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A Checked Box on WSF’s LAC One-Pager

December 10, 2018

Bozeman, Montana. December 10, 2018. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) spends much of its time advocating for wild sheep conservation, putting and keeping wild sheep on the mountain, and marketing to a broad audience to build support for the future sustainability of wild sheep. WSF’s Legislative Affairs Committee is responsible for moving the organization along the path to advocating for wild sheep.  In addition to that, WSF has invested considerably into policy strategies and boots on the ground that represent the best interest of wild sheep conservation in Washington D.C. This means that along with a lobbyist, WSF sends Chapter and Affiliate representatives, volunteers, and staff to the Hill for an opportunity to engage with a plethora of politicians ranging from appointed staff to state Representatives and Senators.  WSF arrives with an itinerary of people to meet, a one-pager (one sheet of paper with bullet-point objectives listed for the conversation) for each person they meeting with, and a general one-pager for key initiatives important to WSF across the nation. The goal is to develop a conversation memorable enough to create an action item out of the party they meet with. This may seem like a simple task, but their meeting is generally one of several dozen that day, and making wild sheep conservation the sticking point out of all other things facing this nation, can be challenging.

The Crescent Peak Wind Project (CPW) was one of the items on WSF’s key initiates one-pager; important enough to bring up in nearly any meeting. CPW was a project calling for 248 wind turbines at a height of 600 feet, spanning 22 miles across some of the most intact landscape in Nevada. While also boarding the Castle Mountains National Monument and close proximity to the Mohave National Preserve, this habitat stands as Desert Bighorn Sheep paradise, and is critical to the future of wild sheep conservation and sustainability in the region.

WSF spent countless hours speaking to local representatives, state representatives, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and their local affiliates on how to best keep the landscape intact and protected from this kind of development. However, with renewable energy projects in the desert rising drastically, the outlook seemed fairly bleak.

Thankfully, with continued and concerted effort from numerous stakeholders, including WSF and the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, the project was terminated with a direct memorandum from the BLM. According to Rudy Evenson, Acting Chief of Communication for the BLM in Nevada, “The BLM is denying the right-of-way application made by Crescent Peak Renewables LLC for the proposed Crescent Peak Wind project near Searchlight, Nevada. The BLM had previously determined that the proposed project would not conform with the Las Vegas Resource Management Plan – a conflict that in many cases results in immediate rejection of cooperators, including Federal, county, and state government, to provide information on potential project impacts. This review, however, identified multiple issues and concerns that prompted the agency’s decision to deny the application.” 

It is a testament to the commitment of the Department of Interior (DOI) to sportsmen-conservation issues that the rejection was decided at a high level in the department, by Joseph R. Balash, Assistant Secretary Land and Minerals Management. 
According to the letter, highlighted conflicts of interest with the Las Vegas Resource Management Plan included potential damage that would be done to bighorn sheep habitat through the degradation of springs, seeps, and other riparian habitat in the area.
Gray N. Thornton, President and CEO of WSF reacted, “We spend a lot of time advocating for wild sheep conservation in D.C. In order for us to keep wild sheep on the mountain, we have to create proponents in government and in the field that will ensure what habitat we have left is not destroyed. The Crescent Peak Wind Project had potential to eliminate or disrupt more than 30,000 acres of southern Nevada wild lands. Getting this application denied stands as a representation of what happens when good organizations band together. WSF has some very strong partners such as the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, and others, we are thankful for their dedication to wild sheep conservation.”

Immediately following the announcement, WSF was on to the next objective, advocating on behalf of wild sheep. However, they have one less bullet point on their one-pager. 

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