Defenders of Wildlife Cautiously Hails BLM’s Renewable Energy and Land Conservation Plan for the California Desert

WASHINGTON – November 11, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), the BLM Land Use Plan Amendment’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

In an effort to safeguard important natural resources, scenic and recreational values in the face of renewable energy development, the BLM’s plan designates 3.8 million acres of lands as part of the National Landscape Conservation System, which contains some of the most fragile wildlife and iconic landscapes in the West. This designation assures that these lands, referred to as National Conservation Lands, are permanently protected from development, and their protection cannot be undone by future administrative action.

Furthermore, the BLM Land Use Plan also includes 388,000 acres of BLM lands in the California desert on which renewable energy projects can be built with approval under DRECP.

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

“There is much to celebrate as the DRECP plan reflects the Obama administration’s commitment to finding lower conflict sites for renewable energy development while protecting our wildlife legacy. Some of the lands included in the plan are appropriately identified as lower conflict lands, which will result in fewer conflicts over the planning of projects and will help California meet its aggressive climate change goals.

“However, while the plan provides strong protections for wildlife in the eastern part of the California desert, the fate of the West Mojave Desert and the critically imperiled desert tortoise and Mohave ground squirrel remain uncertain. The BLM plan opens critical wildlife areas to development and reduces protections for the federally listed desert tortoise and state-listed Mojave ground squirrel. We urge the BLM to improve protections for desert wildlife in the Fremont Valley, Rose Valley, North of Kramer area, and the Pisgah Valley in its final plan.

“The BLM also should integrate its plan with ongoing planning by desert counties for renewable energy development and conservation on private lands in the desert, which will be critical to achieve the broader goal of the DRECP: to plan sustainable renewable energy development and enact comprehensive conservation measures across the desert landscape.”

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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 1.2 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.

Contact: Catalina Tresky: ; (202) 772-0253

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