Press Release

The Trump Administration takes a parting shot at California desert conservation

Chuckwalla Bench in the California desert

The wild beauty of Chuckwalla Bench, part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands

Sam Roberts

On its way out the door, the Trump administration launches a last-minute attack on the California desert

In the midst of a constitutional crisis, and in the waning days of an administration defined by attacks on the environment, the Trump administration is using a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposal to ruin a plan that protects millions of acres of the California desert’s most sensitive landscapes – including places with exceptional Native American cultural and historical value and critical habitat for native plants and animals, like the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep.

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) was approved after eight years of scientific analysis, with collaboration between state and federal agencies, renewable energy developers, conservationists, recreation groups and other stakeholders. Tens of thousands of public comments poured in supporting the plan, which designates millions of acres for recreational use and allocates abundant acres of less sensitive areas for renewable energy development to meet California’s ambitious clean energy goals.

The following is a statement from Phil Hanceford, Conservation Director at The Wilderness Society:

“It is outrageous that the BLM would issue a draft environmental statement that seeks to tear apart this carefully balanced plan which has won the approval of such a wide variety of stakeholders. The Administration’s stated goal of enabling more renewable energy development is a complete farce. The changes they propose would gut conservation and recreation aspects of the plan, harm efforts to accelerate development of renewable energy projects in the most appropriate places and place California’s beloved desert wild lands at risk.

The Wilderness Society calls for the immediate withdrawal of this BLM proposal. We will join forces with the many community and Tribal leaders, elected officials, renewable energy advocates and supporters of desert conservation to maintain the existing plan and give it a chance to work.”


  • Phil Hanceford, Conservation Director, The Wilderness Society, (303) 225-4636, [email protected]
  • Andrea Alday, Deputy Director Regional Communications, (818) 512-7628, [email protected]g

The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.