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BLM seeks public comments on Chokecherry

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rawlins Field Office (RFO) is accepting public comments for the Phase I Wind Turbine Development environmental assessment for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project (CCSM).

The public scoping process will include two public meetings in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 4-6:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Jeffrey Center, 315 W. Pine St., Rawlins; and Dec. 17 at the Platte Valley Community Center, 210 W. Elm Ave., Saratoga, Wyo.

The scoping meetings will provide an opportunity for the public and interested parties to ask questions one-on-one with BLM and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specialists, view maps and posters detailing the site-specific phases of the CCSM project, and provide written comments, according to a press release from the BLM. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will be able to answer questions pertaining to the analysis of an Eagle Take Permit. Presentations on the project are scheduled for 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

The CCSM Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision amended the Rawlins Resource Management Plan to allow for wind development, but did not identify individual turbine locations, the press release stated. Environmental assessments (EAs) are needed to analyze site-specific issues, such as the number and layout of the wind turbines.

The upcoming EA includes analysis of the layout of approximately 500 turbines, associated facilities and infrastructure in the western portion of the project area referred to as the Phase I Wind Turbine Development, the press release stated. Phase I Wind Turbine Development would be approximately 3,441 acres, with long-term disturbance estimated to be roughly 435 acres.

The proposed CCSM project consists of two wind farm sites encompassing 1,000 turbines on more than 227,638 acres of mixed public and private land located about 10 miles south of Rawlins. It is estimated that each wind turbine would generate between 1.5 to 3 megawatts (MW) of electricity, with a total capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 MW, which is enough energy to power nearly 1 million homes.