Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Program Western Solar Plan
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Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Afton Solar Energy Zone in New Mexico

The BLM has established the Afton Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) in New Mexico with the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (“Solar PEIS”). This SEZ constitutes nearly 30,000 acres of land in southern New Mexico designated by BLM for solar energy development. Through the Solar PEIS, the BLM has committed to establishing a SEZ regional mitigation strategy (SRMS) to identify potential impacts of solar development in the SEZ and identify appropriate mitigation measures and processes to address these impacts. This SRMS process builds upon the Solar PEIS to understand those unavoidable impacts and determine whether regional compensatory mitigation for those impacts may be warranted through a public, stakeholder driven process.

Stakeholder Input Requested for Candidate Mitigation Sites and Actions

BLM is requesting recommendations from the public for mitigation sites and actions to offset unavoidable impacts of solar development on the Afton SEZ. The BLM is concurrently working to identify and evaluate several potential mitigation sites and actions to mitigate impacts to vegetation, visual resources, and special designations, through the use of mitigation criteria for importance, feasibility, effectiveness, timeliness, risk, durability, additivity, and other considerations. Details on these criteria are provided in the three candidate site screening tables listed below — separate mitigation evaluation tables are provided based on the primary resource impact being addressed by the mitigation site/action (either vegetation, special designations, or visual resource impacts):

Additional information is provided in the Process for Nominating Candidate Mitigation Sites and Actions document (PDF, 1.2 MB). The BLM requests that stakeholders provide the information requested in these candidate site screening tables for each recommended mitigation site, as an effective way of providing the BLM with information on the suitability of the recommended mitigation sites and actions. The table information should be submitted for each mitigation site/action recommended.

BLM requests submission of candidate mitigation site location and action recommendations by July 21, 2017.

When submitting recommended mitigation sites and actions, please indicate if you are willing to present your recommendation(s) at a stakeholder workshop, which is being planned for approximately mid-to late August. During the workshop all nominated candidate mitigation sites and actions will be presented and discussed. More details and a specific date for the stakeholder workshop will be provided in July.

Webinar September 28, 2016

The BLM hosted a webinar to discuss the Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy (SRMS) for the Afton Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) in New Mexico on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

Documents for stakeholder review are available below:

Elements of an SEZ Regional Mitigation Strategy

  1. Describe SEZ and regional baseline conditions against which unavoidable impacts are assessed;
  2. Assess unavoidable impacts and identify which of those warrant offsite mitigation;
  3. Identify regional mitigation goals;
  4. Identify a method for calculating recommended mitigation fees for unavoidable adverse impacts;
  5. Identify and recommend a management structure to hold and apply mitigation investment funds;
  6. Evaluate and recommend appropriate mitigation investment locations, objectives, and/or actions; and
  7. Plan to implement mitigation and develop long-term monitoring and adaptive management recommendations to evaluate and maximize the mitigation's effectiveness.

For more information or to be added to the project mailing list contact:

Treaver Ashby
Project Manager
tashby@blm.gov
(575) 525-4304
Updated: 6/30/2017