Right now, there is a proposed industrial solar development project for Badger Mountain under way. Industrial solar needs to be very close to existing substations (hence, interest in Badger Mountain). Solar developments have fences around them which impacts animal movement and habitat connectivity. Construction covers the entire area and permanently converts shrub habitat to altered grasslands.

Industrial solar development areas modify soil temperature and soil ecology by shading of the ground below the solar panels, which changes the ecological function. Solar farms need water for cleaning (dust/snow), water for fire control and need regular mowing.

Comments are still being accepted regarding the proposed industrial solar development on Badger Mountain. This would negatively impact habitat used by the endangered Sage Grouse, threatening their survival in Washington State. The endangered Sage Grouse has already lost over 90% of its historic range in Washington State due to habitat loss and fragmentation. 

The endangered Sage Grouse.

The importance of using solar energy in our changing environment is obvious but using built environment settings to create the industrial solar developments on (for example the large data center buildings in the region that are flat on top) is much less detrimental than using agricultural and habitat lands. Help voice your opinion by sending an email to efsec@utc.wa.gov. For more information, click here.

To learn more about this topic, click here to read an article in the Seattle Times about policy and a farmland perspective behind industrial solar.

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