Monthly Archives: February 2010

Primm, Nevada, Power Station

[I have copied this post by Chris Clarke on his Comment on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station.  His blog is Coyote Crossing: Writing and Photography from the Mojave Desert.]
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Posted by Chris Clarke on February 11, 2010

I posted this earlier today at Desert Blog. My publicist tells me I should put it here as well. Today was the deadline for public comment.

re: Ivanpah SEGS Public Comment Thursday, February 11, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:

Of other public comments arriving with regard to the proposed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station south of Primm, NV, I am confident many will address the abundant technical, hydrological, and wildlife-related problems contained in the proposal to bulldoze a broad swath of publicly owned ancient desert habitat for private industrial development. It is on these details that projects such as the Ivanpah SEGS are either approved or denied, and I am grateful that others can speak to those details more authoritatively than I.

What I can address with confidence and authority, however, is the fact that the Brightsource project threatens one of the most beautiful places in the United States. True, that beauty may not be apparent to the casual traveler on I-15 speeding through the desert with the airconditioning cranked up as they peer through tinted safety glass. It takes a few moments of quiet for the Ivanpah Valley’s beauty to sink in fully.

I lived in the Ivanpah Valley for much of 2008. I have been spending time there and in neighboring places in the desert for much of my life. The Ivanpah Valley is not wilderness, at least not that part of it outside the Preserve. There are many visible human intrusions there. Freight trains roar through the valley sounding loud horns, engines on both ends straining to build up momentum for the long climb to Cima. Off I-15 there is traffic on Nipton Road, long-haul truckers heading for Searchlight, vacationers in RVs and motorcycles heading for the Colorado River. One can in fact hear them from several miles away. They approach. They grow louder. They pass. The noise recedes.

And then the noise ebbs, and the cricket song swells, and the coyotes’ song, the breeze, the sound of blood in your veins. In the south end of the Ivanpah Valley, at least, human influence is limited and inconstant. From the Mojave National Preserve even Interstate 15 recedes in significance, becoming not much more than a pretty string of far head- and taillights in the distance, and that only at night. The sere backdrop of Clark Mountain, the McCulloghs and Lucy Grays in the east, and the protected peaks of the New York and Ivanpah mountain ranges contain between them a vast, largely wild piece of the Mojave. The Ivanpah Valley contains nearly all the Mojave’s landscapes in its boundaries — alkali flat, old-growth creosote and ancient Mojave yucca, Joshua tree woodland, piñon-juniper forests on the slopes of the fringing ranges. There is even an alpine sky-island overlooking the Ivanpah Valley, white firs clinging to the higher slopes of Clark Mountain, directly above the project site. The Valley is the Mojave in microcosm.

Paving thousands of acres of the Ivanpah Valley with mirrors would utterly destroy the wild character of the place. It would be an encroachment on the peace of the Preserve and the lands around it, with the noise and dust of construction and the subsequent blinding glare of the completed facility an intrusion into a peace I have found nowhere else on earth.

Others will question the actual carbon reduction benefit provided by building this plant, and rightly so. They will question the validity of tortoise relocation and mitigation, the additional demand on the 12,000-year-old water in the Ivanpah Valley’s aquifer, the loss of Mojave milkweed habitat. These are all crucial questions that absolutely must be answered. Neither Brightsource nor Interior have done so.

The loss I want to question, however, is the loss of our soul.

Are we really so bereft of wisdom that we see this beleaguered but beautiful stretch of ancient desert as nothing more than a blank spot on a map? Are we really so callous that we can consider the improbably old creosote, Mojave yucca and barrel cacti on the Ivanpah site less valuable than leaving our closet lights on when the door is closed? Many of the plants growing there are older than this nation. Some may pre-date European presence on the continent. We may as well raze the Parthenon to build a strip mall, knock down Stonehenge for use as highway berms. There is something very wrong in us if we value this place not for its beauty but for its square footage. There is something broken in us if we look at the Ivanpah Valley and see not peace, but merely a way to increase our power and the profit we derive from it.

