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Putting a value on viewsheds

The BLM's Rock Springs and Rawlins field offices are seeking public input as part of a planning review of the resource management plans that will guide wind energy and other development on public lands in southern Wyoming. BLM officials said the agency is responsible for ensuring that the scenic values of the public lands within the two field office regions are considered before allowing uses that may have negative impacts.

BLM collects public input on energy development resource management plans

ROCK SPRINGS -- Gail and Bill Robinson believe the area around historic South Pass City in Fremont County and the nearby Overland Trail route are special and important to Sweetwater County residents.

"The South Pass area is one of my favorite spots in all of Wyoming," she said.

"It's as close as any area can be to looking almost exactly like it was when the immigrants came through ... and I would like to see it protected," Robinson told federal officials Wednesday night during an open house that aimed to identify southwest Wyoming's scenic values.

"It's the one area I'm most concerned about," she added. "I worry about wind power coming through and what it might do."

Randy Walker quickly ran out of green dots to designate some of his favorite places on the large, wall-mounted map of Sweetwater and Carbon counties.

"I put the three they gave me around Adobe Town, so I don't have any left," said Walker, a Sweetwater County commissioner from Green River. "I really, really like that Adobe Town area. It's an amazing place."

Walker, the Robinsons and other area residents gave the Bureau of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BLM collects public input on energy development resource management plans

ROCK SPRINGS -- Gail and Bill Robinson believe the area around historic South Pass City in Fremont County and the nearby Overland Trail route are special and important to Sweetwater County residents.

"The South Pass area is one of my favorite spots in all of Wyoming," she said.

"It's as close as any area can be to looking almost exactly like it was when the immigrants came through ... and I would like to see it protected," Robinson told federal officials Wednesday night during an open house that aimed to identify southwest Wyoming's scenic values.

"It's the one area I'm most concerned about," she added. "I worry about wind power coming through and what it might do."

Randy Walker quickly ran out of green dots to designate some of his favorite places on the large, wall-mounted map of Sweetwater and Carbon counties.

"I put the three they gave me around Adobe Town, so I don't have any left," said Walker, a Sweetwater County commissioner from Green River. "I really, really like that Adobe Town area. It's an amazing place."

Walker, the Robinsons and other area residents gave the Bureau of Land Management their ideas on visual preferences and scenic values in southern Wyoming during a public meeting at Western Wyoming College.

The BLM's Rock Springs and Rawlins field offices are seeking public input as part of a planning review of the resource management plans that will guide wind energy and other development on public lands in southern Wyoming.

BLM officials said the agency is responsible for ensuring that the scenic values of the public lands within the two field office regions are considered before allowing uses that may have negative impacts.

The study area includes about 7 million acres of BLM-administered public lands and about 9 million acres of federal mineral estate in Carbon, Albany, Laramie, Sweetwater, Uinta, Lincoln, Fremont and Sublette counties.

The agency sought public input on several issues Wednesday from residents, including the identification of baseline values for typical landscapes and scenery.

People were also asked to identify the sensitivities to various types of landscape uses, to identify their scenic quality preferences, and to mark distance zones from generally designated observation points and corridors.

BLM project manager Kate Schwarzler said the scenic values inventory is being conducted with the assistance of OTAK, Inc., a third-party contractor.

Once completed, the inventory data will be plugged into the BLM's Visual Resource Management System, which was developed by the agency to ensure that scenic values are considered before resource management decisions are made.

The system involves taking an inventory of existing scenic values, establishing management objectives for those values, and then evaluating proposed activities to determine whether they conform to the management objectives.

The BLM is responsible for ensuring that the scenic values of the public lands are considered before allowing a use that may have negative visual impacts, such as wind farms or transmission lines.

BLM officials said the agency will use the new data in its environmental analysis of a slew of wind energy projects planned or under development within the two field offices that could bring thousands of new wind turbines to the area.

In the Rawlins district, 1,000 turbines are proposed for the massive Choke Cherry/Sierra Madre wind farm project.

And there are five wind energy development projects on the drawing board in the Rock Springs District that could bring more than 500 turbines to the area -- at sites ranging from White Mountain in central Sweetwater County to Miller and Aspen Mountains on the south end of the county.

Schwarzler said the final two open houses are scheduled for Monday at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga and Tuesday at the Albany County Library in Laramie. Both meetings will run from 4 to 7:30 p.m.


Source: http://trib.com/news/state-...

JUL 16 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27286-putting-a-value-on-viewsheds
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