The BLM will be accepting comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement until May 4th, 2020.
Comments can be sent to:
Attn: Herman Pinales
BLM Las Vegas Field Office
4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89130
Below is a sample letter you can copy and send to BLM. Please personalize the message to give them a diverse selection of comments. Your own ideas will make a difference to them when considering comments.
"Please select a No Action Alternative for the Yellow Pine Solar Project and designate the region a large-scale solar energy-free zone with a Plan Amendment to the 1998 Las Vegas Resource Management Plan.
Approval of the project would result in the removal of over 3,000 acres or 4.6 square miles of good quality desert tortoise habitat. The desert tortoise is Federally Threatened and is losing habitat throughout its range. It may need to be up-listed to Endangered status with the cumulative developments happening on its habitat.
There are no peer reviewed studies that show that vegetation mowing and allowing desert tortoises to re-enter a site with solar panels has long-term success.
Based on population estimates, approximately 53 adult desert tortoises, 276 subadults or juveniles, and 69 hatchlings are anticipated to be displaced or killed by project-related construction activities via translocation.
Vegetation mowing will have very big impacts. All vegetation will be cut. Burrowing animals would be killed and deafened. Many of the estimated 398 desert tortoises would be missed and killed. Biological soil crusts would be destroyed. Invasive annual weeds would move in on the mowed site.
Tortoises would be allowed to re-enter the site. Tortoises could be killed by operation and maintenance activities because vehicles will enter the habitat for maintenance. Shade from solar panels could inhibit tortoises coming out of hibernation in late winter and spring.
The project would destroy 92,930 Mojave yuccas, many hundreds of years old.
A supplemental EIS is needed because the BLM has not fully reviewed the full range of alternatives. The BLM should review off-site alternatives. Eighteen Solar Energy Zones were designated on BLM lands in the west in 2012. The Zones were created to site energy in areas that have lesser conflicts than the Yellow Pine Solar site. The BLM should review a reduced footprint alternative which minimizes the impacts to the desert tortoise. The BLM should review a distributed generation alternative.
The project site lies on one of the most undisturbed habitats in the Mojave Desert. It contains biological soil crusts and a large list of native Mojave Desert species. It is home to sensitive species like the burrowing owl, kit fox, the American badger and the Gila monster.
The project would be near part of the historic Old Spanish Trail. The massive build-out of solar panels, new roads and transmission lines will permanently destroy the historic and wild character of the area.
The region's Visual Class is VRM Class III. The management objective of VRM Class III is to partially retain the
of the landscape. This should require a Land Use Plan Amendment for the 1998 Las Vegas Resource Management plan and give the public a full 90 day comment period.
A large-scale solar project of this size only creates about 5-15 full time jobs.
Several thousand acres of land are being developed in the Las Vegas Valley for new housing. The amount of space located on the rooftops and over parking lots provides a more efficient alternative for solar panels, and eliminates the need for costly transmission lines. This easily justifies a No Action Alternative for the Yellow Pine Solar Project."