On Tuesday August 23, 2016, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors denied issuance of key discretionary permits for the Soda Mountain Solar project under the California Environmental Quality Act. Soda Mountain Solar is proposed to occur less than a mile from Mojave National Preserve, where it would cause major unmitigated impacts to the preserve and the surrounding desert region, including foreclosing upon the opportunity to reestablish desert bighorn sheep connectivity with Death Valley National Park and the nearby Avawatz Mountain Range. The County’s decision marks a major setback for the industrial scale solar proposal and a major victory for the broad range of individuals and organizations that have adamantly opposed this project, considered to be one of the most controversial renewable energy projects in the country.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition) stood united with the National Park Service, several conservation organizations, thousands of San Bernardino County residents, and local San Bernardino County communities in requesting that the San Bernardino County deny the project, and value the scenic beauty, ecological diversity, and recreational and economic importance of Mojave National Preserve.
It is important to note that the Coalition strongly supports the development of renewable energy to help create a sustainable energy supply. However, we also firmly believe that such projects must be designed and located so that they do not adversely impact our national parks and their related wild-lands, adjacent local communities, archaeological sites, and lands that are sacred to Native American tribes.
With this year marking the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, the importance of protecting the Mojave National Preserve is raised even higher. During this time, we share an increased appreciation and awareness of the national and local importance of our country’s natural and cultural heritage. It is with this in mind that we applaud the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors for their courageous and well-justified decision to protect the well being of our fragile desert national parks and their neighboring communities.