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DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT 

FOR THE PROPOSED COTTEREL WIND 
POWER PROJECT 

AND DRAFT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN AMENDMENT 


DES 05-23 


May 2005 


U.S. Department of the Interior 
Bureau of Land Management 
Twin Falls District 
Burley Field Office 
Cassia County, Idaho 
































DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR THE 


PROPOSED COTTEREL WIND POWER PROJECT AND 


DRAFT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN AMENDMENT 


Prepared for 

U.S. Department of the Interior 
Bureau of Land Management 
Twin Falls District 
Burley Field Office 
Cassia County 
15 East, 200 South 
Burley, Idaho 83318 

Serial Number IDI-33676 

DES 05-23 

On behalf of 

Windland, Inc 
Suite 804A 

10480 Garverdale Court 
Boise, ID 83704 

and 

Shell WindEnergy, Inc. 
Suite 1042 
910 Louisiana 
Houston, TX 77002 


May 2005 





















































































United States Department of the Interior 


BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT 


Burley Field Office 
15 East 200 South 


Burley, Idaho 83318 
(208) 677-6641 

http://www.id.blm.gov/offices/burley 



Take Pride* 
erica 


Reply to: 2800, IDI-33676 (ID220) June, 2005 

Dear Interested Reader: 

Enclosed for your review and comment is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Proposed Cotterel Wind Power Project and Draft Resource Management Plan 
Amendment (DEIS). The Applicant, Windland, Inc., in partnership with Shell Wind 
Energy, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group), has submitted a right-of-way 
application to the Bureau of Land Management, Twin Falls District, Burley Field Office 
(BLM), requesting to build a 190-240 megawatt, wind-powered electrical generation 
facility on the ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain, roughly 15 miles east of the city of Burley, 
and situated between the towns of Albion and Malta, located in Cassia County, Idaho. 

A Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment is included in this DEIS. The proposed 
project and action alternatives are not in conformance with the BLM Cassia Resource 
Management Plan, 1985 (Cassia RMP), which does not allow the granting of rights-of- 
way in the proposed project area. Therefore, the Cassia RMP must be amended if an 
action alternative is selected. 

Based on the analysis of the proposed action and alternatives to the proposed action, the 
reader is being informed that the agency preferred alternative at this time is 
Alternative C, Modified Proposed Action. A complete description of Alternative C 
and all other alternatives can be found in this DEIS. 

This DEIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, 1969 
(NEPA) and with applicable laws and regulations passed subsequent to NEPA. It is 
intended to provide the public and agency decision makers with a complete and objective 
evaluation of impacts, beneficial and adverse, resulting from the Proposed Action and all 
reasonable alternatives. 


1 




Letter to Readers 

Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
Cotterel Wind Power Project 


To ensure a complete analysis, we are asking you to help by reviewing this DEIS and 
providing comments. The comment period for this document will close 90 days 
following the publication of the Notice of Availability by the Environmental Protection 
Agency in the Federal Register. Three public meetings will be scheduled, one in Boise, 
one in Burley, and one in Albion, Idaho during the comment period to discuss the 
findings disclosed in this DEIS. The dates, times and exact location of the public 
meetings will be announced through one or more sources (project newsletter, local news 
papers, or via website at www.id.blm.gov/planning/cotterel ). A copy of the DEIS will be 
posted to this website. 

Please send your written comments to: via mail Scott Barker, Project Manager 

Bureau of Land Management 
15 East, 200 South 
Burley, Idaho 83318 

via fax: (208) 677-6699 

via email: id_cotterelwind@blm.gov 
hyperlink: id cotterelwind@blm.gov 


The BLM will review and analyze the comments received and will then publish a Final 
ElS/Proposed Plan Amendment and Record of Decision in 2006. Those who do not 
comment on the DEIS, or otherwise participate in this EIS process, may have limited 
options to appeal or protest the final decision. Federal court decisions have ruled that 
environmental objections that could have been raised at the draft stage may be waived if 
not raised until after completion of a Final EIS. This is to ensure substantive comments 
and objections are made available to the BLM when they can be meaningfully considered 
and responded to in the Final EIS. 

Comments received on the DEIS, along with comments received during scoping or at 
other stages of this process, will be placed into the Administrative Record, where they 
will be available for public review. Please be aware that information, such as 
addresses and phone numbers, may be viewed and copied by anyone with access to 
these public files in this open process. 

To be most helpful, comments on the DEIS should be specific, mentioning particular 
pages or chapters where appropriate. Comments may address the adequacy of the DEIS, 
the merits of the alternatives, or the procedures followed in the preparation of this 
document as called for under NEPA and its implementing regulations. 


2 




Letter to Readers 

Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
Cotterel Wind Power Project 


For a comment to be considered to have substance, it should: 

• Provide new information pertaining to the proposed action or an alternative; 

• Identify a new issue or expand upon an existing issue; 

• Identify a different way to meet the underlying need; 

• Provide an opinion regarding an alternative, including the basis or rationale for the 
opinion; 

• Point out a specific flaw in the analysis; or 

• Identify a different source of credible research which, if used in the analysis, could 
result in different effects. 

For further information regarding this proposal, you may contact Scott Barker at (208) 
677-6678; fax (208) 677-6699; or email scott barker@blm.gov . 

Thank you for your interest and participation in this analysis. 


Sincerely, 


1 _ v _ 

Field Office Manager 



3 



























































































ABSTRACT 


DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT 
FOR THE PROPOSED COTTEREL WIND POWER PROJECT AND 
DRAFT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN AMENDMENT 
BURLEY, CASSIA COUNTY, IDAHO 


Lead Agency: 

U.S. Department of the Interior 

Bureau of Land Management 

Twin Falls District 

Burley Field Office, Burley, Idaho 


Cooperating Agencies: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 

Bonneville Power Administration 



Idaho Department of Lands 

Bureau of Reclamation 

Cassia County Commissioners 

Participating Agency: 

Idaho Department of Fish & Game 

Tribal Governments: 

Shoshone-Paiute Tribes 

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes 

Responsible Official: 

Assistant Director 

Bureau of Land Management 

Washington, D.C. 

Further Information: 

Wendy Reynolds, Field Office Manager or 

Scott Barker, Project Manager 

BLM Burley Field Office 

15 East, 200 South 

Burley, Idaho 83318 
(208) 677-6641 

e-mail: wendv revnolds(2);bIm.gov 
scott barker(ablm.gov 


ABSTRACT: Windland, Inc., a Boise-based, private wind energy development company has 
submitted a right-of-way application to construct, operate and maintain a wind energy facility 
along the Cotterel Mountains near the towns of Albion, Malta, and Burley, in Cassia County, 
Idaho. Windland, Inc. is in partnership with Shell WindEnergy, Inc., a subsidiary of the 
Royal Dutch/Shell Group. The proposed wind energy facility would occupy approximately 
16 miles of ridgeline along Cotterel Mountain, consist of a single linear north-south string of 
turbines situated primarily on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, 
Burley Field Office, Burley, Idaho. There is a small amount of Idaho State land and 
privately-owned land associated with the proposed project. 


Mery 2005 


Draff Environmental Impact Statement 







Cofterel Wind Power Project 


Abstract 


This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been completed which analyzes four 
alternatives in detail: A ltemative A (No Action); Altem ative B (Proponent^ Proposed 
Action); Alternative C (Modified Proposed Ac tion);and Alternative D (Minimum turbine 
string action). Other agencies may tier to this analysis for any decisions they may make 
associated with this proposed project. 

At this time, Alternative C has been identified as the preferred alternative after having 
considered the environmental impacts to public lands and the opportunities for use of those 
lands, which would benefit the most people over the longest term. 

This Draft EIS also contains a proposed amendment to the Cassia Resource Management 
Plan, 1985, that could amend this plan to allow for the granting of a right-of-way for the 
development of a wind energy facility. Both the analysis disclosed in the DEIS and the 
proposed plan amendment are available for comment. 


May 2005 


Draff Environmental Impact Statement 





DISCLAIMER 


DISCLAIMER 

National Environmental Policy Act Disclosure Statement 
Bureau of Land Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
Cotterel Mountain Wind Power Project 

The President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations at 40 CFR 1506.5© require 
that consultants preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) execute a disclosure specifying 
they have no financial or other interest in the outcome of the project. The term “Financial interest or 
other interest in the outcome of the project” for the purposes of this disclosure is defined in the March 
23, 1981, guidance “Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ’s National Environmental Policy 
Act Regulations,” 46 FR 18026-18038 at Questions 17a and b. 

“Financial or other interest in the outcome of the project” includes “any financial benefits such as 
promise of future construction or design work in the project, as well as indirect benefits the contractor 
is aware of (e.g., if the project would aid proposals sponsored by the firm’s other clients).” 46 FR 
18026-18038 at 18031. 

In accordance with the above-referenced regulatory requirements, URS Group, Incorporated has 
prepared this Draft EIS on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management and declares no financial or 
other interest in the outcome of the proposed project. 


Certified by: 




Glenn Roberts, Vice President 


Date 


URS Group, Incorporated 
1750 Front Street, Suite 100 
Boise, Idaho 83702 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 






















































TABLE OF CONTENTS 


TABLE OF CONTENTS 

DEAR READER LETTER 

ABSTRACT 

DISCLAIMER 

TABLE OF CONTENTS.i 

ACRONYMS.xi 

ENGLISH/METRIC AND METRIC/ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS.xiv 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.ES-1 

INTRODUCTION.ES-1 

SCOPING .ES-1 

LEAD, COOPERATING AND PARTICIPATING AGENCIES.ES-2 

GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION.ES-3 

INTERAGENCY WIND ENERGY TASK TEAM (IWETT).ES-3 

THE APPLICANT.ES-3 

PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR PROPOSED ACTION.ES-3 

CONFORMANCE WITH EXISTING RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN.ES-4 

DECISIONS TO BE MADE.ES-4 

PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES.ES-5 

AMENDING THE EXISTING CASSIA RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN.ES-13 

AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT/EXISTING CONDITION.ES-14 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES.ES-16 

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS.ES-29 

CHAPTER 1 

1.0 PURPOSE AND NEED.1-1 

1.1 THE APPLICANT.1-5 

1.2 PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION.1-5 

1.2.1 The Purpose of the Proposed Action.1 -5 

1.2.2 The Need for the Proposed Action.1 -6 

1.3 LEAD, COOPERATING AND PARTICIPATING AGENCIES.1-9 

1.4 GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION.1 -9 

1.5 INTERAGENCY WIND ENERGY TASK TEAM (IWETT).1-10 

1.6 CONFORMANACE WITH EXISTING LAND USE PLAN.1-10 


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1.7 SCOPING.Ml 

1.7.1 Significant Issues Identified and Used to Develop Alternatives.1-11 

1.7.2 Other Issues and Concerns Addressed.1-12 

1.7.3 Issues Deemed Outside the Scope of the Draft EIS.1-12 

1.8 FEDERAL AND STATE AUTHORITIES AND ACTIONS.1-13 

1.9 DECISIONS TO BE MADE.1-14 

1.9.1 Bureau of Land Management.1-14 

1.9.2 Bonneville Power Administration.1-15 

1.9.3 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.1-15 

1.9.4 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.1-15 

1.9.5 Idaho Department of Lands.1-15 

CHAPTER 2 

2.0 PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES.2-1 

2.1 PROPOSED ACTION AND RANGE OF ALTERNATIVES.2-1 

2.1.1 Alternatives Considered and Eliminated from Detailed Study.2-1 

2.2 ALTERNATIVE A (NO ACTION).2-2 

2.3 PROPOSED PROJECT FEATURES COMMON TO ALL ACTION 

ALTERNATIVES.2-2 

2.3.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project.2-3 

2.3.2 Construction.2-8 

2.3.3 Public Access and Safety.2-20 

2.3.4 Operations and Maintenance (O&M).2-21 

2.3.5 Reclamation.2-22 

2.3.6 Decommissioning.2-22 

2.3.7 Project Design and Best Management Practices (BMP).2-23 

2.4 ALTERNATIVE B - PROPOSED ACTION.2-23 

2.4.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative B.2-26 

2.5 ALTERNATIVE C - PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE.2-27 

2.5.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative C.2-31 

2.5.2 Public Access.2-33 

2.5.3 Operations and Maintenance (O&M).2-33 

2.5.4 Required On-Site Monitoring, Effectiveness Monitoring, 

Adaptive Management and Compensatory (Off-Site) Mitigation.2-33 

2.6 ALTERNATIVE D.2-36 

2.6.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative D..... .2-37 

2.6.2 Public Access and Safety.2-40 

2.6.3 Required On-Site Monitoring, Effectiveness Monitoring, Adaptive 

Management and Compensatory (Off-Site) Mitigation.2-40 

2.7 ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED BUT NOT ANALYZED IN DETAIL.2-40 

2.7.1 Alternative E.2-40 

2.7.2 Alternative F.2-43 


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2.8 COMPARISON OF ALTERNATIVES.2-43 

2.9 AMENDING THE EXISTING CASSIA RMP.2-59 

2.9.1 Purpose and Need to Amend the Existing Cassia RMP.2-59 

2.9.2 Planning Process.2-60 

2.9.3 Planning Issues and Criteria.2-61 

2.9.4 Proposed Plan Amendment to the Existing Cassia RMP.2-61 

CHAPTER 3 

3.0 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT.3-1 

3.0.1 Critical Elements Not Affected or Present Within the Proposed Project Area.3-1 

3.1 PHYSICAL RESOURCES.3-2 

3.1.1 Climate and Air Quality.3-2 

3.1.2 Geology.3-4 

3.1.3 Soils.3-6 

3.1.4 Water Resources.3-9 

3.1.5 Noise.3-11 

3.2 BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES.3-13 

3.2.1 Vegetation.3-13 

3.2.2 Wildlife.3-21 

3.2.3 Special Status Species, Including Endangered, Threatened, Candidate 

Sensitive and Watch List Species.3-40 

3.3 HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES.3-53 

3.3.1 Natural and Cultural Setting.3-53 

3.4 AMERICAN INDIAN CONCERNS.3-63 

3.4.1 Treaty Rights.3-63 

3.4.2 Trust Responsibility.3-64 

3.4.3 Traditional Cultural Places and Use Areas.3-64 

3.4.4 Sacred Sites.3-64 

3.5 SOCIOECONOMICS.3-64 

3.5.1 Existing Conditions.3-64 

3.5.2 Regional Economy and Community.3-65 

3.5.3 Population, Housing and Property Values.3-71 

3.5.4 Housing and Property Values.3-74 

3.5.5 Public Finance and Fiscal Conditions.3-77 

3.5.6 Environmental Justice.3-79 

3.6 LANDS AND REALTY.3-82 

3.6.1 Land Status.3-85 

3.6.2 Existing Land Use.3-85 

3.6.3 Planned Land Use.3-86 

3.6.4 Rights-of-Ways.3-87 


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3.7 RECREATION .3-87 

3.7.1 Recreation Opportunities.3-88 

3.7.2 Hunting.3-88 

3.7.3 Camping.3-89 

3.7.4 Off-highway Vehicle Use.3-89 

3.8 LIVESTOCK GRAZING.3-89 

3.8.1 Livestock use of Grazing Allotments.3-89 

3.8.2 Rangeland Conditions.3-91 

3.8.3 Rangeland Improvements.3-92 

3.8.4 Wildhorses.3-93 

3.9 VISUAL RESOURCES.3-93 

3.9.1 Visual Resource Management System.3-93 

3.9.2 Visual Resource Inventory.3-93 

3.9.3 Management Class Rating for the Cotterel Mountain Area.3-95 

3.10 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.3-97 

3.11 FIRE MANAGEMENT.3-97 

CHAPTER 4 

4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES.4-1 

4.1 DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS.4-1 

4.2 CUMULATIVE IMPACTS.4-2 

4.3 PAST/PRESENT ACTIONS.4-2 

4.4 FUTURE FORSEEABLE ACTIONS.4-2 

4.5 PHYSICAL RESOURCES.4-3 

4.5.1 Climate and Air Quality.4-3 

4.5.2 Geology.4-4 

4.5.3 Soils .4-5 

4.5.4 Water Resources.4-6 

4.5.5 Noise .4-8 

4.6 BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES.4-10 

4.6.1 Vegetation.4-10 

4.6.2 Wildlife.4-14 

4.6.3 Amphibians and Reptiles.4-18 

4.6.4 Bat and Bird Fatalities from the Operations of the 

Proposed Wind Project.4-19 

4.6.5 Special Status Wildlife Species.4-31 

4.7 HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES.4-40 

4.7.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-40 

4.7.2 Alternative B.4-40 

4.7.3 Alternative C.4-42 

4.7.4 Alternative D.4-42 


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4.8 AMERICAN INDIAN CONCERNS.4-42 

4.8.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-42 

4.8.2 Alternative B.4-42 

4.8.3 Alternative C.4-42 

4.8.4 Alternative D.4-43 

4.9 SOCIOECONOMICS.4-43 

4.9.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-43 

4.9.2 Alternative B.4-43 

4.9.3 Alternative C.4-50 

4.9.4 Alternative D.4-50 

4.10 LANDS AND REALTY.4-51 

4.10.1 Land Status and Ownership.4-51 

4.10.2 Land Use.4-51 

4.10.3 Alternative A (No Action).4-52 

4.10.4 Alternative B.4-52 

4.10.5 Alternative C.4-52 

4.10.6 Alternative D.4-52 

4.11 RECREATION.4-52 

4.11.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-52 

4.11.2 Alternative B.4-52 

4.11.3 Alternative C.4-53 

4.11.4 Alternative D.4-54 

4.12 LIVESTOCK GRAZING.4-54 

4.12.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-54 

4.12.2 Alternative B.4-55 

4.12.3 Alternative C.4-55 

4.12.4 Alternative D.4-55 

4.13 VISUAL RESOURCES.4-56 

4.13.1 Visual Resource Contrast Rating Method.4-56 

4.13.2 Alternative A (No Action).4-59 

4.13.3 Alternative B.4-59 

4.13.4 Alternative C.4-61 

4.13.5 Alternative D.4-62 

4.13.6 Lighting and Dark-Sky Impacts.4-63 

4.14 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.4-64 

4.14.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-64 

4.14.2 Alternative B.4-64 

4.14.3 Alternative C.4-64 

4.14.4 Alternative D. 4-65 


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4.15 FIRE MANAGEMENT.4-65 

4.15.1 Alternative A (No Action).4-65 

4.15.2 Alternative B.4-65 

4.15.3 Alternative C.4-66 

4.15.4 Alternative D.4-67 

4.16 CUMULATIVE EFFECTS (IMPACTS).4-67 

4.16.1 Physical Resources.4-67 

4.16.2 Biological Resources.4-68 

4.16.3 Historical and Cultural Resources.4-72 

4.16.4 American Indian Concerns.4-72 

4.16.5 Socioeconomics.4-72 

4.16.6 Lands and Realty.4-72 

4.16.7 Recreation.4-73 

4.16.8 Livestock Grazing.4-73 

4.16.9 Visual Resources.4-74 

4.16.10 Hazardous Materials.4-74 

4.16.11 Fire Management.4-74 

4.17 UNAVOIDABLE ADVERSE EFFECTS.4-75 

4.18 IRREVERSIBLE AND IRRETRIEVABLE COMMITMENT 

OF RESOURCES.4-75 

CHAPTER 5 

5.0 CONSULTATION AND COORDINATION.5-1 

5.1 SPECIFIC CONSULTATION ACTIONS.5-1 

5.1.1 Formal and Informal Government to Government 

Consultation with Tribes.5-1 

5.1.2 Intergovernmental (State and Local) and Interest Group Coordination.5-2 

5.1.3 Resource Advisory Council (RAC).5-3 

5.1.4 Cassia County Public Lands Committee.5-3 

5.1.5 Congressional Staffs.5-3 

5.1.6 Consultation with Federal Agencies.5-4 

5.1.7 Interagency Wind Energy Task Team (IWETT).5-5 

5.1.8 Initial Public Scoping-Mailing List.5-6 

5.1.9 Public Scoping Meetings.5-7 

5.2 LIST OF PREPARERS.5-9 

CHAPTER 6 

6.0 REFERENCES.6-1 


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Table of Contents 


LIST OF APPENDICES 


Appendix A 
Appendix B 

Appendix C 
Appendix D 
Appendix E 

Appendix F 
Appendix G 


NOI Published In Federal Register 

Instruction Memorandum 2003-20 from the Interim Wind Energy Development 
Policy 

BLM Best Management Practices 

BLM Management Practices Specific to Wildlife 

BLM Interim Offsite Compensatory Mitigation for Oil, Gas, Geothermal and Energy 
Rights-of-Way Authorizations 

Applicant Commitment Letter for Cooperative Agreement 
Visual Simulations 


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Table of Contents 


LIST OF TABLES 


Table 1.8-1 Federal and State Authorities and Actions for Proposed Project.1-13 

Table 2.3-1 Estimated Vehicle Trips for Construction of the Proposed Project.2-18 

Table 2.3-2 Estimated Workforce for the Proposed Project.2-19 

Table 2.4-1 Alternative B - Proposed Action Project Features.2-26 

Table 2.4-2 Miles of Transmission Interconnect Line by Ownership for Alternative C.2-26 

Table 2.5-1 Alternative C Project Features.2-28 

Table 2.5-2 Miles of Transmission Interconnect Line by Ownership for Alternative C.2-32 

Table 2.6-1 Alternative D Project Features.2-37 

Table 2.8-1 Comparison of Project Features of the Action Alternatives.2-45 

Table 2.8-2 Acreage of Land That Would Be Affected by Development of the 

Proposed Cotterel Wind Power Project.2-46 

Table 2.8-3 Summary Comparison of Resource Impacts for All Alternatives.2-47 

Table 3.1-1 National Ambient Air Quality Standards.3-3 

Table 3.1-2 Impaired (303d designation) Waters Near the Proposed 

Project Area (IDEQ 2003).3-11 

Table 3.1-3 Representative Noise Sources and Corresponding Noise Levels.3-12 

Table 3.2-1 Vegetative Components Within Each Community Type.3-15 

Table 3.2-2 Acreage of Each Community Type Within Vegetation Survey Area.3-16 

Table 3.2-3 Acres of Each Community Type Within the Proposed Project Area.3-16 

Table 3.2-4 Idaho Department of Fish and Game Unit 55 Mule Deer 

Harvest Statistics 1998 to 2003.3-24 

Table 3.2-5 Avian Abundance During Yearlong Point Counts in the 

Cotterel Study Area.3-33 

Table 3.2-6 Avian Use, Percent Composition and Percent Frequency of 

Occurrence by Groups with Species in the Cotterel Study Area 

During Avian Point Count Surveys.3-36 

Table 3.2-7 Special Status Wildlife Species of Known or Potential Occurrence 

in the Proposed Project Area.3-41 

Table 3.3-1 Chronological Subdivisions of Upper Snake River Prehistory.3-54 

Table 3.3-2 NHRP Eligibility For Sites Within the Proposed Project Area.3-62 

Table 3.5-1 Labor Force and Employment for Cassia County, Minidoka County and 

the State of Idaho.3-66 

Table 3.5-2 Industry Share of Employment, 2002 for Cassia County, Minidoka County 

and the State of Idaho.3-68 

Table 3.5-3 Projected Job Growth by Industry 2000-2010, South Central Idaho for Cassia 

County, Minidoka County and the State of Idaho.3-69 

Table 3.5-4 Annual Covered Wages and Percentage of Total Wages, 2002 ($ 1,000s) for 