In 2008, just before sunset after a day of scattered small rainstorms, a friend and I got out of her car near the abandoned railroad siding known as “Ivanpah,” in the southern Ivanpah Valley well within the Preserve. We had a clear and unobstructed view of the whole valley there at the end of the paved section of Ivanpah Road. A desert tortoise stood at roadside. We’d stopped to make sure no passing cars hit her as she tried to cross but there were no passing cars, and she had no apparent intent to cross. Unperturbed by our presence, she fell asleep as we watched. A band of coyotes began singing somewhere off toward Morning Star Mine Road. It was hard not to feel very small. The valley held an immensity of space and of time as well, humbling both in the sense of personal insignificance it conveyed and in the realization of our frightening capacity to do unintended harm.

It was one of those moments I have found surprisingly common in the Ivanpah Valley, a place that though altered by human hands is still precious, still wild in essence, well worth being defended from further unnecessary and destructive change.

I urge you to halt this project.

Chris Clarke
Private citizen

2 Comments

Filed under Life Out of Balance

Levitating Horse at Flying Hat

I give you my word, this photograph has not been retouched.  Click the photograph to see the famous, all-inspiring, fabulous, courageous, fine, good horse named, Star, as he defies gravity in the Texas snowstorm.  Come one, come all…okay, enough.  Let’s look at the photograph.  I caught Star in a leap off the ground.

Stars Bars Moore (APHA) Levitates

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Filed under Horses, Star

Winter Photographs at Flying Hat

Winter 2.11.2010, Poprock Pasture

Poprock Pasture and Arena In Winter

Yucca and Fence

Shiney and Star Playing Gotcha

Shiney Galloping to Corral

Remuda at Well House Corral

Mountain White-crown Sparrows Above Stables (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)

Stable Alleyway with Panels

55 Horses by Case Farmall

Flying Hat Ranch House

Schools in Abilene and Fort Worth, Texas, were canceled this morning.  I went out to take some photographs of Flying Hat.  If you click the photographs, you get a full-size picture with detail.

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Filed under Birds, Flying Hat Ranch, Horses, Lilly, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny), Shiney (Shiners Fannin Pepto), Star, Sweet Hija

Protected: Leroy and Alibates (The Notes)

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Filed under Colony Road, Recollections 1966-1990, Taos

Leroy and Alibates

Taos, 1970s…

Leroy, a northern Tiwa, came over and sat beside me on a bench on the Taos city plaza before they removed the jail that plunged beneath the ground on the northwest side.  It seemed a dungeon, of sorts, the jail.  Could be a Taos County law enforcement kiva?  Hey! he said.  Hey, back.  I read a newspaper.  We talked that day.  We talked the second day.  Jack, can you loan me ten?  Yes, I said.  It may have been the first day he wanted the ten.

Leroy and I talked the third day, on the plaza before they covered the jail underneath.  He said he used to make jewelry, but it bored him and he quit and drank too much.  So, he said, I came back here, to the pueblo.  More conversation.  I was from Amarillo, loved to come up to the mountains, the high-desert country, I confessed.

I liked Leroy.  So, I gave him a gift.

Out of my backpack on the third day, I brought out a paleolithic axe I had discovered in an exposed sandbank in the middle of  the Canadian River near the Alibates flint quarry in Texas.  I had waded across the Canadian River when it was low in the winter to find the 1849 rock cairns of Major Randolph B. Marcy when his survey team mapped a southern transcontinental railroad route.  I found Marcy’s cairn.  My legs cramped from the freezing, cold water when I waded across the Canadian River and when I came back.  The muscle cramps were worth it: I found a rare tool, a paleolithic axe, perfectly formed, grayish-blue.  And, I’ve never found such a prize since.

I handed the axe to Leroy.  He took it in his hands and then quickly raised it to his cheek and rubbed the Alibates flint axe against his face.

