|Solar Energy Zones in Nevada (SEZ) courtesy of Nevada Wilderness Project|
I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to catch up with Mary Catherine O'Connor who is a freelance writer. She writes a weekly column for Outside Magazine's Adventure Ethics primarily about the intersection of adventure and environmental issues. She had contacted me a week ago regarding my feedback on walking the SWIP corridor back in 2010.
The SWIP Trip continues to be in the spotlight as these feeder projects become reality. The article that Mary wrote is about solar arrays in particular which the SWIP transmission line will carry energy from. The map above shows several of the Solar Energy Zones that may feed into the SWIP transmission line someday. In fact on October 12th Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a document called the Record of Decision that formally records the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (PEIS). After three years in the making, this document will now guide the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the development of its program to permit utility scale solar energy production within the southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. This is part of the Administration’s overall intent to expand domestic energy production and to build upon the historic goal of creating 10,000 megawatts of electricity using renewable energy sources on public lands.
One of the species that may be impacted by the power line and solar arrays is the Sage Grouse. Sage Grouse have lost 300,000 acres of prime habitat this fall alone to wildfire in Nevada. Loss of habitat is the main culprit in the iconic Nevadan birds decline. NWP continues to work with developers and other projects to review their impacts on critical Sage Grouse habitat.
You may read Powering Public Lands: Government Puts Solar Energy in the Spotlight here. Also, check out NWP's continued work to protect Sage Grouse Habitat here. I posted the full film of the SWIP Trip Walking the Line: New Energy in the Old West here. Here is a video NWP made about the plight of Sage Grouse here in Nevada and why they are trying to keep it off of the endangered species list.
Now I have my fingers crossed that an article on the BLC to Bering Sea trip with Mary Catherine O'Connor becomes a reality!