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Impact on Area Wildlife

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Photo from Rancho San Marcos taken on 4/15/23 of Burrowing owl guarding his nest.  Burrowing owls are in vicinity of proposed facility location. 

Countless Species

  • Both Eldorado and Rancho San Marcos neighborhoods, have long term covenants agreed upon to restrict little to no fencing, in order to preserve the natural habitat for all area wildlife.  
     

  • The AES Rancho Viejo Solar Facility will have fencing around the entire 800 acres. 
     

  • Countless bird and mammal species inhabit this area (both seasonally and annually).  This includes Burrowing Owls, Scaled Quail, various Falcons, various Hawks, the Great Horned Owl, hummingbirds, multiple perching birds, rabbits, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats, Pronghorns and the occasional badger, mountain lion or black bear. 

  • Countless bird species as well as larger mammals, such as the Pronghorn, use this area as a corridor in migration. 
     

  • Migratory birds move across vast areas as they journey from their wintering grounds in Mexico and further south to their breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada.  It is important, therefore, that we keep these areas as an open native undisturbed habitats so birds can find sites to rest and refuel along their journey or stop to breed and nest.  

Prairie Dogs
  • Per AES, there is confirmed prairie dog colonies in the area of the facility.  Per AES, they have adjusted the construction site to avoid the colonies.
     

  • Blueprints of the AES Rancho Viejo Facility show prairie dog colonies dispersed throughout the facility in between the rows of solar panels.
     

  • Although Prairie dogs are felt to be a nuisance by many, they are actually an essential species in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.  
     

  • Prairie Dogs provide nesting areas for burrowing owls and ground squirrels, among other species.  

  • Prairie dog mound building encourages grass development and renews the topsoil with rich minerals, that can be crucial for soil quality and agriculture. 
     

  • They are very important in the food chain for mammals such as hawks, badgers, and coyotes, among others.
     

  • Prairie dog tunnel systems channel rainwater into the water table which prevents erosion and runoff and can also change the composition of the soil in a region by reversing soil compaction that can result from cattle grazing.
     

  • Prairie dogs are highly social, and live in large colonies or "towns" and collections of prairie dog families that can span hundreds of acres. 

    The Prairie Dog is protected in many areas to maintain local populations and ensure natural ecosystems.  

Burrowing Owls
  • Burrowing Owls have been documented in the area by AES and The New Mexico Department of Fish and Game. 
     

  • Burrowing Owls are small sandy colored owls with bright-yellow eyes.
     

  • They only grow 7 – 8 inches on average.
     

  • They live underground in burrows they’ve dug themselves or taken over from a prairie dog, ground squirrel etc.
     

  • They live in grasslands, deserts, and other open habitats, where they hunt on the ground, catching insects and rodents.
     

  • Their numbers have declined sharply with human alteration of their habitat and the decline of prairie dogs and ground squirrels.
     

  • Per the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game, burrowing owls arrive on the breeding grounds by March and remain there until October.Burrowing owls rarely dig their own burrows and, therefore, depend in part upon the presence of burrowing animals. In New Mexico, burrowing owls are associated with Gunnison’s prairie dogs.
     

  • Per the National Park Service,” Burrowing owls are endangered in Canada, Threatened in Mexico, and a Species of Greatest Conservation Concern in many of the United States. They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Preservation of our natural desert open spaces will ensure a future for this valuable and unique species for future generations.”

Scaled Quail

  • Scaled Quail are common in this area.
     

  • These little ground birds scurry through the desert grasslands of the southwestern United States, calling softly to each other to stay in contact. 
     

  • These elegant brownish-gray birds have an understated crest with a buffy top and a marvelous pattern of dark brown and gray-buff on the breast and belly. 
     

  • When encountering people or predators, the birds dash away through the brush, or else fly a short distance and reassemble.
     

  • Egg laying occurs from April through September in New Mexico. 

Support New Mexico in transitioning to clean energy, while avoiding unnecessary risks to our communities and further destruction to our environment.  

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