Cassia County, Minidoka County and the State of Idaho.3-71 


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Table 3.5-5 Cassia County Population Trends for Cassia County, Minidoka County and 

the State of Idaho.3-72 

Table 3.5-6 Population Distribution in Cassia County .3-74 

Table 3.5-7 Population Distribution in Minidoka County.3-74 

Table 3.5-8 Housing Types and Characteristics, 2000 in Cassia County, Minidoka County 

and the State of Idaho..3-75 

Table 3.5-9 Median Housing Values in Cassia County, Minidoka County and the 

State of Idaho.3-75 

Table 3.5-10 Temporary Lodging Near the Proposed Project Area.3-77 

Table 3.5-11 Cassia County Distribution of Property Tax Revenue, 

2002-2003 Adopted Budget.3-78 

Table 3.5-12 Property Tax Rates in Tax Code Areas 16 and 17.3-79 

Table 3.5-13 Minority Populations in the South Central Region of Idaho.3-81 

Table 3.5-14 Populations Living Below Poverty Level, 1999 in the South Central Region 

of Idaho.3-82 

Table 3.8-1 Current Grazing Permits in the Proposed Project Area.3-90 

Table 3.8-2 Grazing Allotment Distribution in the Proposed Project Area.3-90 

Table 3.9-1 Existing VRM Inventory Ratings for the Proposed Project Area.3-94 

Table 3.11-1 Albion FMU Fire Management Priority Ranking.3-97 

Table 4.5-1 Acres of Soil Disturbance Under Each Alternative.4-6 

Table 4.6-1 Permanent and Temporary Impacts to Vegetation (in acres) from the 

Proposed Project.4-12 

Table 4.6-2 Potential Mapped Big Game Habitat Loss from the 

Proposed Project.4-15 

Table 4.6-3 Vertical Risk Indices by Avian Group and Turbine Type Based on 

Year-Long Point Counts.4-23 

Table 4.6-4 Vertical Risk Indices by Avian Group and Turbine Type Based on 

Fall Migration Surveys.4-24 

Table 4.6-5 Raptor Nesting Density Comparisons.4-25 

Table 4.6-6 Estimated Annual Fatality Ranges, by Alternative, for Birds and Bats 

at the Proposed Project.4-30 

Table 4.6-7 Potential Greater Sage Grouse Habitat Loss from the Proposed Project.4-39 

Table 4.9-1 Constructions Cost ($ 1,000s) of the Proposed Project.4-43 

Table 4.9-2 Construction Workforce for the Proposed Project.4-44 

Table 4.9-3 Annual Cost of Operation and Maintenance ($ 1,000s) of the Proposed Project.4-46 

Table 4.13-1 Visual Resource Contrast Criteria.4-58 

Table 4.13-2 Visual Contrast Rating for the Proposed Project.4-59 

Table 5.1-1 Consultation with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.5-2 

Table 5.1-2 Consultation with State, County, and City Government.5-4 

Table 5.1-3 Consultation with Federal Agencies.5-5 


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Table 5.1-4 Interagency Wind Energy Task Team Consultation.5-6 

Table 5.1-5 Agencies, Groups, and Individuals Who Responded During the Scoping Process .. 5-7 

Table 5.2-1 Personnel Contacted or Consulted for the Cotterel Wind Power Project.5-8 

Table 5.2-2 List of Preparers and Participants for the Cotterel Wind Power Project.5-10 


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LIST OF FIGURES 

Figure 1.0-1 Overview of Project Area.1-2 

Figure 1.0-2 Estimated Wind Speed for Cotterel Mountain Area.1-3 

Figure 1.2-1 Southern Idaho Utility Districts.1-6 

Figure 1.2-2 Electrical Transmission Grid of Southern Idaho.1 -7 

Figure 1.2-3 Comparison of Predictable Fuel Availability of Wind and 

Hydro Electrical Generation.1-8 

Figure 2.3-1 Diagram of a Typical Wind Turbine.2-4 

Figure 2.3-2 Project Overview.2-6 

Figure 2.3-3 Typical Wooden H-Frame Transmission Interconnect Line Support Structure.2-8 

Figure 2.3-4 Typical Cross Section for Project Access Roads.2-10 

Figure 2.3-5 Typical Cross Section for Project Turbine String Roads.2-11 

Figure 2.3-6 Typical Turbine Pad Lay-Down and Construction Area.2-13 

Figure 2.3-7 Detonation Sequence for Tower Foundation Blasting.2-14 

Figure 2.3-8 Excavation of Tower Foundation Hole Following Blasting.2-14 

Figure 2.3-9 Two Steel Conduit Foundation Forms.2-15 

Figure 2.3-10 Bolt Structure for Tower Foundation.2-15 

Figure 2.3-11 Foundation Bolts Ready for Concrete Pour.2-15 

Figure 2.4-1 Alternative B, 130 70m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-25 

Figure 2.5-1 Alternative C, 81 100m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-29 

Figure 2.5-2 Alternative C, 98 77m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-30 

Figure 2.5-3 Public Access Plan for Alternative C.2-34 

Figure 2.6-1 Alternative D, 66 100m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-38 

Figure 2.6-2 Alternative D, 82 77m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-39 

Figure 2.7-1 Alternative E, 49 100m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-41 

Figure 2.7-2 Alternative F, 20 100m Rotor Diameter Turbines.2-44 

Figure 3.1-1 Soil Groups in Project Area.3-7 

Figure 3.1-2 Springs in the Project Area and Vicinity.:.3-10 

Figure 3.2-1 Vegetation Communities.3-14 

Figure 3.2-2 Big Game Habitat.3-23 

Figure 3.2-3 Avian Survey Plot Locations.3-31 

Figure 3.2-4 Avian Use by Point Count Station.3-32 

Figure 3.2-5 Fall Migration Survey Plot Locations.3-35 

Figure 3.2-6 Mean Daily Raptor Use During Fall Migration.3-37 

Figure 3.2-7 Active Raptor Nests.3-39 

Figure 3.2-8 Sage Grouse Leks.3-48 

Figure 3.3-1 Historic Trails.3-59 

Figure 3.5-1 Labor Force and Employment Trends for Cassia County, 

Minidoka County and the State of Idaho.3-67 


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Figure 3.5-2 Annual Average Rates of Population Growth for Cassia County, 

Minidoka County and the State of Idaho.3-72 

Figure 3.6-1 Existing Land Ownership.3-83 

Figure 3.6-2 Management Area 11 of the Cassia RMP.3-84 

Figure 3.9-1 Existing Visual Resource Management (VRM) Classes.3-96 

Figure 4-13.1 Key Observation Points.4-57 


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ACRONYMS 

A. D. 

APE 

AUM 

BA 

B. C. 

BFO 

BLM 

BMP 

BPA 

BOR 

CDC 

CERCLA 

CEQ 

CFR 

CH 4 

CO 

co 2 

Commission 

Council 

dB 

dBA 

DOE 

EA 

EIS 

EPA 

ESA 

°F 

FAA 

FCRTS 

FERC 

FHWA 

FM 

FMU 

FONSI 

FRCC 

FS 

GIBA 

HETO 

1-84 

1-86 

1-90 


May 2005 


After Death 

Area of Potential Effects 
Animal unit months 
Biological Assessment 
Before Christ 
Burley Field Office 
Bureau of Land Management 
Best Management Practices 
Bonneville Power Administration 
Bureau of Reclamation 
Conservation Data Center 

Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act 
Council on Environmental Quality 
Code of Federal Regulations 
Methane 

Carbon monoxide 
Carbon dioxide 

Shoshone-Bannock Land Use Policy Commission 

Tribal Business Council 

Decibels 

A-weighted decibels 

Department of Energy 

Environmental Assessment 

Environmental Impact Statement 

Environmental Protection Agency 

Endangered Species Act 

Degrees Fahrenheit 

Federal Aviation Administration 

Federal Columbia River Transmission System 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 

Federal Highway Administration 

Fuel model 

Fire Management Unit 
Finding of No Significant Impact 
Fire Regime Condition Class 
Forest Service 

Globally Important Bird Area 
Heritage Tribal Office 
Interstate 84 
Interstate 86 
Interstate 90 


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ACRONYMS 


IDAPA 

IDEQ 

IDFG 

IDL 

IDT 

IDOL 

IDWR 

IPC 

1PUC 

IWETT 

ISRH 

ITC 

KOP 

kV 

kW 

LLC 

Mg/m3 

mi 2 

MW 

N 2 0 

NAAQS 

NASS 

NEPA 

NEPDG 

NOA 

NOAA 

NOI 

no 2 

NO x 

NP 

NRCS 

NRHP 

NTP 

NWCC 

NWPCC 

0 3 

O&M 

OHV 

Pb 

PM.o 

Proposed Project 

Idaho Administrative Rules 

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality 

Idaho Department of Fish and Game 

Idaho Department of Lands 

Interdisciplinary Team 

Idaho Department of Labor 

Idaho Department of Water Resources 

Idaho Power, an IdaCorp Company 

Idaho Public Utilities Commission 

Interagency Wind Energy Task Team 

Idaho Standards for Rangeland Health 

Idaho State Tax Commission 

Key observation point 

Kilovolt 

Kilowatt 

Limited Liability Corporation 

Milligrams per cubic meter 

Square miles 

Megawatts 

Nitrous Oxide 

National Ambient Air Quality Standards 

National Agricultural Statistics Service 

National Environmental Policy Act 

National Energy Policy Development Group 

Notice of Availability 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Notice of Intent 

Nitrogen dioxide 

Oxides of nitrogen 

Not Present 

Natural Resource Conservation Service 

National Register of Historic Places 

Notice to Proceed 

National Wind Coordinating Committee 

Northwest Power and Conservation Council 

Ozone 

Operations and maintenance 

Off-highway vehicle 

Lead 

Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10 microns 
Proposed Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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ACRONYMS 


PSD 

RAC 

RFP 

RMP 

ROS 

ROW 

RQD 

RSA 

SCI 

SCS 

SH 

SIEDO 

SL&I 

so 2 

SO x 

SQRU 

SRMA 

SWEI 

TES 

Mg/m 3 

URS 

U.S. 

USDA 

USDI 

USDOT 

USFWS 

USGS 

VOC 

VRM 

Windland 

Prevention of Significant Deterioration 

Resource Advisory Council 

Request for Proposal 

Resource Management Plan 

Recreational Opportunities Spectrum 

Rights-of-Way 

Rock Quality Designation 

Rotor-swept area 

South Central Idaho 

Soil Conservation Service 

State Highway 

Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization 

Salt Lake & Idaho Railroad Company Grade 

Sulfur Dioxide 

Oxides of sulfur 

Scenic Quality Rating Units 

Special Resource Management Areas 

Shell WindEnergy, Inc. 

Threatened, endangered and sensitive 

Micrograms per cubic meter 

URS Group, Inc. 

United States 

United States Department of Agriculture 

United States Department of Interior 

United States Department of Transportation 

United States Fish and Wildlife Service 

United States Geological Survey 
volatile organic compound 

Visual Resource Management 

Windland, Incorporated 


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ENGLISH/METRIC AND METRIC/ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS 

The following table lists the appropriate equivalents for English and metric units. 


MULTIPLY 

BY 

TO OBTAIN 

English/Metric Equivalents 



Acres 

0.4047 

Hectares (ha) 

Cubic feet (ft 3 ) 

0.02832 

Cubic meters (m ) 

Cubic yards (yd 3 ) 

0.7646 

Cubic meters (m 3 ) 

Degrees Fahrenheit (°F) -32 

0.5555 

Degrees Celsius (°C) 

Feet (ft) 

0.3048 

Meters (m) 

Gallons (gal) 

3.785 

Liters (L) 

Gallons (gal) 

0.003785 

Cubic meters (m 3 ) 

Inches (in.) 

2.540 

Centimeters (cm) 

Miles (mi) 

1.609 

Kilometers (km) 

Pounds (lb) 

0.4536 

Kilograms (kg) 

Short tons (tons) 

907.2 

Metric tons (t) 

Square feet (ft 2 ) 

0.09290 

Square meters (m ) 

Square yards (yd 2 ) 

0.8361 

Square meters (m ) 

*2 

Square miles (mi ) 

2.590 

Square kilometers (km ) 

Yards (yd) 

0.9144 

Meters (m) 

Metric/English Equivalents 



Centimeters (cm) 

0.3937 

Inches (in.) 

Cubic meters (m 3 ) 

35.31 

Cubic feet (ft 3 ) 

Cubic meters (m 3 ) 

1.308 

Cubic yards (yd 3 ) 

Cubic meters (m 3 ) 

264.2 

Gallons (gal) 

Degrees Celsius (°C) 

1.8 

Degrees Fahrenheit (°F) -32 

Hectares (ha) 

2.471 

Acres 

Kilograms (kg) 

2.205 

Pounds (lb) 

Kilograms (kg) 

0.001102 

Short tons (tons) 

Kilometers (km) 

0.6214 

Miles (mi) 

Liters (L) 

0.2642 

Gallons (gal) 

Meters (m) 

3.281 

Feet (ft) 

Meters (m) 

1.094 

Yards (yd) 

Metric tons (t) 

1.102 

Short tons (tons) 

Square kilometers (km ) 

0.3861 

Square miles (mi 2 ) 

Square meters (m ) 

10.76 

Square feet (ft 2 ) 

Square meters (m ) 

1.196 

Square yards (yd 2 ) 


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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
OF THE DRAFT 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR THE 
PROPOSED COTTEREL WIND POWER PROJECT 
AND DRAFT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN AMENDMENT 

BURLEY, CASSIA COUNTY, IDAHO 

This Executive Summary is intended to be a synopsis of the Cotterel Wind Power Project Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment for the 
reader. The detailed analysis of the Proposed Action, alternatives to the Proposed Action, and 
the disclosure of impacts is displayed in detail in the DEIS, available both on CD and in hard 
copy formats. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is also available to the reader 
on the internet at www.id.blm.gov/planning/cotterel . 

INTRODUCTION 

In March, 2001, the Bureau of Land Management, Burley Field Office, Burley, Idaho (BLM) 
received an application from Windland, Inc. (the Applicant) for a right-of-way (ROW) to construct, 
operate and maintain a wind-driven electric power generation facility on Cotterel Mountain. The 
BLM accepted this application and initiated a Notice of Intent to Prepare an E1S and Amend the 
Cassia Resource Management Plan, 1985 (Cassia RMP) in the Federal Register on December 19, 
2002. This triggered an initial public scoping period that ran for 60 days and concluded on February 
21, 2003. The process for analyzing the proposal and alternatives began with the publication of the 
Notice of Intent and was consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, 
1969 (NEPA). 

SCOPING 

Significant Issues Identified through Scoping and Used to Develop Alternatives 

Public, govemment-to-govemment, and interagency scoping for issues was accomplished early in the 
analysis process through public meetings, scoping documents, interagency meetings, and internal 
BLM interdisciplinary discussions and continues today. Issues that emerged during the analysis 
process were also considered in formulating the scope of work and the alternatives. The issues 
considered to be significant and addressed in detail include: 

• Sage-grouse conservation 

• Maintaining and protecting tribal treaty rights or heritage links to public lands 

• Migratory birds including raptor migration 

• Threatened and Endangered Species Protection 

• Maintain public access 


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• Visual resources protection 

• Consistency with the Cassia RMP 

Other Issues and Concerns Addressed: 


• Air quality (dust in communities during construction) 

• Ridgeline and cultural significance to tribes 

• Historical migration routes of tribes 

• Water resources, including surface, groundwater and springs 

• Noise/vibration/harmonics 

• Vegetation restoration 

• Noxious weeds control 

• Wildlife conservation 

• Wind turbine effects on birds and bats 

• Direct and indirect wildlife habitat loss 

• Mule deer winter range Interruption 

• Increase human activity on Cotterel Mountain and effects on wildlife 

• Cultural and historic resources protection 

• Community economic stability 

• Land use changes 

• Changing private land values 

• Increased traffic on local roads during construction 

• Livestock grazing interruption 

• Recreation opportunity changes 

Issues Deemed Outside the Scope of the DEIS: 


• Future Bighorn Sheep relocation 

• Loss of sage-steppe habitat due to overgrazing 

• Other sources of energy opportunities 

• Manufacture of wind turbines outside the United States (U.S.) 

LEAD, COOPERATING AND PARTICIPATING AGENCIES 

The BLM is the lead federal agency responsible for conducting the preparation of the draft and final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the associated analysis. The responsible official will be 
the Assistant Director for Minerals, Realty, and Resource Protection, BLM, Washington D.C. 


Cooperating agencies are federal agencies that have jurisdiction by law (40 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) Section 1501.6) and may or will make a decision relative to the Cotterel Wind 
Power Project (Proposed Project) based on the analysis disclosed in this EIS. Cooperating agencies 
may also have special expertise or have information that will assist in development of the analysis. In 


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this analysis, the cooperating agencies include the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Reclamation 
(BOR), and Cassia County Commissioners, representing the local government. 

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is a participating agency and is providing input 
relevant to wildlife and wildlife habitat. 

GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION 

The U.S. has a unique legal relationship with Indian tribal governments as set for in the Constitution 
of the U.S., treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions. Since the formation of the Union, 
the U.S. has recognized Indian tribes as domestic dependent nations under its protection. The Federal 
Government has enacted numerous statutes and promulgated numerous regulations that establish and 
define a trust relationship with Indian Tribes. 

In this analysis, the BLM has formally initiated consultation with the sovereign nations of the 
Shoshone-Bannock and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. This consultation has been initiated with these 
Tribal Governments in the manner as requested by them and is ongoing throughout the analysis. 

INTERAGENCY WIND ENERGY TASK TEAM (IWETT) 

The IWETT is a core group of wildlife biologists from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & 
Wildlife Service, and the IDFG that was developed under charter in 2004 by the BLM. This team is a 
cooperative interagency effort, specifically formed to assist in the development of alternatives and 
mitigation recommendations for wildlife and wildlife habitat. This team will continue to work 
together in the development of effectiveness monitoring and adaptive management processes. 

THE APPLICANT 

Windland, Inc, a Boise-based private wind energy development company, in partnership with Shell 
Wind Energy, Inc., a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, is proposing to build a wind energy 
facility along the Cotterel Mountain, a linear north-south, 16-mile ridgeline located in southeast Idaho 
between the towns of Albion on the west, and Malta on the east. The Proposed Project would be 
located in Cassia County, Idaho and situated primarily on public lands managed by the BLM. There is 
a small amount of Idaho State Land and privately-owned land associated with the Proposed Project. 

PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR PROPOSED ACTION 

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to develop an economically-feasible, wind-powered electric 
generation facility on Cotterel Mountain that will provide an alternative renewable energy source to 
help supplement existing and future energy demands. 

The need for the Proposed Action is demonstrated by growing demand for electricity in the northwest 
and the need to provide an electricity source alternative to traditional energy generation sources such 
as coal and gas-fired power plants, and hydro-power facilities. This proposal also meets the national 


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need to reduce reliance on foreign energy markets. The Applicant is responding to the BPA and Idaho 
Power’s Requests for Proposals to include wind energy resources as a percentage of their energy 
portfolios. 

The Department of the Interior, more specifically the BLM, in implementing the President’s National 
Energy Policy, is seeking opportunities to develop renewable resources including wind energy. The 
Cotterel Mountain location contains the prerequisite conditions to fulfill the Proposed Action. These 
criteria include the presence of an adequate wind energy resource, adequate construction access, and 
adequate transmission capability to carry the power produced to consumer markets. The Cotterel 
Mountain site meets these criteria and is therefore being analyzed in detail in this DEIS. 

CONFORMANCE WITH EXISTING RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN 

The BLM existing Cassia RMP does not address wind energy development. At the time of 
preparation of the Cassia RMP, wind was not considered as a potential energy source in Idaho, hence 
Cotterel Mountain was not considered as a wind energy site and the Proposed Action is not consistent 
with the Cassia RMP. The Proposed Project would require an amendment to the plan should the 
decision be made to grant a ROW for wind energy development on Cotterel Mountain. The draft plan 
amendment to the Cassia RMP is displayed in Chapter 2, Proposed Action and Alternatives, and is 
available to the reader for comment. The Proposed Action and alternatives are consistent with the 
Cassia RMP in meeting all other land management objectives. 

DECISIONS TO BE MADE 
Bureau of Land Management (Lead Agency) 

The BLM will make a decision whether or not to grant a ROW to allow for the construction, 
operation, and maintenance of a wind energy project on federal lands. The BLM will also make a 
decision whether or not to amend its existing Cassia RMP which will allow for the granting of the 
ROW if so decided. Both decisions will be outlined in a Record of Decision, based on the outcome of 
the EIS. 


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Cooperating Agency) 

The USFWS will issue a Biological Opinion based on a Biological Assessment (BA) of impacts to 
threatened and endangered species. The BA will address potential impacts of the project to bald 
eagles and gray wolves. The findings of the Biological Opinion will be included in the BLM Record 
of Decision. 


Bonneville Power Administration (Cooperating Agency) 

The BPA will make a decision whether or not to offer contract terms for the interconnection of the 
Proposed Project to the Federal Columbia River Transmission System (FCRTS). BPA has adopted an 
Open Access Transmission Tariff for the FCRTS, consistent with the Federal Energy Regulatory 


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Commission’s pro forma open access tariff. Under BPA’s tariff, BPA offers transmission 
interconnection to the FCRTS to all eligible customers on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Idaho Department of Lands (Cooperating Agency) 

Idaho Department of Lands will make a decision whether or not to grant a ROW for a portion of a 
transmission line that would cross state land. 


Bureau of Reclamation (Cooperating Agency) 

The BOR is deferring the ROW decision to the BLM for a small portion of the transmission 
interconnection line that will potentially cross lands managed by the BOR. 

Cassia County Commissioners (Cooperating Agency) 

The Cassia County Commissioners and Planning and Zoning Committee will approve a conditional 
use permit for certain components of the project. 

PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES 

This section identifies and describes the Proposed Action, the no action alternative and the action 
alternatives associated with the Proposed Project. The DEIS analyzed four alternatives in detail: 


• Alternative A: 

• Alternative B: 

• Alternative C: 

• Alternative D: 


The No Action Alternative 
Applicant’s Proposed Action 

Modified Proposed Action with fewer but larger output wind turbines, 
alternative access, alternative transmission line locations and 
alternative turbine types 

Modification of Alternative C with a reduced number of wind turbines 


A brief description of these alternatives and project features common to all action alternatives is 
provided below. If selected, Alternative B, C and D would require amending the Cassia RMP. 
Alternative A would not require an amendment to the Cassia RMP. In addition, Alternatives E and F 
that were not carried forward are discussed. 


Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A, No Action, is the baseline against which the action alternatives can be compared. This 
baseline also allows for the disclosure of the effects of not developing the proposed wind power 
project and its associated infrastructure. Under Alternative A, the ROW grant for the construction, 
operation and maintenance of a wind-powered electrical generation facility would not be granted and 
the RMP would not be amended by the BLM. This alternative would maintain current management 
practices for resources and allow for the continuation of resources uses at levels identified in the 
Cassia RMP. 


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Alternative B (Applicant’s Proposed Action) 

This alternative is presented as proposed in the ROW application made by the Applicant to the BLM. 
The Applicant has attempted to reduce potential project impacts through project design, application of 
BLM Best Management Practices (BMP) and consideration of input from its own public scoping 
efforts in developing its Proposed Action. 

