Thursday, August 06, 2009

Power lines threaten Bosque del Apache NWR

Many birders visit Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, N.M., because of the annual Festival of the Cranes that celebrates Sandhill Cranes and other birds. This November marks the festival's 22nd year.

Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR seek support before Aug. 28 regarding a proposed power-line projects. The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project involves two 500-kilovolt transmission lines that start at a new substation in Socorro County or Lincoln County near Bingham or Ancho, N.M., and end in Pinal County near Coolidge, Ariz.

The Friends say:
This proposal transects the flight path used by migratory birds including the sandhill cranes, snow geese, and ducks that travel up and down the river valley. Bird strikes and impacts to the rural farming community are of great concern, not to mention the degradation of the viewscape of the refuge and Socorro valley (an important resource to the ecotourism of the area).

Alternate routes take the powerlines across the river between the Refuge and Hatch, New Mexico and along the boundary of White Sands Missile Range. These routes go through Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wilderness Study Areas. Although one of these southern routes may be preferred due to the apparent lesser impact on the birds, there is not enough data available to make such an important statement at this time.

Details about the project appear here, as do links to a comment form if you want to write to the Bureau of Land Management, which is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement.

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