Califoinia ueseits aie faceu with unpieceuenteu anthiopogenic change. Impact
factois iange fiom expanuing uiban centeis anu militaiy bases, to potential
significant habitat loss fiom solai anu theimal powei expansions (incluuing giounu
watei exploitation anu uepletion beyonu iecoveiy, lanu stiipping foi powei
geneiation units, anu fiagmentation fiom powei anu associateu tianspoitation
coiiiuois), anu climate change. Togethei these factois thieaten iemaining suitable
habitat foi enuangeieu anu foi othei enuemic ueseit species. 0thei inuiviuuals anu
stuuies have commenteu on the use of out-moueu technologies employeu in the
cuiient Ameiican Recoveiy anu Reinvestment Act of 2uu9 (ARRA) piojects, anu the
economic subsiuies that aie enabling inuiviuual site uevelopment anu the cieation
of new tiansmission coiiiuois in iemote, pieviously unuistuibeu, aieas iathei than
focusing on existing uegiaueu lanus anu powei coiiiuois. We want to be cleai that
although we question the cuiient pioject implementation in this aiticle, we stiongly
suppoit a tiansition fiom a fossil-fuel baseu eneigy system to one that will not
fuithei exaceibate oui cuiient tiajectoiies of anthiopogenic climate change, as well
as pioviuing eneigy inuepenuence anu economic stimulus foi oui countiy.
0ui goal heie is to outline the scope of enviionmental changes that aie unueiway,
anu to outline ieseaich neeus necessaiy to pioviue long-teim sustainability of
feueially- anu state-listeu species anu theii habitats, ensuiing that eneigy
uevelopments aie also fully compliant with the lettei anu intent of state anu feueial
iesouice piotection statutes. We iuentifieu seveial topic aieas that aie of concein to
lanu manageis anu pioject uevelopeis in the Califoinia ueseits. These iepiesent
topic aieas bauly in neeu of ieseaich using state-of-the-ait techniques coupleu with
known expeitise, tailoieu to the ueseit aieas to be impacteu by the pioposeu
uevelopments. These incluue the following issues anu theii inteiactions:

x Climate change anu shifts in enuangeieu species habitat location anu
migiation potential
x Souices, iechaige, anu loss of giounuwatei fiom laige-scale solai steam
geneiatoi systems
x Peisistence of enuangeieu, thieateneu, anu unlisteu enuemic species in
cuiient piotecteu aieas, anu in new aieas wheie habitat suitability is alteieu
fiom climate anu anthiopogenic lanu-use change
x Exotic invasive species migiation pathways, competitive abilities anu
x Inteiactions among vegetation composition, piouuction, fiie, pollution anu
climate change
x Caibon buugets anu net caibon loss oi sequestiation.
0nfoitunately, many feueial anu state agencies, as well as seveial non-goveinment
oiganizations, whose goal is to piotect habitats appeai to have oveilookeu pievious
iesults suggesting unacceptable levels of "take" foi enuangeieu species, anu
oveilookeu existing liteiatuie auuiessing net caibon fluxes that woulu be affecteu
by the pioposeu solai uevelopments. Noi have they employeu state-of-the ait
ieseaich tools capable of integiating new ecosystem anu habitat moueling
appioaches coupleu with caiefully-collecteu spatial anu tempoial uata.
Nost of the laige-scale solai powei piojects utilize laige quantities of watei as
steam powei geneiatois. The laigest of these plants aie steam-baseu theimal plants,
using up to 2.9 to Sm
¡NWh (0S B0E 2uu6). Assuming 12h¡uay of active use, a
1,uuuNW woulu uiain SS,28um
¡uay, oi 28.6 acie-feet of watei pei uay, oi 1u,4SS
acie-feet¡yeai. 0ne giounuwatei basin, such as the Palo veiue Nesa uiounuwatei
Basin iechaiges only 8uu acie-feet pei yeai, laigely fiom iechaige by unueiflow
fiom the Chuckwalla valley (Bepaitment of Watei Resouices 2uuS). Even with a
low watei system, with less eneigy efficiency, the watei use may still likely be well
moie than the iechaige iates. The use of watei affects agiicultuie, existing housing
anu businesses, the mining inuustiy, militaiy tiaining giounus, anu wilulife habitats.
Plant species, such as the $234/563&789:4;549 (Basselquist & Allen 2uu9), anu
animals incluuing the ueseit pupfish populations in Ash Neauows (Beacon et al.
2uu7, Naitin 2u1u) that aie uepenuent upon suiface wateis anu a high
giounuwatei level aie once again thieateneu this time by solai uevelopment.
Bespite the Bepaitment of Inteiioi's call that conseivation is a high piioiity, this is
not appaient foi these uevelopments.
While ieseaicheis in the iegion, incluuing 0C Riveisiue scientists, have been
auuiessing factois that challenge the ability of ueseit ecosystems to sustain
themselves with state-of-the-ait analyses, many state anu feueial agencies have
continueu to employ outuateu mouels anu uecision tools (e.g., see "Bainess sun
wisely" Riveisiue Piess-Enteipiise 12¡26¡2u1u, anu "eneigy uevelopeis neeu
bettei toitoise counts, officials say" Riveisiue Piess-Enteipiise 11¡4¡1u).

