LOS ANGELES AND SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Avantus (formerly 8minute), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have partnered to conserve and reallocate more than 215,000 acres of an active grazing allotment in an area permanently dedicated to wildlife forage in Kern County. The Onyx Conservation Project (Onyx) is one of the nation’s largest mitigation projects and will provide essential, permanent protection and enhancement of plants in the Mojave Desert, including western Joshua Tree, and animals that live on the vast site.
Onyx stands out for its historic, contiguous size and is the first time grazing rights have been taken away to mitigate solar projects, a new approach that balances clean energy development and conservation. A contiguous area seven times larger than the city of San Francisco, Onyx will provide greater advantages for desert species to thrive than traditional mitigation strategies, which typically involve small, disconnected patches of land resembling a checkerboard. Avantus will also invest millions of additional dollars for habitat enhancement through Onyx to kick-start the restoration of desert plants and wildlife.
“Our department is committed to conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat in the Golden State, and this groundbreaking state and federal public-private partnership provides a roadmap for how renewable energy can continue to fight climate change. while providing landscape-level ecosystem benefits for native plants and wildlife,” said CDFW Regional Director Julie Vance. “By purchasing and permanently retiring grazing rights, Avantus is ensuring that this rich and vibrant land is preserved and that its inhabitants can flourish.”
Located between Ridgecrest and Mojave in Kern County, Onyx is particularly well suited for conservation as the area’s habitat supports 20 sensitive wildlife species, including the California condor, Mojave desert tortoise, American badger, Mohave ground squirrel and golden eagles. It is also estimated to include over 80,000 acres of western Joshua tree habitat, including 3,000 acres of dense forest. This conservation effort will help maintain the health and diversity of the desert ecosystem, which is based on designated wilderness areas, national conservation desert lands, and areas of critical environmental concern. The 215,000 acres will also be open for public recreational use, including hiking and camping.
Onyx demonstrates how collaborative public-private partnerships can work to develop innovative approaches to conserving valuable land and realizing President Biden’s America the Beautiful campaign. The initiative has established a national goal of conserving at least 30% of the United States’ land and freshwater by 2030, commonly referred to as 30×30, and is designed to help tackle the nation’s climate crisis. and abroad.
“The greatest threat to desert ecosystems is climate change, and Avantus is proud to deliver climate solutions that decarbonize our planet on a gigatonne scale. Our portfolio of utility-scale solar and energy storage centers will provide affordable, emissions-free power to tens of millions of Americans, enabling us to embark on innovative mitigation strategies of equal magnitude,” said Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, Founder and CEO. of Avante. “In line with our ambitions to be a leading clean energy company, the Onyx Conservation Project will provide critical habitat preservation and environmental benefits on a scale our industry has never seen before. This is a great example of our endless search for smarter, more sustainable solutions and we thank our federal and state partners for working with us on this pioneering effort.
Avantus is one of California’s leading solar power and storage providers with a long track record of success in Kern County, including the first operating solar power plant to beat fossil fuel prices and a groundbreaking project to provide solar energy with storage at record prices. The company is on track to supply more than half of California’s utility-scale solar and storage demand over the next decade.
Avantus works closely with wildlife agencies and environmental organizations to advance environmental efforts and save species at all stages of a project’s life. Previous Avantus projects have received support from respected groups including the Sierra Club, Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Avantus is shaping the future by making clean, reliable and accessible energy a global reality. Our legacy of leadership in next-generation solar power includes developing the nation’s largest solar cluster and the first plant to beat fossil fuel prices. Today, we are pushing the boundaries of existing technologies to build one of the largest portfolios of smart power plants with integrated storage, capable of providing 30 million people with low-cost, zero-emissions energy, day and night. Through our relentless pursuit of better, we are decarbonizing our planet to the gigatonne level and bringing the benefits of clean energy to all.
For more information, visit www.avantus.com and follow Avantus on Twitter and LinkedIn.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
The mission of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats on which they depend, for their ecological values and for their public use and enjoyment.