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Variance Protocol for Greater Sage-Grouse

The BLM has adopted the following protocol for variance applications in greater sage-grouse habitat.

Greater sage-grouse habitat (i.e., currently occupied, brooding, and winter habitat) as identified by the BLM in California, Nevada, and Utah is excluded from BLM's Solar Energy Program (see Section of the Final Solar PEIS).

Developers that propose utility-scale solar energy projects in variance areas that overlap the range of the greater sage-grouse will be required to provide documentation of the following, unless a project is otherwise determined by the BLM and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and appropriate State wildlife agencies to have acceptable impacts on greater sage-grouse:

  • Project is at least 4 mi (6 km) from the nearest lek;
  • Project will not adversely affect Preliminary Priority Habitat; and
  • Project will be mitigated through land acquisition or habitat enhancement at a ratio of at least 1:1 for any impact on Preliminary General Habitat as determined by accepted standards of habitat analysis (e.g., habitat equivalency analysis [HEA]) and in coordination with the USFWS and the appropriate State wildlife agencies.