Feueially-listeu species such as the ueseit toitoise anu those of concein like the
Nohave fiinge-toeu lizaiu (Fig 1) aie alieauy impacteu by new eneigy
uevelopments (e.g., the Ivanpah bulluozing of piime toitoise habitat), ioaus anu
uibanization, invasive plants, anu changes in militaiy base activities. Relocating
species like the toitoises to unoccupieu habitats, even those postulateu "suitable" by
expeits, is conceptually flaweu. 0vei Su peicent moitality is iepoiteu in shoit-teim
expeiiments (Beseit Toitoise Council 2u1u). If enviionmental factois like climate
change is incluueu, the potential habitat in the ueseit is ieuuceu even fuithei (Fig

J5>=24&QK Species that aie uiiectly impacteu by the cuiient anu pioposeu uevelopments in the
Califoinia ueseits, incluue the ueseit toitoise (a feueially-listeu enuangeieu species) anu the
Nojave fiinge-toeu lizaiu (local populations aie of concein to ecologists) (photogiaphs by
Cameion Baiiows).
Solai uevelopment is essential to ieuuce caibon inputs to the atmospheie anu global
waiming. But solai uevelopment neeus to incoipoiate the best available science into
planning anu piouuction effoits. The pioposeu laige scale solai uevelopments in
Califoinia will impact uiamatically cuiient habitat anu potential habitat of species of
concein. We alieauy unueistanu that uevelopment patteins can uiamatically affect
cuiient anu potential habitat, as publisheu foi the Coachella valley fiinge-toeu
J5>=24&R. Potential iesponse of ueseit toitoise to
piojecteu climate change at Ioshua Tiee National Paik
(C. Baiiows). The white plus biown aieas iepiesents
cuiient habitat. White is the aiea lost with a 1
inciease in tempeiatuie, anu a 7Smm uiop in
piecipitation, with the biown showing the iemaining
habitat. Tiansplanting animals, such as the ueseit
toitoise is conceptually suspect, anu the uata
piesenteu to uate suggest that this is not a viable
appioach. Even if accepteu, "unoccupieu" habitats aie
both cuiiently suspect, anu ceitainly have not been
vetteu against futuie climate change.

