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Greater sage-grouse listing decision

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) recently determined that the Greater sage-grouse is “not warranted” for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The September 22 decision is a step forward for Idaho Power’s 500-kV initiatives, including the Boardman to Hemingway (B2H) and Gateway West Transmission Line projects, because it clarifies the work ahead of us as we continue permitting processes with state and federal agencies. The listing decision does not impact existing state habitat requirements for Greater sage-grouse, and routing opportunities will be constrained in areas with Greater sage-grouse populations, including in Oregon's Malheur and Baker counties.

The decision was accompanied by the release of U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service land use plan amendments, which adopt new Greater sage-grouse conservation measures. Idaho Power is working to determine how these amendments will affect our ongoing operations, such as how to maintain our transmission lines in Greater sage-grouse habitat, as well as future activities like new transmission siting and existing line upgrades.

Idaho Power is proud of the work we’ve done with state leadership, landowners, conservation groups and land use agencies to support and protect Greater sage-grouse populations and habitat. USFWS’s decision is evidence of the positive impact of early collaboration between landowners, business owners, land managers and decision-makers. We hope to see the collaboration continue as we work to care for the environment while providing reliable, fair-priced power to the Intermountain region.

Preliminary approval for further consideration allows comprehensive analysis of WBRR route variation to proceed 

On Oct. 6, Idaho Power received preliminary approval for further consideration from the U.S. Department of the Navy for a B2H easement request on the west side of Bombing Range Road (WBRR), which runs along the eastern boundary of the Naval Weapons System Training Facility (NWSTF). In their letter, the Navy determined that the “proposed transmission line design concept … would satisfy articulated operational constraints,” as long as a few modifications were made, such as two tower height adjustments and adequate aviation markings. 
The easement request and proposed design are the outcome of collaboration with stakeholders in the project area. Under the proposal, the WBRR route variation under consideration would avoid or greatly minimize additional impacts to adjacent irrigated agricultural land. The existing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) 69-kV transmission line west of Bombing Range Road, pictured here, would be relocated to a double-circuit configuration with a Umatilla Electric Cooperative line along the east side of Bombing Range Road.
WBRR will be analyzed as part of the BLM’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, in which the Navy participates as a Cooperating Agency. 

This preliminary approval allows environmental and engineering work to continue. The BLM will now consider this option in the NEPA process, analyzing and comparing project alternatives to determine whether the variation will be included in the Environmentally Preferred Alternative and eventual Agency Preferred Alternative. 

Idaho Power looks forward to continuing our work with the Navy and BLM in order to come to a final determination on the easement request.

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Contact Idaho Power

Todd Adams, project manager, tadams@idahopower.com, 208-388-2740
Jeff Maffuccio, facilities siting coordinator, jmaffuccio@idahopower.com, 208-388-2402
Randy Lane, right-of-way agent, rlane@idahopower.com, 208-388-5997
 
For general inquiries: ipc@boardmantohemingway.com, 877-339-0209

In response to requests for more frequent B2H Project updates, Idaho Power distributes newsletters with general updates and information on company activities related to the project area. If you do not wish to receive these messages in the future you may unsubscribe using the link below, noting there are separate lists for this newsletter and the joint BLM and ODOE Newswire.

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