Under Alternative B, the Applicant is proposing to construct a wind-powered electric generation 
facility along the approximately 16-mile ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. As proposed, the Project 
would consist of approximately 130, 1.5 megawatts (MW) wind turbines that would be sited along 
the west, central, and east ridges of Cotterel Mountain. The west string would be 0.8-miles in length 
and located along the short side-ridge west of the main Cotterel Mountain ridgeline. The center string 
of wind turbines would be about 10.9 miles in length and placed along the spine of the central 
ridgeline of the mountain. The east string of wind turbines would be 4.1 miles in length and located 
along the east ridgeline that extends south of the Cotterel Mountain summit. In addition to the 130 
wind turbines, two 138 kilovolt (kV) overhead transmission interconnect lines would connect the 
project to the transmission grid emanating from two separate substations. The exact location of 
proposed wind turbines, roads, power lines, or other facility-related construction would be sited based 
on environmental, engineering, meteorological, and permit requirements. 

Each turbine would be 210 feet in height to the center of the hub. Each of the three blades would be 
115 feet in length, with an over-all diameter of 230 feet. Maximum blade height would be 325 feet 
above the surrounding landscape. There would be two substations. The substations would be located 
at the north and central portions of the middle turbine string. The substations would connect to the 
existing BPA and Raft River 138 kV transmission lines via two newly constructed transmission 
interconnect lines. The transmission interconnect line ROW would cross lands managed by BLM, 
Idaho State, as well as those under private ownership. 

Approximately 25 miles of all-weather gravel roads would be needed to access and maintain the 
Proposed Project. This would require about 4.5 miles of road reconstruction, and about 22 miles of 
new road construction. Total estimated cut volume for road construction would be approximately 
2,660,000 cubic yards. The estimated fill volume would be approximately 2,500,000 cubic yards. The 
total construction impact area for all project features would be about 365 acres. Following the 
reclamation of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project would occupy an area of about 
203 acres. Other physical components of the wind plant are described in Comparison of Project 
Features of Alternatives B, C and D. 

Alternative C (Agency’s Preferred Alternative) 

Alternative C is a modified alternative to the Proposed Action (Alternative B) with fewer but larger 
output wind turbines, alternative access, and alternative transmission line locations. AT THIS 
TIME, ALTERNATIVE C IS THE AGENCY’S PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE. Under 
Alternative C, the IWETT has identified additional BMPs that are included to specifically address 


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wildlife issues and concerns related to sage-grouse, raptors, bats and requirements under the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Alternative C also 
incorporates a compensatory/off-site mitigation fund that provides the opportunity for effectiveness 
monitoring and adaptive management, the extent of which would be determined by a technical 
steering committee. 

Under Alternative C, the Applicant would construct a wind-powered electric generation facility along 
14.5 miles of ridgeline of the Cotterel Mountain. If built as proposed, the project would consist of a 
linear alignment of approximately 81-98 wind turbines, based on the size of turbine selected, sited 
along the central and east ridges of Cotterel Mountain. The central ridge would have approximately 
64 wind turbines and the east ridge would have approximately 17 turbines. In addition to the wind 
turbines, one 138 kV overhead transmission interconnect line would connect the project to the 
transmission grid from a single substation. The exact location of proposed wind turbines, roads, 
transmission interconnect lines, or other facility-related construction would be sited based on detailed 
engineering to address site specific environmental, meteorological, or permit conditions including 
BMPs. 

Under Alternative C, two sizes of wind turbines would be considered. The smaller of the two would 
have a 77-meter (230 foot) rotor diameter and would have a generation capacity of 1.5 MW. It would 
sit on a 65-meter (210 foot) tower and the rotor would consist of three blades, 115 feet in length. 
Maximum blade height would be 325 feet above the ground. The larger turbine would have a 100- 
meter (328 foot) rotor diameter and would have a generation capacity of between two and three MW. 
It would sit on an 80-meter (262 foot) tower and the rotor would consist of three blades, 164 feet in 
length. Maximum blade height would be 426 feet above the ground. 

A single substation would be located approximately midway along the central turbine string. 
Alternative C would have a single overhead 138 kV transmission interconnect line. The transmission 
interconnect line would extend northeast from the substation down to the Raft River Valley where it 
would cross over, but not connect to the existing Raft River transmission line. From here the 
transmission interconnect line would extend to the north approximately 19.7 miles in a new ROW 
adjacent to the existing ROW for the Raft River transmission line. It would cross over the Snake 
River west of the Minidoka Dam. The line would then travel in a northeast direction where it would 
connect the project to the existing Idaho Power transmission lines located north of the Minidoka 
Dam. The transmission interconnect line ROW would cross lands managed by BLM, BOR, Idaho 
State, USFWS as well as those under private ownership. 

The Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about 3.2 miles of road and the construction 
of about 19.5 miles of new roads. Total estimated cut volume for road construction would be 
approximately 2,200,000 cubic yards. The estimated fill volume would be approximately 2,425,000 
cubic yards. Under Alternative C, the total construction impact area for all project features would be 
about 352 acres. Following the reclamation of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project 
would occupy an area of about 203 acres. 


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Executive Summary 


Public access on the ridgeline would consist of a combination of new project roads and existing and 
newly constructed primitive roads. Although public use of project roads along the ridgeline would be 
restricted through a series of gates, signage and natural rock barriers, there would not be a loss of 
public access to existing use areas. Public access would be maintained by linking the existing 
primitive road system through construction of new primitive roads to allow existing uses of the area, 
including hunting, to continue. 

Effectiveness Monitoring, Adaptive Management, Compensatory (Off-Site) Mitigation, and 
Technical Steering Committee Common to Alternatives C and D 

Effectiveness Monitoring 

Under Alternatives C and D, effectiveness monitoring is included and is intended to determine the 
effectiveness of the project design, construction and BMPs in protecting wildlife beyond the 
requirements of Alternative B. This monitoring would be funded by the Applicant through a 
compensatory mitigation fund (described below). It includes, but is not limited to, continuing the 
collection of pre-construction baseline data for use in comparative analysis, off-site sage-grouse lek 
studies, continuing sage-grouse telemetry studies, sage-grouse nesting studies, sage-grouse winter use 
studies, and raptor nest surveys. 

Wind power projects have effects on wildlife, particularly avian species and bats, depending upon the 
location, geography, and natural setting of the project. Effectiveness monitoring of the project (5 
years or greater) is key in understanding the relationship between the project design, siting of the 
towers, operation of the facility and effects on wildlife. These effects can occur in a variety of ways 
but, based on data collected at other operating wind projects, are chiefly associated with bird 
collisions with the large blades that drive each of the wind turbines (referred to as the rotor swept area 
of each turbine). Additional long-term monitoring may also be necessary to determine how the 
characteristics of the project and its turbines affect the behavior and migration of birds and bats and to 
determine if there are certain turbines along the string that are contributing to bird and bat mortality 
that would trigger the need to implement management actions to reduce these effects. 

Adaptive Management 

Adaptive management is based upon a concept of science that understands ecosystems are complex 
and inherently unpredictable over time. It approaches the uncertainties of ecosystem responses with 
attempts to structure management actions using a systematic method from which over time learning is 
a critical tool. Learning and adapting is based on a process of long term monitoring of impacts to 
wildlife from this project. The Applicant and the BLM recognize that the findings of long-term 
effectiveness monitoring could indicate the need for modification of operations and adaptive 
management. The BLM and the Applicant will work cooperatively with the USFWS and the 1DFG to 
develop appropriate actions or mitigation measures designed to address issues or concerns identified 
as a result of monitoring. Adaptive management tools that are available to the Applicant and BLM 
include, but are not limited to: Timing stipulations during construction, operational changes of 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-8 







Cofferel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


turbines, siting considerations, lighting scenarios, and color schemes. These are, for the most part, 
addressed in Appendix D. 

Off-site Mitigation 

BLM Washington Office Policy Guidance Instruction Memorandum No. 2005-069 states that off-site 
mitigation can be funded by voluntary contributions from the Applicant into a compensatory 
mitigation fund held by the BLM (Appendix E). This would be done by cooperative agreement 
between the Applicant and the BLM. This cooperative agreement would prescribe the level of 
contribution and the management and use of the fund. Accordingly, the Applicant has volunteered to 
contribute to a compensatory mitigation fund pursuant to the above-mentioned guidance. The 
Applicant has executed a letter of commitment to enter into a cooperative agreement in accordance 
with the foregoing (Appendix F). The Applicant intends the annual contribution to be in an amount 
equal to approximately one-half of one percent of the gross revenues received from the Cotterel Wind 
Power Project electricity sales. For a 200 MW project name plate, that contribution is expected to 
average approximately $150,000 per year at today’s forecasted production and electricity rates. 

An extensive framework of off-site mitigation practices was also recommended by the IWETT to 
address impacts to wildlife, should they occur as a result of the Proposed Project. These practices 
would also be funded by the compensatory mitigation fund (described above). The kinds of off-site 
mitigation practices recommended include, but are not limited to: purchase of key habitats; 
acquisition of conservation easements on key habitats; or, restoration, treatment or conversion of 
existing federally managed off-site habitats. Any off-site activities proposed by the steering 
committee would have impacts associated, which would be separate from the impacts identified for 
this Proposed Project and analyzed in this document. They would be analyzed in separate NEPA 
documents on a case-by-case basis as needed. 

Technical Steering Committee 

It was further recommended by the IWETT that a technical steering committee be formed to advise 
on the design of mitigation measures and monitoring covered by the compensatory mitigation fund. 
This committee would be responsible for recommending actions that would be funded by the 
compensatory mitigation fund (i.e. implementation of monitoring (over and above that which is 
required), recommending commensurate off-site mitigation, and recommending adaptive 
management strategies). The intent is to ensure interagency involvement in mitigation and monitoring 
activities with particular emphasis on addressing the requirements of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and sage-grouse conservation. The committee will also 
examine ongoing research and scientific studies attempting to understand the behavior and 
relationship between wildlife and wind energy developments. The technical steering committee 
would be an expansion of the IWETT and would consist of interagency wildlife and other resource 
professionals and the Applicant, with final decision authority resting with the BLM Field Office 
Manager. This committee would be formed and chartered prior to any construction of the Proposed 
Project. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-9 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


Alternative D 

Alternative D is a modification of Alternative C with a reduced number of wind turbines. The IWETT 
has identified additional BMPs that are included in this alternative to specifically address wildlife 
issues and concerns related to sage-grouse, raptors, bats and requirements under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Alternative D also incorporates a 
compensatory/off-site mitigation fund that provides opportunities for effectiveness monitoring and 
adaptive management the extent of which would be determined by a technical steering committee. 

The premise of Alternative D is elimination of turbines from a portion of the sage-grouse habitat 
(leking, nesting, brood rearing, and winter range) while still maintaining an economically viable 
project. Because of the infrastructure costs involved with the project (i.e. turbines, roads, powerlines, 
substation), the Applicant has determined that 66 turbines in the 1.5 + MW size range would be 
necessary for an economically viable project. Concentrating the turbines along the center ridge of 
Cotterel Mountain would be the best way to obtain this number of turbines while affecting the fewest 
resources. In addition, it would concentrate the project features on the central ridge, leaving the east 
ridge undeveloped. 

Alternative D would use the same size range and types of wind turbines as those proposed under 
Alternative C. Under Alternative D, a range of 66-82 turbines would range in generation capacity 
from 1.5 to 3.0 MW. Tower height for the turbines would range from 210 feet to 262 feet, with 
maximum blade height ranging from 325 to 426 feet above the ground. Rotor diameters would range 
from 230 feet to 328 feet (77-100 meters). 

Wind turbines, substations, and transmission interconnect lines would be the same for Alternative D 
as described under Alternative C. 

Under Alternative D, the Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about 2.9 miles of road 
and the construction of about 14.5 miles of new roads. Total estimated cut volume for road 
construction would be approximately 2,080,000 cubic yards. The estimated fill volume would be 
approximately 2,275,000 cubic yards. The total construction impact area would be about 282 acres. 
Following the reclamation of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project would occupy an 
area of about 160 acres. 

Public access under Alternative D would be similar to Alternative C along the central ridgeline and 
turbine string. However, under Alternative D there would be no road construction or turbines sited 
along Cotterel Mountain’s east ridge. The lower portion of the existing Cotterel Mountain summit 
road would have minor modifications made to improve safety. The existing Cotterel Mountain 
summit access road and primitive jeep trails along the east ridgeline would remain unchanged and 
would continue to be open to the public. 

Required on-site monitoring, effectiveness monitoring, adaptive management and compensatory (off¬ 
site) mitigation would be the same for Alternative D as described under Alternative C. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-10 




Cotferel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


Alternatives Considered But Not Analyzed In Detail 

Alternative E 

Alternative E was developed by the identification of issues through public scoping, agency scoping, 
the IWETT, government-to-govemment consultation, and interdisciplinary resource 
recommendations and is basically a modification of Alternative D. It was proposed as a possible 
method of further minimizing potential impacts to sage-grouse habitat and habitat use while 
maintaining an economically viable wind energy development. Alternative E, while avoiding the 
most direct suspected impacts to sage-grouse lek use and associated nesting at several key locations 
on the mountain, would effectively reduce the length of the turbine string to approximately 8.4 miles 
and reduce the number of turbines that could be constructed to a range of 40-49. This is substantially 
less than the minimum number of wind turbines disclosed by the Applicant as being economically 
viable to construct (66 turbines), operate and maintain at the Cotterel Mountain site. 

The Applicant’s analysis and disclosure of a minimum size project is based on the cost of 
infrastructure (i.e. roads, substation, power transmission, underground cabling, etc.), the cost of 
construction on a remote, isolated mountaintop, the cost of monitoring and mitigation, and the cost 
and time required for permitting on public land. It is further based on the time required to amortize 
the capital investment of a project. Alternative E would have essentially the same infrastructure costs 
as Alternative D with approximately 60 percent of the production potential. Accordingly, the 
Applicant states that it is not possible to recoup costs in a reasonable amount of time or achieve the 
rate of return necessary for such a large investment, nor would it be possible to obtain financing. 
While Alternative E is technically feasible and could be constructed, it does not meet the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) test of a reasonable alternative since it is not economically viable. 
Therefore, Alternative E does not meet the purpose and need stated in this document. For these 
reasons, Alternative E is not carried forward or analyzed in detail. It should be noted that in CEQ’s 
definition of “reasonable,” technical and economic are linked. If a proposed project does not meet one 
or the other, it is not feasible to construct and therefore, not a reasonable alternative. 

The casual observer may notice a number of small wind projects cropping up around southern Idaho. 
This begs the question, why are 40 turbines not economically feasible on Cotterel Mountain while 
one, three or seven turbines seem to be a viable project in other areas? As stated above, the answer is 
closely tied to infrastructure costs, construction costs, monitoring and mitigation costs, the high costs 
and lengthy time requirements of siting on public land vs. the low cost and short time frames involved 
with siting on private land, and the capital investment amortization time and costs. It should be noted 
that, with the exception of time to amortize the capital investments, these smaller projects located on 
private land do not experience these other costs. 

Alternative F 


Alternative F was developed by the identification of issues through public scoping, agency scoping, 
the IWETT, govemment-to-govemment consultation, and interdisciplinary resource 
recommendations. This alternative further distances the wind energy facilities from sage-grouse use 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-11 






Co tferel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


areas. The premise of Alternative F is to site the wind turbines based on the best available science, 
combined with professional judgment, for the protection of sage-grouse and their habitat. Studies 
regarding the lifecycle of sage-grouse have shown that nesting and brood rearing generally take place 
within a 1.8-mile radius of active leks. There is also some scientific information on lesser prairie 
chickens to suggest that they may avoid tall structures. Therefore, it has been suggested by some that 
placement of a wind power project within that 1.8 mile radius of leks may have an adverse affect on 
the lifecycle activities of sage-grouse. 

Application of a 1.8-mile no development zone around known, active sage-grouse leks would limit 
the siting of the wind generation facility to the 3.6-mile section of the central Cotterel Mountain 
ridgeline and reduce the number of constructible turbines to approximately 20. This requirement 
would render Alternative F not economically feasible, as a commercial wind generation facility and 
not in accordance with the purpose and need stated in this document. Therefore, Alternative F has 
been considered but is not being analyzed in detail. 

Project Features Common to All Action Alternatives 

Major components of the Proposed Project and common to the other action alternatives identified 
include: 


• Multiple wind turbines and turbine foundations 

• Multiple pad mounted transformers 

• Buried power collection lines and communication cables 

• Several miles of project access roads including existing, reconstructed, and newly 
constructed road beds 

• Meteorological towers on foundations 

• One to two substations 

• Newly constructed 138 kV overhead power transmission interconnect lines 

• Operations and maintenance building (O&M Building); and 

• Portable on-site cement batch plant and rock cmsher 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-12 







Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


The table below provides a comparison of the alternatives by Proposed Project features. 


Comparison of Project Features of Alternatives B, C and D. 


Project Features 

Alt. B 

Alt. C 

Alt. D 

Project nameplate (in MW) 

195 

147-243 

123-198 

Number of turbines 

130 

81-98 

66-82 

Turbine Nameplate (in MW) 

1.5 MW 

1.5-3 MW 

1.5-3 MW 

Turbine hub height (meters) 

64 

80 

80 

Turbine diameter (in meters) 

70 

77-100 

77-100 

Total length of turbine string (in miles) 

15.8 

14.5 

11.6 

Project roads total (in miles) 

26.6 

24.4 

19.3 

Existing (To be used without modification) 

0 

1.7 

1.7 

Reconstructed 

4.5 

3.2 

2.9 

New 

22.1 

19.5 

14.7 

Electrical trenching (outside of roads, in miles) 

5 

3-4 

2.8 

New transmission Interconnect lines (in miles) 

9 

19.7 

19.7 

Substations 

2 

1 

1 

Meteorological towers 

3 

3 

3 

Maintenance and operation building 

1 

1 

1 

Temporary ground disturbance (in acres) 

365 

350 

280 

Permanent ground disturbance (in acres) 

203 

203 

158 

Construction features 

Earth work Cut (in cubic yards) 

2,663,496 

- 2,203,176 

2,079,286 

Fill 

2,506,995 

2,423,935 

2,275,735 

Difference 

+156,501 

-220,759 

-196,449 

Truck trips to build project roads (road base only) 

12,625 

10,885 

8,500 

Truck trips to build project (turbines, substations, 
other) 

2,050 

1,850 

1,250 

Total truck trips 

14,675 

12,735 

9,750 

Number of batch plants 

1 

1 

1 

Mitigation 

Wildlife fatality monitoring 

X 

X 

X 

BLM BMPs 

X 

X 

X 

Compensatory/off-site mitigation 


X 

X 

Public access available 


X 

X 


AMENDING THE EXISTING CASSIA RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN 

The Proposed Action and the action alternatives are not consistent with the existing Cassia RMP. 
When the Cassia RMP was completed, the development of wind energy was not considered as a 
potential use on Cotterel Mountain and the Cassia RMP contained no provisions for the granting of a 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-13 

















































Co fferel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


ROW for wind energy development. Therefore, if an action alternative is selected, an amendment to 
the Cassia RMP must be made as per regulations found at 43 CFR 1601. 

Included in this DEIS is a draft plan amendment. The BLM published its intent to amend the Cassia 
RMP in the Federal Register in December 2002. The draft plan amendment is presented in Chapter 2, 
Proposed Action and Alternatives. 

AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT/EXISTING CONDITION 

The purpose of this section is to describe the existing environment/existing condition of the Cotterel 
Mountain area including conditions and trends that could be affected by the alternatives described 
above. 

The Cotterel Mountain range is an area that experiences a range of precipitation of 12 to 25 inches of 
rain per year depending upon elevation. The wind blows from west to east and winter snowfall is 
blown clear of certain areas of the mountain while forming deep snowdrifts in other areas. 

The geology of the Cotterel Mountain is described as a long, low ridge with a relatively steep face or 
escarpment on the east side and a long, gentle slope on the west side. The Proposed Project area 
generally consists of Pliocene and Upper Miocene volcanic rocks, rhyolite flows, tuffs, and 
ignimbrites. 

Soils in the Proposed Project area are located at high elevation, have low water-carrying capacity, 
have the potential for wind and water erosion, and have minimal to moderate productivity capabilities 
as rangeland. 

The Cotterel Mountain ridgeline divides the Raft River watershed on the east from the Lake Walcott 
watershed on the west. There are no designated major streams within the Proposed Project area. There 
are 14 springs, three spring developments, and one well within the Proposed Project boundary. 

The relatively remote Proposed Project area is generally quiet and has no industrial noise sources. 
Existing noise in the Proposed Project area vicinity is attributable to: recreational users such as off- 
highway vehicles (OHV) and snowmobile riders; occasional low flying aircraft; agricultural 
equipment; and traffic on area roads. 

Big game species include mule deer and mountain lions. Bighorn sheep occur approximately 15 miles 
south on nearby Jim Sage Mountain and have occasionally wandered on to Cotterel Mountain. The 
IDFG maps both mule deer and bighorn sheep winter range within the Proposed Project area. 

Cotterel Mountain supports numerous species of small mammals. Five species of amphibians and 
reptiles have been documented in the Proposed Project area or its vicinity. Bats likely use Cotterel 
Mountain on a year-round basis. Three species of bats have been documented in the vicinity of the 
Proposed Project area. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-14 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


Large expanses of big and low sagebrush, juniper, grasslands and mountain mahogany are found 
within the Proposed Project area. These vegetation types provide potential habitat for a number of 
bird species, including sage-grouse, Brewer’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, loggerhead shrike, 
pinyon jay, plumbeus vireo, sage sparrow, and sage thrasher. In addition, the abundance of open 
cliffs, strong updrafts, and the close proximity of agricultural lands make this area prime habitat for 
raptor species including ferruginous hawks, peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, golden eagle and 
Swainson’s hawk. Avian species surveys within the Proposed Project area documented 84 species of 
birds. Of these, 12 species of falcons, hawks, or eagles were observed. Three species of upland game 
bird were observed including the greater sage-grouse. In addition to the wide diversity of bird species 
found during the surveys, there are specialized topographical features that provide breeding, nesting 
and wintering habitats for many avian species that are not widely available in the vicinity of the 
Proposed Project area. 

There is one known threatened and endangered species (Bald eagle) and potential habitat for another 
(gray wolf). Approximately 40 BLM Sensitive plant and animal species are known to occur or are 
suspected to occur within the project area and its vicinity. 

The Proposed Project area is located adjacent to the Raft River Valley, which lies immediately east of 
Cotterel Mountain and is situated near a historically important crossroads of the Oregon Trail. The 
“Parting of the Ways” or “Separation of the Trails,” located on the west bank of the Raft River, was 
the junction where travelers had to decide whether to head south toward California or proceed west 
along the Snake River toward the Oregon Country. 

The cultural resources inventory and evaluation activities resulted in the identification of 21 
archaeological sites and 61 isolated finds, in addition to five previously recorded sites. The BLM has 
formally initiated consultation with the sovereign nations of the Shoshone-Piaute and the Shoshone- 
Bannock in the manner as requested by them. Consulted parties expressed knowledge of past use of 
the Cotterel Mountain area describing general use of the ridge as a transportation corridor. 

The Proposed Project would be located in Cassia County, Idaho. Cassia County is closely linked 
economically with Minidoka County to the north. The two-county area is called the Mini-Cassia area. 
The Mini-Cassia economy was built around agricultural industries, such as livestock (beef and dairy 
cattle, sheep) and crop production (sugar beets, grains, potatoes, alfalfa, and beans). Today, the Mini- 
Cassia area economy continues to be centered on agricultural industries such as food processing. Both 
counties have higher average unemployment rates compared to other southern Idaho counties, in part 
due to seasonal layoffs typical of the food processing industry. The area has experienced business 
closures and layoffs in recent years. 

