New York Peak (7,533 ft), New York Mountains, San Bernardino Co., California, USA.
23 April 2006.
New York Peak: the first summit I ever reached without a trail.
The East Mojave view that spreads out below it is breathtaking. California to the west, Nevada to the east. Sun and sky. Bajadas and mountains. Dunes and dry lakebeds. Creosote and cactus.
Nearly unspoiled, except for the black snake of I-15 and the gaudy spectacle that is Stateline Primm.
Nearly unspoiled, that is, until later this year, when one of the largest solar installations in the world is erected near Ivanpah Dry Lake.
I am in complete support of solar development in wise places: already-degraded lands near the communities that will use the power.
But I am NOT in support of solar development on remote, vital BLM land — habitat of an endangered species, the desert tortoise — chosen for its relative lack of red tape rather than for the long-term sensibility and sustainability of its location.
Deserts are old places. But that does not make them dead places. Deserts are not wastelands. In the desert, the ground is alive. Life — plants, animals, insects — is everywhere, if you only look for it. Deserts persist on a time scale different from the rest of the world. They grow slowly. They recover slowly, if given a chance.
But from this development, that land will not recover.
The next time I climb that peak, oh, how different the view will be.
It breaks my heart.
America, let’s remember: these lands are our lands.
Why are we letting corporations plunder them for profit, when viable alternatives lie elsewhere?