Friday, March 19, 2010

Save the Ivanpah Valley!

Morning folks! I’m glad you stopped by, let me grab you a
chair, got some hot joe percolating, let’s have ourselves a
nice visit.

You might have noticed I just got back from a field trip to the
Teutonia Peak/ Cima Dome area of the Mojave National Pre-
serve and the site of the future BrightSource Ivanpah solar
plant at the stateline area at the northern end of the Ivanpah

The hike reports/ field trip notes barely scratch the surface.
There is just an overwhelming amount of photography and
video work that could be done at just those two locations, you
could work there for ages.

As I pointed out through my observations of animal sign, there
obviously are a variety of animal species there, and in numbers
too great to be ignored. Enough different animal and plant species
to employ a small army of biologists and botanists as well as, dang
it my net connection died, the people who study reptile species.

The BrightSource, NextLight Solar South, and the proposed Ivanpah
airport locations are all important, they are located in endangered
species range and habitat, as well as being smack dab in the middle
between different state wilderness areas, adjacent to the MNP and
the Ivanpah DWMA(ACEC) and Piute-ElDorado Valley(ACEC).

What does that mean in layman’s terms? The projects will be built
in areas of contiguous, unfragmented endangered species habitat,
vast, sprawling areas where desert tortoises, burrowing owls, banded
gila monsters to name a few, have lived thousands of years going
about the business of living and surviving the harsh desert conditions.

In the history of those species, there have been challenges. Ranchers
grazing cattle, farmers plowing up the desert, miners digging holes here
and there, gold prospectors, uranium prospectors, you name it the Ivanpah
Valley has seen it!

But never has there been such a threat as the Ivanpah Valley(and the whole
Mojave Desert) faces today with these projects. For example, the BrightSource
solar project plans call for a 50 year lifespan, with an attempt at reclamation
and restoration once the project shuts down. From information I have read
that means a total and permanent loss of high quality and quantity of habitat,
as well as tremendous defragmentation of the habitat, certainly helping along
what appears to be,at least to this observer, the eventual extirpation of
the endangered species in an area crucial to their continued survival.

The northern Ivanpah valley is perfectly located at a junction point between
Tortoise DWMA’s, the MNP, and wilderness and wilderness study areas. It
is the gateway to the MNP and beyond. From reports I have read, desert tortoises
here live at the highest altitude for the species, meaning their dna could be
invaluable to the survival of the species, if in fact, this place heats up even
more in the future!

This beautiful valley is home to a tremendous variety of plant life and biospheres.
Chris Clarke wrote an eloquent plea on his site, Coyote Crossing, requesting
this valley be saved from industrialization, and spoke of the valley as the”Mojave
in microcosm”. I long to visit the “alpine sky-island overlooking the Ivanpah Valley, white firs clinging to the higher slopes of Clark Mountain, directly above the project site.”
That was a real disappointment with my recent trip there. You can read his letter

So what we have on the table are several projects aimed like knives at the throat
of this beautiful valley. All are being fast-tracked, crammed down our throats, with
no real thought it seems to me, about the future consequences for the region or
ourselves. If this beauty vanishes forever, what does it say about us? Once we
scrape the thousands and thousands of acres bare, and start wet-vaccing up
all the desert groundwater which took thousands and thousands of years to build
up underground, the area’s doomed.

I, for one, think it’s a damned shame, an abomination, and hope these
projects are stopped before it’s too late for Ivanpah, and for ourselves and
generations to come.

My friends, I thank you for stopping by the Backporch, hope to see you again,
and of course we welcome your comments about this or other matters pertaining
to the blog or the Mojave, truly one of the most beautiful places in the west.

Vaya con dios.