conservation director for The Wildlands Conservancy. “We support conservation planning and low impact renewable energy and hope that the DRECP planning process will limit utility scale development to disturbed lands, protecting our precious public lands and internationally recognized desert legacy.”

Individuals can get involved by attending public scoping meetings or by submitting comments to the website http://drecp.org/draftdrecp/. The draft DRECP comment period ends on January 9, 2015.

Click here for additional comments on the DRECP by community leaders.

Click here to read the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.