Major land uses include livestock grazing, wildlife habitat, recreation, utility distribution, and 
communication facilities locations. Management goals for the Proposed Project area include 
expanding dispersed recreation opportunities, providing for livestock grazing, and transferring certain 
lands from federal ownership. Prominent land uses around the Proposed Project area include: rural 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-15 




Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


community commercial use that is zoned for the cities of Malta and Albion; commercial recreational 
use at the Pomerelle Mountain Resort; and agricultural uses such as farming, grazing, and confined 
animal operations. 

A primitive road extends along the Cotterel Mountain ridge top providing access to the entire 
mountain. Public access to the top of the mountain is available from the north, southwest and 
southeast. Several feeder roads and trails provide additional access down lateral ridges and drainages, 
but large areas of Cotterel Mountain remain roadless. 

The Pomerell Ski Area is located about nine miles west of the Proposed Project area and provides 
winter recreation in the form of skiing and snowmobiling. The City of Rocks National Reserve, a 
popular camping, hiking, rock climbing, and historical area is located about 24 miles southwest of the 
Proposed Project area. The recreational uses of Cotterel Mountain include hunting, OHV use, 
picnicking, hiking, and some dispersed camping. The public lands associated with Cotterel Mountain 
are mandated by the Cassia RMP to provide for multiple uses, including a diverse choice of recreation 
opportunities. 

There are two grazing allotments located within the Proposed Project area, North Cotterel and South 
Cotterel. The North and South Cotterel allotments have an average stocking rate of between six to 
seven acres per Animal Unit Month (AUM). Within the Proposed Project area boundary, there are 
approximately 1,700 AUMs. 


ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 

The environmental consequences of the Proposed Action and alternatives to the Proposed Action are 
summarized and compared in the table below. A complete description and disclosure of the impacts 
are found in Chapter 4, Environmental Consequences. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-16 





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May 2005 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ES-28 



























Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


CUMULATIVE IMPACTS 

The CEQ regulations for implementing the NEPA require assessment of cumulative effects in the 
decision-making process for federal projects. Cumulative effects are defined as “the impact on the 
environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, 
present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (federal or non-federal) 
or person undertakes such other actions” (40 CFR 1508.7). Cumulative effects are considered for 
each resource and disclosed in detail in the DEIS. 

Cumulative effects in this analysis were determined by combining the effects of each alternative with 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Therefore, it was necessary to identify other 
past, ongoing, or reasonably foreseeable future actions in this area and in the surrounding landscape. 
All resource impacts would be added to these actions to portray the cumulative picture or incremental 
contribution this Proposed Project would have on the environment. The following is a brief summary 
of cumulative effects: 


Past and Historical Actions 

Examples of past or historical actions that have contributed impacts to wildlife and other resources 
within the Cassia-Raft River Creeks and Marsh Creek sub-basins include: 

• Construction of Interstate Highways 84 and 86 

• Livestock grazing 

• Drought and severe winters 

• Expansion of residential development around small towns 

• Agricultural development that removed shrub steppe habitat 

• Wildfire and prescribed burning 

• Construction of power lines 

• Livestock water developments 

• Mining 

• Water channel alterations and removal of riparian vegetation 

• Hunting 

Existing Actions 


Examples of existing and foreseeable actions within the Cassia-Raft River and Marsh Creek sub¬ 
basins that are either causing impacts to wildlife and other resources or could potentially cause such 
impacts include: 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-29 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


• Public access 

• Livestock grazing 

• Continued alteration of streams for human purposes 

• Mining 

• Rural development 

• Wildfire and prescribed burning 

• Alteration of shrub steppe habitats 

• Water development 

• Conversion of native vegetation to agricultural 

• Fencing on private or public lands 

• Construction of powerlines 

• Drought and severe winters 

• Disease 

• Loss of shrub steppe habitats on private lands 

• Hunting, poaching, and predation 

• Herbicides 

• Land exchanges 

• Development of energy sources 

Foreseeable Actions 

Some examples of foreseeable actions that may contribute cumulatively to impacts of the Proposed 
Project include: 

The Idaho Transportation Department is proposing to reconstruct and improve a portion of the City of 
Rocks Back County Byway between Elba and Almo, Idaho. This 17-mile stretch of road would be 
built in phases with completion of the Proposed Project occurring in 2007 or 2008. Completion of this 
road improvement project could likely result in an increase in the number of visitors to the City of 
Rocks area and an increase in motor vehicle speeds along this section of road. 

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is presently constructing a full-service RV 
campground on public land near the City of Rocks National Reserve located 20 miles south of the 
Proposed Project. 

Other wind power projects are being proposed, recently constructed, or poised for construction in 
southern Idaho. A 10 MW project was completed early in 2005 at Fossil Gulch near Hagerman, Idaho 
located approximately 65 miles west of the Proposed Project. Ridgeline/Airtricity is developing three 
projects totaling 600 MW near Idaho Falls, Idaho and two projects totaling 400 MW near American 
Falls, Idaho located 125 miles northeast and 45 east of the proposed project respectively. Windland 
Inc. is developing a 200 MW project south of American Falls, Idaho approximately 45 miles east of 
the Proposed Project. RES has proposed a 200 MW project southwest of Twin Falls, Idaho located 
approximately 70 miles southwest of the Proposed Project. These wind projects, once constructed, 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ESSO 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


have the potential to result in cumulative impacts to wildlife and other resources when combined with 
the proposed Cotterel project and historical, present, and ongoing actions. These actions could result 
in cumulative impacts to wildlife and other resources. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-31 




Cotferel Wind Power Project 


Executive Summary 


THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


ES-32 





CHAPTER 1 


: 

; 


PURPOSE AND NEED 









1.0 PURPOSE AND NEED 


1.0 PURPOSE AND NEED 

Cotterel Mountain is a linear north-south ridgeline about 16 miles in length that lies in south central 
Idaho, between the towns of Albion, on the west and Malta on the east, within Cassia County, Idaho. 
It is predominately federally managed public land within the Idaho Bureau of Land Management 
(BLM) Twin Falls District, Burley Field Office (Figure 1.0-1). 

The potential for developing wind energy on Cotterel Mountain as a resource to generate electricity 
has been investigated for two decades. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) funded wind 
data collection activities throughout the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s. BPA is a federal agency 
that owns and operates the majority of the high-voltage electric transmission systems in the Pacific 
Northwest. Utilizing this BPA funding opportunity, the Oregon State University Energy Resources 
Research Laboratory collected and recorded wind data at Cotterel Mountain from 1984 through 1988. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorological data was also used to 
produce estimates of the level of available wind energy at various locations in several western states, 
including Idaho. These estimates were produced by computer simulations that analyzed decades of 
daily weather readings in relation to the topography of the area. The results showed that 
approximately two percent of Idaho landmass is in the highest wind resource categories: Class 5 
(excellent), Class 6 (outstanding), and Class 7 (superb). The Cotterel Mountain ridgeline is within 
these three categories (Figure 1.0-2). In a United States (U.S.) Department of Energy (DOE) study of 
the potential for renewable resources on public lands, the Cotterel Mountain area is classified as one 
of 25 BLM planning units with the largest total land area with a Class 5 or greater wind resource 
(USDI, BLM/DOE 2003). 

In late 2000, in response to the electric energy-pricing crisis in California and the Northwest, BPA 
issued a “Request for Proposals” (RFP) for additional electrical power generated from potential wind 
energy projects and Windland, Inc. (Windland), a Boise, Idaho company, began to investigate 
opportunities to responding to BPA’s RFP. 

In February 2001, Windland submitted an application to the BLM Burley Field Office for a right-of- 
way (ROW) grant to conduct its own wind testing on Cotterel Mountain. This application was 
accepted by the BLM (serial number IDI-33675). 

In March 2001, Windland followed their first application with a second ROW application to 
construct, operate and maintain a wind-driven electric power generation facility on Cotterel 
Mountain. This application was filed by Windland in advance of the proposed meteorological data 
collection in order to be “first in” consideration for such a project. This second application was 
accepted by the BLM. Based on the size and scope of the proposed action, the BLM determined that 
the construction, operation and maintenance of a wind power project on Cotterel Mountain had the 
potential to result in significant environmental impacts, thereby triggering the need to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the proposed action and all reasonable alternatives 
in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


1-1 



























































































































































































































































Cofferel Wind Power Project 


1.0 Purpose and Need 


In April 2001, Windland responded to the BPA RFP based on the studies showing potential for 
development of a wind-powered electrical generation project on Cotterel Mountain (Figure 1.0-2). 

In July of 2001, the BLM issued a ROW grant authorizing Windland to install multiple wind speed 
and direction recording devices (anemometers) at various locations on Cotterel Mountain. Potential 
impacts of the wind testing proposal were analyzed in an Environmental Assessment (EA) number 
ID-077-EA-01-0063, and Finding of No Significant Impact was signed by the Burley Field Office 
Manager on July 13, 2001. 

On December 19, 2002, the BLM published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for the full 
project proposal in the Federal Register (Appendix A). The NOI identified the proposed Cotterel 
Wind Power Project (Proposed Project) area and location as well as BLM’s intention to hold agency 
and public scoping meetings. The initial scoping period ran for 60 days and concluded on February 
21,2003. 

The Proposed Project, if approved, would be developed on Cotterel Mountain. The Proposed Project 
ROW application area is approximately 4,545 acres, extending approximately 16 miles from north to 
south along the Cotterel Mountain ridgeline. Major components of the Proposed Project and project 
alternatives include: 

• Multiple wind turbines and turbine foundations; 

• Multiple pad-mounted transformers; 

• Buried power collection and communication cables; 

• Several miles of project access roads; 

• Meteorological towers on foundations; 

• One to two substations; 

• 138 kilovolt (kV) overhead power transmission line; 

• Operations and maintenance building; and 

• Portable on-site cement batch plant and rock crusher. 

During construction, there would also be several on-site temporary equipment storage and 
construction staging areas. A detailed description of the Proposed Project and construction methods 
are more fully described in Chapter 2. 

The BLM is currently preparing a National Programmatic Wind Energy EIS to address the future 
development of wind energy resources on all BLM-administered public lands across the western 
states. The National Programmatic Wind Energy EIS is presently scheduled for public release in 
August of 2005. It will provide valuable information about wind energy development, including 
recommended best management practices. It amends BLM land use plans that were silent on wind 
energy development but that had no restrictions precluding it. It is not site-specific and makes no 
decisions regarding the Proposed Project. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


1-4 






Cofferel Wind Power Project 


1.0 Purpose and Need 


1.1 THE APPLICANT 

Windland, Inc. (Windland) is a privately owned wind energy development company located in Boise, 
Idaho. The company has a long history of developing and operating wind power plants. Windland 
currently manages wind farms in California and has additional projects under and/or proposed for 
development in Idaho, Oregon and California. Windland is considered a pioneer in the American 
wind energy industry, having owned and operated a wind farm near Tehachapi, California since 1982. 
This wind farm is one of only a handful in the nation operated continuously by the same organization 
for over two decades. 

Windland is currently the sole ROW Applicant for the Proposed Project. However, Windland is 
pursuing the development of Proposed Project as part of a 50-50 joint venture between Windland and 
Shell WindEnergy, Inc. (SWEI). Shell Oil Corporation and part of the Royal Dutch/Shell group of 
companies wholly own SWEI. SWEI currently has over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind projects 
under various stages of development in the U.S. and European Union and is the second largest owner 
of wind farms in the U.S. 

It is the intent of Windland and SWEI that prior to any construction of the Proposed Project, they 
would jointly form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), or other corporate entity and Windland 
would then apply to the BLM for an assignment of the ROW application, IDI-33676 to the LLC or 
other corporate entity. The new LLC or other corporate entity would be used for financing the 
construction of the Proposed Project. 

1.2 PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION 
1.2.1 The Purpose of the Proposed Action 

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to develop an economically feasible wind-powered electric 
generation facility on Cotterel Mountain, creating an alternative renewable energy source for the 
nation’s existing and future energy demands. 

The President’s National Energy Policy encourages the development of renewable and alternative 
energy resources, including wind energy, as part of an overall strategy to develop a diverse portfolio 
of domestic energy supplies (NEPDG 2001). National Policy also encourages the development of 
clean energy. The U.S. Congress and Executive Branch recently re-instituted a 1.8-cent per kilowatt- 
hour production tax credit to encourage the development of clean wind energy. This Federal tax credit 
equals approximately 25 percent of the productive value of a project. 

The Department of the Interior (USDI) and, more specifically, the BLM is seeking opportunities to 
develop renewable resources including wind energy. To accomplish this, the BLM developed the 
Interim Wind Energy Development Policy, released on October 16, 2002, in Instruction 
Memorandum 2003-20 (Appendix B). This policy provides the common direction and policy for 
permitting wind facilities on public land. The presence of an adequate wind energy resource is a 
necessary precondition for an area to be a candidate for development of a wind energy project. The 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


1-5 




Cotterel Wind Power Project 


1.0 Purpose and Need 


site must also have adequate construction and transmission access. There must be adequate access 
from the proposed wind project site to existing transmission lines that would carry the power 
produced by the wind farm to consumers. The proposed Cotterel Mountain site meets these 
conditions. 

1.2.2 The Need for the Proposed Action 

The 2003 energy forecast estimates demand for electricity growing in the northwestern U.S. by an 
annual average of 214 MW (NWPCC 2003). Similarly, the Idaho Power Company (IPC), the largest 
electric utility in southern Idaho (Figure 1.2-1), recently predicted a 1.9 percent per year system load 
growth in the region it serves near the Proposed Project area (IPC 2002). The Proposed Project would 
provide an alternative renewable energy source in an area that has a demonstrated increasing demand. 
Both IPC and PacifiCorp recently issued a RFP for wind energy in their service districts, actively 
seeking renewable energy alternatives to traditional energy development. The IPC RFP is for 200 
MW and the PacifiCorp RFP is for 500 MW of wind power. 



Southern Idaho Utility Districts 


Utility District Key 

Idaho Power 
Utah Power & Light 
Cooperative 


Figure 1.2-1. Southern Idaho Utility Districts. 

Meeting the need for additional demand for electricity in southern Idaho is complicated by limitations 
to the capacity of the existing electric transmission resources in that area. In southern Idaho, the 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


1-6 
























































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


1.0 Purpose and Need 


transmission of electricity is constrained by certain components in the transmission grid. The term 
“transmission constraint” refers to a limit in the electrical transmission system that could prevent the 
delivery of electricity to a portion of the grid. Two transmission constraints in southern Idaho are 
located near American Falls in southeastern Idaho and near the Brownlee Dam in west-central Idaho 
(Figure 1.2-2). The Proposed Project lies “inside” these transmission constraints. 

Southern Idaho Transmission 


Power Constraint Key 



Figure 1.2-2. Electrical Transmission Grid of Southern Idaho. 

Idaho Power Company typically generates 55 percent of its electricity at hydroelectric dams on the 
Snake River. The amount of hydro-generated electricity varies yearly because of the inter-annual 
variability of precipitation. Due to a third year of poor hydro conditions in 2002, only 45 percent of 
its electric generation came from hydro, forcing IPC to increase its reliance on the coal and gas fired 
plants that it owns and operates at Jim Bridger, Wyoming; Boardman, Oregon; Valmy, Nevada; and 
Mountain Home, Idaho and on power purchases on the wholesale market (IPUC 2003). Because the 
inter-annual variability of wind energy is lower than the inter-annual variability of precipitation 
powering hydro-generated electricity, cost effective wind generated electricity can effectively 
supplement the current supply of electrical generation in southern Idaho (Figure 1.2-3). Other utilities 
in the northwestern U.S. (including PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric, and Puget Sound) have 
identified renewable energy resources (such as wind power) as appropriate resources to meet the 
growing demand for electricity in their service territories. 


May 2005 


Draff Environmental Impact Statement 


1-7 














Cotterel Wind Power Project 


1.0 Purpose and Need 


Predictable Fuel Availability 

Wind (Annual Wind Speed Pocatello Airport - power adjusted) 
Hydro (Annual Snake River Flow At Weiser) 


Southern Idaho Hydro Power 
| USBR Hydro Facility 
| Major Dam 


250 % 


200% 


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100 % 


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Wind is less variable than hydro year to year 



9 BLACK CANYON 

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'04 '00 '00 '90 '92 '94 '90 '90 '00 '02 


Figure 1.2-3. Comparison of Predictable Fuel Availability of Wind and Hydro Electrical 
Generation. 

The Proposed Project would contribute to meeting the economic needs of Cassia County and the 
surrounding communities. Recently, Cassia County and the surrounding area experienced business 
closures and work force layoffs. The downturn in employment is primarily the result of a decline in 
the local food processing industry, which includes the closing of the large Simplot Plant in Heybum, 
Idaho, who was a primary employer in the local community. 

The Proposed Project would create both temporary and permanent long-term jobs. Construction 
activity would result in favorable trends for employment and economic benefits within Cassia 
County. Employment effects would include (1) indirect employment resulting from the purchase of 
goods and services by firms involved with construction, and (2) induced employment resulting from 
construction workers spending their income in the local area. Similarly, indirect and induced income 
and spending effects would also occur as “ripple” effects or economic multiplier effects as 
construction dollars come into the local economy. Beneficial impacts to local businesses and the 
economy would include: 


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• Spending by “temporary” construction workers for food, gas, and lodging; 

• Spending by construction contractors for supplies and standard materials needed for 
construction (these would include but not be limited to road construction fill and 
surfacing, concrete materials and water); and 

• Additional permanent jobs and related income adding to the local economy. 

1.3 LEAD, COOPERATING AND PARTICIPATING AGENCIES 

The BLM is the lead federal agency responsible for conducting the preparation of the draft and final 
EIS and the associated analysis. The Proposed Project area is located entirely within the Burley BLM 
Field Office administrative boundary. The Proposed Project is predominantly sited on public land but 
would also affect small amounts of state and private land as well. 

Cooperating agencies are federal agencies that have jurisdiction by law (40 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) Section 1501.6) and will make a decision relative to the project based on the 
analysis disclosed in this EIS. Cooperating agencies may also have special expertise or have 
information that will assist in development of the analysis. In this analysis, the cooperating agencies 
include the BPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), 
Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and Cassia County Commissioners, representing the local 
government. 

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is a participating agency and is providing input 
relevant to wildlife and wildlife habitat. 

1.4 GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION 

The U.S. has a unique legal relationship with Indian tribal governments as set for in the Constitution 
of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions. The Federal 
Government has enacted numerous statutes and promulgated numerous regulations that establish and 
define a trust relationship with Indian Tribes. 

The Federal Government, under the law of the U.S., in accordance with treaties, statutes, Executive 
Orders, and judicial decisions, has recognized the right of Indian tribes to self-government. As 
sovereign nations, Indian tribes exercise inherent powers over their members and territory. The U.S. 
continues to work with Indian tribes on a govemment-to-govemment basis to address issues 
concerning Indian tribal self-government, tribal trust resources, and Indian tribal treaty and other 
rights. 

In this analysis, the BLM has formally initiated consultation with the sovereign nations of the 
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. This consultation has been initiated with 
these Tribal Governments in the manner as requested by them. 


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1.5 INTERAGENCY WIND ENERGY TASK TEAM (IWETT) 

The IWETT is a core group of representatives from USFWS, BLM, and IDFG that was formed in 
2004 under a charter written to assist in the development of alternatives and mitigation 
recommendations for wildlife and wildlife habitat. Its guiding charter is displayed below: 

IWETT Charter 

“This charter sets the goals of the Interagency Wind Energy Task Team in 
relationship to the Cotterel Wind Energy Proposal, presently being analyzed by 
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Burley, Idaho. This team consists of 
representatives from the BLM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Idaho 
Department of Fish & Game. Technical guidance relevant to the construction, 
operation and maintenance of a wind energy development will be provided by the 
applicant, Windland, Inc. in partnership with Shell WindEnergy, Inc. The goals 
are as follows: 

• Review baseline technical reports and data; 

• Assist and contribute to the development of mitigation measures; 

• Assist and contribute to development of adaptive management strategies; 

• Assist with development and/or further enhancement of alternatives; and 

• Identify additional data needs, if appropriate. 

All goals are intended to be achieved in a timely manner. 

This interagency effort is intended to contribute collective agency experience and 
scientific expertise to the development of the Draft and Final Environmental 
Impact Statement being prepared by the BLM. It shall be considered part of the 
analysis process and does not constitute any decision action on the part of any of 
the participating parties.” 

This team has contributed significantly to the analysis process. Its recommendations have been taken 
into consideration and used in the impact analysis and in the development and enhancement of 
alternatives, mitigation and monitoring strategies for the Proposed Project. 

1.6 CONFORM AN ACE WITH EXISTING LAND USE PLAN 

The BLM existing Cassia Resource Management Plan, 1985 (Cassia RMP) does not address wind 
energy development. At the time of preparation of the Cassia RMP, Cotterel Mountain was not 
considered as a wind energy site. In addition, the proposed action is not consistent with the Cassia 
RMP. The Cassia RMP states that BLM will not approve any additional ROW authorizations in 
Management Unit 11. An amendment to the Cassia RMP is being proposed and evaluated in this 
Draft EIS. The NOI also states the BLM’s intention to amend the Cassia RMP. The proposed 


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amendment would revise the existing restrictions that limit ROW development in the Cotterel 
Mountain Management Area. The amendment would allow for the granting of a ROW for the 
development of the Proposed Project. This proposed action and alternatives are consistent with the 
Cassia RMP in meeting all other land management objectives. 

1.7 SCOPING 

In December 2002, a scoping statement was mailed to government agencies, municipalities, Native 
American Tribes, grazing permittees, lease operators, industry representatives, environmental 
organizations, and individuals having a potential interest in the Proposed Project. Local and regional 
media also received the scoping statement and a press release. The scoping statement explained the 
Proposed Project and requested comments regarding issues and concerns that should be addressed in 
the Draft EIS. Three public scoping meetings were held in the towns of Albion on January 7, 2003; 
Burley on January 8, 2003; and Boise, Idaho on January 9, 2003, with 135 total attendees. Initial 
scoping comment letters were encouraged through February 21, 2003 to help the BLM identify issues 
that would guide the formulation of alternatives to the proposed action. Written comments were 
received from 47 individuals, three Federal and state agencies, and five interest groups. A list of all 
respondents is presented in Chapter 5. 

1.7.1 Significant Issues Identified and Used to Develop Alternatives 

NEPA requires Federal agencies to identify and analyze significant issues related to a proposed action 
and its alternatives. Significant issues primarily serve as the basis for developing and comparing 
alternatives. While the focus of the analysis is on significant issues identified, all issues brought 
forward through the scoping process are considered. The following is a list of significant issues 
identified by the public, Shoshone Bannock tribes, the Shoshone Paiute tribes, BLM, and other 
governmental organizations that were used to develop alternatives and assess impacts of the Proposed 
Project. The significant issues addressed in this Draft EIS include: 

• Sage-grouse - Commentors were concerned that the Proposed Project would result in the 
loss of sage-grouse habitat, loss of nesting habitat and disturbance to leks. Grouse could 
also be killed by colliding with wind turbines. 

• Tribal treaty rights or heritage links to public lands - The Tribes expressed a desire that 
these be maintained and protected. 

• Migratory birds including raptor migration - Commentors expressed concern over 
migratory birds being killed by colliding with wind turbines. 

• Public access - Commentors expressed the need to continue to allow and protect public 
access to the Cotterel Mountain. 


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• Visual resources - Commentors expressed concern about the visual impact to the town of 
Albion and other communities, as the Proposed Project would be in close proximity to 
towns, ranches, and homes. 

• Conformance with the Cassia RMP - Internal review disclosed the proposed action was 
not in conformance with the Cassia RMP and an amendment would be required. 

