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

Note: Pursuant to issuance of IM-2019-018, preparation of the Afton Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy is no longer ongoing. However, the project information provided below maybe considered during future project permitting activities.

The BLM 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 committed to preparing an 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.

Public Workshop in Las Cruces, New Mexico, September 7, 2017

The BLM hosted a second public workshop to discuss the SRMS for the Afton SEZ on September 7, 2017, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The workshop agenda and presentations (PDF) have been posted to the right. BLM requests comments on the SRMS, including recommendations for compensatory mitigation sites and actions, by October 6, 2017.

Please email your comments or feedback about the workshop to Treaver Ashby at the BLM Las Cruces District Office at [email protected] or (575) 525-4304.

Stakeholder Input Requested for Candidate Mitigation Sites and Actions

BLM requested 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 requested 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.

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

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
[email protected]
(575) 525-4304
Updated: 3/11/2019