The message is clear: Engage with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), get the information needed to provide effective comment and submit your comment during the public comment period for the Lava Ridge Wind Project.
“We want you to efficiently get the information you need to get your feedback to the BLM,” said Kasey Prestwich, Project Manager, BLM.
“Attend an open house and ask questions, then write a public comment.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the BLM hosted a two-hour virtual public orientation meeting to discuss the National Environmental Policy Act process and public comment period for the Lava Ridge Wind Project draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This meeting allowed participants to understand the structure of the draft EIS and the public comment period.
Prestwich provided a detailed and thorough explanation of the draft EIS for those who participated. After walking the public through the explanation of the volumes and the main documents, along with the appendixes, they identified tools to help review the documents.
On the draft EIS, there is a menu on the lefthand side to help find information quickly.
“Say you are interested in livestock grazing, you can just look at livestock grazing and click on that and it will take you to the very beginning of that item,” Prestwich said. “You can also open that menu and find some of the issues that were analyzed, look at the environments affected, or go to the issues.”
Prestwich also highlighted a way to go to the table of contents, look at the maps, and use the “find” text box through the magnifying glass icon.
When questioned on how to find a specific topic in the draft EIS, Prestwich responded, “The summary of the surveys completed as well as the impacts analysis and other technical documents and survey reports are available on the e-planning website.”
“My recommendation would be to read through the analysis and then where those technical reports are being referenced to look at those on the website.”
The BLM also recommended that the public find ways to become more engaged and informed. These include:
• Attending a BLM public meeting to learn more about the project and ask questions.
• Submitting a written comment on the draft EIS.
• Signing up for the project mailing list to receive project updates at https://forms.office.com/r/NDsr6rhtbs.
“We are looking for information to inform the BLM’s decision. Not necessarily a vote on the project,” Prestwich said.
“Every comment that has an element for us to respond to will get a response. If it is does not require a response, it will be identified as a commented received, but not necessarily responded to.”
After the public comment period closes, the BLM would review the public comments submitted, prepare the final EIS, establish a preferred alternative, and determine a course of action to approve.
Public comments need to be postmarked by April 20, 2023. For more, head to the BLM website.