Western Area Power Administration and the Bureau of Land Management released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 360-mile Southline Transmission Line Project proposed to run from New Mexico to Arizona.
The final version of the EIS incorporates three route changes to conform to agency preferences, first articulated in an April 2014 draft. Significantly, it also provides environmental protection in the form of wildlife habitat upgrades, especially sandhill cranes, near southern Arizona’s Willcox Playa; additionally, route compromises were reached to avoid impacting both Department of Defense operations and a local winery, also both in the Willcox area.
In addition to the DoD, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other agencies were consulted. As the preferred route successfully maximizes existing rights-of-way and development while minimizing impacts to the environment, area stakeholders expressed appreciation for the procedure’s efficient culmination.
“This is an example of how all the involved entities entered into a collaborative effort to find solutions to an issue that affected local industry, national defense, and wildlife habitat.” said Jim deVos, Assistant Director of Wildlife Management, Arizona Game and Fish. “By working together, all of the interests were able to meet and resolve conflicts and in the end, there is an amazing benefit to many wildlife species and to the public that enjoys them.”
The 240-mile, 345-kilovolt electric transmission line will extend from south of Las Cruces, New Mexico to south of Willcox, Arizona, with another 120 miles of 230-kV line running between Willcox and a substation near Tucson.
The project represents a major collaboration of multiple levels of government and cooperating agencies in both Arizona and New Mexico.
“This joint effort with BLM and cooperating agencies is a testament to our great federal partnership,” said Western Administrator and CEO Mark Gabriel.
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