BLM sued over geothermal project northeast of Fallon

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The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe and the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit Wednesday to block approval of the Dixie Meadows geothermal power project.
The lawsuit in federal court charges the project could dry up nearby springs and harm an extremely rare amphibian, the Dixie Valley toad.
Dixie Meadows is a desert oasis former by springs in the area and tribal officials say it is a sacred site for the tribe. The project will be located in Churchill and Pershing counties, about 43 miles northeast of Fallon.
The complaint charges the geothermal energy has been shown to dry up or alter nearby surface water sources. Tribal officials say that happened recently just a dozen miles away from Dixie Meadows on a project by the same developer.
Patrick Donnelly, state director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said they strongly support renewable energy, “when it’s in the right place but a project like this that threatens sacred sites and an endangered species is definitely in the wrong place.”
The tribe has used the hot springs at Dixie Meadows for generations for healing and medical purposes. Tribal officials say allowing the project to move forward would irreversibly damage the tribe’s connection to its culture and history.
Tribal Chairwoman Cathi Tuni said the government has repeatedly promised to honor and protect indigenous sacred sites.
“But then the BLM approves a major construction project nearly on top of our most sacred hot springs,” Tuni said.
As for the toad, it was described as a distinct species in 2017 and exists nowhere else. The center was joined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife in expressing significant concerns to BLM officials about the potential harm to the toad and other wildlife if the springs dry up.


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