Pew Commends BLM for Strengthening Conservation in California’s Desert

Final decisions should enhance protections for conservation areas


WASHINGTON—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) today, which would protect significant areas of public lands in the California desert—including the Cadiz and Silurian valleys, the Iron Mountains, and the Chuckwalla Bench. The plan also identifies certain areas of public lands in the desert that would be available for potential renewable energy development. Governor Jerry Brown (D) now has 60 days to review the plan before BLM can sign and implement it.

Ken Rait, director of the U.S. public lands program at The Pew Charitable Trusts, issued the following statement:

“The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan provides a solid blueprint for carefully balancing public land conservation with renewable energy development in the California desert. Pew applauds the Bureau of Land Management for making permanent the protections for the areas it is now designating as National Conservation Lands, thus adding them to the agency’s premier network of safeguarded areas across the country.

“This land use plan provides a unique opportunity for the BLM to enhance California’s conservation legacy in the state’s desert, which is home to many iconic species including bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and the Mohave ground squirrel.

“DRECP’s original intent of placing future renewable energy development in less environmentally sensitive desert regions, such as abandoned agricultural areas, is an important goal that must still be addressed before the final decision is issued early next year. Some public lands may be appropriate for energy development, although county-by-county decisions on what nonfederal lands will be made available for such development are a critical component in striking the right balance in the desert.”

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