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Issues Facing California's Desert National Parks
The National Parks Conservation Association Weighs in on the Future of Desert Solar Development and Opposes Water Board’s Approval to Drain the Desert.
Radio Interview and Mojave National Preserve photo by David Lamfrom

Future of Desert Solar Development

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Department of Energy (DOE), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Department of the Interior’s (DOI)  Final Solar Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) was recently announced to the public, after months of refinements and years of input, public voice and process, and extensive review of natural and cultural resources in these poorly studied and biologically rich landscapes. The full final PEIS report can be accessed at:

Statement by David Lamfrom, California Desert Senior Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

“Today represents a step-forward in our national dialogue about where we can and cannot responsibly develop renewable energy on public lands. The administration has accomplished many of its goals in developing renewable energy, and has shown increased leadership by reducing conflicts on many sensitive public lands. Positive movements include recognizing the values in and restricting further development of the tortoise-rich Ivanpah Valley; the rocky volcanic lava flows of the Pisgah Valley; the Catellus lands previously donated to conservation; the southern Death Valley gateway communities; and already designated areas of critical environmental concern, among others.”

We encourage the administration to further refine their improved preferred alternative, to further remove sensitive variance lands from the 19 million acres currently proposed, including those surrounding Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Mojave National Preserve. We also urge smart decision making when it comes to siting current and future applications on lands with sensitive natural and cultural resources and those rich in historic values.This process has been modified due to the recognition that there are right and wrong places for renewable energy development. We encourage continued refinements and incentives for siting projects in designated zones.”

“Our public lands and national parks in particular are a source of great pride, identity, and income. This process helps protect many important conservation lands in the California desert and throughout the Southwest. While refinements are needed, this is an important step toward energy independence. This process and future decisions must protect our most sensitive resources and most beautiful places for our generation, our children, and grandchildren.  We have entrusted these decisions to the Bureau of Land Management, and require that they act in our shared interest.”   

Water Board’s Approval to Drain the Desert

Statement by Seth Shteir, California Desert Field Representative, National Parks Conservation Association

“The Santa Margarita Water District’s board decision to certify what is essentially the Cadiz water mining project jeopardizes precious Mojave Desert groundwater resources, air quality, and the springs of the Mojave National Preserve.  We feel the water board did not adequately consider all of the evidence before them, choosing instead to irresponsibly approve the Cadiz Inc. water withdrawal proposal. It’s ironic that the word ‘conservation’ is in the title of this project, as independent research has found exactly the opposite – that this project will not leave a drop for future generations.”  

“The National Parks Conservation Association and a consortium of other environmental groups consulted with a hydrologist, who found that there are fundamental flaws in Cadiz’s hydrologic modeling.  Independent research found the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage project to be totally unsustainable, as it would pump more water out of the desert aquifer than would be replaced by natural recharge over the project’s 50 year lifespan.   Despite Cadiz’s claims that their project won’t adversely impact the Mojave National Preserve’s springs, the National Park Service states that conclusion is premature and that some Preserve springs are likely connected to the deeper water table that would be subject to pumping.

“If this project is implemented, we’ll regret it in years to come because of the damage it will do to groundwater resources and the harm it could do to the springs of the Mojave National Preserve, one of our national treasures. In short, the proposed Cadiz project is simply poor policy that would take public water resources, privatize them, and ultimately sell them back to the public for profit. In comparison to our national parks, considered our country’s ‘best idea,’ this project is among the worst ideas for the health of the overall California desert and the many individuals, animals, ecosystems, and economies that rely on it. We must use long term thinking to ensure that our natural resources and national treasures such as Mojave National Preserve are protected and preserved for our children and grandchildren. The National Parks Conservation Association will not stand by and allow this project to move forward.”

Learn more about the issues facing California's Desert National Parks including Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Death Valley National Park at