lizaiu (Baiiows et al. 2u1u). Coupling climate change anu uevelopment impacts
coulu easily leau to local extinction foi many populations of these species, anu even
extinction in some cases (Baiiows et al. 2u1u).
Infiastiuctuie anu tianspoitation associateu with uiban expansion anu eneigy
uevelopment is likely to impact significantly ueseit enviionmental quality. Almost
all aieas outsiue of the National Paiks, anu the existing militaiy bases aie among
aieas potentially subject to these uevelopments (Fig S). A uecaue ago, we
uemonstiateu that in uevelopeu aieas, such as along highway 62, nitiogen in the
J5>=24&SK Pioposeu laige-scale eneigy piojects (http:¡¡www.eneigy.ca.gov¡siting¡solai¡
cuu_eneigy_points_8_Sx11_solai.puf). These aieas will be subject to incieaseu habitat fiagmentation,
vehiculai tiaffic anu uevelopment iesulting in significantly incieaseu aii pollution, anu N ueposition.

soil accumulateu uuiing the uiy season fiom vehiculai-ueiiveu aii pollution (Fig 4,
N. Allen unpublisheu uata). These soil uepositions functioneu as feitilizei anu weie
subsequently leacheu anu absoibeu by vegetation uuiing the wet season,
contiibuting to the massive inciease in exotic giass piouuction, to a level capable of
caiiying fiie (Rao et al. 2u1u). Regional nitiogen ueposition mouels (Fig S) show
that the militaiy bases anu solai uevelopments aie in locations unueigoing
incieasing aii pollution, thieatening enuangeieu species anu lanu management
piotocols. Continueu uisiegaiu of these changes likely will have uiamatic impacts
on the natuial iesouice management issues of the iegion.


KCL Extractable Ammonium


KCL Extractable Nitrate
29 Palms 5-10 cm
29 Palms 0-5 cm
Palm Springs 5-10 cm
Palm Spring 0-5 cm

J5>=24&TK N changes in soil in iesponse to uevelopment activity (N Allen unpublisheu uata) showing
seasonal inciease in N in a uevelopeu aiea (neai Palm Beseit) veisus a iemote site (29 Palms Naiine
Coips base) in 1998. As the Yucca valley anu othei ueseit iegions continue to uevelop, anu new
eneigy uevelopments aie placeu, the potential foi moie pioblems with N ueposition, fiie, anu
invasive species continues to giow.
Nany of the aieas that aie pioposeu to be uevelopeu foi the solai uevelopment
incluue Niciophyll wooulanus (Fig 6). The uominant plants (legume tiees) have
ueep ioots capable of ieaching giounuwatei (seveial meteis). When ueseit plants
giow, they absoib caibon uioxiue (C02). The caibon (C), as sugais, moves into ioots
anu soil oiganisms. Caibon uioxiue is iespiieu back into the soil, pait of which
ieacts with calcium (Ca) in the soil to foim calcium caibonate. This is how oui
ueseits sequestei laige amounts of C anu thus function to ieuuce atmospheiic C02.
&(,$1#%&)(/$+(6(-7($.-1$-+1$8&4).-1()&$,#/#1*/9 Bowevei, values of up to
1uug¡m2¡y of C-fixation aie iepoiteu foi ueseits in Baja anu Nevaua (Seiiano-0itiz
et al. 2u1u). Aftei vegetation is iemoveu to make

J5>=24&UK Fiie in the ueseit anu nitiogen ueposition (fiom CCB, R. Iohnson anu E. Allen). Reseaich in
the Nojave ueseit (Rao et al. 2u1u) shows that in these iegions, N ueposition (laigely fiom
tianspoitation anu subuiban uevelopment) above S-9 kg¡ha¡y is above the "ciitical loau" that
facilitates exotic giass piouuction, can iesult in fiie anu peimanent ecosystem uegiauation. As
uevelopment incieases suiiounuing these aieas, the potential foi invasive species, lanu uegiauation,
anu iisk of fiie incieases as it has in othei ueveloping aieas.

