The Bureau of Land Management choose routes Thursday for the Gateway West high-power transmission line that avoid private land, sage-grouse habitat and the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.
The routes have been a source of controversy with residents critical of previous plans that sought primary to avoid the Birds of Prey area. Idaho State BLM director Tim Murphy said the agency had to ensure the area received “a heightened level of protection and care.”
“Another important effort we’ve undertaken is working with the state and other essential partners to protect high-quality sage grouse habitat throughout Southern Idaho,” Murphy said. “The routes we have selected honor both of these priorities while also providing a path forward for this important project.”
The agency’s final environmental impact statement presents a framework to mitigate effects on the Birds of Prey area, which encompasses lands in Elmore, Ada, Canyon and Owyhee counties.
A final decision is expected by the end of 2016.
The Gateway West Project is slated to run from near Glenrock, Wyo. to the Hemingway substation near Melba, , 20 miles southwest of Boise. It would deliver up to 1,500 megawatts of transmission capacity in southern Wyoming and Southern Idaho – enough to power 975,000 homes.