At the site of what could be Nevada’s newest national monument, a battle over land is brewing.
Avi Kwa Ame, as it is known to local tribes and groups advocating for its designation as a national monument, is nestled between California’s Mojave Wilderness to the west and Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the east. The region has become known to some as the “world’s largest Joshua tree forest.”
The area is considered sacred to several Southern Nevada tribes and of importance for wildlife and environmental advocates, says Neal Desai, senior program director for the National Parks Conservation Association.
“So far, this area has managed to escape large scale development or fragmentation. It’s also a landscape that is tremendously important to many Native American Tribes,” said Desai. “We have an opportunity to protect this area for all the things people like to do in Nevada, like recreation, and to protect spiritual and cultural landscape.”
In a March 17 letter emailed to Bureau of Land Management regional directors, Desai’s and another organization Basin & Range Watch raised concerns about a recent application by Swedish company Eolus Vind (Eolus North America, Inc.) to develop a wind energy project in the area.
According to a Feb. 26 letter the company sent to the BLM, Eolus North America submitted an application in 2015 for a Crescent Peak Wind Project, but the Department of Interior in 2018 instructed the BLM to stop work on the application. The company in August 2020 requested to document “significant changes” to the project using a new application calling the project the “Kulning Wind Energy Project.”
“The Kulning Wind Energy Project … is proposed on a significantly smaller land footprint which represents less than one-third of the project area proposed under the previous application,” the letter says, adding that all Department of Interior objections were addressed in the new application.
When asked, Eolus North America declined to comment on the application and objections to it.