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Tribes and conservation groups say that stripping swathes of the Mojave desert to make way for huge solar farms will destroy desert tortoise habitat.

Interior Approves Two Ivanpah Valley Solar Projects on Chemehuevi Homelands

ICTMN Staff
2/20/14

The Department of the Interior statement said it had addressed these concerns via project modifications overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). First Solar, the company in charge of the projects, changed its designs significantly to accommodate the tortoise, Interior said, as well as to minimize and mitigate effects on that and other wildlife. The project’s footprint was reduced by more than 20 percent, and the Ivanpah Desert Wildlife Management Area will be expanded by more than 20,000 acres, among other concessions.  

Desert tortoiseSimilarly, the Silver State South facility agreed to reduce its production capacity by 100 megawatts, Interior said, and to incorporate mitigation measures that include stabilizing the soil to prevent erosion and polluted runoff. The developer also must spend more than $3.6 million on desert tortoise mitigation and $3.5 million for studies intended to guide future efforts to protect the desert tortoise in the project area, the Interior statement said.

“The company must also assess the project’s potential adverse impact if archaeological properties at the site are found to be eligible for National Register of Historic Places listing,” the Interior Department statement said.

RELATED: Tribes Join Protests of Ivanpah Solar Project

Southern California Edison has agreed to purchase electricity from the projects’ output for 20 years, the Interior Department said.

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