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John Stewart

Congress Considering New Public Lands Omnibus Bill

Now Congress is being asked to create another omnibus lands package. At a recent Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said “(There is a) need for us to come together hopefully with Congress and the administration perhaps in moving forward with a 2010 version of what we did in 2009,” referring to the 2009 omnibus bill.

Take Action - contact your Congressional representative through Americans for Responsible Recreational Access
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John Stewart

Draft Environmental Study Released for Palen Solar Project in Riverside County

(Mar 18, 2010) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) released a staff assessment (SA) for the proposed Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium (CESSM) Palen Solar Power Project in eastern Riverside County, Calif.

CESSM has requested a right-of-way (ROW) authorization to construct and operate the Palen solar-thermal power plants with an expected capacity of 242 megawatts (MW) using commercial solar parabolic-trough generating stations. Approximately 3,800 acres of BLM-administered public land are needed to develop the project.  The project site is 10 miles east of Desert Center, Calif. and a half mile north of Interstate 10. The facility would be constructed in two phases.

The joint DEIS/SA, which also includes a possible BLM land use plan amendment, is available online at http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solar_millennium_palen/documents/ or http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd/alternative_energy.html.   An official 90-day comment period will begin upon publication of the notice of availability in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency expected shortly.  BLM and CEC will hold at least one joint public hearing or meeting on the project.  The exact date, time and location for the public hearing or meeting, as well as the end of the comment period, will be published on CEC and BLM websites and announced in local media.   The BLM and CEC will use the public comments received to prepare a Supplemental Staff Assessment and Final EIS, with separate agency decisions expected later in the year.

Comments addressed to BLM can be sent by e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by fax, (760) 833-7199, or in writing to Allison Shaffer, Project Manager, Palm Springs South Coast Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, 1201 Bird Center Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262. For further assistance, contact the BLM's Palm Springs/South Coast Field Office at (760) 833-7100.

--BLM--

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John Stewart

Public Meetings, Comment Period Set for Stirling Energy Solar Two Project Near El Centro

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have announced a CEC staff workshop/BLM public meeting on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS)/staff assessment (SA) for the Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two Project (also known as Imperial Valley Solar Project) on public land in Imperial County, Calif.

The workshop/public meeting will begin at 8 a.m., Monday, March 22, 2010, and if necessary, continue into Tuesday, March 23, 2010.  The meeting will be held at the San Diego Gas & Electric Renewable Center, 1425 W. Main St., El Centro, CA 92243.  In addition, the BLM plans to hold an open house public meeting in El Centro in early May.  The time and location will be announced later.

Stirling Energy Systems has applied for a right-of-way authorization to construct a solar power plant on 6,144 acres of public land about 14 miles west of El Centro.  The proposed 750-megawatt solar plant would provide enough electricity to power about 225,000 average California homes.  The plant would use SunCatcher solar-dish technology designed to automatically track the sun and focus solar energy onto a power conversion unit to generate electricity.  The project also includes a 10.3-mile 230-kilovolt transmission line, substation, water-supply pipeline, and access road.

The BLM, as the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act, and the CEC, as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act, have jointly prepared the draft EIS/SA, which is available online at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro/nepa/stirling.html or http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solartwo/documents/index.html.  The public may comment on these documents through May 26, 2010.

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John Stewart

Planning Rule Public Meetings Announced

Providing multiple opportunities for public participation ties directly to President Obama’s call for open government that is transparent, participatory and collaborative, and illustrates Forest Service commitment to  engage the public in the development of a new planning rule.

"We encourage broad participation in the creation of our new planning rule,” said  Tidwell. "Through collaboration we will be able to better address the current and future needs of the National Forest System such as restoration, protecting watersheds, addressing climate change, sustaining local economies, improving collaboration, and working across landscapes."

Following the meetings, notes will be posted on the planning rule Web site, http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule, to allow for further feedback. Summaries of the presentations and discussions in the science forum and roundtables, along with the individual comments received during the 60-day formal comment period on the Notice of Intent, will be used to develop the proposed rule and a draft environmental impact statement.

The meetings announced today include:

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John Stewart

Mendocino National Forest Off-Highway Vehicle Program

The purpose of this notice is to share information and to solicit public input specific to the Mendocino National Forest's 2010 grant application proposals for Grants and Cooperative Agreements with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. The agreements support OHV management activities, with categories including Ground Operations (trail maintenance and facility operation and maintenance), Restoration and Law Enforcement.

"The Mendocino National Forest offers over 241 miles of designated OHV trails providing exciting riding opportunities for a wide range of ability levels and vehicle types. In addition, over 1,300 miles of Forest roads are available for use by Off-Highway Vehicle enthusiasts," said Tricia Christofferson, Mendocino National Forest Recreation Officer. "We appreciate your comments on our 2010 grant requests that will be submitted to the State of California. Your comments will help the State determine the level of funding to provide the Mendocino National Forest for trail maintenance, facility maintenance, law enforcement, and restoration projects."

Preliminary applications will be available for review via a link on the State of California website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov . Comments may be provided between March 2, 2010 and April 5, 2010. Instructions for providing comments will be provided on the State of California website.

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