Energy Conservation Plan
Biden Administration Restores the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, Protecting 2 million acres of National Conservation Land.
In his term’s 11th hour, then-President Donald Trump took aim at the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and began a rollback of key conservation protections in the framework that aims to balance clean energy and conservation on federal land in the Southern California desert. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s administration announced it will halt that action, leaving the original plan intact.
The proposed changes would have resulted in a nearly 2 million-acre reduction in lands designated as “areas of critical environmental concern.” They also would have modified or eliminated 68 “conservation and management actions,” which set rules for development in the desert.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan represents an unprecedented partnership between the federal government, the state of California, and local citizen stakeholders to balance our country’s equally important goals of facilitating renewable energy while ensuring that lands in California’s deserts are set aside for conservation and recreation. With the plan’s integrity intact, we can now focus on the implementation of the DRECP and protecting our beloved California Desert for generations to come.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, is a land use plan designed to allow renewable energy development on least conflict public lands, and balance that with conservation and recreation on public land. The plans covers over 22.5 million acres of the California desert. This plan, finalized in 2016, is the result of over 8 years of collaborative planning by a diverse range of stakeholders throughout the state. The DRECP process can permanently protect California’s diverse and unique desert communities while siting renewable energy projects in the most appropriate locations.
The DRECP was one of our region’s most important achievements. The final plan struck a balance between the interests of industry, conservationists, recreationalists, government, and local residents. The effort to reopen the plan shows disrespect to hundreds of thousands of people who worked to achieve that balance, and threatens areas that Desert residents love.
The DRECP protected 6.5 million acres of the Desert’s most sensitive natural and cultural landscapes and designated 3.6 million acres for recreation, such as hiking, camping, rockhounding, and off-road recreation. Development would destroy these lands and reduce opportunities for local residents to enjoy them. Preserving the DRECP is about preserving our quality of life – Desert residents don’t want to see these places inappropriately developed.
Friends of the Inyo is hard at work, educating the public on the DRECP and how it benefits the lands we love. With the Biden Administration assuring the integrity of the plan, Friends of the Inyo and local stakeholders will focus on implementation and protecting the National Conservation Lands established by the DRECP. Many National Conservation Land sites like Conglomerate Mesa and Panamint Valley are still threatened by inappropriate development. Friends of the Inyo will be there every step of the way to protect these landscapes we all love.
Keep The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Intact! Comments Due March 22nd The Department of Interior issued a federal register notice opening a 45 day comment period “on increasing opportunities for increased renewable energy development, recreational and off-highway vehicle (OHV) access, mining access, and grazing” This amending of the DRECP is a slap in the face to eight years of collaborative work, research and public outreach to balance renewable energy and conservation in the California Desert and identify areas most suitable for development. The Department of Interior said in a press statement it is exploring changes to the plan at…
***New Development*** The Inyo County Board of Supervisors will be discussing their draft letter to the BLM regarding the re-opening of the DRECP. The Board is currently scheduled to discuss the topic on March 20, 2018 at their Board of Supervisors meeting. Here are some talking points to help you prepare for the meeting: 1. Thank the Board for its stance taken at the February 27 meeting to oppose re-opening the DRECP. 2. Remind them that they wanted to insure that their letter sent a clear signal and not mixed messages, and the current letter does not clearly oppose re-opening. The draft’s…
The Eastern Sierra. Death Valley. The Mojave desert and peaks. Wild, undeveloped and iconic. Inyo County wants to put industrial-scale solar there. These regions house the highest, lowest, hottest, and darkest places in the lower 48 states, as well as numerous unique and endemic species of plants and animals. Riparian zones in the Owens and Amargosa Valleys are the rare blend of water and desert, creating habitat found nowhere else on the planet. The Amargosa Conservancy teamed up with the Owens Valley Committee and California Native Plant Society Bristlecone Chapter, to petition Inyo County to drop these areas from consideration…