Why the rub against his cheek?  He smiled.  Ahh! he said.

It’s yours, I said.

All I can remember now is that he said, Ohh.

Then, Leroy:  Let me take you to the pueblo and up the mountain, Jack.

We went together up the Taos Mountain that day with his cousins in a blue Volkswagen with sunroof.  Towards Blue Lake, towards the sky, towards birch trees all around.

4 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Colony Road, Recollections 1966-1990, Taos

A Finer Justice

A FINER JUSTICE
Intemperate bulldozers stand by,
Idling, low rumbling rhythm,
As a finer justice falls into place.
One lonely soul, lost in fitful sleep,
Hears soft, distant whinny
Slowly moving closer, ever closer
White velvet face of the beautiful Bald-Face Lie
Rises up through fog of despair,
Breathing, breathing,
Warm, moist nostrils
Breathing loose the mask of reason,
Reminding, reminding,
Life is better-lived with blood-free hands
And a quiet mind.
(Teresa Evangeline, “A Finer Justice”)
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(Bald-Face Lie, a seven-month-old filly of 72 Ranch near Weatherford, Texas, was shot by an unknown person on January 24, 2010, near the fence line on Fox Road.

Teresa Evangeline has a blog.  Its link is Teresa Evangeline. She lives and writes in Minnesota, USA.)

6 Comments

Filed under Horses

Post Haste Update on Bald-Face Lie

There is no news to report on the killing of the cutting-horse filly, Bald-Face Lie.  I have searched local newspapers and have listed three links on the original post from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

January 25, 2010, Horse Found Slain in Pasture

January 26, 2010, Cutting Horse Bald-Face Lie

February 1, 2010, Community Posts Reward for Killer of Bald-Face Lie

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Filed under Horses

Fine Sentences January 31-February 6, 2010

The best sentences from my friends on the blogroll for the week of January 31-February 6, 2010.

Before I could go back down to help him cross he’d run the other way across five times as much water, and up the far bank to reach the bridge from the other side. He flew up to us smiling.  –Coyote Crossing, Chris Clarke.

Nestled in the foreground is the Rio Grande and in the background are the snow-covered majestic Sandia Mountains.  Sandia means watermelon in Spanish.  –Evangeline Art Photography.

Musicians, the good ones anyway, understand the rules of music so well that they are able to venture beyond the rules of their form and create something even more true and beautiful and reflective of the true condition of human life.  –HappiForever and the Hungry Ghosts.

I love the cemetery in Cimarron, New Mexico, with the hazy purple mountains in the distance.  I love the cemetery at Logan for its windmill in the corner and its lack of perpetual care.  There are yuccas and cedar trees and a view to the Revelto Creek and the graves of my Aunt Ruby and Uncle T.H.  –I Love New Mexico Blog.

The crowd screamed, pushed forward. I knew to lie prostrate on the hot roof. Machine gun fire continued.  –The Block, Kittie Howard.

I’ve spent most of my cooking career running small boutique hotels, private homes and luxurious bed and breakfasts. The best part of working small is playing with unexpected treats like gourmet fruit for garnish. Every morning is  chance for a new work of art.  –New Mexico Photography, Sebastian.

In honesty, my favorite part of living in the land of boats, ships and all is seeing them in stillness. Of this I never tire. Sails folded, long water shadows cast. There is peace in still water and its mirrored reflections.  –Sea Mists and Sunsets, Chris Schutz.

There are men in orange suits and neon signs warning, “Stay Away!” or “Keep Out!” all over the place. But still, there is no sound. Just the wind quietly whistling, and that low vibrational drum beat of science.  –Stark Raving Zen in the Very Large Array, New Mexico.

I stepped outdoors to take this photo and the instant the air hit my skin, it brought back memories of a nine year old girl growing up in East L.A. and having the special treat of ice skating in the Paramount ice rink.  –Taos Sunflower, photo of fog moving up to Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.

I had set up a small piece of the yard, down beneath the far end of the clothesline and there I lived in my head and in my heart for more than one summer.  –Teresa Evangeline.