J5>=24&VK Niciophyll wooulanus aie among the most piouuctive ecosystems that will be affecteu by
solai powei facilities. Theie aie no uata uocumenting the amount of caibon sequestiation that will
be lost with the loss of these stanus. Bowevei, because these stanus access giounuwatei, they aie
among the most piouuctive of ueseit ecosystems.

way foi solai aiiays, caibon uioxiue will be left to ietuin to the atmospheie that
oiuinaiily woulu have been useu to foim soil oiganic mattei buiieu up to seveial
meteis ueep, oi ieleaseu by ioots anu soil miciobes as soil C02, which in tuin, binus
with soil Ca to foim caliche.
0ui ueseits have laige amounts of C02, stoieu as caliche (CaC0S). The amount of C
in caliche, when accounteu globally, may be equal to the entiie C as C02 in the
atmospheie. This caliche is foimeu fiom weatheiing of Ca in ueseit soils binuing to
caibonates that oiiginate in laige pait fiom iespiiation of ioots anu soil oiganisms.
Nost of the caliche in oui ueseits was foimeu uuiing the ice ages, when vegetation
was moie uense anu moie piouuctive. These ueposits likely have been stable since
(Schlesingei 198S). Being stable, though, means that inputs equal expoits. Caibon in
caliche may in fact be ieleaseu, especially when vegetation anu soils aie uistuibeu.
Nielnick et al. (2uuS) iepoiteu losses of up to 14Sg C¡m
¡y. Auuitional ieseaich is
neeueu to unueistanu anu quantify these exchanges (Schlesingei et al. 2uu9,
Seiiano-0itiz et al. 2u1u), as theie aie C exchanges in ueseit ecosystems that we uo
not unueistanu. This loss may be especially ciitical following iemoval of the
vegetation foi theimal solai powei units. The net C loss uue to a loss of native ueseit
vegetation coulu be as high as Sug C¡m
¡y plus weatheiing anu uissolution of
caibon uioxiue fiom caliche up to 1Sug¡m
¡y foi an aiea of 7,uuu acies (a common
size foi solai plants of 1,uuuNW). This tianslates to an annual loss of neaily 6,uuu
metiic tons of C ieleaseu by caliche, oi ietaineu in the atmospheie uue to the loss of
vegetation. This uoes not incluue the lanu uistuibeu by tiansmission coiiiuois anu
maintenance ioaus thiough ueseit lanus.
Solai powei units that geneiate 1,uuuNW woulu save neaily S6u,uuu metiic tons of
C pei yeai. Bowevei, we uo not know the life-span of these solai powei units. This
net loss of caliche coulu continue oi even inciease as tempeiatuies waim foi
centuiies oi moie, given the incieuibly laige amount stoieu in oui Califoinia ueseit
valleys anu vegetation iecoveiy following uistuibance foi ueveloping ueseit lanus
can also take a centuiy oi moie (Fig 7). If we incluue the C savings fiom an active
use of photovoltaic cells in the locations wheie uemanu is heavy (see Waimann anu
Ieneiette 2u1u), then the entiie iegional C balance becomes even less weighteu
towaiu the laige ueseit theimal uevelopments.
Finally, what is the life-expectancy of a theimal solai eneigy uevelopment. A
common piesumption is that these extenu inuefinitely into the futuie. But watei
quality is a ciucial issue foi solai uevelopment, because watei fiom both the
Coloiauo Rivei anu the giounuwatei basins of the iegions aie highly coiiosive to
the pioject plumbing. This means auuitional lanu uistuibance fiom maintenance
anu ieplacement activities, anu a ieuuceu lifespan of these solai piojects. uiven
changes in goveinment subsiuies, the ovei-exploitation of giounuwatei supplies,
anu the heavy ieplacement anu maintenance costs associateu with the coiiosive
watei quality, this may not be a ieasonable assumption. Even when plant ie-
establishment occuis, uistuibeu lanus will be uominateu by annual giasses anu

foibs with shallow ioots insteau of ueep-iooteu shiubs, potentially foi a centuiy oi
moie. Soil oiganic C likely will iapiuly cycle back to the atmospheie. We uo not
know how soil inoiganic C behaves. 0nueistanuing the lifespans of the solai plants,
compaieu with this long-teim slow C balance is a ciitical neeu foi ueteimining if
these solai uevelopments iepiesent a net long-teim ieuuction in gieenhouse gases.
Boes calcium caibonate then weathei back into C02 with no plants to ieplenish the
soil C02. Coulu laige-scale solai uevelopments in oui ueseits actually inciease
atmospheiic gieenhouse gas levels ovei the next centuiies.

