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Wind farms threaten Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Protecting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is not as simple as it sounds. Occasionally issues arise that pull the attention away from the day-to-day work of supporting the Park, and require people to defend the space they have designated to be untouched.
Potential Threats

Ocotillo Express Wind Turbine Project

The proposed Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility consists of the construction, operation, and maintenance of wind turbines and associated facilities to generate up to 465 MW of electrical energy directly adjacent to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, within the vicinity of the community of Ocotillo. A proposed total of 155 wind turbines, which would power up to 140,000 homes—each up to 425 feet tall—and up to 42 miles of access roads would be located on 12,436 acres. The project would be located contiguous with the southwestern border of ABDSP, straddling Highway S-2.

Potential Visual Impact

Looking toward Ocotillo from Red Hill in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

View from Access Road to Mortero Palms in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

It’s More than the Park Viewshed that is Threatened

Impacts to Natural Resources of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP):
1. Disruption of wildlife corridors for desert bighorn sheep.
2. Adverse effects to golden eagles due to the birds striking the turbines.
3. Adverse impacts to burrowing owls, long-eared owls, Vaux’s swift, peregrine falcons, flat-tailed horned lizards, barefoot geckos, Red diamond rattlesnakes, American badgers, and several listed plant species.
4. Could cause significant deaths of bats due to the drop in air pressure causing internal hemorrhaging in the lungs as well as deaths from direct strikes.
5. Unavoidable impact to plants during construction and the introduction of invasive plant species.
6. Permanent scarring to the landscape leaving an “industrial” look to the area.

Impacts to Cultural Resources of ABDSP:
1. Visual impacts to the newly designated Cultural Preserve at Piedras Grandes, just west of Ocotillo and its “sacred site.”
2. No adequate accounting for impacts to the multiple cultural resources of the area when viewed as a cultural landscape.
3. Cultural Studies not completed prior to assessing impacts.

Other Potential Impacts
1. Substantial increase in noise levels from the operation of the turbines, especially at night in surrounding areas.
2. Impacts to air quality from truck traffic and from concrete batch plants.
3. Increased risk of wildfire hazards.
4. Loss of soil’s ability to absorb carbon from scraping.
5. Degradation to the recreational and natural experience of ABDSP by the sight of the turbines and associated facilities.
6. Loss of dark night skies.
7. Degradation of wilderness character of the several BLM wildernesses surrounding the proposed project.

Send your comments by OCTOBER 6, 2011
Please personalize your letter, adding your own experiences of the area and what the loss of this area would mean to you personally. Send comments to:

Cedric Perry
California Desert District Office
Bureau of Land Management
22835 Calle San Juan De Los Lagos
Moreno Valley, CA 92553

With a FAX copy to the State Clearinghouse: 916-323-3018

The draft EIS does not meet NEPA requirements because it lacks a full range of alternatives, namely, the alternative of producing renewable energy on rooftops in the cities where the energy is used. The BLM should adopt a “no-project” alternative. The BLM is mandated to consider viable alternatives that could meet the “need” for the project that lie outside of lands within their jurisdiction.

This project is not needed. Local rooftop and local distributed renewable energy generation could power the 140,000 homes that this project is slated to power. Adopt the no-project alternative and protect 12,000 acres of intact desert habitat from destruction for private profit on a project that will be de-commissioned in 30 years! If this project goes through, there will be irreparable damage to the landscape.

“Wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders.”
Edward Abbey