Palm Springs, Calif. – Representatives of Audubon California today said a new plan released today for renewable energy development across 10 million acres of federal public lands in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts will help birds two ways: first, by safeguarding the most important landscapes for resident and migratory birds; and second, by helping accelerate California to its ambitious renewable energy goals. Audubon research shows that 170 California birds, including dozens that either migrate through the desert or use this landscape year-round, are in danger in coming years if we do nothing to stem the global greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
“This plan proves that we don’t have to choose between wildlife protection and renewable energy,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “We’ve known all along that some places just aren’t appropriate for this kind of development – and this plan leaves plenty of room to create our state’s energy future.”
The plan released today is part of an ongoing collaborative effort between officials from the state and federal government, along with authorities and local jurisdictions and conservation groups, to determine sites most appropriate for renewable energy projects – and thus speed their approval and development. Today’s announcement only covers part of that planning process, called the Desert Renewable Conservation Plan – that which includes federal lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. It is expected that subsequent phases will include private lands where local governments permit projects.
Audubon California has spent eight years as the voice for birds in this federal and state stakeholder planning process working closely with the six chapters in the DRECP Plan Area - Eastern Sierra Audubon, Kern Audubon, Kerncrest Audubon, San Fernando Valley Audubon, San Bernardino Valley Audubon, and San Diego Audubon.
“California’s deserts are places of great beauty and importance to wildlife, so it was vital that this planning be done right,” added McCormack.
The desert areas protected by today’s announcement include more than 20 sites designated by Audubon California as Important Bird Areas, noteworthy for their value to breeding, foraging, migrating, resident or resting birds. Birds that will benefit from this include the Golden Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Tricolored Blackbird, Swainson’s Hawk, Southwestern Willlow Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and other sensitive species.
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 150,000 members and supporters in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society.
More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.