“Saving the endangered desert tortoises from a solar zap”

In Arizona, Sonoran desert tortoises builds their burrows deep in the earth to protect them from the extremes of the desert climate. They have few predators, but a new project in the desert may destroy them.

Mojave Desert Tortoise Tortoises also tend to stray away from intensive human disturbances to the land. . The tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees F, because of its ability to dig underground burrows to escape the heat.

The landmark Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan’s Conservation Land System, adopted by Pima County, identifies extensive tortoise habitat on BLM lands. Critical habitat the tortoises need to survive.

A new energy development could destroy the homes these ancient reptiles have lived on and need to survive.

Help protect tortoise homes. RSVP to speak out Wednesday in Tucson.

Renewable energy resources can be the greenest, most sustainable sources of energy. However, these projects need to be designed to be eco friendly or wildlife and our endangered species could be in serious trouble.

Help Arizona today avoid this environmental crisis with good eco- planning.  New proposals for solar energy development could have tragic impacts for desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and other imperiled species.

Please attend the hearing and make sure that a wildlife-sound renewable energy plan is adopted?

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Department of Energy (DOE) have released a initial draft of the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for six western states, including Arizona. The PEIS will determine how and where solar projects will be developed on federal land for the next 20 years.

The draft plan outlines two possible alternatives, the Solar Energy Development Program Alternative and the Energy Zone Program Alternative. The Solar Energy Development Program — the alternative favored by the agencies involved– fails to consider implications to wildlife and other natural resources properly.

Please attend an important hearing on these plans and provide a voice for wildlife:

What: Solar Energy Development PEIS Hearing
When: Wednesday, March 2nd 7:00 p.m.
Where: Tucson Marriott University Park
880 East Second Street
Tucson, Arizona 85719

If the federal government moves forward with their favored plan, 22 million acres of federal land –larger than the entire state of South Carolina –  could be developed, including important wildlife habitats.

Of the two alternatives, the Solar Energy Zone alternative is the best bet for wildlife. While not perfect, new solar development would be directed to specifically identified areas instead of indiscriminately opening huge tracts of land.

Further, the government’s preferred plan would conflict drastically with the Sonoran Desert Consevation Plan that has been designed to protect the rich diversity of wildlife and cultural resources in the region. The existing plan has received a lot of attention for what it has been able to accomplish, but if the government preferred plan moves forward progress could be haulted.

Tell the BLM that it needs to direct development away from ecologically sensitive places, like the San Pedro River National Conservation Area. The San Pedro is the region’s last free-flowing river – it is already water-stressed – yet BLM has identified lands next to the river for water-intensive solar development.

Intelligent siting of solar power plants is key in this arid region if we are to safeguard key habitats like the San Pedro River, which are home to a host of imperiled plants and animals. The future of endangered species such as the southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, spikedace and Huachuca water umbel depend on us making solar energy development smart from the start.

Speak out for wildlife and tell BLM to choose the Solar Energy Zone program option but drop the four wildlife-crucial regions.

The Solar Energy Zone Program Alternative, with improvements, is the best option for protecting Arizona wildlife, such as threatened desert tortoises, because it targets specific areas that will likely have fewer environmental impacts and conflicts. If the Development Plan Alternative is passed, areas vital to imperiled animals could be scraped bare and developed.

RSVP now to attend this hearing in Tucson with other Defenders supporters in your area and ensure all Arizona wildlife is protected.

With your help, we can make sure the federal government chooses the Solar Energy Zone Program Alternative and then strengthens it.

Matt Clark
Southwest Representative
Defenders of Wildlife

Image courtesy of    http://bit.ly/hAMZOj

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2 Comments

  1. rastus74 said,

    February 26, 2011 at 1:59 am

    As I reside at Tweed Heads NSW Australia I cannot personally attend the hearing at Tucson Arizona. I can indicate you have my full support in opposing BLM’s proposed development in or near San Pedro River National Conservation area.
    Warwick Neal,
    TWEED HEADS, NSW, Australia, 2486

  2. February 26, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Thanks for the support. How are you all doing with weather and enviro challenges in AU?
    Thanks again.
    Mother Nature Mary


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