Scoping Period for California DRECP Announced

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which may include amendments to the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan, Bishop Resource Management Plan (RMP), Caliente/Bakersfield RMP, and Eastern San Diego County RMP for the areas that are within the planning boundary of the proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). These potential plan amendments will be analyzed in the DRECP Draft EIS and CDCA Plan Amendment (PA), as noticed in the Federal Register on November 20, 2009 (74 FR 60291) and August 29, 2011 (76 FR 45606). By this notice, the BLM is announcing the beginning of the scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues related to the proposed RMP amendments.

Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until May 4, 2012. In order to be included in the Draft EIS/PA, all comments must be received prior to the close of the scoping period. Additional opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft EIS/PA will be provided.

The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives for the RMP areas and to guide the process for developing the Draft EIS/PA. The BLM has identified the following preliminary issues: special status species, mitigation measures for special status species, vegetation communities, cultural resources, special area designations, and areas of high potential for renewable energy development.

The BLM, along with the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Energy Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service propose to amend the CDCA Plan, Bishop RMP, Caliente/Bakersfield RMP, and Eastern San Diego RMP within the DRECP planning area. The DRECP will advance State and Federal conservation goals in the desert regions of California while also facilitating the timely permitting of renewable energy projects under applicable State and Federal laws, and is intended to complement the Solar Programmatic EIS, which is currently under environmental review as well. Thus far, the agencies have identified the need to: provide conservation and management of identified species in the planning area, along with the natural communities and ecosystems that support these species, build on the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones identified by the State's Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, while identifying the most appropriate locations in the planning area for development of utility scale renewable energy projects that will not burden existing resources, standardize mitigation and compensation requirements for energy activities in the planning area, and to streamline the permitting process of energy projects that results in greater conservation values than current methods.Show citation box

Click here to read the complete Federal Register Notice.

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