I write to help save the Carrizo Plains National Monument. Established as a National Monument in 2001, this legacy land is an island in time—an ecologically rich, remote landscape of sacred cultural significance and special allure to visitors who eagerly seek its vast vistas, solace of silence, and solitude, and its mystery of human presence long ago. The Carrizo is California’s Serengeti, home to the highest concentration of threatened and endangered species in the state and the largest remaining reach of intact native San Joaquin Valley grasslands.
National Monuments are special commons belonging to all people and generations: a democracy of open space to be responsibly protected in perpetuity. Though its legal boundaries are small, preservation of the Monument’s essential values is dependent on sensitive use of surrounding lands.
Development of massive industrial solar plants on adjacent lands, accompanied by destruction of critical habitat, ongoing major adverse traffic, noise, and night lighting impacts would inevitably destroy the integrity and vitality of this precious place. There are viable alternatives on waterless lands in the Westlands Water District in the Central Valley, as well as distributed installations on rooftops, parking lots, and over such expansive public facilities as aqueducts.
Certainly we need renewable energy and conservation. But in the rush for renewables we must vigorously guard against ruining the natural heritage jewels in our community. Are we so impoverished or desperate for energy that we would tear down our cathedrals for firewood?