THE Desert Renewable Energy conservation Plan

The California deserts — the Mojave, Colorado and Great Basin — are prime habitat for a suite of rare and endangered species adapted to survive in these sun-drenched, windy wildlands. The iconic desert tortoise is just one of the many species that survives in the vast landscape these deserts comprise, which includes the most ecologically intact landscapes remaining in the lower 48 states.

California recently stepped up its renewable energy goal: to generate 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 in order to transition off of climate-disrupting fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of climate change — a transition that must happen quickly.

Because California’s beautiful deserts have abundant sunshine and good wind resources, there is great interest in building large-scale, centralized renewable energy projects in its deserts landscapes, which also lie within a few hundred miles of the largest electrical load center in the state: the greater Southern California area, with more than 22 million residents.

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, is an ambitious undertaking that is envisioned to both protect irreplaceable desert habitats, plants, animals and ecological processes and allow for the development of a significant amount of centralized renewable energy (from solar, wind and geothermal facilities, which will also require transmission lines) by focusing on areas with the least ecological impact.


+ What is the DRECP?

+ How big is it?

+ Which agencies are planning it?

+ How many animals and plants would be protected under the DRECP as "covered species"?

+ How much energy would be produced?

How much of the desert could be developed?

+ How much of the desert may be protected?

+ How long will the plan stay in place?


Learn about some of the rare species and beautiful landscapes that affected by the DRECP.

Learn about how the Bureau of Land Management is now proceeding with the DRECP in its "Phase 1."



Desert tortoise courtesy Flickr/Sandy Redding