Feb. 26, 2014

Remarks to the Planning Commission

I am Cindy Kamler, founder and director of Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care. I have been rescuing orphaned and injured wildlife in the Eastern Sierra for over 15 years. I am directing my comments toward the designation of certain areas as “appropriate” for large scale renewable energy use, in particular the Proposed Area close to Manzanar.

I have come to speak for the animals who have no voice here. They are our neighbors. They are an integral part of our high desert and mountain environment. The area is emphatically not what proponents have called “wasteland.” It is not “useless” land. It is their home and it will be bulldozed and covered with solar panels.

The area supports a rich abundance of wildlife. I have rehabilitated numerous animals from the area. I know who lives there—Golden Eagles (now, even Bald Eagles are sometimes seen), Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls, elk and deer, bear, mountain lion and bobcat, rabbits, hares, and squirrels. A tremendous variety of birds call this place “home.” Waterbirds—Herons, Egrets, ducks of all kinds; ground birds like Quail and Roadrunners, Osprey, Prairie Falcon and Kestrel, hummingbirds.

An avian migratory corridor runs along the valley, providing a pathway for tens of thousands of migratory birds. Waterbirds like grebes, loons, pelicans, ibis often land on pavement thinking it is water and are stranded because they can only take off from water. In future, they will look down at the flood of panels reflecting the blue sky and land, thinking there is water. If they are not “fried” by the hot panels—as will thousands of other birds who land on them—these migrating birds will die of starvation, dehydration, or predators.

Thousands of living creatures will be displaced, dispossessed, from this area that is rich in wildlife and plant life. It is a place where we, the people of the Eastern Sierra—and our visitors—walk, ride bikes and horses, drive off-road vehicles; we are bird watchers, rockhounds and history buffs, and we fish and hunt, climb and hike this land. We the people will also be dispossessed as the land is flattened and pounded. Manzanar, a national historic site, an important part of the history of the Valley, California, and our nation, stands a stone’s throw away as we allow desolation and ugliness to be wrought, dishonoring the place and the people who honor it.

Studies by wildlife agencies and experts show that displaced wildlife is dead wildlife. If they are not killed in the process of clearing and construction, they are forced to wander in search of survival. They will die along the way—almost every single one—of starvation, dehydration, predation. If and when they find a place where there is food, water and shelter, they will be forced into a life-and-death battle over the resources spreading destruction in widening circles from its origin in the solar array.

Have you ever seen Kramer Junction?  Seen that grotesque horror that mars the entire area? Do you want this ugliness and horror in the Owens Valley? Do you, the people of the Eastern Sierra community, want to be responsible for widespread devastation? Is this the heritage you want to leave for our children and generations to come?  I don’t!

 

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