November 15, 2018 at 11:03 AM #864
An essential part of what BLM/NextEra needs to have happen in order for this project to go forward is to amend the BLM/Socorro Resource Management Plan (RMP) of 2010.
The part that BLM/NextEra wants to amend is the need to change the “visual resource management class” and to modify a right-of way (ROW) avoidance area” designation of the proposed wind farm project. As it stands now, the project could not go forward.
On page 127, the RMP states “Right-of-way application requests for the following uses in avoidance areas will be rejected upon submittal: Power lines larger than 14 kilovolt … Wind power energy facilities”, although on the same page the RMP further states that those ROW applications could be considered on a case-by-case basis anyway.
The public has not been provided with any of the maps that were displayed at the 11/14/18 “scoping” meeting (actually just an open house, presented like a high school science fair) in Quemado, but I did take a photo of it (below). I have also included a photo of the VRM designation in the 2010 RMP (below and found in the RMP as Map 6 on page 44). If I am understanding this correctly, BLM/NextEra wants to change the designation so that the towers would be in VRM Class III and IV areas instead of the current III. Objectives of the VMR Classifications can be found on page 119 of the RMP and copy/pasted below. All typos are BLM’s.
A PDF of the 239 page BLM Resource Management Plan can be found at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/lup/56599/67448/73390/RMP_Socorro_2010_08_20.pdf
VISUAL RESOURCE MANGEMENT CLASS OBJECTIVES
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act requires the Bureau of Land Management to consider the effects of management actions on the visual quality of the landscape. To protect visual resources, all public land is inventoried to determine its Visual Resource Management classification. The Visual Resource Management objectives for each of the four possible classifications are described below.
The objective of this classification is the preservation of the existing landscape‘s character. Providing for natural ecological changes, this class allows limited management activity. The very low level of change must not attract attention. Class I is assigned to those areas in which management decisions have been made to preserve a natural landscape. Thus, the class includes wilderness study areas and other congressionally and administratively designated areas.
The retention of the existing character of the landscape is the objective of this classification. The level of change to landscape characteristics should be low; management activities may be seen but should not attract the attention of a casual observer. Any alterations must conform to the basic elements of form, line, color, and texture found in the predominant natural features of the characteristic landscape.
The objective of Class III is the partial retention of the existing landscape character. Moderate levels of change are acceptable. Management activities may attract attention but should not dominate the casual observer‘s view. Changes should conform to the basic elements of the predominant natural features of the characteristic landscape.
Class IV provides for major landscape modification management activities. These management activities may dominate the view and become the focus of viewer attention. Every effort should be made to minimize the impact of these projects by carefully locating activities, minimizing disturbance, and designing the projects to conform to the characteristic landscape.
Note: Nothing presented here is a legal opinion
November 15, 2018 at 12:03 PM #868
Will the amendment to the Visual Resource Management plan be a separate process, or will it be part of the main process? In other words, do our comments need to address that issue now as well as the overall one?
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