As I sighted through my viewfinder I knew the long hike and difficult climb had been worth it. I’d found a perfect spot to spend a few wonderful hours doing what I love the most.  –Jeff Lynch, Texas Photography, upon seeing Gorman Falls near Bend, Texas.

On the edge of the darkened wood, the silence falls through the stilted trees…no whippoorwill remains.  –Bonnie Joy Bardos, Bohemian Artist, from blogroll of  The 27th Heart.

And, to be in the present eliminates our ongoing thoughts about our tragic, unhappy pasts.  –Turquoise Moon, from the blogroll of The 27th Heart.

Outside the week of January 31-February 6, 2010, these are two bloggers that fall under Cordilleran blogging.

Christmas Eve our home is always open to our sons’ friends. They come after Taos Pueblo ceremonies, family dinners, drinks with friends. There’s green chile stew, cornbread, cookies. Sausage Cheese Balls. We have a bonfire outside in the pit and listen to the stories of their still young lives.  The moon rises above Pueblo Peak. We relive the past and laugh and tell tales. Toast to their futures.  –Coffee On the Mesa.

Often I gazed across to this remote ridge and wished to bridge the stream.  –Observations from a Missouri River Bluff.


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Filed under Cedar, Fine Sentences Series, Juniper

Post Haste Bald-Face Lie

Bald-Face Lie 2009-2010

A seven-month-old filly named Bald-Face Lie was found dead last Sunday, shot between the eyes at close-range.  A horse trainer and ranch hand to the 72 Ranch near Weatherford, Texas, found Bald-Face Lie near the fence where as a friendly horse she would loaf with several other fillies.  The high sheriff of Parker County, Larry Fowler, said We are going to find out who did this.  We are just numb, grieved the owner, Kris Larsen.  I was with the mare when this baby was born and I weaned her and halter-broke her.  The reward for the killer is now close to $10,000 and he should have the good sense to turn himself in before he is found out.  Bulldozers gouge the earth intemperately and sometimes to a higher purpose.

I know  the 72 Ranch where Bald-Face Lie resided.  Several miles north of the 72 Ranch, Duncan Steele-Park trains horses, including our horse, Fanny.  Cattle drives from south Texas in the nineteenth century passed through Parker County on the trail to Dodge City, Abilene, even to greener pastures in the high mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming.

72 Ranch mourns.  The trainer slips halters on fillies and colts today and he will tomorrow and the next.  The horror of Bald-Face Lie’s death settles respectfully beneath the pain of a world that is out of balance for human and horse alike.  We will shrug and go on to the next watering hole that used to be called an oasis.

Newspaper article link: Community Offers Reward, February 1, 2010.

Newspaper article link: Prized Filly Valued at $20,000.00, January 26, 2010.

Newspaper article link: Cutting Horse Found Slain in Parker County Pasture, January 25, 2010.

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Filed under Horses

Post Haste Verbena with Tool

Prehistoric Tool In Situ Poprock Hill Pasture February 3, 2010

Temperature was 37 degrees at 6:30 a.m….Light rain was forecast and has started raining at 8:00 a.m….Rain exposes prehistoric tools, rocks, horseshoes, wood debris and boulders in the pastures….When I first moved here, I looked for quartzite flakes and tools of prehistoric people that harvested acorns, edible plants and deer.  Finding no quartzite, I changed my pattern of survey and looked for iron ore and meteorite tools that had been abraded, not extensively flaked.  I found things.  Poprock Hill pasture has yielded tools in abundance and will be designated an archeological site by the state of Texas.  This morning, after the first feed of the horses, I took a photograph of a tool in situ.  Light rain washed clay off the tool, exposing craft and art of people that hunted and gathered before the arrival of the European.  Not far away from the tool, a red ant hill with little stones about the portal to the underworld rose slightly from verbena plants that will bloom in the spring.

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Filed under Flying Hat Ranch