1.7.2 Other Issues and Concerns Addressed 

Other issues and concerns were identified by the public, BLM, Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Shoshone 
Paiute Tribes, and other governmental organizations regarding the Proposed Project and its 
alternatives. They are listed below and described in more detail in Chapter 3 of this Draft EIS. 

• Air Quality 

• Ridgeline and cultural significance to tribes 

• Historical migrations routes of tribes 

• Geology 

• Soils 

• Water Resources (including surface, groundwater, and springs) 

• Noise/vibration/harmonics 

• Vegetation 

• Noxious weeds 

• Wildlife 

• Wind turbine effects on birds and bats 

• Direct and indirect wildlife habitat loss 

• Mule deer winter range 

• Increased human activity on Cotterel Mountain and its effects on wildlife 

• Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species and their habitats 

• Cultural and historical resources 

• Socioeconomics 

• Land use 

• Private land values 

• Increased traffic on local roads during construction 

• Livestock grazing 

• Recreation 

1.7.3 Issues Deemed Outside the Scope of the Draft EIS 

Some issues were found to be outside of the scope of the Draft EIS. These included management 
direction or habitat suitability assessments for the reintroduction of big horn sheep into the Cotterel 
Mountain. The potential impacts of the Proposed Project to the suitability of the Cotterel Mountain 
for reintroduction of big horn sheep will not be addressed in the Draft EIS. The loss of sage-steppe 


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habitat for sage-grouse will be assessed as it relates to the Proposed Project. However, it is outside the 
scope of this Draft EIS to assess the loss of sage-steppe habitat from a range management standpoint 
in regard to grazing. The issue of whether or not the wind turbines would be manufactured in the U.S. 
was deemed outside the scope of the Draft EIS because the source and manufacturer of the turbines 
will have no effect on the development or analysis of the alternatives. Other issues of concern 
included the need for development of all forms of renewable energy. The Draft EIS will address 
creating power with wind energy, but will not address the need for other sources of energy or other 
locations for the Proposed Project. 

The Applicant’s proposal identified the Proposed Project area for development. The wind resource in 
southern Idaho has been studied since the 1980s. The results showed that less than two percent of the 
Idaho landmass is in the top three wind resource categories: Class 5 (excellent), Class 6 (outstanding), 
and Class 7 (superb). The majority of the Cotterel Mountain ridgeline is within one of these three 
categories. Based on the above-mentioned studies and wind data collection that the Applicant 
completed, the Proposed Project site has a proven wind resource suitable for producing electricity at 
competitive prices. Other possible project site locations could jeopardize project feasibility because of 
a lack of sufficient wind resource or remoteness from nearby power transmission lines or barriers to 
access by construction equipment. 

1.8 FEDERAL AND STATE AUTHORITIES AND ACTIONS 

Table 1.8-1 lists all authorizing actions required for project compliance with all relevant Federal and 
state laws. The development of energy resources is part of the BLM management program under the 
authority of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. The development of energy- 
generation facilities is an integral part of the President’s National Energy Policy, which encourages 
the development of renewable energy resources, including wind energy, as part of an overall strategy 
to develop a diverse portfolio of domestic energy supplies for the nation’s future and decrease 
reliance on external suppliers. 


Table 1.8-1. Federal and State Authorities and Actions for the Proposed Project. 


Agency 

Action 

Authority 

U.S. Bureau of Land 
Management 

Draft EIS, Final EIS, Cassia 

RMP Amendment, and Record 
of Decision preparation 

NEPA, 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508; 

Federal Land Policy and Management 
Act of 1976 (as amended), Public Law 
94-579. 


ROW grant 

U.S. Department of the Interior, 

Federal Land Policy and Management 
Act of 1976 (as amended) Public Law 
94-579; 43 CFR 2800 


Notice to Proceed 

BLM Manual H-2801-1 ROW Plan of 
Developments 

Bonneville Power 
Administration 

Cooperating agency - support 
renewable energy sources 

Public Law 96-501 


Interconnection approval 

BPA Open Access Tariff 


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Table 1.8-1. Federal and State Authorities and Actions for the Proposed Project. 


Agency 

Action 

Authority 

U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation 

Granting of ROW 


U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency 

Permit for treatment, storage, or 
disposal of hazardous wastes 

Air Quality 

Resource Conservation and Recovery 

Act 

Clean Air Act as amended 1990 

U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service 

Cooperating agency. Review 
impact on federally listed or 
proposed TES species of fish, 
wildlife, plants, and migratory 
birds 

Preparation of Biological 

Opinion of potential project 
impacts on Threatened and 
Endangered species 

Provides input on 
recommended mitigation 
measures 

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 
1934, as amended 1946, 1977 (16 

U.S.C. 661-667e); Endangered Species 
Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. Sections 1531 
et seq.y, Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 
1918, as amended (16 U.S.C. 703 et 
seq.)\ Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d). 

Idaho Department of 
Fish and Game 

Review impact, wildlife, and 
wildlife habitat and assist in 
developing mitigation measures 

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 
1934, as amended 1946, 1958, 1977 
(U.S.C. 661-667e). 

Idaho Department of 
Lands 

Granting of ROW 

State of Idaho Administrative Rule 
20.03.08 Easements on State Owned 
Land 

Idaho Department of 
Environmental 

Quality 

Permit for Concrete Batch Plant 

Permit for Mobile Rock 

Crusher 

Administrative Rule 5801200 and 

Permit by Rule requirements 5801795 

Idaho State Historic 
Preservation Office 

Consult with BLM on-site 
eligibility and the effects of the 
Proposed Project on eligible 
sites 

Provide determination of 
eligibility 

National Historic Preservation Act of 
1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470). 


1.9 DECISIONS TO BE MADE 
1.9.1 Bureau of Land Management 

The BLM will make a decision whether or not to grant a ROW to allow for the construction, 
operation, and maintenance of the Proposed Project on federal lands. The BLM will also make a 
decision whether or not to amend its existing Cassia RMP, which will allow for the granting of the 


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ROW if so decided. Both decisions will be outlined in a Record of Decision, based on the outcome of 
the EIS. 

1.9.2 Bonneville Power Administration 

The BPA will make a decision whether or not to offer contract terms for the interconnection of the 
Windland project to the Federal Columbia River Transmission System (FCRTS). BPA has adopted an 
Open Access Transmission Tariff for the FCRTS, consistent with the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission’s (FERC) pro forma open access tariff*. Under BPA’s tariff, BPA offers transmission 
interconnection to the FCRTS to all eligible customers on a first-come, first-served basis. 

* Although BPA is not subject to FERC’s jurisdiction, BPA follows the open 
access tariff as a matter of national policy. This course of action demonstrates 
BPA’s commitment to non-discriminatory access to its transmission system and 
ensures that BPA will receive non-discriminatory access to the transmission 
systems of utilities that are subject to FERC jurisdiction. 

1.9.3 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 

The BOR will make a decision on whether or not to grant a ROW for a portion of any transmission 
line that would cross lands managed by the BOR. 

1.9.4 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 

The USFWS will issue a Biological Opinion based on the Biological Assessment of impacts to 
threatened and endangered species. 

1.9.5 Idaho Department of Lands 

The IDL will make a decision whether or not to grant a ROW for a portion of any transmission line, 
any wind turbines, or any access roads that would cross state land. 


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CHAPTER 2 


PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES 
























2.0 PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES 


2.0 PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES 

The purpose of this chapter is to identify and describe the alternatives (potential actions) associated 
with the proposed Cotterel Wind Power Project (Proposed Project) including the Proposed Action and 
No Action Alternatives. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), agencies must: 

“rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives and for 
alternatives which are eliminated from detailed study, briefly discuss the reasons 
for their having been eliminated [(40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 
1502.14(a))].” 

Section 1502.14 requires the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to examine all reasonable 
alternatives to the proposal. In determining the scope of alternatives to be considered, the emphasis is 
on what is “reasonable” rather than whether the Applicant likes or is itself capable of carrying out a 
particular alternative. Reasonable alternatives include those that are technically and economically 
practical, are feasible, and use common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the 
Applicant (Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) 4646 FR 18026 [March 23, 1981] as amended). 

2.1 PROPOSED ACTION AND RANGE OF ALTERNATIVES 

This Draft EIS considers four alternatives: 

• Alternative A: The No Action Alternative 

• Alternative B: Applicant’s Proposed Action 

• Alternative C: Modified Proposed Action with fewer but larger output wind turbines, 
alternative access, alternative transmission line locations and alternative turbine types 

• Alternative D: Modification of Alternative C with a reduced number of wind turbines 

These alternatives have been developed in accordance with CEQ regulations to provide decision¬ 
makers and the public with a clear basis for choice (40 CFR 1502.14). A detailed description of these 
alternatives is provided below. If selected, Alternative B, C and D would require amending the Cassia 
Resource Management Plan (RMP). Alternative A would not require an amendment to the RMP. 

2.1.1 Alternatives Considered and Eliminated from Detailed Study 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) considered two alternatives (Alternatives E and F) that 
were not carried forward or analyzed in detail. One alternative was proposed as a modification of 
Alternative D, which attempted to achieve a greater balance between reducing the potential for 
impacts to sage-grouse habitat and habitat use while maintaining an economically viable wind energy 
development. The alternative attempted to avoid the most direct suspected impacts to sage-grouse lek 
use and associated nesting at several key locations on the mountain by eliminating turbines from 
those areas. This substantially reduced the number of turbines allowed. The other alternative focused 
on the complete protection of sage-grouse and minimizing possible impacts by severely reducing the 


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numbers of turbines allowed. A description of these alternatives and brief rationale for why they are 
not analyzed in detail is disclosed in Section 2.7 below. 

2.2 ALTERNATIVE A (NO ACTION) 

Background: As required by NEPA, this Draft EIS includes Alternative A, a No Action Alternative 
as the baseline against which the action alternatives can be compared. This baseline also allows for 
the disclosure of the effects of not developing the proposed wind power project and its associated 
infrastructure. For purposes of this analysis, Alternative A assumes that no actions associated with the 
Proposed Project would occur, and existing management of the area would continue to be 
implemented under the Cassia RMP; therefore, an amendment to the Cassia RMP would not be 
required for this alternative. 

Description of Alternative A: Under Alternative A, the Rights-of-Way (ROW) grant for the 
construction, O&M of a wind-powered electrical generation facility would not be granted and the 
RMP would not be amended by the BLM. This alternative would maintain current management 
practices for resources and allow for the continuation of resources uses at levels identified in the 
Cassia RMP. This alternative would also incorporate any management decisions that have been made 
subsequently to the Cassia RMP. This alternative generally satisfies most commodity demands of 
public lands, while mitigating impacts to sensitive resources. It includes moderate levels of resource 
protection and development including: wildlife habitat protection; range improvements; vegetation 
treatments; soil erosion controls; and fire management. In addition, livestock use, recreation activities 
(including off-highway vehicle use), timber harvest, and land development (energy and 
communication) would continue at present levels. However, these levels would be subject to 
adjustments when monitoring studies indicate changing resource conditions or trend has occurred. 
ROW would also continue to be limited to those allowed under the current RMP. 

2.3 PROPOSED PROJECT FEATURES COMMON TO ALL ACTION ALTERNATIVES 

The Proposed Project action alternatives would consist of access roads, wind turbines interconnected 
by a network of utility-grade facilities consisting of transformers at the base of each turbine, 
underground electric collection lines, substation(s), and transmission interconnect lines for connection 
to the existing utility grid. There would also be several wind speed measuring meteorological towers 
and an operations and maintenance (O&M) facility sited within the Proposed Project area. All of the 
wind turbine control systems would be connected by a communications system for computerized 
automated monitoring of the entire project. A temporary cement batch plant, rock crusher, and 
construction operation trailer pad would also be located on-site. 

The Proposed Project involves one to three linear strings of wind turbine towers that would be sited 
on three distinct ridgelines on Cotterel Mountain. The towers within each string would be sited 
approximately one-quarter mile apart. The proposed Cassia RMP amendment is specific to the 
Cotterel Wind Power Project. No other wind energy projects will be permitted on Cotterel Mountain. 


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Understanding how a wind power generating facility function helps better understand the potential 
effects to resources and other public use of the area and aids in developing responsive management 
strategies to avoid, reduce and mitigate these effects wherever possible along the turbine string. 

The Proposed Project is projected to operate at 0.35 (35%) capacity factor under optimum wind 
conditions. This means that the project generates 0.35 (35%) of its total nameplate capacity because 
the wind does not always blow at a speed high enough to turn the blades of the turbines and generate 
electricity; and at times it blows so fast, i.e., during storms, that the blades are feathered or braked 
(stopped). 

This is not to say that all of the turbines in a project are running 35 percent of the time or that they all 
are not running 65 percent of the time. Each turbine functions independently of each other. The 
turbine blades begin to turn when the wind reaches speeds of approximately eight to nine miles per 
hour or greater. When wind speeds exceed approximately 55 miles per hour, the blades are feathered 
and turned out of the wind. 

Naturally, wind speeds are variable along the length of a mountain ridge. As you move along a 12 to 
14 mile turbine string, as is proposed on Cotterel Mountain, each turbine turns independently of the 
others according to the wind speed at its location. The observer will normally see that some turbines 
are turning and others are not turning at any given time. Rarely would all the turbines be either 
turning or not turning at the same time. Each turbine operates as a single entity; some may generate 
45 percent of the time and others only 25 percent of the time because of their location on the 
mountain (it is only the overall project average that is 35%). In summary, it is difficult to predict at 
what time and how long any one turbine would be turning. 

2.3.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project 

The Wind Turbines 

Wind turbines consist of three main physical components that are assembled and erected during 
construction: the tower; the nacelle; and the rotor blades. The modem wind turbines under 
consideration for the Proposed Project have tower heights that range from 210 to 262 feet and rotor 
diameters that range from 230 to 328 feet (Figure 2.3-1). The number of turbines proposed would 
range from 66 to 130 depending on the alternative. 

Tower: The tower is a tubular freestanding, painted steel, conical (tubular)-type structure that is 
manufactured in multiple sections depending on the required height. Towers are delivered to the site 
and erected in two or three sections each. Each section is bolted together via an internal flange. An 
access door is located at the base of each tower. An internal ladder runs to the top of the tower just 
below the nacelle. The tower is equipped with interior lighting. 


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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


-V 




/ 


/ 


J. 


/ 


\ 


\ 


\ 


\ 


Rotor Blade 
Diameter 
230 ’- 328 ’ 


\ 


Blade Ht. 
(Highest) 
325 ’ - 426 ’ 


Turbine 
Hub Ht. 
210 ’- 262 ’ 


Blade Ht. 
(Lowest) 
95 ’ - 98 ’ 


Person 

Vehicle 

House 




Figure 2.3-1. Diagram of a Typical Wind Turbine. 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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Nacelle: The gearbox, generator, and various control equipment are enclosed within the nacelle, 
which is the housing of the unit that protects the turbine mechanics and electronics from 
environmental exposure. A yaw system is mounted between the nacelle and the top of the tower on 
which the nacelle resides. The yaw system, which is comprised of a bearing surface for directional 
rotation of the turbine and a drive system consisting of a drive motor(s) to keep the turbine pointed 
into the wind to maximize energy capture. A wind vane and anemometer are mounted at the rear of 
the nacelle to signal the controller with wind speed and direction information. 

Rotor Blades: Wind turbines are powered by three composite or fiberglass blades connected to a 
central rotor hub. Wind creates lift on the blades, causing the rotor hub to spin. This rotation is 
transferred to a gearbox where the speed of rotation is increased to the speed required for the attached 
electric generator that is housed in the nacelle. The rotor blades turn slowly, typically less than 20 
revolutions per minute. The rotor blades are typically made from a glass-reinforced polyester 
composite. The blades are non-metallic, but are equipped with a sophisticated lightning suppression 
system. 

Roads 

Proposed access roads would be located to minimize disturbance, avoid sensitive resources (e.g., 
raptor nests, cultural resource sites), and maximize transportation efficiency. Each turbine 
manufacturer has slightly different equipment transport and crane requirements. These requirements 
dictate road width and road turn radius. The type and brand of turbines would be limited by 
manufacturer production capacity within the timeframe of the Proposed Project schedule. To allow 
safe passage of the large transport equipment used in construction, all-weather gravel roads would be 
built with adequate drainage and compaction to handle 15-ton per axle loads. Road widths would 
range between 16 and 35 feet. Passing turnouts would be located approximately every four miles 
along access roads where needed. 

Access to the area would be via Interstate 84 (1-84), State Highway (SH)-81 from the north, or SH-77 
from the southwest (Figure 2.3-2). Access to the Proposed Project facilities would be provided by 
newly constructed extensions of existing access roads, and reconstructed existing access roads that 
begin from SH-81 and SH-77. New roads would link the individual turbines, substations, and other 
project facilities. 

From the north end of Cotterel Mountain the existing road from SH-81 would be upgraded to an all- 
weather gravel road and would be the primary access route for all larger turbine components. New 
all-weather turbine string roads would be constructed to link the turbines. The turbine string roads 
would be designed to enable the transport of large cranes between each individual turbine. New short 
spur roads would be constructed along the turbine strings to access each individual turbine. All roads 
would be constructed for the specific purpose of the Proposed Project. The BLM would require that 
all roads be designed, built, surfaced, maintained to minimize disturbance, and to provide safe 
operation conditions at all times. 


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-nsnv 


North Access Road 


Potential Turbine 
String Road 


Transm ssioni 


Potential Turbine 
String Road 


Potential Turbine 
String Road 


South Access Road 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 2.3-2. Project Overview 


Legend 


O & M Facility ; 


Potential Turbine String Roads Transmission Lines 


Interstate 


Access Roads 


Project Area 


State Roads 


Other Roads 


Alt. B Interconnect ROW 


Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 


2 Miles 













































































































































































Co tferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Electrical System 

Each wind turbine generates electricity at approximately 600 volts. The low-voltage from each 
turbine generator would be increased via a transformer located at each turbine to the 34.5 kilovolt 
(kV) level required for the medium voltage collector system. The power collection system would 
consist of medium voltage, high-density insulated underground cables that connect each separate 
turbine to a substation. These underground cables would be buried in parallel trenches. These 
trenches would be primarily located within the roadbed of the turbine connector roads. In some cases 
underground cable trenches would need to be located outside of the roadbed. At the substation, 
voltage would be further increased to 138 kV. The stepped-up power would then be delivered through 
the transmission interconnect lines to the transmission grid. 

Communications System 

Each wind turbine generator contains electronic devices to constantly monitor turbine performance. 
Data from these monitoring devices can be read at each turbine. The data would also be distributed 
via a network of communication cables, and possibly radio links, to the O&M building. Underground 
communication cables would be buried in the same trenches as the medium voltage electrical system. 

Substations 

The main function of the substation is to step-up the voltage from the collection lines (34.5 kV) to the 
transmission level (138 kV) and to provide fault protection. The basic elements of the step-up 
substation facilities are a control house, a bank of one or two main transformers, outdoor breakers, 
capacitor banks, relaying equipment, high voltage bus work, steel support structures, an underground 
grounding grid and overhead lightning suppression conductors. All of the main outdoor electrical 
equipment and control house would be installed on a concrete foundation. The exact footprint of the 
substations would depend largely on the utility requirements, the number of turbines used and the 
resulting nameplate capacity, which would affect the number of 34.5 kV feeder breakers. Each 
substation would consist of a graveled footprint area of approximately one acre, a 12-foot chain-link 
perimeter fence, and an outdoor lighting system. Depending on the alternative, there would either be 
one or two substations for the entire project. 

Transmission Interconnect Lines 

The substation(s) would connect the project to existing transmission grid via 138 kV transmission 
interconnect line. The transmission interconnect line would be hung from two-pole, wooden H-frame 
structures approximately 60 to 65 feet tall (Figure 2.3-3). Overhead wires would consist of three wires 
attached to nonspecular (low reflectivity) conductors and two continuous ground wires. 


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H-FRAME 



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Figure 2.3-3. Typical Wooden H-Frame Transmission Interconnect Line Support Structure. 


Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Facility 

The O&M facility would be sited at the south access road east of SH-77 near the Conner Creek 
Summit. The O&M facility would include a main building with offices, spare parts storage, 
restrooms, a shop area, outdoor parking facilities, a turn-around area for larger vehicles, outdoor 
lighting and a gated access with partial or full perimeter fencing. The O&M building would have a 
foundation footprint of about 50 by 100 feet. The projected permanent footprint of the O&M facility 
(including parking area) would be about two acres. The building would be painted to match the 
surrounding landscape color and would be landscaped with native species of grasses and shrubs 
matching those found on-site prior to construction. 

2.3.2 Construction 

The Proposed Project would use standard construction and operation procedures used for other wind 
power projects in the western U.S. These procedures, with minor modification to allow for site- 
specific circumstances and differences between turbine manufacturers, are summarized below. 
Additionally, project construction and operations will follow BLM Best Management Practices 
(BMP) as described in Appendix C. The construction of the project is projected to take approximately 
eight months. 


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Staging/Equipment Lav-Down Areas 

To facilitate the construction of the Proposed Project, project staging areas would be needed. It is 
anticipated that a single project staging area would be located off-site near 1-84 northeast of Cotterel 
Mountain. This staging area would be sited on private land that would be leased by the Applicant for 
the duration of the project construction. The staging area would be approximately five acres in size 
and would be used for the temporary storage of turbine components, construction equipment, and 
other supplies. 

Five equipment lay-down areas would be required for construction of the Proposed Project. The lay- 
down areas would be used during construction for storage of equipment and facility construction 
materials, equipment parking and refueling sites, crane assembly and disassembly, a batch plant, 
waste disposal and collection receptacles, sanitary facilities, and temporary modular office space. The 
lay-down areas would range from two to five acres in size. The total area of ground disturbance for 
the five lay-down areas would be approximately 15 acres. 

Road Construction 

To obtain preliminary roadway footprints, profiles and sections were developed for the Proposed 
Project roads. From these preliminary profiles and sections, estimates of cut-and-fill required to 
construct the roads were calculated using InRoads® model. Five-foot contour data were used to 
develop a digital terrain model that represents the existing ground in the InRoads® model. A 
horizontal alignment was created and overlaid on the digital terrain model. This alignment met the 
requirements for the type and size of trucks that would be delivering and constructing the Proposed 
Project. The roadway alignment requires the following design features: 

• The road is to be gravel, 16 feet wide, less than two percent crown or inslope with ditch 
and culverts as required on uphill side. 

• Maximum grade is ten percent. 

• Maximum allowable dip is six inches in 50 feet. Maximum allowable bump is six inches 
in 50 feet. 

• On turns, the minimum inside radius is 82 feet. The minimum outside radius is 115 feet 
(so at the apex of a 180 degree turn the road is 33 feet wide). 

A profile was then developed from the digital terrain model along the horizontal alignment, and a 
vertical alignment was developed along the profile that met the requirements. A typical section was 
developed, that met the requirements, and was placed every 20 feet along the horizontal and vertical 
alignment. Cut-and-fill lines were developed on the digital terrain model at the 20-foot interval and 
interpolated between the 20-foot placements. 

The numbers generated for area, along with cut-and-fill volumes for the Proposed Project roadways 
are based on general assumptions and approximate locations of the Proposed Project features. These 
numbers are for analysis purposes only. Final location of the road and the cut-and-fill volumes would 


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be based on topography and sound engineering principles. Figure 2.3-4 shows a diagram ot the 
typical cross section of the 16-foot wide project access roads. Figure 2.3-5 shows a diagram of the 
typical cross section of the 35-foot wide turbine string roads. 

