Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water

Escalation of Western Water Wars Loom

The finite availability of western water is part of the reason Ralph Maughan previously posed the question : Will the resource sucking “sin city” be reclaimed by the desert ?  Perhaps eventually, but in the meantime – despite setbacks, the Southern Nevada Water Authority keeps stretching its tentacles in a continuing effort to draw-down surrounding water resources:

Hundreds Protest Las Vegas Water GrabGreat Basin Water Network Press Release

Nevadans and Utahns made it clear once again that Las Vegas won’t take water from rural Nevada without a fight.

This at a time when the Interior Department has announced a report commissioned by the Bureau of Reclamation – which has presumably brushed up on its 9th grade math – highlighting the impacts of climate change to western water resources – including a projection of an 8 to 20 percent decrease in average annual stream flow in several river basins, including the Colorado, the Rio Grande, and the San Joaquin.

Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water ResourcesInterior Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today released a report that assesses climate change risks and how these risks could impact water operations, hydropower, flood control, and fish and wildlife in the western United States. The report to Congress, prepared by Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins.

China Mountain/Browns Bench Wind controversy escalates

“I can assure you there will be a protracted legal fight using all legal means available to stop the project”

Brown's Bench, RES America proposes to put hundreds of giant wind turbines on this southern Idaho landscape © Brian Ertz 2010

Some of the really great things I enjoy about living in the west are the obscure landscapes/mountain ranges.  Unlike national parks, ‘W‘ilderness areas, National Monuments and other landscapes prominently highlighted on any western map, there are many public landscapes less conspicuous, maybe not even labeled on a common roadmap, belonging to all of us that are best known by the locals ~ sportsmen, anglers, ranchers, really hardcore conservationists and recreationists.  Landscapes that harbor habitat and wildlife that exemplify its original nature.

West of 93 on the ID/NV line

These less conspicuous areas are where I learned to hunt and fish with my brothers, places I continue to frequent to hike, botanize and view wildlife with my kids.  Public lands that have served countless generations in such an economically intangible way, uplifting our spirit and serving our truly unique and blessed standard of living.  If you’re reading this, it’s likely you know what I mean.

Increasingly, these places find themselves under threat by new energy technologies which extend the reach of our human ability to extract resources into places otherwise overlooked by industry yesteryear.

In southern Idaho, just west of Highway 93 on the Idaho/Nevada line, Brown’s Bench is just such a place.

Concerned about grouse, groups ask China Mountain developer to reconsider – Opposition Rises as Wind Farm Study Nears – Times-News

One by one, organizations weighing the land against the wind are concluding that more green energy doesn’t outweigh the risk to sage grouse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eagle Concerns Stymie Wind Farms

Wind Farms On Public Land Stymied By Eagle Concerns, Radar Interference

Spring Valley, NV ~ Katie Fite, WWP


The article notes a growing recognition of conflicts wind development on public lands are running into, slowing wind development on public lands across the West.

Eagle Concerns Stymie Wind FarmsAP

The only project approved is the Spring Valley wind farm in Nevada where the nearest eagle nest was over four miles away. Gina Jones, BLM’s project leader, said the company agreed to extensive mitigation, such as putting “anti-perch” devices on transmission poles within two miles of the wind farm.

You may remember that we’ve considered Spring Valley, Nevada on this site.  Having worked a little bit on the project, and considering the experts regard for the “extensive mitigation” measures that agency is accepting for these giant projects, it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that BLM is doing a thorough job of genuinely considering the impacts.  Here you have big Wind putting in a farm at the mouth of the largest bat roost in the Great Basin Ecosystem and smack-dab in a sub-basin between two ranges that serve as parallel corridors for eagles. Read the rest of this entry »

Nevada wildlife commissioners might make it legal to shoot a ‘lone wolf’ though federal fines would remain

Spring Valley, Nevada

Lenticular clouds over Spring Valley, NV ~ Fall 2010 Katie Fite, WWP

Where NOT to hastily site an Industrial-scale Wind Energy Project
Just north of Great Basin National Park, east of Ely in Eastern Nevada, lies a public landscape called Spring Valley.

Spring Valley is a miraculous place, renowned for its magnificent skies and as critical habitat for sagebrush obligate species such as sage grouse and pygmy rabbit.

Unfortunately, like so many obscure public places around the west, the innumerable environmental values Spring Valley harbors are under threat, ironically by so-called “green energy” projects.

Read the rest of this entry »

Madeleine Pickens ‘buys the Ranch’ setting the stage for wild horse sanctuary in northeastern Nevada

Saving America’s Mustangs: A Prospectus

Recently, Madeleine Pickens purchased the 14,000 acre Spruce Ranch and gained control of adjacent BLM livestock grazing allotments amounting to 500,000 acres between Wells and Ely, Nevada.

This private land acquisition and control of the associated public lands sets the stage for Pickens’ intent to create a wild horse sanctuary for 10,000 wild horses in northeastern Nevada.

Saving America’s Mustangs: A Prospectus

The Pickens proposal raises many legal and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed by the BLM before any such sanctuary could be created. Read the rest of this entry »

Rancher loses grazing appeal

USFS takes away grazing lease in Nevada’s Santa Rosa Mountains.

The Columbus method of grazing, where cattle are put out for months on end and then “discovered” at the end of the grazing season, gets a spank.

You can read the decision from April here.

Rancher loses grazing appeal.
Written by Dee Holzel – Silver Pinyon Journal