September 2009 Desert E-News
Dear Wilderness Supporter,
As you have heard from us over the last several months, there are many important desert wild lands and rivers in need of protection. Right now, we need your help to let Senator Feinstein know that these lands and rivers desrve wilderness status to protect from oncoming energy development.
Senator Dianne Feinstein has boldly supported creating new national monuments, wilderness areas, national park additions and wild and scenic rivers in the California desert. These new designations would connect Joshua Tree National Park with the Mojave National Preserve, protecting some of the most pristine, ecologically important, and beautiful desert in the world.
Unfortunately, the Interior Department is currently considering allowing industrial-scale energy development on many of these lands. Hundreds of thousands of acres of already-degraded lands are available outside the proposed monuments that are better suited for energy development.While a rapid transition to renewable energy is essential to address global warming, we must not destroy our wild public lands and endangered species habitat in the stampede.
Please take a moment now to let Senator Feinstein know that you strongly support her proposed monuments, wilderness areas, national park additions, and wild and scenic rivers.
LETTERS CAN BE EMAILED DIRECTLY TO firstname.lastname@example.org . OUR STAFF WILL HAND DELIVER THESE LETTERS TO SENATOR FEINSTEIN.
The public lands of California’s deserts represent one of the largest blocks of relatively intact natural habitat in United States. Home to a diverse array of species, including the threatened desert tortoise and numerous rare plants, parts of this desert are protected in national parks, preserves, and wilderness areas, but large areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management remain at risk.
One of the biggest emerging threats to the California desert is the growing number of proposed poorly sited, industrial-scale renewable-energy developments. Because a single project can result in more than six square miles of pristine habitat being scraped clean of life, it is critical that all such projects be properly sited. More than 70 applications for solar projects scattered throughout the California desert have been submitted to the Bureau of Land Management.
These projects, collectively, could convert upward of a half-million acres of natural habitat into lifeless industrial zones.
To better address the issue of where to put solar-energy projects on public lands in the western U.S., the Department of the Interior has begun a programmatic environmental review process with the aim of designating solar-energy zones where solar facilities could be clustered and built with fewer environmental impacts. Interior's initial proposal identifies more than 600,000 acres in six states where solar projects might be appropriate. The California Wilderness Coalition has worked in partnership with other groups to help prepare a map and analysis of areas potentially suitable for solar energy siting and identified 200,000 acres of degraded private and public lands in the California desert where such projects could occur with minimal environmental impact.
One of the most sensitive, currently unprotected areas of the California desert is the swath of land between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. This area is outside both the Department of the Interior's and the Center's proposed solar zones, but nevertheless, several energy companies are seeking to build large projects in the heart of the region.
This area is also the location of the largest nonprofit land acquisition donation in U.S. history. A decade ago, The Wildlands Conservancy spent tens of millions of dollars to acquire more than 500,000 acres of lands in the California desert, and then donated those lands to the Department of the Interior. At the time, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and the Bureau of Land Management director all pledged that the land would be conserved. Senator Feinstein's proposed monument would fulfill these promises and protect these important lands in perpetuity.
CWC protects our wild landscapes through public education, legislation and advocacy. We believe that a well educated and activist citizenry is essential to the preservation of wild California. Please support our efforts and join our community as a CWC member.
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