Over the past few months, this blog has explored some of the differences between the ways smaller, grassroots non-profit conservation organizations go about their campaigns compared with the actions taken (or not taken) by the largest, most well-funded conservation groups in America. We’ve covered this dynamic as it relates to logging, lawsuits and collaboration…but not how it impacts solar energy development on public lands.
This weekend, the LA Times took at how one smaller grassroots group – the Wildlands Conservancy – working their tails off to protect southern California’s Mojave Desert feels abandoned by many of the biggest, and best known, conservation groups in the country.
AMARGOSA VALLEY, Calif. — April Sall gazed out at the Mojave Desert flashing past the car window and unreeled a story of frustration and backroom dealings. Her small California group, the Wildlands Conservancy, wanted to preserve 600,000 acres of the Mojave. The group raised $45 million, bought the land and deeded it to the federal government.
The conservancy intended that the land be protected forever. Instead, 12 years after accepting the largest land gift in American history, the federal government is on the verge of opening 50,000 acres of that bequest to solar development. Even worse, in Sall’s view, the nation’s largest environmental organizations are scarcely voicing opposition. Their silence leaves the conservancy and a smattering of other small environmental organizations nearly alone in opposing energy development across 33,000 square miles of desert land.
“We got dragged into this because the big groups were standing on the sidelines and we were watching this big conservation legacy practically go under a bulldozer,” said Sall, the organization’s conservation director. “We said, ‘We can’t be silent anymore.’ “
Read the entire LA Times article here.