By Larry Meyer Wednesday, July 20, 2011
ONTARIO — The Bureau of Land Management is working on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Boardman to Hemingway 500-Kilovolt transmission line and some environmental issues have been raised along proposed route and as part of the EIS process the BLM will be looking for possible alternative to mitigate those concerns or bypass them completely.
According to a letter from Idaho Power to Jon Beal and Bill Lawrence, Malheur County Planning Department, the company is planning to ask the BLM to remove the proposed route from near the Idaho-Oregon border, to a point north of U.S. Highway 20 and Vines Hill.
While most of the alternate routes to be explored are still on federal land, one alternate would move the line closer to Adrian, putting in four miles away, instead of the estimated 12 miles away for the current proposed route. This alternative would follow the Vale District utility corridor for some distance and would cross some private land south of U.S. 20 and southwest of Vale.
“There are four major landowners,” Keith Georgeson, Idaho Power project leader, said. Company officials were in the process of contacting them, he said Tuesday and whether the company would file that alternative as the new proposed route depends on the response of the land owners.
The reason for offering route alternatives is that the proposed route crosses through a “Sensitive Resource Area,” and an “area of critical environmental concern.” A sensitive resource area is one with wilderness characteristics that could be aside as wild-lands in the future.
A second alternative, which has a more southern route is more buildable, but is a little longer and has other challenges, the Idaho Power letter said.
Renee Straub, BLM leader on the Natural Resource Agency review, confirmed the route does go through environmentally sensitive areas, managed under the Resource Management Plan, and under the National Environmental Policy Act, the possible impacts must be considered and reasonable alternatives proposed.