Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here’s an example of solar panels in the Mojave National Preserve that I have no problem with.

Many thanks to for bringing this to my attention.

This is a guzzler installed in a wilderness area near the Kelso Mountains. For those who are unfamiliar with this, it is a “watering hole” for the animals whose regular water sources
such as seeps or springs, etc may have dried up, possibly permanently due to climate change or other reasons.

Now some people disagree that guzzlers should be provided; that the animals should find
water on their own, sink or swim, let the hardy and strong survive- allow me to point out that for at least 100 years, ranching went on in the preserve with the attendant aermotor windmills pumping water from deep wells to cisterns above ground for the cattle, but which
also were used by other animals for generations as well. So in my opinion, their instincts
may have been imprinted with the location of existing cattle guzzlers, so these would be
utilized also.
archivecd18 041
This old ranch has since been removed by either the rancher or the park service sometime
after 2004 when this photograph was taken.

It is a fact that the underground aquifer and water table has been dropping at an alarming
rate in some parts of the Mojave. Certainly the existing cities, golf courses, plus now all
the upcoming wind and solar installations will require further large withdrawals of water from underground, and with the very low rate of recharge, these water levels are trending
down over the long term- not good news for the animals that depend on the unreliable desert water sources for their very survival.
Don’t forget all the plant life
that has to depend on the desert rains to soak into the ground in the winter months, as well
as the water already underground- when the water level drops one day below the level that
their roots can reach, they will die. This would occur with different plant communities dying
shortly after the water level drops, longer rooted communities would hang on longer- it
is a very depressing prospect indeed.

Just so you will know the groundwater drops are not just happening in the Mojave, recently
I have read many articles that point out that this is happening all over the globe, and for
a variety of reasons. This is an alarming trend that should be concerning policy makers world wide for an obvious reason.

Another thought on the top photograph. That water had to be hauled into the wilderness area by truck via driving up that sandy wash. That brings up the question of why does that vehicle get to drive up into the wilderness area and not others? From observation, I know
that when some people spot tire tracks, they are inclined to follow, whether it’s wilderness
or not. I would suggest to park management that the person servicing these guzzlers in signed wilderness areas, sweep their tire tracks away going and coming, near the entry point- it works for people trying to avoid detection, and I feel it would be wise to do so here.

My guess is that the small solar panel runs an electric pump to draw water out of the barrels. That is a wise choice, otherwise they would have to have a generator running
a short period daily, miss a few days due to part failure, and you’d be hauling out animal
carcasses, maybe bighorns.

I would really like to see the roof of the Kelso Depot as well as the old OX Ranch buildings
now being used as residential quarters for some of the staff, covered with pv solar arrays.
Being black, they would not cause any glare, and with all the sunshine, would work quietly
all day generating electricity. I am sure that there are solar providers who would really make
the park service a good deal in return for all the great publicity they would get. Just the simple act of installing the panels would make the point that the government gets it, the need for pv solar.

Unfortunately what will probably happen is they will just buy power from Ivanpah SEGS when it finally gets built :-(

I would like to say thanks to for alerting me to this guzzler setup in the MNP
wilderness area and the solar setup there. He went to the preserve this year in May for 2
weeks and I am gradually reading through his trip report, now up to day 3. Folks, you really
need to surf right over and read his trip reports for his annual vacation, usually bicycle camping at the Mojave National Preserve. I must say that in my humble opinion, so far this
year’s report is the best yet. I love the show the desert puts on every year with all the wildflowers, and this trip report is chock full of wildflower photographs. And what really impresses me is that he knows the names of all these flowers, at least the vast majority of them.

This journal he writes, provides me at least, with a vicarious thrill of tagging along and seeing this paradise that I love so, from the comfort of my table and laptop. Not everyone
is able or in shape enough, to ride the ten ton bike over 60 miles in a day up and down
the long grades in the preserve like he does, and I would like to express my gratitude for the effort he puts into these trip reports, for our enjoyment and education about the region that they provide.
Thanks again, sir and I hope to catch up
with you one day in the preserve, and I promise that I’ll have an ice cold Sioux City Sarsaparilla for you.

Please surf right over and check out all the trip reports here. You can email him at

Well I hope you enjoyed the article and we hope to see you again on the backporch.