The minimum full-surfaced width for project access roads would be 16 feet. The roadway along the 
ridgelines to access the turbine string would be 35 feet in width. There would be no shoulders. Cut- 
and-fill slopes would be at a ratio of 2:1. Equipment clearance would require a minimum inside radius 
of 82 feet on all turns, and would be graded to within no more than 6 inches of rise or drop in any 50- 
foot length. Turnouts to allow for safe passing of construction vehicles would be 64 feet wide and 450 
feet in length. 



Figure 2.3-4. Typical Cross Section for Project Access Roads. 


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Figure 2.3-5. Typical Cross Section for Project Turbine String Roads. 

No material quarries will be located on BLM or other federal lands. Any needed fill or road base 
material in excess of that generated from road cut activities would be obtained from a licensed off-site 
private source. 

Topsoil removed during road construction would be stockpiled at project staging areas. The 
stockpiled topsoil would be respread on cut-and-fill slopes, and then re-vegetated as soon possible 
following road construction. 

Construction traffic would be restricted to the roads developed for the project. Use of existing 
unimproved roads would be for emergency situations only. Flaggers with two-way radios would be 
used to control construction traffic and reduce the potential for accidents along all roads. Speed limits 
would be set commensurate with road type, traffic volume, vehicle type, and site-specific conditions 
as necessary to ensure safe and efficient traffic flow. 

To avoid unnecessary impacts to vegetation, construction equipment would be limited to construction 
corridors and to designated staging/equipment lay-down area footprints. Where possible, the BLM 
Sensitive plant species Pedio cactus would be transplanted from road ROW and tower pad sites to 
areas outside of the project impact area, as approved by the BLM. 

All construction equipment would be thoroughly washed off-site prior to delivery to the project site. 
To prevent the spread of weeds and noxious weeds within the Proposed Project area, construction 
equipment used for road construction at lower elevations on Cotterel Mountain would be washed 


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thoroughly at an intermediate wash station prior to proceeding with work activities at higher 
elevations on the ridge. 

To help limit the spread and establishment of an invasive species community within disturbed areas, 
prompt establishment of the desired vegetation would be required. Seeding would occur as soon as 
possible during the optimal period after construction using certified “weed-free” seed and using 
native species to the extent possible, in a mix prescribed by the BLM (Appendix C), on all areas to be 
seeded. 

Turbine Pads and Foundations 

At each turbine pad, a 185-foot by 180-foot lay down area would be required for off-loading and 
storage of the three tower sections, nacelle, rotor hub, and blades. In level or near level terrain, this 
lay down area would not need to be graded or cleared of vegetation. Construction access to this area 
would be limited to wheeled vehicles. Some crushing of vegetation and soil compaction would be 
expected to occur. Within this lay down area, a 90-foot diameter area would be cleared of vegetation 
and graded to facilitate construction of the turbine foundation (Figure 2.3-6). 

To allow a large track-mounted crane to access the turbine foundations, a crane pad would be 
constructed adjacent to the turbine access road. The crane pad would be 40-feet in width and 120 feet 
in length. It would be constructed using standard cut-and-fill road construction procedures. To allow 
the crane to safely lift the large and extremely heavy turbine components, the crane pad must be 
nearly flat. Following construction, the majority of the crane pad would be recontoured and seeded. 
An eight-foot wide, 120-foot long gravel-surface turbine spur road would be left to allow 
maintenance vehicles access to the turbine. 

The Proposed Project area has rhyolite or basalt rock formations within a few inches, but no more 
than two feet from the surface where the turbine foundations would be constructed. These rock 
formations are covered by a few inches to two feet of mineral soil. The quality of the rhyolite or 
basalt formations is sufficient to allow for the use of a rock socket type foundation (GeoEngineers 
2004). 


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1801 



Figure 2.3-6. Typical Turbine Pad Lay-Down and Construction Area. 

Rock socket foundations for turbines in the 1.5 to 3.0 megawatts (MW) range involve making a 
roughly circular excavation approximately 16 feet in diameter and 25 to 30 feet deep. Boreholes 
about three inches in diameter are drilled to a depth of two feet below the foundation depth (i.e., 27 to 
32 feet deep). Packets of explosives about the size of soda cans (each containing about 2 pounds of 
explosive) are lowered into the boreholes (one packet per each foot of depth) and the remaining space 
is filled with sand. Rock within the excavation area is first fractured by delayed detonation blasting in 
interior and perimeter bore holes (Figure 2.3-7). The majority of the energy released by the detonation 
is consumed in fracturing rock within a conical zone a maximum of twice the depth of the foundation 
(i.e., 48 to 56 feet). The remaining energy is transferred away from the blast in ring waves as elastic 
vibration in the rock (no permanent deformation of the rock) and air vibration. Rock vibrations should 
dissipate within less than 200 feet from the foundation site. The fractured rock is subsequently 
removed from the excavation area (Figure 2.3-8). Blasting would not occur within 200 feet of the two 
concrete-block structures that house electronic communication equipment located at the summit of 
Cotterel Mountain. These structures would be evaluated by an engineer pre-blasting and post-blasting 
to determine if any impact to these structures occurred. If impacts from blasting occur, these 
structures would be repaired or replaced by the Applicant. 


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Two sections of concentric steel conduit forms are lowered into the excavation (Figure 2.3-9). 
Concrete slurry is pumped between the outside of the larger diameter conduit and the perimeter of the 
excavation. Spoils from the excavation are used to fill the inside of the smaller diameter conduit. A 
bolt structure is lowered into the area between the two conduits (Figure 2.3-10) and concreted into 
place (Figure 2.3-11). The wind turbine tower is connected to the protruding bolts. 


To adequately ground the turbines to prevent damage from electrical storms, three-inch diameter 30- 
foot deep holes may be required for placement of turbine grounding rods as needed. These holes 
would be located adjacent to the turbine foundations within the 90-foot diameter area that is cleared 
for foundation construction. Following placement of the grounding rods, the holes would be 
backfilled and capped with concrete. 


Three phase detonation sequence. 
Timed to crack center then fragment 
materials from perimeter to center. 
Produces a strong foundation socket. 



• 1st Charge - Initial center charge 

Loosens area for 2nd charge 

9 2nd Charge • Fracture center 

Creates an area of fractured rock in 
foundation center. Allows fragmented 
material to move to center of 
foundation socket. 

# 3rd Charge - Perimeter cut 

A ring of20-30 perimeter charges cuts 
evenly. Energy forces inward. The outer 
rock structure is intact. Voids in fractured 
rock produce mound in center. 



Figure 2.3-8. Excavation of Tower 
Foundation Hole Following Blasting. 


Figure 2.3-7. Detonation Sequence for 
Tower Foundation Blasting. 


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Figure 2.3-10. Bolt Structure 
for Tower Foundation. 



Figure 2.3-11. Foundation Bolts Ready for Concrete Pour. 


Tower Erection 

Tower erection requires the use of one large track-mounted crane and two small cranes. The large 
crane would first raise the bottom conical steel tower section vertically, and then lower it over the 
threaded foundation bolts. The large crane would then raise each additional tower section to be bolted 
through the attached flanges to the lower tower section. The crane would then raise the nacelle, rotor, 
and blades to be installed atop the towers. Two smaller wheeled cranes would be used to off-load 
turbine components from trucks, and to assist in the precise alignment of tower sections. 

Underground Communication and Electrical Cables 

Trenching equipment would be used to excavate trenches in or near the access road bed to bury the 
insulated underground cables that would connect each turbine to one of the two project substations. 
Large conductor cables would be packed in sand within the trenches and covered to protect the cables 
from damage or possible contact. Optical fiber communication links would be placed in the same 
trenches as the conductor cables. The depth and number of trenches would be determined by the size 
of the cable required and the thermal conductivity of the soil or rock surrounding the trench. 


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Transmission Interconnect Line Construction 

Transmission interconnect line construction would use standard industry procedures including: 
surveying; ROW preparation; materials hauling; structure assembly and erection; ground wire; 
conductor stringing; cleanup; and restoration. All transmission lines and structures would be designed 
to prevent the perching of raptors and other birds as outlined in “ Suggested Practices for Raptor 
Protection on Power Lines-The state of the Art in 1996 ” (Olendorff et al. 1996). Construction 
procedures described below would be the same for both transmission line routes. 

The overhead 138 kV transmission interconnect lines would be constructed on wooden H-frame 
structures. The wooden H-frame structure holes would be approximately three feet in diameter and 
ten feet deep. They would be auger drilled unless consolidated rock is encountered, then, structure 
holes would be advanced using dynamite. All blasting would be conducted by a permitted contractor, 
and would be in compliance with state and federal regulations. Structures would be assembled on¬ 
site. Aboveground pole height would range from 60 to 65 feet. The disturbed surface area at each 
structure location would average 50 by 100 feet. Structure erection and conductor stringing would 
occur sequentially along the ROW. 

Existing public and private roads would be used to transport materials and equipment from staging 
areas to ingress points along the transmission interconnect line ROW using the shortest distance 
possible. The ROW would be used to access transmission interconnect line construction sites. The 
interconnect line would require the installation of a temporary construction trail. The construction 
trail would be a 12-foot wide area, which is cleared of large boulders to allow high clearance vehicles 
to pass. The trail would be installed to allow access to support the construction of the interconnect 
lines. Clearing of vegetation and minor grading may be necessary at some of the transmission 
interconnect line structures to facilitate their construction. Once construction is complete, the trail 
would be used approximately twice a year for inspection and maintenance. Native vegetation would 
be allowed to re-establish over the trails to the extent that 4-wheel-drive vehicle travel remains 
practical. Barriers would be placed where the ROW intersects roads to prevent unauthorized traffic 
onto the transmission line ROW. 

Batch Plant 

The Proposed Project would require over 9,000 cubic yards of concrete for construction of the wind 
tower foundations and substations. Depending upon weather conditions, concrete typically needs to 
be poured within 90 minutes of its mixing with water. Delivery time to pour locations would likely 
exceed 90 minutes from existing concrete suppliers in the vicinity of the Proposed Project area or 
from potential off-site staging areas. Therefore, a temporary concrete batch plant would be 
constructed within the Proposed Project area to facilitate the sub-90 minute delivery time needed. 

The concrete batch plant would be located on-site at a central location within an area approximately 
five acres in size. The batch plant would not be located with '/ 4 mile of any golden eagle nest, 
consistent with BMP for wildlife (Appendix D). Vegetation would be cleared and the ground leveled 
and a one-foot high earth berm or other appropriate erosion control devices, such as silt fences and 


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straw bales, would be installed around the area to contain water runoff. Diversion ditches would be 
installed as necessary to prevent storm water from running onto the site from surrounding areas. The 
batch plant would operate during project construction hours for approximately four to five months of 
the eight month construction period. The batch plant would require a stand-alone generator 
approximately 250-kilowatt (kW) in size. The generator would draw fuel from an approximately 500- 
gallon aboveground storage tank with secondary storage for spill prevention. It is estimated that the 
batch plant would consume from 2,000 to 4,000 gallons of water per day. There would be a 4,000- 
gallon water tank on-site that would be replenished as needed. The batch plant operation would be 
permitted by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. 

Stockpiles of sand and aggregate would be located at the batch plant in a manner that would minimize 
exposure to wind. Cement would be discharged via screw conveyor directly into an elevated storage 
silo without outdoor storage. Construction managers and crew would use BMP along with good 
housekeeping practices to keep the plant, storage, and stockpiles clean, and to minimize the buildup 
of fine materials. Cement trucks would be cleaned and washed at the batch plant. Cement residue 
would be washed from the cement delivery trucks into an aboveground settling pond. Cement residue 
would be collected from the settling pond and trucked off-site for disposal, as needed. 

Following completion of construction activities, the Applicant’s contractor would rehabilitate the 
batch plant area. The area would be re-contoured, stockpiled topsoil would be replaced, and the area 
would be re-seeded with a designated mixture of native grasses, forbs, and shrubs as determined by 
the BLM. 

Portable Rock Crusher 

To construct the Proposed Project’s roads, a rock crusher would be required to provide appropriately 
sized aggregate for fill and road base. The rock crusher would have an average capacity of 
approximately 20,000 tons per day. The crusher would operate during project construction hours for 
approximately four to five months of the eight-month construction period. In accordance with BMP, 
the rock crushing area would be sprayed by a water truck to suppress dust. The crusher contains 
several dust-suppression features including screens and water-spray. Dust-control measures would be 
operating at all emission points during operation, including start-up and shut-down periods, as 
required by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality permit. 

During construction, water would be needed for dust control and for making concrete. No wells 
would be drilled or springs developed for the Proposed Project. All needed water would be hauled 
from an off-site municipal or private source. 

Trailer Pad 

Contractors constructing the Proposed Project would require on-site mobile trailers to provide for 
management of and communication to the work force. The mobile trailers would also house a first aid 
station, emergency shelter, restrooms, and hand-tool storage area for the construction workforce. The 


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trailer pad would be located at the southern end of the center turbine string. Vegetation would be 
cleared and the ground leveled over an area of about 200 by 500 feet. The ground surface would be 
graveled to limit dust and mud within the area. 

Traffic 

Construction of the Proposed Projects roads, facilities, and electrical/communication lines would 
occur at about the same time, using individual vehicles for multiple tasks. During the construction 
period, there would be approximately 60 daily round trips by vehicles transporting construction 
persomiel to the site. Over the entire construction period, there would be 2,205 trips of large trucks 
delivering the turbine components and related equipment to the project. In addition, there would be 
over 12,000 truck trips by dump trucks, concrete trucks, water trucks, cranes, and other construction 
and trade vehicles (Table 2.3-1). Once constructed, O&M of the Proposed Project would require three 
round trips per day using pickups or other light-duty trucks. 

A traffic management plan would be prepared for the construction of the project to ensure that no 
hazards would result from the increased truck traffic and so traffic flow would not be affected on 
local roads and highways. This plan would incorporate measures such as informational signs, flagmen 
when equipment may result in blocked throughways, traffic cones and flashing lights to identify any 
necessary changes in temporary land configuration. 


Table 2.3-1. Estimated Vehicle Trips for Construction of the Proposed Project. 


Turbine Component Ttypes 

Number of 
Components 
Required per 
Turbine 

Number of 
Components per 
Truck Load 

Number of Truck 
Loads per Turbine 

Tower sections 

3.0 

1.0 

3.0 

Blades 

3.0 

2.0 

1.5 

Nacelle 

1.0 

1.0 

1.0 

Rotor hub 

1.0 

2.0 

0.5 

Foundation components 

2.5 

1.0 

2.5 

Foundation concrete (cubic 
yards) 

70.0 

10.0 

7.0 

Total truck loads/turbine 



15.5 

Purpose for truck load 

Number of Truck Loads 

Deliver turbine components (assume 130 turbines) 

2,205.0 

Road and turbine foundation construction 

12,625.0 

Crane delivery and removal 

40.0 

Deliver substation and other electrical components 

50.0 

Deliver O&M building materials 

20.0 

Total large truck loads 

14,940.0 


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Project Construction Clean Up 

Final cleanup and restoration of the Proposed Project area would occur immediately following 
construction. Waste materials would be removed from the area and recycled or disposed of at 
approved facilities. All construction-related waste would be properly handled in accordance with state 
and federal regulations and permit requirements. The waste would be removed to a permitted disposal 
facility. This waste may include trash and litter, garbage, other solid waste, petroleum products, and 
other potentially hazardous materials. 

Excess material (soil, rocks, vegetation) developed during the construction of the project would be 
disposed of at an off-site location. The off-site disposal area would be a private facility licensed to 
accept such material. 

Construction Work Force 

Approximately 107 to 132 workers per day would be required for construction of the Proposed 
Project. The beginning and end of the construction period would involve a slightly lower number of 
workers when compared to the middle months. The breakdown of the constmction workforce by type 
is shown in Table 2.3-2. Construction of the Proposed Project would be completed in one season 
over an approximate 8-month period. 


Table 2.3-2. Estimated Workforce for the Proposed Project. 


Type of Worker 

Average Number Required 
Throughout the Construction Period 

Carpenter/form setter 

7 

Cement finisher 

3 

Cement, rebar 

4 

Electrician helper 

17 

Electrician, industrial 

11 

Electrician, master 

2 

Laborer 

43 

Structural steel worker 

9 

Backhoe operator 

5 

Cherry picker operator 

7 

Cable crane operator 

5 

Dozer operator 

2 

Power shovel operator 

3 

Road roller operator 

2 

Estimated daily total 

120 


Twelve employees would work at the Proposed Project on a permanent basis, including one office 
administrator, one foreman, and ten windsmiths/electricians. Employees would work eight-hour 


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shifts, five days per week, with the exception of five of the windsmiths, who would rotate shifts to 
cover nights and weekends. The Applicant anticipates that all permanent positions, with the exception 
of the foreman position, would be filled from the local labor force. Windsmith training would be 
provided to those who have a basic understanding of electrical work. 

The Applicant would contract with a county or state-approved local sanitation company to provide 
and maintain appropriate sanitation facilities. The sanitation facilities would be located at each of the 
crane assembly areas, the batch plan, the substations, and the trailer pad area, and when necessary 
additional facilities would be placed at specific construction locations. 

2.33 Public Access and Safety 

Public access to the federal and state lands would not be restricted. However, during construction of 
specific project features (blasting, tower erection, transmission interconnect line stringing) certain 
portions of the Proposed Project area would be restricted to the public for safety purposes. Authorized 
users such as grazing permittees and communication site personnel would continue to have access 
during the construction period. Following project construction, public access to federal and state lands 
would be allowed to resume. The two substations would be fenced with 12-foot high chain-link fence 
to prevent public and wildlife access to high voltage equipment. Safety signs would be posted in 
conformance with applicable state and federal regulations around all towers (where necessary), the 
two transformers, and other high voltage facilities and along roads. Any existing livestock control 
fences that would need to be replaced or repaired would conform to BLM Manual Handbook H-1741- 
1 for the passage of wildlife. 

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require lighting on structures over 200 feet in 
height. The turbines proposed under all the action alternatives would be over 210 feet in height and 
therefore would require appropriate obstruction lighting. However, the FAA may determine that the 
absence of marking and/or lighting does not threaten aviation. Recommendations on marking and 
lighting structures vary depending on: terrain; local weather patterns; geographic location, and, in the 
case of wind farms, the cumulative number of towers and overall site layout. The FAA would review 
the Proposed Project prior to construction and might recommend that tower markings or aviation 
safety lighting be installed on all or only a portion of the turbine towers. 

Although coordination with the FAA has not been initiated, based on the lighting and marking 
requirements of similar projects and the FAA Obstruction Marking and Lighting Advisory Circular 
(AC70/7460-1K), a likely adequate lighting setup for the Proposed Project can be determined. It is 
anticipated that the probable lighting setup would consist of two medium-intensity, flashing white 
lights operating during the day and twilight, and two flashing red beacons operating during the night. 
The intensity of the lights would be based on a level of ambient light, with illumination below two 
foot-candles being normal for the night and illumination of above five foot-candles being the standard 
for the day. It is anticipated the lights would not be mounted on every turbine. Most likely they would 


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be located on several strategically selected turbines to adequately mark the extent of the facility. The 
minimum number of required lights would be used in order to minimize attractants for birds during 
night migrations. 

2.3.4 Operations and Maintenance (O&M) 

Routine maintenance of the turbines would be necessary to maximize performance and detect 
potential difficulties. Routine activities would consist primarily of daily travel by windsmiths that 
would test and maintain the wind facilities. O&M staff would travel in pickup or other light-duty 
trucks. Most servicing and repair would be performed within the nacelle, without using a crane to 
remove the turbine from the tower. Occasionally, the use of a crane or equipment transport vehicles 
may be necessary for cleaning, repairing, adjusting, or replacing the rotors or other components of the 
turbine. Cranes used for maintenance activities are not as large as the large track-mounted cranes 
needed to erect the turbine towers. 

Monitoring the operations of the Proposed Project would be conducted from computers located in the 
base of each turbine tower and from the O&M building using telecommunication links and computer- 
based monitoring. 

Over time, it would be necessary to clean or repaint the blades and towers, and periodically exchange 
lubricants and hydraulic fluids in the mechanisms of the turbines. All lubricants and hydraulic fluids 
would be stored, used, and disposed of in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Any 
necessary repainting would be performed by licensed contractors in compliance with applicable laws 
and regulations. 

Hazardous Materials 

Hazardous materials are those chemicals listed in the Environmental Protection Agency Consolidated 
List of Chemicals Subject to Reporting under Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Re¬ 
authorization Act of 1986. No extremely hazardous materials (as defined by 40 CFR; Section 335) are 
anticipated to be produced, used, stored, transported, or disposed of as a result of this project. All 
production, use, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous materials associated with the Proposed 
Project would be in strict accordance with federal, state, and local government regulations and 
guidelines. All potentially hazardous materials used in the O&M of the wind plant would be stored in 
the O&M building in approved aboveground containers with appropriate spill containment features. 

Turbine lubricants used in the turbine gearbox are potentially hazardous. The gearbox would be 
sealed to prevent lubricant leakage. The gearbox lubricant would be sampled periodically and tested 
to confirm that it retains adequate lubricating properties. When the lubricants have degraded to the 
point where they no longer contain the needed lubricating properties, the gearbox would be drained 
and new lubricant would be added. 

Transformers contain oil for heat dissipation. The transformers are sealed and contain no moving 
parts. The transformer oil would not be subject to periodic inspection and does not need replacement. 


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Construction equipment and O&M vehicles would be properly maintained at all times to minimize 
leaks of motor oils, hydraulic fluids, and fuels. During construction, refueling and maintaining 
vehicles that are authorized for highway travel would be performed off-site at an appropriate facility. 
Construction vehicles that are not highway-authorized would be serviced on the project site by a 
maintenance crew using a specially designed vehicle maintenance truck. During operation, O&M 
vehicles would be serviced and fueled at the O&M building or at an off-site location. A Spill 
Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure Plan would be prepared for the Proposed Project and 
would contain information regarding training, equipment inspection and maintenance, and refueling 
for construction vehicles, with an emphasis on preventing spills. 

The Hazardous Materials Management Plan for the Proposed Project would contain specific 
information regarding the types and quantities of hazardous materials, as well as their production, use, 
storage, transport, and disposal. This plan would be included as a requirement of the ROW grant for 
the Proposed Project. 

2.3.5 Reclamation 

Reclamation refers to the restoration of lands used temporarily during a construction activity (such as 
staging areas) to their approximate condition prior to construction. After construction is complete, 
temporary work areas, trenches, and tower pads would be graded to the approximate original contour, 
and the area would be re-vegetated with a BLM-approved mixture of native grass, forbs, and shrub 
species. Reclamation would include implementation of all applicable BLM BMP (Appendix C). 

2.3.6 Decommissioning 

Decommissioning refers to the dismantling of the project elements and re-vegetating of the site upon 
completion of the operating life of the facility. While the ROW grant would have a 30-year term, it 
could be renewed indefinitely. Thus, the anticipated life of the wind plant would be greater than 30 
years. Upgrading and replacing equipment can extend the operating life indefinitely, assuming that 
there would be future demand (after the 30-year term) for the electricity generated by the Proposed 
Project. Therefore, the estimated life of the project depends primarily on the demand for power, 
which would be expected to increase for the foreseeable future. 

At the end of the useful life of the project, the Applicant would obtain any necessary authorization 
from the BLM and other appropriate regulatory agencies to decommission the project facilities. 
Decommissioning would involve removing the turbines, support towers, transformers, substations, 
and the upper portion of foundations. Generally, wind turbines, electrical components, and towers are 
either refurbished and resold, or recycled for scrap. All unsalvageable materials would be disposed of 
at authorized sites in accordance with laws and regulations. 

