Whenever I return from visiting family in Southern California, I feel the tension drain out of my body about the time I pass through Olancha.   Traffic is gone, the pace has slowed, the scenery has transitioned from concrete, glass and steel to the beautiful natural landscape that no longer is seen in most of California.

The Owens Valley exists as it is today partly due to the City of Los Angeles’ policy of land use and partly in spite of it.  There are no more vineyards in Lone Pine because Los Angeles has sucked the water out of the lake and out of the land.  On the other hand, there are no strip malls and helter-skelter development along the highway 395 corridor because Los Angeles bought up most of the land in the early 1900s and won’t permit any development.  This is a story well documented in other sources and I won’t get into it here.

What I do want to get into is the proposed solar power plant in the Manzanar area.  No one could possibly be opposed to clean energy, right?  That is how this project has gotten as far along as it has.   If you have seen the Adalanto solar power project, you might have some second thoughts.  You can find photos of it on DWP’s Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=LADWP+SOLAR+POWER.  Do you want to see this when you are traveling or recreating?  Los Angeles is forever going to use all of the water and power that they can get their hands on because too many people live in an environment that can’t support that size population.  The 1,200 acre solar development near Manzanar is likely to only be the beginning of more Owens Valley resources heading south.  The eyesore that is similar to Adalanto’s blight will take the place of the soothing natural beauty that residents of the Valley came here for and that visitors drive hundreds of miles for to refresh themselves.  This piece of paradise needs to stay the way it is because there is no place else like it.  It’s a sparsely populated, narrow valley with soaring mountains to the east and west.  People need this because the world is a stressful place and people get sick when they have no place to experience calm and quiet.

We do need to develop solar energy but not in this place of solitude.  There are other areas that are closer to Los Angeles and already denuded of their natural beauty.  Certainly the City of Los Angeles can afford to purchase lands of that nature or put solar panels on buildings within their city limits.  The Owens Valley has already given enough and will also receive little in return with this project.  Why must Owens Valley residents and visitors be subjected to such a visual abomination in this pristine environment?  If this is started, where will it end?

 

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