The National Park Service has lodged strongly worded objections to a proposed 6.5-square-mile solar development about a half-mile from the Mojave National Preserve, saying the project would harm wildlife and suggesting that it be built elsewhere.
According to a story in today’s Riverside Press-Enterprise, Preserve Superintendent Stephanie Dubois submitted an eight-page letter to the BLM, who oversees the public land where the SodaMountain solar project is planned and is handling the environmental analysis of the development. A subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation wants to put solar panels on both sides of Interstate 15, about six miles south of Baker and just outside the northwest corner of the national preserve, where the bright white Soda Lake is a striking landmark. The solar panels would cover 3.3 square miles. Dubois’ letter says the BLM failed to adequately address the project’s potential to harm groundwater, threatened and endangered species, and scenic views. The project would be detrimental to the desert tortoise, bighorn sheep and protected birds in the area and could reduce water supplies that support one of the few populations of an endangered fish. Dubois’ letter says the development would conflict with the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, which created the Mojave National Preserve. The law, calls for preserving, “unrivaled scenic, geological and wildlife values” associated with the parks and wilderness areas the law created. A link to the Press Enterprise Story is in