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Wind Project Pulled From San Bernardino Mountains

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Artist's conception, North Peak Wind project | Image: Alliance for Desert Preservation

A proposal that would have placed 71 wind turbines on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains has been withdrawn by its owner, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The 126-megawatt North Peak Wind project, which would have occupied about 16 square miles of the Juniper Flats area between Lucerne Valley and Apple Valley in San Bernardino County, was pulled from consideration by the BLM by its Austin-based owner E.ON Climate and Renewables last Friday.

The project had drawn fierce opposition, including from two San Bernardino County supervisors who blasted North Peak Wind's possible impact on wildlife. That opposition was partly responsible for E.ON's putting the project on temporary hold earlier this year, with the final request to pull the project sent to the BLM on Friday.

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In a letter sent to BLM Director Neil Kornze in July, Supervisors James Ramos and Robert Lovingood charged that building the project would mean "the regular and continuous killing of bald eagles, golden eagles, bats and numerous migratory bird species that use the avian corridor along the ridgelines in question."

The Hesperia City Council also voted in October to oppose the project, primarily on visual grounds.

The project's siting in a relatively high fire danger zone also attracted opposition, with critics charging that the turbines would increase the risk of fires while simultaneously making airborne fire fighting more dangerous.

Opponents of the project lauded E.ON's decision to back off. "This is great news," said Rich Ravana, president of the Alliance for Desert Preservation. "North Peak would have been disastrous for the animals, birds, and plants of Juniper Flats and would have disrupted the lives of thousands of High Desert visitors. It would have been a blight on a beautiful desert-mountain landscape, and would have posed serious fire danger.

"But we still need to take the next step. Juniper Flats has to gain National Conservation Land status," Ravana added. "Without that, another developer could swoop in with a project as bad as or worse than North Peak."

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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