Senior Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Near Primm, NV and Tehachapi, CA
Ray is a man with a gray hairdo reminiscent of a 70’s rocker working at the intersection of biology and environmental policy. He balances the coexistence of federally listed animals—namely the Desert Tortoise and California Condor—and the logical development of renewable energy in southern Califronia. Ray stood out for immediately understanding the rhythm of Semester in the West, not only helping to set up our chair circle before breakfast, but for bringing together a crew of people with diverse interests, but often sharing a common goal. Standing in the gusty, surprisingly cold sunlight at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, Ray introduces us to a representative from Brightsource (the driving force behind the massive solar plant’s construction), resident biologists for the Ivanpah site (the trackers of endangered species) and a representative from the BLM (the organization that stewards the land under the installation). The juxtaposition of these diverse backgrounds immersed the Westie crew in the political complexities of large scale renewable energy development in the biologically fragile desert. However, the meeting also illustrated the potential of a willingness to collaborate. Multiple government entities, private companies and non-human life all share a stake in this corner of the Mojave Desert.
By Keenan Hilton