Site reclamation after decommissioning would be based on site-specific requirements and techniques 
commonly employed at the time the area would be reclaimed. Techniques could include re-grading, 
spot replacement of topsoil, and revegetation of all disturbed areas with an approved native seed mix. 
Turbine towers and sub-station foundations would be removed to a depth of six inches below grade. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-22 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Assuming that the transmission line would not be used for other potential developments, all 
structures, conductors, and cables would be removed. Abandoned roads would be reclaimed or left in 
place based on the preference of the BLM at the time of decommissioning. The ROW would then 
revert to BLM control. 

2.3.7 Project Design and Best Management Practices (BMP) 

All action alternatives would be subject to BMP (Appendix C). In addition, fatality monitoring, and a 
Va mile golden eagle nest buffer zone would be required (Appendix D). The BMP in Appendix C 
represent standards from the BLM ROW Handbook (H2801-1). These BMP are designed to guide 
construction activities and development of facilities to minimize environmental and operational 
impacts. These include, but are not limited to, standards associated with overall project management, 
surface disturbance, facilities design, erosion control and revegetation, hazardous materials, project 
monitoring and responsibilities for environmental inspection. 

An example of these BMP would be standards related to noxious weed control. Based on these 
standards, the Applicant would be responsible for the control of noxious weeds caused by the 
activities authorized by the ROW (Appendix C). The Applicant would be required to meet BLM 
standards in the application of weed control. The Applicant would use integrated noxious weed 
control management techniques to control the establishment of weeds. Methods of control would 
include herbicidal, manual, mechanical and biological methods. The actual control method would be 
based on access, time of year, type of weed species, growth stage of the weed species, wind velocity, 
affected acreage, etc. All applicable personal protective equipment and clothing would be used in 
noxious weed control work. All weed control work would be completed in consultation with the 
Burley BLM noxious weed control specialist and the Cassia County Weed Supervisor. 

All noxious weed control efforts would be in accordance with annual NEPA compliance documents, 
which document sensitive species and map their locations, provides site-specific herbicidal usage 
rates, and includes plant and animal clearances. These NEPA documents would identify newly 
established noxious weed species and provide control practices from year to year. It is estimated that 
actual weed control efforts would not exceed 50 acres per year, although weed control inventory and 
monitoring may include several thousand acres annually. 

2.4 ALTERNATIVE B - PROPOSED ACTION 

This alternative is presented as proposed in the ROW application made by the Applicant to the BLM. 
The Applicant has attempted to reduce potential project impacts through project design, application of 
BMP (Appendix C), and consideration of input from its own public scoping efforts in developing its 
proposed action. The BLM has not modified this alternative; it is the Applicant’s proposed action. 

Background: On March 23, 2001, Windland, Inc. filed a ROW application with the BLM pursuant 
to Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of October 21, 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1761, as 
amended). The Applicant has petitioned the BLM to grant a ROW for the construction, operation, 
maintenance and removal of a wind-powered electric generation facility on Cotterel Mountain in 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-23 




Cofferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Cassia County, Idaho. The application specified the proposed construction of between 210 and 226 
Vestas (V-47) 660-kW wind turbines with a nameplate rating for the whole project of between 139 
and 150 MW. These turbines require a 165-foot high tower and have a rotor diameter of 154 feet, 
with a total height to the tip of the blade at its highest point being 242 feet. 

When the application was filed, the V-47 was considered a very reliable industry standard and the 
Applicant was confident that this would be their machine of choice. However, wind turbine 
technology has changed, with several manufactures building larger machines with nameplate ratings 
of between 1.3 and 1.8 MW. The V-47 has been replaced by much larger, more efficient turbines; 
hence, the nature of the original application has changed. Because of the rapid rise in technology, the 
Applicant now includes an alternate proposal of constructing between 120 and 130 of the larger 
turbines, thereby, giving the Proposed Action a total generated output or nameplate rating of between 
156 and 234 MW. These turbines would require towers between 212 and 262 feet in height and have 
blade diameters of between 213 and 231 feet, with a total height to the tip of the blade at their highest 
point being between 319 and 395 feet. Since these machines are so much larger, the spacing 
requirement between them is much greater, which reduces the number of wind towers. 

Today, a commonly used machine in wind power projects is a 1.5 MW turbine. The Applicant’s 
proposed action was modified to construct 130, 1.5 MW turbines with 210-foot tall towers, 230-foot 
diameter blades, and a total height to the tip of the blades at their highest point of 325 feet. This 
would be analyzed as Alternative B in this Draft EIS. The Applicant’s proposal to use the Vestas V- 
47 is outdated and is mentioned here purely for informational purposes. 

Description of Alternative B: Under Alternative B, the Applicant is proposing to construct a wind- 
powered electric generation facility along the approximately 16-mile ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. 
As proposed, the project would consist of approximately 130, 1.5 MW wind turbines that would be 
sited along the west, central, and east ridges of Cotterel Mountain (Figure 2.4-1). The west string 
would be 0.8-miles in length and located along the short side-ridge west of the main Cotterel 
Mountain ridgeline. The center string of wind turbines would be about 10.9 miles in length and 
placed along the spine of the central ridgeline of the mountain. The east string of wind turbines would 
be 4.1 miles in length and located along the east ridgeline that extends south of the Cotterel Mountain 
summit. In addition to the 130 wind turbines, two 138 kV overhead transmission interconnect lines 
would connect the project to the transmission grid emanating from two separate substations. The 
exact location of proposed wind turbines, roads, power lines, or other facility-related construction 
would be sited based on environmental, engineering, meteorological, or permit requirements. Other 
physical components of the wind plant are described in Table 2.4-1. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-24 






North Access 
Road 


Crane Assembly Areas 


Raft River 
Transmission 


Substation 


Crane Assembly Areas 


IO*H0 




^ t 

Y 



\ _ ~~ 

/ \ 



BPA 

Transmission 


Substation 


Batch Plant 


Trailer Pad 


West 


*tr J 


South Access 
Road 


Operations and 
Maint. Building 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 

Figure 2.4-1. Alternative B, 130 
70m Rotor Diameter Turbines. 

Legend 

Proposed Access Road Interstate 

• Turbine Location "■■■■ Major Roads 

Existing Transmission Lines Other Roads 

Proposed Transmission Interconnect 
1 ! Project Area Boundary 


2 Miles 

H 








































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Table 2.4-1. Alternative B - Proposed Action Project Features. 


Project production capacity (in MW) 

195 

Number of turbines 

130 

Turbine nameplate (each) 

1.5 MW 

Total length of turbine strings 

15.8 miles 

Project roads 

26.6 miles (total) 

Existing (to be used without modification) 

0 miles 

Reconstructed 

4.5 miles 

New 

22.1 miles 

Buried electrical distribution lines total 

23 miles 

Buried electrical distribution lines outside of 
roadbeds 

5 miles 

Number meteorological stations 

3 

Number of substations 

2 

Number of O&M facilities 

1 

Overhead transmission interconnect lines 

9 miles 


2.4.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative B 

Wind Turbines 

Under Alternative B, each turbine would be 210 feet in height to the center of the hub. Each of the 
three blades would be 115 feet in length, with an over-all diameter of 230 feet. Maximum blade 
height would be 325 feet above the surrounding landscape (Figure 2.3-1). 

Substations 

Under Alternative B, there would be two substations. The substations would be located at the north 
and central portions of the middle turbine string (Figure 2.4-1), 

Transmission Interconnect Lines 

The substations would connect to the existing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Raft 
River 138 kV transmission lines via two newly constructed transmission interconnect lines. The two 
overhead 138 kV transmission interconnect lines would both be constructed on wooden H-frame 
structures (Figure 2.3-3). The transmission interconnect line ROW would cross lands managed by 
BLM, the State of Idaho, as well as those under private ownership (Table 2.4-2). 


Table 2.4-2. Miles of Transmission Interconnect Line by 
_ Ownership for Alternative C. _ 


Management or Ownership 

Miles of Transmission 
Interconnect Line 


Alternative B 

BLM 

5.7 

State of Idaho 

2.2 

Private 

1.1 

Total 

9 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-26 







































Cofferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


The 138 kV transmission interconnect line that connects to the existing BPA line would be 5.7 miles 
in length. The transmission interconnect line that connects to the existing Raft River Line would be 
3.3 miles in length. The transmission interconnect lines would be supported by wooden H-frame 
structures placed at approximately 800-ft intervals along the ROW. The transmission interconnect 
line connecting to the BPA line would require about 38 structures; the transmission line connecting to 
the Raft River line would require about 22 structures. 

Roads 

Under Alternative B, about 25 miles of all-weather gravel roads would be needed to access and 
maintain the Proposed Project. The existing Cotterel Mountain north and south access roads would be 
upgraded and improved for construction and operation of the Proposed Project. The existing road 
from SH-77 would require an upgrade and partial relocation to reduce maximum grade to ten percent 
or less, and to increase the inside radius of any turns on the road. This road would be used as primary 
access for construction crews and smaller materials. From the north end of Cotterel Mountain the 
existing road from SH-81 would be upgraded to an all-weather gravel road and would be the primary 
access route for all larger turbine components delivered to the Proposed Project area. 

Under Alternative B, the Proposed Project would require about 4.5 miles of road reconstruction, and 
about 22 miles of new road construction. To allow safe passage of the large transport equipment used 
in construction, all-weather gravel roads would be built with adequate drainage and compaction to 
handle 15-ton per axle loads. Passing turnouts would be located every four miles along access roads. 

Total estimated cut volume for road construction would be approximately 2,660,000 cubic yards. The 
estimated fill volume would be approximately 2,500,000 cubic yards. Under Alternative B, the total 
construction impact area for all project features would be about 365 acres. Following the reclamation 
of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project would occupy an area of about 203 acres. 

2.5 ALTERNATIVE C-PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE 

Background: Alternative C is an alternative to the Proposed Action (Alternative B), that allows for 
wind energy development and has been developed through the identification of issues raised during 
public scoping, agency scoping, consultation with the Applicant, govemment-to-govemment 
consultation, from meetings with the Interagency Wind Energy Task Team (IWETT), and from 
interdisciplinary resource specialist recommendations. In addition to the BMP identified in Appendix 
C, management practices that would further help to facilitate the sustainability of the existing 
environment are included in this alternative. The IWETT has identified additional BMP that are 
included in this alternative to specifically address wildlife issues and concerns related to sage-grouse, 
raptors, bats and requirements under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle 
Protection Act (Appendix D). Alternative C also incorporates compensatory/off-site mitigation, 
effectiveness monitoring and adaptive management plans defined below in Section 2.5.4. 

Other changes in Alternative C include not constructing the seven turbines originally proposed for the 
west turbine string to help reduce the impacts to visual resources (Figures 2.5-1 and 2.5-2). Under 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-27 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Alternative B, the west turbine string and the North Access Road to the north end of the east string 
would be the most visible aspects of the Proposed Project from both the Pomerelle Mountain Resort 
access road and the City of Rocks Back Country Byway (SH-77). In addition, the northern-most four 
turbines of the east string would not be developed to avoid construction of a highly-visible road cut 
across the west facing slope below the existing telecommunications facilities. 

Additionally, the five southern-most turbines of the middle string would not be developed due to 
limited wind resource in this area based on the results of wind monitoring on Cotterel Mountain. To 
make up for loss of project output capacity, additional turbines would be added at the north end of the 
middle string. 

Description of Alternative C: Under Alternative C, the Applicant would construct a wind-powered 
electric generation facility along 14.5 miles of ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. If built as proposed, 
the project would consist of approximately 81 to 98 wind turbines, based on the size of turbine 
selected, sited along the central and east ridges of Cotterel Mountain (Figures 2.5-1 and 2.5-2). The 
central ridge would have approximately 64 wind turbines and the east ridge would have 
approximately 17 turbines. In addition to the wind turbines, one 138 kV overhead transmission 
interconnect line would connect the project to the transmission grid from a single substation. The 
exact location of proposed wind turbines, roads, and transmission interconnect lines, or other facility- 
related construction would be sited based on detailed engineering to address site specific 
environmental, meteorological, or permit conditions including BMP. Other physical components of 
the wind plant are described in Table 2.5-1. 

Under Alternative C, the final selection of the exact make and model of wind turbine to be used 
depends on a number of factors, including equipment availability at the time of construction. The 
number of turbines and the resulting capacity of the project would depend on the type of technology 
used. Therefore, to capture a “reasonable range” of potential project impacts, Alternative C defines 
and evaluates a range of turbine sizes and associated facilities, and their potential impact on the 
environment. 


Table 2.5-1. Alternative C Project Features. 


Number of turbines 

81 to 98 

Turbine nameplate 

1.5 to 3.0 MW 

Project nameplate 

147 to 243 

Total length of turbine strings 

14.5 miles 

Project roads 

24.4 miles (total) 

Existing (to be used without modification) 

1.7 miles 

Reconstructed 

3.2 miles 

New 

19.5 miles 

Buried electrical distribution lines 

18 miles 

Electrical trenching (outside of road bed) 

3 to 4 miles 

Number of substations 

1 

Number of O&M building 

1 

New transmission interconnect line 

19.7 miles 

Meteorological towers 

3 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-28 


















Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


Proposed Transmission Interconnect 
t ! Project Area Boundary 


2 Miles 

4 










































































































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


2.5.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative C 

Wind Turbines 

Under Alternative C, the Applicant could use a range of turbine sizes from 77-meter (253 feet) rotor 
diameter up to 100-meter (328 feet) rotor diameter. For analysis purposes, a 77-meter rotor diameter 
and 100-meter rotor diameter were used. 

Under Alternative C, two sizes of wind turbines would be considered. The smaller of the two would 
have a 77-meter (230 foot) rotor diameter and would have a generation capacity of 1.5 MW. It would 
sit on a 65-meter (210 foot) tower and the rotor would consist of three blades, 115 feet in length. 
Maximum blade height would be 325 feet above the ground. The larger turbine would have a 100- 
meter (328 foot) rotor diameter and would have a generation capacity of between two and three MW. 
It would sit on an 80-meter (262 foot) tower and the rotor would consist of three blades, 164 feet in 
length. Maximum blade height would be 426 feet above the ground. 

Regardless of which size of turbine is finally selected for the project, the turbines would generally be 
installed as indicated on Figures 2.5-1 and 2.5-2. Final adjustments to specific turbine locations 
would be made to maintain adequate spacing between turbines for optimized energy efficiency and to 
compensate for local topographic or geologic conditions. The Applicant has indicated that the size 
and type of turbine used for the project would largely depend on such factors as quality, price, 
performance and reliability history, power characteristics, guarantees and warranties, and availability 
of a particular type of wind turbine at the time of construction. 

Substations 

Under Alternative C there would be only a single substation that would be located approximately 
midway along the central turbine string. 

Transmission Interconnect Lines 

Alternative C would have a single overhead 138 kV transmission interconnect line. The transmission 
interconnect line would extend northeast from the substation down to the Raft River Valley where it 
would cross over, but not connect to the existing Raft River transmission line. From here the 
transmission interconnect line would extend to the north approximately 19.7 miles in a new ROW 
adjacent to the existing ROW for the Raft River transmission line. It would cross over the Snake 
River west of the Minidoka Dam. The line would then travel in a northeast direction where it would 
connect the project to the existing Idaho Power transmission lines located north of the Minidoka 
Dam. The transmission interconnect line ROW would cross lands managed by BLM, Bureau of 
Reclamation, the State of Idaho, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as well as 
those under private ownership (Table 2.5-2). 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-31 







Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Table 2.5-2. Miles of Transmission Interconnect Line by 
_ Ownership for Alternative C. _ 


Management or Ownership 

Miles of Transmission 
Interconnect Line 


Alternative C 

BLM 

5.6 

Bureau of Reclamation 

0.7 

State of Idaho 

5.5 

USFWS 

0.2 

Private 

7.7 

Total 

19.7 


The overhead transmission interconnect line from the Proposed Project substation to the Raft River 
Valley would be supported by 30 wooden H-frame, single circuit structures placed at approximately 
800-foot intervals. From the Raft River transmission line to the north, approximately 105 structures 
would be placed at approximately 800-foot intervals parallel to the existing ROW of the Raft River 
transmission line. Under Alternative C, the transmission interconnect line would be designed to 
prevent the perching of raptors and other large birds. 

Roads 

Under Alternative C, only the existing north Cotterel Mountain access road would be reconstructed 
and relocated. The south access road would have only minor modifications made to improve safety 
including, ditch shaping, comer softening, improved sight distance. Under Alternative C, the 
Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about 3.2 miles of road and the construction of 
about 19.5 miles of new roads. Total estimated cut volume for road construction would be 
approximately 2,200,000 cubic yards. The estimated fill volume would be approximately 2,425,000 
cubic yards. Under Alternative C, the total construction impact area for all project features would be 
about 352 acres. Following the reclamation of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project 
would occupy an area of about 205 acres. 

Project Access 

Under Alternative C, only the north access road off of SH-81 would be reconstructed. The south 
access road would have minor upgrades made to improve safety but would be mostly unchanged from 
existing conditions. Turbine components would only be delivered to the Proposed Project area from 
SH-81 along the north access road. The southern access would be available for ingress and egress 
from the Proposed Project area for all other construction vehicles. 

Since turbine delivery under Alternative C would only occur from the north, tmcks delivering turbine 
components would be required to turn around to travel back out the north access road. Truck turn¬ 
around areas would be 210 feet in diameter and would be centered on the access road. Truck turn 
around areas would be located every four miles along the access road and would be interspersed with 
pullouts. Therefore, there would be either a truck tum-around or a pullout every two miles along the 
project roads. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-32 

















Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Trailer Pads 

Under Alternative C the trailer pad would be located at the north end of Cotterel Mountain. The south 
access road would not be used for construction vehicles entering the site. Therefore, the trailer pad 
would be located adjacent to the north access road to facilitate management and communication with 
construction vehicles and the construction work force entering and exiting the Proposed Project area. 

2.5.2 Public Access 

Under Alternative C, public access on the ridgeline would consist of a combination of new project 
roads and existing and newly constructed primitive roads (Figure 2.5-3). Although public use of 
project roads along the ridgeline would be restricted through a series of gates, signage and natural 
rock barriers, there would not be a loss of public access to existing use areas. Public access would be 
maintained by linking the existing primitive road system through construction of new primitive roads 
to allow existing uses of the area, including hunting, to continue. 

2.5.3 Operations and Maintenance (O&M) 

Under Alternative C, access restrictions to the Proposed Project area by O&M personnel may be 
required to protect leking sage-grouse on a seasonal basis. During the leking season from March 1 
through May 1, O&M personnel may be restricted from active sage-grouse lek sites areas from 4 a.m. 
to 11 a.m. Otherwise, O&M activities for Alternative C would be the same as described under 
Proposed Project Features Common to All Action Alternatives. 

2.5.4 Required On-Site Monitoring, Effectiveness Monitoring, Adaptive Management and 
Compensatory (Off-Site) Mitigation 

The Applicant would be required to complete on-site monitoring as a condition of the ROW grant the 
same as described under Alternative B. This monitoring would include on-site fatality monitoring 
associated with the operation of the turbines and on-site sage-grouse lek studies as described in 
Appendix D. 

For the purposes of this analysis, on-site is defined as the “footprint” of the Proposed Project, or the 
area granted in the ROW. Off-site is anything outside of that area. 

Under Alternative C, additional effectiveness monitoring is included and is intended to determine the 
effectiveness of the project design, construction and BMP in protecting wildlife. Effectiveness 
monitoring would include the required on-site monitoring described above and additional monitoring 
that was recommended by the IWETT. This additional monitoring would be funded by the Applicant 
through a compensatory mitigation fund (described below). It includes, but is not limited to, 
continuing the collection of pre-construction baseline data for use in comparative analysis, off-site 
sage-grouse lek studies, continuing sage-grouse telemetry studies, sage-grouse nesting studies, sage- 
grouse winter use studies, and raptor nest surveys. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-33 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 

Figure 2.5-3. Public Access Plan for 
Alternative C. 


Legend 

Restricted Access Roads 
X Project Roads (No Access) 
Publicly Accessible Roads 

Project Roads 

- Existing Primitive Road 

^ Gates 


Project Area 

| m Alt. B Interconnect ROW 
i^ m Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 
Transmission Lines 
Interstate 
State Roads 
- Other Roads 


2 Miles 

-I I I 

























































































































































































Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Wind power projects have effects on wildlife, particularly avian species and bats, depending upon the 
location, geography, and natural setting of the project. Effectiveness monitoring of the project (5 
years or greater) is key in understanding the relationship between the project design, siting of the 
towers, operation of the facility and effects on wildlife. These effects can occur in a variety of ways 
but based on data collected at other wind farms, are chiefly associated with bird collisions with the 
large blades that drive each of the wind turbines (referred to as the rotor swept area of each turbine). 
Additional long-term monitoring may also be necessary to determine how the characteristics of the 
project and its turbines affect the behavior and migration of birds and bats and to determine if there 
are certain turbines along the string that are contributing to bird and bat mortality that would trigger 
the need to implement management actions to reduce these effects. 

Adaptive management is based upon a concept of science that understands ecosystems are complex 
and inherently unpredictable over time. It approaches the uncertainties of ecosystem responses with 
attempts to structure management actions using a systematic method from which over time learning is 
a critical tool. Learning and adapting is based on a process of long-term monitoring of impacts to 
wildlife from this project. The Applicant and the BLM recognize that the findings of long-term 
effectiveness monitoring could indicate the need for modification of operations and adaptive 
management. The BLM and the Applicant will work cooperatively with the USFWS and the Idaho 
Department of Fish and Game to develop appropriate actions or mitigation measures designed to 
address issues or concerns identified as a result of monitoring. Adaptive management tools that are 
available to the Applicant and BLM include, but are not limited to: timing stipulations during 
construction, operational changes of turbines, siting considerations, lighting scenarios, and color 
schemes. These are, for the most part, addressed in Appendix D. 

BLM Washington Office Policy Guidance Instruction Memorandum No. 2005-069 states that off-site 
mitigation can be funded by voluntary contributions from the Applicant into a compensatory 
mitigation fund held by the BLM (Appendix E). This would be done by cooperative agreement 
between the Applicant and the BLM. This cooperative agreement would prescribe the level of 
contribution and the management and use of the fund. Accordingly, the Applicant has volunteered to 
contribute to a compensatory mitigation fund pursuant to the above-mentioned guidance. The 
Applicant has executed a letter of commitment to enter into a cooperative agreement (Appendix F). 
The Applicant intends the annual contribution to be in an amount equal to approximately one-half of 
one percent of the gross revenues received from Cotterel Wind Power Project electricity sales. For a 
200 megawatt project on Cotterel Mountain, that contribution is expected to average approximately 
$150,000 per year at today’s forecasted production and electricity rates. 

An extensive framework of off-site mitigation practices was also recommended by the IWETT to 
address impacts to wildlife, should they occur as a result of the Proposed Project. These practices 
would also be funded by the compensatory mitigation fund. The kinds of off-site mitigation practices 
recommended include, but are not limited to: purchase of key habitats; acquisition of conservation 
easements on key habitats; or, restoration, treatment or conversion of existing federally managed off¬ 
site habitats. Any off-site activities proposed by the steering committee would have impacts 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-35 




Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


associated, which would be separate from the impacts identified for this Proposed Project and 
analyzed in this document. They would be analyzed in separate NEPA documents on a case-by-case 
basis as needed. 

