Join Tuleyome in the fight to save Walker Ridge! Support the designation of Walker Ridge as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern as proposed by the California Native Plant Society, and protect it from irresponsible wind development.
Walker Ridge public lands cover an area of 14,000 acres along an 11-mile, north-south trending ridge located on the boundary of Colusa and Lake Counties, just north of Highway 20. The Ridge is situated immediately to the west of Bear Valley—a renowned wildflower area—and immediately to the north of the Cache Creek Wilderness. The serpentine soils and unique geography of the ridge support many rare plants, and its linkages to Bear Valley and public lands to the west, north, and south, including designated and proposed wilderness areas, gives further value to the Ridge as a large and mostly unfragmented natural area.
Threat of Wind Development
Canadian developer AltaGas is proposing a 29-turbine wind development project for the top of Walker Ridge, a project that threatens this area’s biological resources, water resources from mercury contamination caused by disturbance of serpentine soils, scenic beauty, wilderness characteristics, and the overall conservation values of the region. Although we strongly support responsible renewable energy development, some places are inappropriate for development of any kind. The proposed Walker Ridge wind development will generate only marginal wind energy at the cost of great ecological harm.
Tuleyome is currently working with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and other organizations to encourage the BLM to designate the ridge as an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” (ACEC). The California Native Plant Society has petitioned it to be protected as an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” because of a high diversity of plant species, serpentine-associated plants, special-status plants, potentially undescribed plants, unusual plant associations, and wetlands. There are parts of Walker Ridge that already have an ACEC designation, but designating the entire Walker Ridge area will ensure full protection of the area from development.
Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed and Cooper Hawks, and Prairie falcons ride the ridge top thermals, in addition to at least five rare butterflies. Nearby Bear Creek corridor just off Highway 20 is a biological hotspot for dragonflies and damselflies, supporting nearly 50% of the known species in California. The unique botanical resources recorded to date indicate the likelihood of a high diversity of other organisms yet to be identified. Scientists at UC Davis and other local schools regularly visit the area to study the unique ecology and geography of the ridge.
Mercury-laden Soils Will Contaminate Bay Area Water
The serpentine-derived soils that contribute to this area’s unique ecological characteristics pose a potential health hazard should there be any massive earth excavation or soil disturbance such as wind-tower pad development, road grading and digging for guy line supports. Mercury, chromium, and asbestos may be found in the soils on Walker Ridge, and should they be disturbed can end up in the already mercury-laden Upper Cache (Bear Creek) watershed. Cache Creek is currently the largest contributor of mercury contamination to the San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem, providing an estimated 50% of the total mercury load.
Tuleyome is supportive of renewable energy, but we must be cautious of where we implement these projects. Walker Ridge is simply too wild to develop. The best alternative for Walker Ridge is the designation of Walker Ridge as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Click here to contact Jim Abbott, State Director of California BLM and tell the BLM to designate Walker Ridge as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
To get more information about our campaign and hiking trips to Walker Ridge, please email:
Click on the following to learn more:
2. 2011 California Native Plant Society ACEC Petition
3. Map of Walker Ridge - California Native Plant Society
4. Plant Species List - California Native Plant Society
5. Map of Turbine Locations on Walker Ridge
6. Tuleyome Scoping Comments Oct. 23, 2010
7. Walker Ridge Calendar of Events (coming soon)