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California 2016 DRECP ROD

The 2016 Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) was developed to:

  1. advance federal and state natural resource conservation goals and other federal land management goals;
  2. meet the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), California Endangered Species Act (CESA), Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA), and Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA); and
  3. facilitate the timely and streamlined permitting of renewable energy projects, all in the Mojave and Colorado/Sonoran desert regions of Southern California.

Renewable energy generation development to be managed under the DRECP ROD is focused in the West Mojave, Imperial Valley, East Riverside and around Barstow, with smaller areas in the southern portion of Owens Valley. The DRECP LUPA ROD amended the following land use plans in California:

  • California Desert Conservation Area Plan
  • Bishop Resource Management Plan
  • Bakersfield Resource Management Plan

The DRECP carried forward the Solar Energy Zones designated through the 2012 Solar PEIS, with some adjustments based on new information, and made refinements to variance lands and exclusion areas. Specifically, the DRECP LUPA defined and identified:

  1. 388,000 acres of Development Focus Areas (DFAs), areas with substantial energy generation potential, access to existing or planned transmission, and low resource conflicts to provide certainty in order to help streamline and incentivize utility-scale renewable energy generation;
  2. 40,000 acres of Variance Process Lands (VPLs) where renewable energy development may be considered and could be approved without a plan amendment;
  3. 419,000 acres of General Public Lands and 35,000 acres of extensive recreation management areas (ERMAs) where renewable energy development may be considered, but a plan amendment would be necessary for project approval.
  4. Legislatively and Legally Protected Lands

The DRECP also identified a specific set of Conservation and Management Actions (CMAs) designed to achieve the goals and objectives for activities within the LUPA's various land use allocations (CMAs are similar to Programmatic Design Features under the 2012 Western Solar Plan). These measures identify a specific set of avoidance, minimization, and compensation measures, and allowable and non-allowable actions for solar energy development on BLM-managed lands.

In general for DFAs and VPLs, BLM California follows the regulations and process for issuing grants non-competitively, as described under 43 CFR 2800, specifically 2804.12(a)(b) and (c). Under 43 CFR 2802.10(a), the BLM CA may decide to follow a competitive process and issue a lease.