Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Issues Biological Opinion for Ivanpah Solar Electric Project; BLM Lifts Suspension of Activities Order

Jun 10, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2011
Contacts: 
BLM- Contact: Erin Curtis (916) 978-4622 or Steve Razo (951) 697-5217
FWS - Lois Grunwald, (805) 644-1766

                  

BLM Lifts Suspension of Activities Order for Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

The Bureau of Land Management has issued orders today allowing construction to resume on parts of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. A temporary suspension of activities order was lifted after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new Biological Opinion that found the project is not likely to jeopardize the endangered desert tortoise.

The BLM reinitiated consultation with the FWS in March after biologists working for project proponent BrightSource Energy reported finding more tortoise in the project area than originally anticipated. The BLM issued a Temporary Suspension of Activities Notice on the project on April 15, when project biologists reported reaching the limit of number of tortoises handled under the original Biological Opinion.

After reviewing the new information and more detailed surveys at the project site, the FWS issued a new Biological Opinion today that includes new stipulations for translocating tortoise as well as new requirements for protecting them from predators and increased monitoring and fencing.  The new Biological Opinion requires BrightSource to purchase more land as compensation for loss of desert tortoise habitat.

 "This new Biological Opinion allows the project to move forward without jeopardizing the tortoise, taking into account the higher number of animals found in the first phase,” said BLM-California Acting State Director Peter Ditton. “We worked closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service throughout the development of this new BO and will continue to work together to closely monitor construction of the ISEGS project.”

The BLM issued Notices to Proceed on the remaining phases of the project today, giving BrightSource the green light to resume construction with the new stipulations and requirements for protecting tortoise. Approved construction will include the power block in Units 2 and Unit 3 access road. Work on the heliostat fields in Units 2 and 3 will not move forward until the tortoise translocation window reopens in the fall and the weather cools. The new Biological Opinion and Notices to Proceed have been posted on the BLM website at http://blm.gov/b45c.

 -BLM-