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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

San Joaquin Valley Landscape-Scale Planning for Solar Energy and Conservation

Not Pictured

Group Members: Jane Cowan, Andrew Gwin, Dustin Pearce, Graham Wesolowski, Samuel Young

Faculty Advisors: Mark Buntaine

Client: Defenders of Wildlife


Final Report


As California's population continues to expand, there is an increasing need for reliable and clean energy. This need will be exacerbated as the climate impacts of fossil fuel emissions become more evident. In addition, recent legislation such as the Renewables Portfolio Program (RPS) in California requires the state to obtain 33% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. The state is beginning to look to the San Joaquin valley as the next "frontier" for solar energy development due to its solar insolation, proximity to development, and impaired agricultural lands. However, these lands house some of California‚Äôs most productive farmlands as well as fragile ecosystems and habitats that have already been compromised by other land uses. Urban residential and industrial growth is also expected to be bolstered by a proposed high-speed rail project through the valley. Working with the Defenders of Wildlife, this project aims to ensure that the proper balance is achieved, with smart planning for renewable power that avoids and minimizes adverse impacts to wildlife and lands with known high-resource values (agriculture). 

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