On our popular Death Valley Talk forum I recently threw this log on the campfire:
"Trona and the DRECP: Scenarios 4 thru 6 have Trona being consumed by a Renewable Energy Development Focus Area. See:
Regular contributor "blackturtle.us" responded:
"So does this mean that under scenarios 4 thru 6 that developers would have a green light to construct solar farms in and around Trona?"
I thought some of you might be interested in my extended reply:
Short answer -- yes.
The current permitting process for large scale solar & wind projects is lengthy, cumbersome, expensive, uncertain, uncoordinated and piece-meal.
Without arguing its merits, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) seeks to do 2 things within its 20+ million acre planning area:
1. identify enough acreage in the most appropriate locations and designate them as Development Focus Zones
2. identify enough acreage with high & medium biological values to designate as offsetting Conservation Areas, and implement conservation strategies
Once it is approved (~ Dec 2013), DRECP will issue permits for large scale wind and solar within the Development Focus Zones following only abbreviated local environmental analysis. All the species, cultural and other major clearances will be considered mitigated by the Conservation Zones and their permit fees.
Projects that apply for locations outside of the Development Focus Zones will not be covered under DRECP and will still be subject to the current permitting red-tape and sent to the back of the line.
Effects on Motorized and Motor Dependent Recreation:
1. In Scenario's #1-5, there are no OHV Open Area lands (state or federal) within the Development Focus Areas. The governing agencies have committed to this principle. However, Scenario #6, the industry developed proposal, does encroach into the El Mirage, Stoddard and Johnson OHV Open Areas.
2. Much of the multiple-use public lands outside the OHV areas are enjoyed for a variety of dispersed recreation activities. Lands managed with an emphasis on recreation are designated as Special Recreation Management Areas (SMRA). There are 3.4 million acres of SMRA's within the DRECP. Scenario #1 includes 1% of these lands within Development Focus Zones; Scenario #6 includes 20% of SMRA's within Development Focus Zones. Scenarios #2-5 range in between.
Just where are these SMRA's? See Page 16 of this document for a map:
http://www.drecp.org/meetings/2012-04-25-26_meeting/presentations/ 06_Overview_Prelim_Planwide_Bio_Reserve_Design_ and_Renew_Energy_Dev_Scenarios.pdf
3. As you might guess, the BLM desert back country makes up the bulk of the proposed Conservation Areas. The good news is this designation will pretty much keep large-scale wind and solar out of these areas. The bad news is that resulting management strategies for the Conservation Areas COULD affect how far we can park off the road, where we can camp, or where we can target shoot. It COULD also go so far as to set a target route density, i.e. X miles of routes per Y acres.
Know that I'm in the middle of it as the recreation representative to the DRECP stakeholder committee, and I'll continue to do the best I can to minimize the effects of renewable energy development on outdoor recreation.
Want to know more?