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Energy development

July 1, 2016

Large areas of the desert southwest are currently developed or being evaluated for construction of utility-scale renewable energy projects. These projects include numerous solar and wind energy facilities some of which will be massive. Unfortunately, peer-reviewed scientific publications are not yet available to evaluate the potential effects of solar-based utility-scale renewable energy development (USRED) on any species of wildlife, including amphibians and reptiles (herpetofauna). Scientific publications on the effects of wind-based USRED and operation (USREDO) are focused almost exclusively on flying wildlife including birds and bats. To the best of our knowledge the only publications on the effects of wind-based USREDO on herpetofauna are three publications on desert tortoise ecology at a wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California. Those studies suggested that not all effects of USREDO were detrimental in the short-term. However, additional research is required to determine if wind energy operation is compatible with conservation of this long-lived species over longer periods of time.

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