BLM Workshop Focuses on Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy

Las Cruces, NM – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Las Cruces District is hosting a one-day public workshop to discuss the development of a Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Afton Solar Energy Zone in southern New Mexico.  The workshop will be held on May 3, at the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd. in Las Cruces.  The workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through 5:00 p.m., with an hour lunch break.

The Afton Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) was one of 17 SEZs identified in the Solar Development Programmatic Environment Impact Statement (PEIS) prepared by the Departments of Energy and Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in July 2012.  The Afton SEZ is an area well-suited for utility-scale production of solar energy, where BLM will prioritize solar energy and associated transmission infrastructure development.

The main focus of the workshop will be to reintroduce the public to the Afton SEZ and BLM’s efforts to develop a Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy (SRMS).  The 29,964-acre SEZ is located south of the West Mesa Industrial Park and north of the Afton Generating Station in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, which contains a variety of multiple-use public lands and resources.

At the workshop, the BLM will also gather public input on the potential need for additional mitigation not identified in the 2012 PEIS, including regional compensatory mitigation.  Compensatory mitigation is defined as compensating for the (residual) impacts of a solar project by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments, where mitigation actions are typically implemented at locations outside the area of impact.

The workshop is the beginning of a public process, which will include additional opportunities for stakeholder involvement and input throughout the SRMS development.  A project website has been created and contains information regarding the workshop, status of the project and opportunities for public participation.  As materials become available, including detailed agendas, presentations and handouts, they will be posted at http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/energy/alternatives/afton_sez.html

To ensure adequate space for the workshop, the public is asked to RSVP their attendance to lfox@anl.gov

For any other information about the workshop agenda, SEZ or SRMS, please contact Treaver Ashby at 575-525-4304 or by email at tashby@blm.gov.

-BLM-

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

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