The Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Study Areas (SESAs) are almost always quiet, with few signs of life other than windblown plants sparsely distributed across flat and largely featureless lands, and no sound except for the wind rustling brittle branches. During daylight hours, the sun beats down relentlessly. An occasional lizard is seen racing across the desert floor. Droppings from coyotes, rabbits and other small mammals are sometimes visible, and red-tailed hawks or turkey vultures circle infrequently overhead, searching the stark, sparse terrain for prey or carrion.
Throughout the summer we’ve invited you to participate in shaping President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Nearly a quarter million of you have engaged — either by attending one of the more than 25 “listening and learning” sessions the Administration held across the country or by sending in your thoughts and ideas to the America’s Great Outdoors website.
What’s going on with public lands and solar energy? From reading the newspaper, you’d think it was all project-by-project decisions, but a far bigger story is brewing, one with huge implications for the future of both solar energy and our public lands.
One of the great things about going on Idaho Public Television to talk about wilderness in the 21st century is that we’re building on success. When IPTV asked me to go on camera in a five person round-table show called “Dialogue”, the central question was whether we need more wilderness. The answer, of course, yes. (Watch the Dialogue episode.)
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in Wilderness Magazine, our annual publication that features in-depth coverage and features about the day’s most pressing conservation issues. Become a member and receive a free copy!
Like many students, I often put projects off until the last minute. This was a great source of aggravation to my parents, who would be besieged by requests for rides to the library at 8 pm the night before research papers were due. This lack of foresight on my part led to several sub-par efforts, and many teachers cited a “hurried” feel to the papers or projects in question.
For over 75 years The Wilderness Society has sought out protections for public lands across the country. Our efforts have kept threats, including irresponsible energy development, from harming the places we all hold dear. Now our team faces a new challenge—finding places that are suitable for renewable energy development. This has proven to be a tough path, but we understand a key element in the fight against global climate change is how we produce and conserve energy.