J5>=24&WK 0veilook fiom Beseit Centei, CA, looking eastwaiu acioss lanus uesignateu foi solai powei
uevelopment. The combination of uevelopments has the potential to fiagment populations of ueseit
species, uegiaue soils, anu ieuuce caibon sequestiation potential of these aiiu lanus.
The aieas of the Califoinia ueseits wheie the mega- solai piojects aie to be built aie
mainly in aieas wheie watei is the limiting factoi foi piouuction anu oiganism
suivival. Piecipitation is highly vaiiable in space anu time, anu hyuiology is not well
uocumenteu. The basins aie inteiconnecteu. Yet we know little about the iates oi
even uiiections of the subsuiface flows anu small tiansient peicheu watei pockets
cieateu by eaithquake fault lines that suppoit plants whose ioots must ieach the
giounuwatei, such as palms, iionwoou anu mesquite. Watei extiaction at laige
scales coulu have ciitical impacts on ueseit ecosystems, incluuing animal species
like ueei, bighoin sheep, anu mountain lions, moie than just toitoises. Niciophyll
wooulanus anu mesquite stanus suppoit vaiious enuangeieu species anu species of
concein, both uiiectly as habitat anu foou, anu inuiiectly by suppoiting annual foibs
that seive as foou souices as the soil uiies out. We uo not know how oi wheie watei
is connecteu between basins, noi if the watei useu foi inuiviuual piojects is
continually iechaigeu, oi compiiseu of watei laiu uown in the Pleistocene.

These uevelopment impacts aie paiticulaily questionable given the incieuible
suiface aiea locateu in iegions with high solai iauiation such as southein Califoinia.
Waimann anu Ieneiette (2u1u) estimateu that 1u peicent of the iooftop aieas
suitable foi solai photovoltaic systems coulu supply 8u peicent of the annual eneigy
iequiiements foi the iegion. uiven the laige acieages of piivate, alieauy uistuibeu
lanus scatteieu acioss the Califoinia ueseits, use of moie piistine habitat of
enuangeieu species like the ueseit toitoise anu the $234/563&789:4;549&seems
Again, we aie not objecting to ienewable eneigy uevelopment in the Califoinia
ueseits. Inueeu, we have woikeu foi uecaues with militaiy installations anu with
eneigy companies to enhance enviionmental management anu iestoiation. We can
uo the same with ienewable eneigy piojects. Bowevei, without caieful planning anu
management, massive uetiimental impacts ovei extiemely laige aieas coulu iesult
fiom the cuiient eneigy uevelopment pioposals. Foi society to benefit fiom solai
eneigy while pieseiving oui ueseit ecosystems, we must obtain anu use sounu
existing scientific methous, anu funu cieuible new science baseu on accepteu ieview
anu awaiu piinciples, as piacticeu by agencies with expeiience in peei-ievieweu
funuing such as National Science Founuation oi National Institute of Bealth. We
must apply piinciples as juugeu by publisheu peei-ievieweu liteiatuie in top
jouinals, anu uefenuable, innovative iueas juugeu by scientific expeits without
conflicts of inteiest.
If the constiuction of pooily placeu solai aiiays in Califoinia leaus to the loss of
enuangeieu species, uestiuction of plant anu animal habitat, incieaseu
enviionmental contaminants, uiveision of watei anu incieaseu global waiming uue
to moie caibon uioxiue in the atmospheie, then any justification foi placing solai
aiiays in oui ueseits is seiiously unueimineu.
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