|Colorado Variance Areas||Los Mogotes East SEZ|
The Los Mogotes East Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) is a designated leasing area (DLA) located in Colorado in a high-elevation basin within the Rocky Mountains. The SEZ is located on BLM-administered land within the La Jara Field Office.
In the Draft Solar PEIS, the proposed Los Mogotes East SEZ had a total area of 5,918 acres (24 km2). In the Supplement to the Draft, 3,268 acres (13.2 km2) on the western side of the SEZ were eliminated to avoid impacts on several resources, including impacts on sensitive species. No additional changes to the SEZ developable areas were made in the Final Solar PEIS.
The Los Mogotes East SEZ is located in Conejos County in south-central Colorado, about 12 mi (19 km) north of the New Mexico border. The SEZ is located in the southwestern San Luis Valley, part of the San Luis Basin, a large, high-elevation basin. The San Juan Mountains are to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Range is to the east. In 2008, the county population was 8,745, while the surrounding four-county region had a total population of 39,759. The largest nearby town of Alamosa is located about 22 mi (35 km) to the northeast.
The Los Mogotes SEZ lies on a flat alluvial fan. Scrubland vegetation reflects the arid climate. Vegetation is primarily low shrubs and grasses, with many areas of bare soil. Large groundwater reserves underlie the area in several aquifers. Annual rainfall averages about 8 in. (20 cm).
No developments exist on the land. Part of the SEZ is authorized by the BLM for grazing. There are a few unpaved roads, fences, and some debris on the SEZ.
Little commercial or industrial activity exists in the surrounding area. An extensive agricultural area lies to the east.
U.S. 285 is located about 3 mi (5 km) east of the SEZ. An existing 69-kV transmission line is also located about 3 mi (5 km) to the east of the SEZ.
In the Solar PEIS, the BLM committed to establishing a monitoring and adaptive management strategy for each solar energy zone (SEZ). Through these strategies, the BLM will take an active role in the collection of baseline data for the SEZs.
The BLM has not yet begun the monitoring and adaptive management strategy for the Los Mogotes East SEZ. However, the BLM has conducted a pilot monitoring and adaptive management strategy for the Riverside East SEZ. In May 2016, the BLM released the Riverside East Solar Energy Zone Long Term Monitoring Strategy Final Report. The monitoring strategy document (PDF, 16.6 MB) is now available.
In the Solar PEIS, the BLM committed to preparing solar regional mitigation strategies (SRMSs) for the solar energy zones (SEZs). These regional mitigation strategies were intended to simplify and improve the mitigation process for future solar projects in SEZs.
In January 2017, the BLM released the Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Colorado Solar Energy Zones – Final Report (PDF, 26.1 MB). This document addresses regional mitigation for the Los Mogotes East SEZ and two other SEZs in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Additional supporting studies were released with the Regional Mitigation Strategy; all the documents are available through the BLM's Renewable Energy Mitigation webpage.
With IM-2019-018, the BLM established policy that compensatory mitigation could not be required as a condition for project approvals. However, with the issuance of IM 2021-038 on July 14, 2021, the BLM rescinded the previous IM-2019-018. The BLM expects to establish policies which are aligned with EO 13990, SO 3398, and the priorities of the Department. During this interim period offices should consider and implement compensatory mitigation on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with state office and national office program specialists and the Office of the Solicitor as needed.