November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
First-Ever Solar Project Approved on Public Lands in Nevada
Office of the Secretary
Last edited 4/25/2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today approved the First Solar, Inc. Silver State North Solar Project, the first large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada. The 50-megawatt (MWAC) 60 (MWDC) solar facility and associated infrastructure will be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas.
“Silver State is one of several renewable energy projects in the pipeline that will help Nevada and the nation create jobs as we build a clean energy economy,” Secretary Salazar said in signing the Record of Decision. “This project will provide renewable energy that will help meet our nation's growing demand as we strive to become energy independent.”
Silver State is one of many recent landmark announcements from Interior as part of the Administration's effort to encourage a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands. Last week, Salazar approved the first three solar energy projects ever to be built on public lands. All located in southern California, the three solar projects could generate 1,124 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power up to 337,200 homes. On October 6, Salazar signed a lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates LLC for a 130-turbine offshore wind farm that could generate up to 468 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity for Nantucket Sound communities. It is the nation's first lease for commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf.
“The BLM is proud to play a major role in our nation's quest to capture more renewable energy resources here at home,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “Through wise planning and engagement with local communities and stakeholders, we can support large-scale solar development on public lands while protecting valuable natural and cultural resources. If we are smart from the start, we can capture America's renewable energy resources in the right way and the right places.”
In June 2009 the Secretary, with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), launched “fast-track” initiatives for solar development on western public lands. The BLM identified 14 solar fast-track projects, including the Silver State Solar Project that could be approved by the end of 2010.
Silver State Solar Power area map
Phase 1 of Silver State will consist of the construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic plant, including associated facilities, on 618 acres of public lands. The electricity generated from this plant is expected to supply power for about 15,000 homes; will be sold to the Nevada market via a Power Purchase Agreement with NV Energy; and will connect into NV Energy's existing electrical grid.
The Record of Decision (ROD) and right-of-way (ROW) grant and conditions for Silver State Solar Power North, LLC are available online at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/energy.html. The project underwent extensive public environmental review by the BLM, through a draft and final environmental impact statement.
The 50 MW Silver State North Solar photovoltaic facility is the first project to be permitted by the BLM at the site. First Solar plans to construct up to an additional 350 MW at the site, which will require additional supplemental environmental review and analysis.
A fact sheet on Silver State North is available HERE. A map (PDF) is available HERE.