ECOREGIONAL IMPACTS

If the full extent of areas without protective designation (i. e., BLM mul­tiple use and private lands) that are potentially suitable for solar facilities were to be opened and used for solar development, large areas of Ecologi-

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FIGURE 4: Land ownership in potentially suitable lands below 5% slope with Moderately Degraded and Highly Converted conservation value. Lighter gray areas are private lands and dark gray areas are BLM land without designation. Areas outlined in medium gray are designated open off-highway vehicle areas on BLM land in California, accounting for 10% of the 211,000 ha in lower conservation value on BLM land and would not be suitable for development. Conservation values adapted from Randall et al. 2010.

cally Core and Intact (hereafter, “higher conservation value”) lands would be lost, ranging from over 250,000 ha (<1%) to 1.6 million ha (<5%) (Ta­ble 1). This extent of loss would greatly reduce the ability to meet ecore­gional conservation goals (per Randall et al. 2010) for many biodiversity targets, especially if higher slopes are eligible for development (Figure 6). Some targets would face extensive loss relative to the current distribution, such as mesquite upland scrub, greasewood flats, blackbrush shrubland, and mixed salt desert scrub [37] (Figure 6). The extent of desert tortoise suitable habitat outside tortoise conservation areas in higher conservation value lands that would be lost varies considerably based on slope angle, from 90,103 ha (<1%) to over 1 M ha (<5%). The location of many of the areas at risk are in flat valleys which often connect existing conservation lands for wide-ranging species like desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) [38].

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FIGURE 5: Parcel size class distribution within private lands of California that are of lower conservation value. These are only within areas that are potentially suitable for solar development below 5% slope. The presence of high rates of parcelization on private land acts as a disincentive to site large solar projects in more degraded areas.

Подпись: FIGURE 6: Percent of representation goals that would not be attainable if all areas potentially suitable for solar development were to be developed. The goals refer to a hypothesized amount of each habitat that needs to be managed for conservation to meet long-term viability needs for representative biodiversity of the ecoregion. Goals are based on Randall et al. 2010.

% Goal at Risk

 

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Annual Grassland Blackbrush Shrubland Chaparral Cliff and Canyon Desert Pavement Dunes Greasewood Flat Mesquite Upland Scrub Mixed Salt Desert Scrub Mojave Mid-Elevation Mixed DS Mojave Mixed Steppe Pi nyon-Juniper Woodland Playa

Sagebrush Shrubland and Steppe Scrub Oak-Mixed Montane Shrubland Semi-Desert Grassland Sonoran Mid-Elevation Desert Scrub Sonoran Paloverde-Mixed Cacti DS Southern Willow Scrub Transmontane Alkali Marsh Desert Tortoise

 

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In the California and Nevada portion of the Mojave, there are over

220,0 ha of solar facilities proposed as Right of Way (ROW) applica­tions on BLM lands, including nearly 130,000 ha of Ecologically Core and Intact habitats (Table 2). The vast majority of this area—over 116,000 ha—is occupied by the ecoregion’s most widespread community, creo- sotebush-white bursage desert scrub (Larrea tridentata, Ambrosia du – mosa). The second most extensive impact would be to Mojave mid-eleva­tion mixed desert scrub [37] (Table 2). The desert tortoise is wide-ranging across the study area, and would directly lose 103,509 ha of Ecologically Core and Intact suitable habitat if the footprints of all current proposals on BLM lands are developed.

TABLE 2: The extent of ecological system targets that occur within BLM Right of Way applications in California or Nevada that also occur within Ecologically Core or Ecologically Intact conservation value categories (from Randall et al. 2010).

Conservation Target

Area Potentially Impacted (Ha)

Creosotebush-White Bursage Desert Scrub

116,640

Mojave Mid-Elevation Mixed Desert Scrub

7,125

Southern Willow Scrub

1,145

Mixed Salt Desert Scrub

1,082

Cliff and Canyon

1,075

Playa

699

Desert Pavement

578

Dunes

229

Greasewood Flat

165

Chaparral

110

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