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Utah Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy

Note: 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 However, with the issuance of IM 2021-038 on July 14, 2021, the BLM rescinded the previous IM-2019-018.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.

The project information on the Utah Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy provided below may be useful for consideration during future project permitting activities and/or mitigation activities.

Project Description

The BLM established three solar energy zones (SEZ) in Utah. These SEZs (Escalante Valley, Milford Flats South, and Wah Wah Valley) constitute more than 18,000 acres identified as sites for solar energy development. Along with the identification of SEZs, the BLM committed to preparing SEZ regional mitigation strategies (SRMSs) to identify potential impacts of solar development in SEZs and identify appropriate mitigation measures and processes to address these impacts. The BLM began work to develop an SRMS for the Utah SEZs in 2016, and hosted public workshops in April and December of 2016.

Elements of an SEZ Regional Mitigation Strategy

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