PIONEERTOWN — A local advocacy group is working to keep wind turbines out of what it says is a culturally and biologically significant area.
Save Our Desert, a coalition aiming to stop Element Power’s efforts to put industrial-scale wind turbines in the undeveloped Black Lava and Flat Top Mesa buttes of Pipes Canyon and Pioneertown, is raising money to identify petroglyphs in the areas currently being tested for wind levels.
Element Power began placing wind-testing devices on the mountaintops more than a year ago, to the surprise of residents. The devices are precursors to the company’s proposal for a 100-megawatt wind-energy project.
Save Our Desert held its second annual fundraiser Sunday, raking in just over $3,500 to pay for archeological surveys and reports to send to agencies with jurisdiction over the area.
It felt appropriate to organizers that preserving Pioneertown’s iconic desert landscape should be held at one of the most iconic desert locales, Pappy & Harriet’s.
“We felt the event was a success,” Frazier Haney, an organizer and spokesman with Save Our Desert, said by phone Monday.
The coalition raised money through a silent auction of local artists’ works.
The group needs about $5,000 to get the appropriate studies and documentation completed. Haney said members have been raising additional money with a weekly farmers market booth.
Haney said the buttes are well-known cultural sites that need to be recognized by the Bureau of Land Management and the county.
“The petroglyphs are not recorded in any of the agencies’ files”, he said. Haney and fellow supporters of the campaign are hoping to get the BLM and any other affected agencies to recognize that area as an “area of critical concern.”
Doing so would limit construction of wind turbines or infrastructure to transmit electricity in that area.
So far, the wind-energy developer has applied for a permit to test the wind and has placed two meteorological towers on the buttes, according to Haney.