Our research and analysis reveals the many complexities, controversies, and uncertainties that exist within the issue of solar development in the California desert. Despite these challenges, state and federal administrations, solar developers, and renewable energy advocates are exerting pressure on regulatory agencies to finalize the processes necessary to move development forward. Given the unknown impacts of solar development, an adaptive management approach, which includes Best Management Practices (BMPs) and mitigation requirements, should be carefully and thoughtfully developed. An adaptive management approach might require a slower pace of development with a high level of monitoring of constructed facilities in order to measure the true efficacy of BMPs and mitigation measures. If BMPs and mitigation measures are found to be ineffective, the management plan should then be adapted to address these deficiencies.

We have developed recommendations based on our findings, which can be used to establish a siting, development and implementation process that can proceed deliberately and adaptively. Our recommendations aim to improve the solar facility approval process, address potential ecological impacts, and support continued growth of the distributed generation market. We have also identified areas in need of future research.