In a news release from the Idaho Bureau of Land Management on June 6th, changes to the proposed Lava Ridge Project were revealed.

Changes will help the project have less impact on the surrounding areas that have been points of concern.

BLM Release Final Review for Idaho Lava Ridge Project

The release marks the final environmental review by the BLM for the Lava Ridge Project. Based on environmental impact factors and input from the public, the new plan would reduce the size of the project by almost 50 percent (actual 46.49 percent) and push to further recognize the Minidoka National Historic Site as an area of critical environmental concern.

The new plan is influenced by more than 30 months of public input at meetings, listening sessions, political leaders, landowners and ranchers, Tribal Nations, the BLM Resource Council, and National Park Service.

New Idaho BLM Plan Reduces the Size of the Lava Ridge Project

Key changes in the alternative Lava Ridge Project plan would reduce the area disturbed in the initial plan by about half, from 8,395 acres to 4,492 acres. The proposal also decreases the number of wind turbines from 400 to 241. The reduced number of turbines will help safeguard the more sensitive locations which includes impacts to wildlife, resources, the Jerome Airport, and the closest turbine to the Minidoka National Historical Site would be 9 miles away. The maximum height of the turbines would be limited at 660 feet, down from the original 740 feet.

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The new proposal shows the difference in visibility of the turbines from the Minidoka National Historical Site.

Credit BLM
Credit BLM

More information on the restructured plan can be found on the BLM website, and additional information from the Press Release is below:

"The preferred alternative adjusts the corridor configuration such that the closest turbine to the Minidoka National Historic Site would be nine miles away, helping to preserve the visitor experience of the remote nature of the former incarceration site for Japanese Americans during WWII. The preferred alternative also reduces potential impacts to sage grouse, large wildlife migration routes and winter concentration areas, cultural resources, Jerome County Airport and agricultural aviation uses, public land ranchers, and adjacent private landowners. Preferred alternative requirements to reduce impacts include seasonal restrictions during construction, private property setbacks, and ensuring the developer coordinates activities with the ranching community. Pursuant to the direction in section 441 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 (P.L. 118-42), the BLM has and will continue to engage with Native American Tribes, state and local government officials, cooperating agencies, stakeholders and interested parties. The feedback from these meetings was carefully considered and helped shape the preferred alternative.

In addition, the BLM is responding to a nomination for protection of the landscape’s importance to the Minidoka National Historic Site by putting in place interim measures to protect the cultural resources found in the former Minidoka War Relocation Center on approximately 15,000 acres of public lands surrounding the national historic site. The measures will stay in place until the area is considered for designation as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern during a formal planning process.

The project—proposed by Magic Valley Energy, LLC, an affiliate of LS Power—would create up to 700 jobs during its three-year construction and 20 permanent jobs once it becomes operational. Under the preferred alternative if selected, the project’s construction is estimated to generate $21.9 million in annual tax revenue and contribute $138.9 million in total economic output to local and regional economies. Once in operation, the labor, materials, and taxes are estimated to have a minimum economic output of $7.5 million annually."

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