Wildlife-friendly Renewable Energy

National Audubon Society Decries Trump Administration Attempt to Weaken California Desert Protections

“This proposal is nothing more than a middle finger in the rearview mirror from the outgoing administration”


(Sacramento, Calif., January 13, 2021)— As the clock winds down on the Trump Administration’s transition from power, the Bureau of Land Management has announced a draft proposal that would seriously weaken existing protections for California’s expansive deserts. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) was finalized in 2016 to protect more than 10 million acres of fragile desert while identifying appropriate sites for solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy generation. In addition to the abundant sun, wind, and geothermal resources, the area is hosts a variety of unique plant and wildlife species, as well as areas of enormous cultural and tribal heritage. It also hosts millions of recreational visitors every year, generating millions of dollars for local communities.

“This proposal is nothing more than a middle finger in the rearview mirror from the outgoing administration,” said Garry George, clean energy director for the National Audubon Society. “The  DRECP came together as a result of careful planning across a broad spectrum of public and private stakeholders and enjoys wide support. This reckless proposal would strip away protections for recreational uses and species conservation and would stall the development of renewable energy.”

Among other things, the proposed changes include:  

  • Reducing the California Desert National Conservation Lands by approximately 2.2 million acres. The California Desert National Conservation Lands are public lands scattered throughout California’s southeastern corner and include a variety of landscapes including rocky peaks, saltscrub lowlands and rich riparian corridors. These lands offer nationally significant places for endless exploration and protect critical wildlife habitat.
  • Reducing the number of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) from 129 to 97 and thus reducing the acreage of the ACECs by approximately 1.8 million acres. ACECs are entitled to special management to help protect their important and fragile historical, cultural, and scenic values, or wildlife or other natural resources.
  • Modifying or eliminating 68 Conservation Management Actions (CMAs), which would allow for greater impacts on the California Desert National Conservation Lands as well as allow energy development in Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMAs). SRMAs are intended to offer recreational opportunities, such as creating trailhead areas for hikers, mountain bikers, or off-road vehicle users.

Jason Howe, jason.howe@audubon.org; 415-595-9245

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About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.


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