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Proposed Wind Project Near Joshua Tree National Park Canceled

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Looking east toward the Cadiz Valley | Chris Clarke photo

A proposed wind turbine installation that would have covered more than 63,000 acres of the California desert on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management, ReWire has learned. The project, which would have spanned the Cadiz and Palen valleys in the eastern desert, was canceled during its initial meteorological testing phase due to non-compliance with BLM reporting requirements.

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The as-yet unnamed project, proposed by First Wind's subsidiary Desert Air Renewables, would have begun with nine 197-foot meteorological testing towers ("met towers") placed across a 30-mile swath of desert, including the Palen Pass area, a crucial wildlife connectivity corridor. The met towers would have been used to gauge the potential wind resource in the area. Desert Air Renewables filed its application for a right-of-way for the nine met towers with the BLM in January.

Had the project proceeded, it would have placed wind turbines between Joshua Tree National Park and a number of ecologically important areas, including the Palen-McCoy and Stepladder-Turtle Mountains wilderness areas and the formerly proposed Irone Mountain Solar Energy Zone, which is designated as permanently protected from solar development in the Interior Department's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement due to the area's ecological value.

The Boston-based First Wind currently operates 875 megawatts of wind production capacity at 15 projects in Maine, New York, Vermont, Utah, and Hawaii and is building the 105-megawatt Palouse Wind facility in northern Whitman County, Washington.

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For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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