It was further recommended by the IWETT that a technical steering committee would be formed to 
advise on the design of mitigation measures and monitoring covered by the compensatory mitigation 
fund. This committee would be responsible for recommending actions that would be funded by the 
compensatory mitigation fund (i.e. implementation of monitoring over and above that which is 
required, recommending commensurate off-site mitigation, and recommending adaptive management 
strategies). The intent is to ensure interagency involvement in mitigation and monitoring activities 
with particular emphasis on addressing the requirements of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and 
Golden Eagle Protection Act and sage-grouse conservation. The committee will also examine 
ongoing research and scientific studies attempting to understand the behavior and relationship 
between wildlife and wind energy developments. The technical steering committee would be an 
expansion of the IWETT and would consist of interagency wildlife and other resource professionals 
and the Applicant, with final decision authority resting with the BLM Field Office Manager. This 
committee would be formed and chartered prior to any construction of the Proposed Project. 

2.6 ALTERNATIVE D 

Background: Alternative D is an alternative to the Proposed Action (Alternative B), that allows for 
wind energy development and has been developed through the identification of issues raised during 
public scoping, agency scoping, consultation with the Applicant, the IWETT process, govemment-to- 
govemment consultation, and from interdisciplinary resource specialist recommendations. In addition 
to the BMP identified in Appendix C, management practices that would further help to facilitate the 
sustainability of the existing environment are included under Alternative D. The IWETT has 
identified additional BMP that are included in this alternative to specifically address wildlife issues 
and concerns related to sage-grouse, raptors, bats and requirements under the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Appendix D). Alternative D also incorporates 
compensatory/off-site mitigation, effectiveness monitoring and adaptive management plans defined 
above in Section 2.5.4. 

The premise of Alternative D is elimination of turbines from a portion of the sage-grouse habitat 
(leking, nesting, brood rearing, and winter range) while still maintaining an economically viable 
project. Because of the infrastructure costs involved with the project (i.e. turbines, roads, power lines, 
substation), the Applicant has determined that 66 turbines in the 1.5 MW or larger size range would 
be necessary for an economically viable project. Concentrating the turbines along the center ridge of 
Cotterel Mountain would be the best way to obtain this number of turbines while affecting the fewest 
resources. In addition, it would concentrate the project features on the central ridge, leaving the east 
ridge undeveloped. 

Description of Alternative D: Alternative D would use the same size range and types of wind 
turbines as those proposed under Alternative C. Under Alternative D, a range of 66 to 82 turbines 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-36 





Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


would range in generation capacity from 1.5 to 3.0 MW (Figure 2.6-1 and Figure 2.6-2). Tower 
height for the turbines would range from 210 feet to 262 feet, with maximum blade height ranging 
from 325 to 426 feet above the surrounding landscape. Rotor diameters would range from 230 feet to 
328 feet (77 to 100 meters; Table 2.6-1). 

In Alternative D, as under Alternative C, the final selection of the exact make and model of wind 
turbine to be used depends on a number of factors, including equipment availability at the time of 
construction. The number of turbines and the resulting capacity of the project would depend on the 
type of technology used. Therefore, to capture a “reasonable range” of potential project impacts, 
Alternative D defines and evaluates a range of turbine sizes and associated facilities, and their 
potential impact on the environment. 


Table 2.6-1. Alternative D Project Features. 


Number of turbines 

66 to 82 

Turbine nameplate 

1.5 to 3.0 MW 

Project nameplate 

123 to 198 

Total length of turbine strings 

11.6 miles 

Project roads 

19.3 miles (total) 

Existing (to be used without modification) 

1.7 miles 

Reconstructed 

2.9 miles 

New 

14.7 miles 

Buried electrical distribution lines 

14 miles 

Electrical trenching (outside of road bed) 

3 miles 

Number of substations 

1 

Number of O&M buildings 

1 

New transmission line 

19.7 miles 

Meteorological towers 

3 


2.6.1 General Features of the Wind Power Project Under Alternative D 

Wind Turbines 

Wind turbines would be the same for Alternative D as described under Alternative C. 

Substations 

Substations would be the same for Alternative D as described under Alternative C. 

Transmission Interconnect Lines 

The transmission interconnect lines would be the same for Alternative D as described under 
Alternative C. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-37 




















cequia 




Jackson 


Idahome 


Albion 


IDAHO 




r—^ 

* ^ 

Trailer Pad ^ 


dalta 


Full Extent of Project Area Including 
Transmission Interconnect Route 


North Access Road 


Crane Assembly, 


Area 


Substation 


Albion 


Batch Plant 


Operations and 
Maint. Building 


Raft River 
Transmission 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 2.6-1. Alternative D, 66 
100m Rotor Diameter Turbines. 


Legend 

° Turbine Location 

Proposed Access Road 

• * * Existing Transmission Lines 


Interstate 
Major Road 
Other Road 


Proposed Transmission Interconnect 
r i Project Area Boundary 









































































-Cejoi^r 


— 


cequia 
dackson 


i/lalta 


Full Extent of Project Area Including 
Transmission Interconnect Route 


Albion 


North 


Access 


Trailer Pad 


Crane Assembly, 


Road 


Area 


Batch Plant i 


Operations and 
Maint. Building 


1 

VV-1 

* 

f f 

S j Substation 

i 


Raft River 
Transmission 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 2.6-2. Alternative D, 82 
77m Rotor Diameter Turbines. 


Legend 

° Turbine Location 
1 Proposed Access Road 
”*• “ Existing Transmission Lines 
“• ■ Proposed Transmission Interconnect 
n Project Area Boundary 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


2 Miles 

H 











































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Roads 

Under Alternative D only the existing north Cotterel Mountain Access road would be reconstructed 
and relocated. The south access road would have only minor modifications to improve safety, 
including: ditch shaping, corner softening, improved sight distance. Under this Alternative, the 
Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about 2.9 miles of road and the construction of 
about 14.5 miles of new roads. Total estimated cut volume for road construction would be 
approximately 2,080,000 cubic yards. The estimated fill volume would be approximately 2,275,000 
cubic yards. The total construction impact area would be about 282 acres. Following the reclamation 
of construction impact areas, the final Proposed Project would occupy an area of about 160 acres. 

Access 

Access for construction of the Proposed Project would be the same for Alternative D as described 
under Alternative C. 

Trailer Pads 

Trailer pads would be the same for Alternative D as described for Alternative C. 

2.6.2 Public Access and Safety 

Public access under Alternative D would be similar to Alternative C along the central ridgeline and 
turbine string. However, under Alternative D there would be no road construction or turbines sited 
along Cotterel Mountain’s east ridge. The lower portion of the existing Cotterel Mountain summit 
road would have minor modifications made to improve safety. The existing Cotterel Mountain 
summit access road and primitive jeep trails along the east ridgeline would remain unchanged and 
would continue to be open to the public. 

2.6.3 Required On-Site Monitoring, Effectiveness Monitoring, Adaptive Management and 
Compensatory (Off-Site) Mitigation 

Required on-site monitoring, effectiveness monitoring, adaptive management and compensatory (off¬ 
site) mitigation would be the same for Alternative D as described under Alternative C. 

2.7 ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED BUT NOT ANALYZED IN DETAIL 
2.7.1 Alternative E 

Alternative E was developed by the identification of issues through public scoping, agency scoping, 
the IWETT, govemment-to-govemment consultation, and interdisciplinary resource 
recommendations and is basically a modification of Alternative D (Figure 2.7-1). It was proposed as a 
possible method of further minimizing potential impacts to sage-grouse habitat and habitat use while 
maintaining an economically viable wind energy development. Alternative E, while avoiding the 
most direct suspected impacts to sage-grouse lek use and associated nesting at several key locations 
on the mountain, would effectively reduce the length of the turbine string to approximately 8.4 miles 
and reduce the number of turbines that could be constructed to a range of 40 to 49. This is 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-40 



















































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


substantially less than the minimum number of wind turbines disclosed by the Applicant as being 
economically viable to construct (66 turbines), operate and maintain at the Cotterel Mountain site. 

CEQ regulations at 40 CFR 1502.14 requires an EIS to analyze all reasonable alternatives to the 
proposal. In determining the scope of alternatives to be considered, the emphasis is on what is 
“reasonable” rather than whether the Applicant likes or is itself capable of carrying out a particular 
alternative. Reasonable alternatives include those that are practical or feasible from the technical and 
economic standpoint and using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the 
Applicant (CEQ 40 Most Asked Questions 1981). 

The Applicant’s analysis and disclosure of a minimum size project is based on the cost of 
infrastructure (i.e. roads, substation, power transmission, underground cabling, etc.), the cost of 
construction on a remote, isolated mountaintop, the cost of monitoring and mitigation, and the cost 
and time required for permitting on public land. It is further based on the time required to amortize 
the capital investment of a project. Alternative E would have essentially the same infrastructure costs 
as Alternative D with approximately 60 percent of the production potential. Accordingly, the 
Applicant states that it is not possible to recoup costs in a reasonable amount of time or achieve the 
rate of return necessary for such a large investment, nor would it be possible to obtain financing. 
While Alternative E is technically feasible and could be constructed, it does not meet the CEQ test of 
a reasonable alternative since it is not economically viable. Therefore, Alternative E does not meet the 
purpose and need stated in this document. For these reasons. Alternative E is not carried forward or 
analyzed in detail. It should be noted that in CEQ’s definition of “reasonable,” technical and 
economic are linked. If a Proposed Action does not meet one or the other, it is not feasible to 
construct and therefore is not a reasonable alternative. 

The casual observer may notice a number of small wind farms cropping up around southern Idaho. 
This begs the question, why are 40 turbines not economically feasible on Cotterel Mountain while 
one, three or seven turbines seem to be a viable project in other areas? As stated above, the answer is 
closely tied to: infrastructure costs; construction costs; monitoring and mitigation costs; the high costs 
and lengthy time requirements of siting on public land versus the low cost and short time frames 
involved with siting on private land; and the capital investment amortization time and costs. It should 
be noted that, with the exception of time to amortize the capital investments, these smaller projects 
located on private land do not experience these other costs. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-42 




Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


2 . 7.2 Alternative F 

Alternative F was developed by the identification of issues through public scoping, agency scoping, 
the IWETT, govemment-to-govemment consultation, and interdisciplinary resource 
recommendations. This alternative further distances the wind energy facilities from sage-grouse use 
areas. Under Alternative F, the Applicant would construct a wind-powered electric generation facility 
along approximately 3.6 miles of ridgeline on Cotterel Mountain. If built as proposed under 
Alternative F, the project would consist of approximately 20 wind turbines, sited along the central 
ridge of Cotterel Mountain. Power transmission and substation involvement would be the same as for 
Alternatives C, D, and E (Figure 2.7-2). 

The premise of Alternative F is to site the wind turbines based on the best available science, 
combined with professional judgment, for the protection of sage-grouse and their habitat. Studies 
regarding the lifecycle of sage-grouse have shown that nesting and brood rearing generally take place 
within a 1.8-mile radius of active leks (Connelly et al. 2000). There is also some scientific 
information on lesser prairie chickens to suggest that they may avoid tall structures (Robel et al. 
2004). Therefore, it has been suggested by some that placement of a wind power project within that 

1.8 mile radius of leks may have an adverse affect on the lifecycle activities of sage-grouse 

Application of a 1.8-mile no development zone around known, active sage-grouse leks would limit 
the siting of the wind generation facility to the 3.6-mile section of the central Cotterel Mountain 
ridgeline and reduce the number of constructible turbines to approximately 20. This requirement 
would render Alternative F not economically feasible, for the same reasons as described above under 
Alternative E, as a commercial wind generation facility and not in accordance with the purpose and 
need stated in this document. Therefore, Alternative F has been considered but is not being analyzed 
in detail. 

2.8 COMPARISON OF ALTERNATIVES 

Table 2.8-1 provides a comparison of the alternatives by Proposed Project features. Table 2.8-2 
provides a summary of acres of permanent and temporary impacts by project feature. Table 2.8-3 
provides a summary of potential resource impacts for Alternative A, Alternative B, Alternative C, and 
Alternative D. These numbers are for analysis purposes only. 


A/I ay 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-43 







































































Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Table 2.8-1. Comparison of Project Features ol 

the Action A 

ternatives. 

Project Features 

Alt. B 

Alt. C 

Alt. D 

Project nameplate (in MW) 

195 

147 to 243 

123 to 198 

Number of turbines 

130 

81 to 98 

66 to 82 

Turbine nameplate (in MW) 

1.5 MW 

1.5 to 3 
MW 

1.5 to 3 

MW 

Turbine hub height (meters) 

64 

80 

80 

Turbine diameter (in meters) 

70 

77 to 100 

77 to 100 

Total length of turbine string (in miles) 

15.8 

14.5 

11.6 

Project roads total (in miles) 

26.6 

24.4 

19.3 

Existing (to be used without modification) 

0 

1.7 

1.7 

Reconstructed 

4.5 

3.2 

2.9 

New 

22.1 

19.5 

14.7 

Electrical trenching (outside of roads, in miles) 

5 

3 to 4 

2.8 

New transmission Interconnect lines (in miles) 

9 

19.7 

19.7 

Substations 

2 

1 

1 

Meteorological towers 

3 

3 

3 

Maintenance and operation building 

1 

1 

1 

Temporary ground disturbance (in acres) 

365 

350 

280 

Permanent ground disturbance (in acres) 

203 

203 

158 

Construction features 

Earth work Cut (in cubic yards) 

2,663,496 

2,203,176 

2,079,286 

Fill 

2,506,995 

2,423,935 

2,275,735 

Difference 

+156,501 

-220,759 

-196,449 

Truck trips to build project roads (road base 
only) 

12,625 

10,885 

8,500 

Truck trips to build project (turbines, 
substations, other) 

2,050 

1,850 

1,250 

Total truck trips 

14,675 

12,735 

9,750 

Number of batch plants 

1 

1 

1 

Mitigation 

Wildlife fatality monitoring 

X 

X 

X 

BLM BMP 


X 

X 

Compensatory/off-site mitigation 


X 

X 

Public Access Available 


X 

X 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-45 

















































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


Table 2.8-2. Acreage of Land That Would Be Affected by Development of the Proposed 
Cotterel Wind Power Project. 



Tempo 

( a l 

rary Construction 
Disturbance 
pprox. acres)* 

Permanent Construction 
Disturbance 
(approx, acres) 


Alt. B 

Alt. C 

Alt. D 

Alt. B 

Alt. C 

Alt. D 

Turbine pads 

95 

59 to 72 

48 to 60 

0.8 

0.6 

0.5 

New project roads 

50 

48 

40 

200 

202 

157 

O & M facility 

0 

0 

0 

2 

2 

2 

Temporary equipment 
storage and construction 
staging** 

10 

8 

4 

0 

0 

0 

Power line ROW 

7 

14 

14 

0 

0 

0 

Substation 

0 

0 

0 

0.5 

0.3 

0.3 

Batch plant 

5 

5 

5 

0 

0 

0 

Meteorological towers 

0 

0 

0 

0.014 

0.014 

0.014 

Total 

167 

134 to 
147 

111 to 
123 

202 

205 

159 


^Temporary construction impacts are in addition to permanent impacts. 
**Includes temporary office trailers and crane assembly areas. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-46 


























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Cotterel Wind Power Project 2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


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Cofferel Wind Power Project 2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


2.9 AMENDING THE EXISTING CASSIA RMP 

Public land management actions, including the granting of ROW under Title V of the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act of 1976, are guided by decisions recorded in the Cassia RMP approved 
on January 24, 1985. The RMP currently restricts ROW to existing facilities/localities within 
Management Area 11 (Cotterel Mountain) and thus, the proposed Cotterel Wind Power Project 
development project is not consistent with the RMP. 

When the RMP was completed, development of wind energy was not considered as a potential use on 
Cotterel Mountain. Since that time, advances in technology and demand for energy, particularly a 
diversified energy portfolio including renewable sources, have made wind energy development both 
cost effective and desirable. Wind resource studies, both existing and ongoing as part of this analysis, 
have shown that Cotterel Mountain is a very good renewable wind resource and potential energy 
production site. 

2.9.1 Purpose and Need to Amend the Existing Cassia RMP 

Since the Proposed Project is not consistent with the current direction in the Cassia RMP, there is a 
legal requirement to amend the land use plan if any of the action alternatives (Alternatives B, C and 
D) in this analysis are selected. Alternative A would not require an amendment. The planning 
regulations at 43 CFR 1601 provide for plan amendments for actions that are not presently in 
conformance with the plan. 

The Cassia RMP Management direction for Management Area 11 (which encompasses the Cotterel 
Mountain range) and generally for the whole area, emphasize the following: 

• Expand dispersed recreation opportunities on approximately 18,000 acres south of the 
communication facility; 

• Limit rights-of-way to existing facilities/localities; 

• Manage the area to maintain scenic quality and open space; 

• Improve 31,212 acres of poor and fair condition rangeland to good; 

• Provide 5,278 animal unit months of forage for livestock; 

• Provide forage for and following mule deer by season of use: 403 spring; 403 summer; 
403 fall; 563 winter; 

• Provide yearlong forage for 127 antelope; 

• Maintain or improve 6,414 acres of crucial deer winter range and 703 acres of sage- 
grouse brood-rearing habitat; 

• Protect nesting ferruginous hawks from human disturbance; 

• Control surface disturbing activities on 5,677 acres having soils with high erosion 
potential; 

• Transfer 440 acres out of federal ownership (this action has already been completed); 

• Protect any known and potential ferruginous hawk nesting sites (isolated juniper trees); 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


2-59 





Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


• Restrict activity within 2,300 - 3,000 feet of known ferruginous hawk nest sites from 
March 1 to July 15; 

• No surface occupancy within !4 mile of active ferruginous hawk nest sites; 

• Maintain cover in deer migration routes; 

• Protect meadow seeps and springs to provide for needed production of water, forbs and 
insects within upland game ranges; and 

• Improve raptor habitat by modifying selected sections of power lines where a problem 
has been identified. 

These management objectives were developed in 1985 and are guidelines to help achieve what was 
then the desired future condition of the management area. While some of the objectives have been 
achieved, the BLM continues to work toward those objectives that are still desired. 

The purpose of the proposed amendment is to modify the ROW restriction in Management Area 11 
(containing the Cotterel Mountain range) such that granting of a ROW for and construction of a wind 
energy development would be consistent with the land use plan. 

2.9.2 Planning Process 

The planning action is to amend the Cassia RMP as a part of this Draft EIS. This action is being done 
using the BLM 1600 manual guidance, Idaho State BLM instruction memoranda, and the planning 
regulations published as 43 CFR, part 1600. 

To initiate the plan amendment process, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a land use plan 
amendment was published in the Federal Register and local newspapers in December of 2002. The 
notice invited the public, state and local governments and other federal agencies to participate in the 
planning process by attending any or all of three public scoping meetings held in Albion, Burley and 
Boise in January of 2003 and submitting comments in person or by mail. In addition to the 
publication, the scoping statement was sent out to a mailing list of approximately 150 interested 
parties. A large paid advertisement was also placed in the local newspapers by the Applicant 
announcing the public meetings. Briefing sessions were held in February, March and April of 2003 
for County Commissioners, City Councils and other interested groups around the Mini-Cassia area. 
Through public meetings, letters, briefings and other notices, the public has been given the 
opportunity to comment on and provide additional information on this proposal. In addition, 
govemment-to-govemment consultation was conducted with both the Shoshone-Bannock and the 
Shoshone-Paiute Native American Tribes and BLM coordinated closely with other state and federal 
agencies with an interest in the Proposed Project. All comments were considered in preparation of 
this analysis. These considerations brought to light additional issues and prompted additional and 
more comprehensive wildlife and wildlife habitat studies for preparation of the analysis. 


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Cotferel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


2.9.3 Planning Issues and Criteria 

The NOI listed the planning issues BLM anticipated and invited the public, other federal agencies, 
and state and local governments to identify additional concerns or issues during scoping meetings and 
the 60-day comment period that followed. 

Planning Issues 

The issues identified and through public scoping and used to develop alternatives are as follows: 

• Migratory birds 

• Sage-grouse 

• Maintaining and protecting tribal treaty rights or heritage links to public lands 

• Public access 

• Visual resources 

• Raptor migration 

• Consistency with the RMP 

Planning Criteria 

The following general planning criteria are being considered in the development of the proposed plan 
amendment: 


• NEPA 

• Existing laws, regulations, and BLM policies 

• Plans, programs and policies of other federal, state and local governments, and Indian 
tribes 

• Public input 

• Future needs and demands for existing or potential resource commodities and values 

• Past and present use of public and adjacent lands 

• Environmental impacts 

• Social and economic values 

• Public welfare and safety 

• President’s National Energy Policy 

2.9.4 Proposed Plan Amendment to the Existing Cassia RMP 

Alternatives B, C, or D if selected, would require a plan amendment to the Cassia RMP. This 
proposed amendment would allow the granting of a ROW on Cotterel Mountain for a wind energy 
development project. There is currently a restriction in the Cassia RMP that limits ROW to existing 
facilities and locations. This restriction would be rewritten to allow the development of one wind 
energy project. The amended restriction would read, “limit rights-of-way to existing 
facilities/localities, with the exception of one wind energy project.” 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives 


The proposed amendment would also involve changing the language in item B from the Resource 
Management Objectives on page 39 of the Cassia RMP which currently reads: “Manage the area to 
maintain scenic quality and open space.” The new language would read: “Manage the area to 
maintain scenic quality and open space consistent with the Visual Resource Management (VRM) 
classes for management area 11 and with the exception of the development of one wind energy 
project.” The area is classified VRM Class IV, in which, projects such as the proposed action are 
acceptable. In addition, the existing Resource Management Objective G, also on page 39 of the RMP 
currently reads: “Maintain or improve 6,414 acres of crucial deer winter range and 703 acres of sage- 
grouse brood-rearing habitat.” It would be revised to read as follows: “Maintain or improve 6,414 
acres of crucial deer winter range” (Alternatives B, C, and D); “Maintain or improve 600 acres of 
sage-grouse brood rearing habitat” (Alternatives B and C); or “Maintain or improve 703 acres of 
sage-grouse brood rearing habitat” (AJtemative D). 

Additional ROW proposals would not be considered under the proposed amendment. If additional 
ROW are proposed in this management area, which appear to have merit, they would require 
additional amendments to the RMP and be subject to full and complete analysis in accordance with 
NEPA. 


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2-62 







CHAPTER 3 



AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT 







3.0 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT 


3.0 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT 

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the existing or affected environment, including conditions 
and trends that could be affected by the alternatives described in Chapter 2. Information about the 
landscape, cultural, natural, and human environment is provided to describe more fully the statement 
of needs explained in Chapter 1. The affected environment also sets the foundation for understanding 
and evaluating the alternatives discussed in Chapters 2 and the environmental consequences discussed 
in Chapter 4. 

This chapter focuses on those portions of the environment that are directly related to the conditions 
and resource categories being addressed by the alternatives. The description is not meant to be a 
complete portrait of the study area, but is intended to portray the conditions and trends of most 
concern to the public and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Indicators for the impact 
assessment have been established by resource to better assess the consequences of each alternative. 

3.0.1 Critical Elements Not Affected or Present Within the Proposed Project Area 

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern 

There are no Areas of Critical Environmental Concern within or adjacent to the Proposed Project 
area. 

Wetlands 

Under Alternative C and Alternative D, the proposed transmission interconnect line would cross the 
air space over the Snake River. No impacts to wetlands would occur from this action. 

Wild and Scenic Rivers 

There are no wild and scenic rivers within or adjacent to the Proposed Project area. 

Wilderness 

There are no wilderness areas within or adjacent to the Proposed Project area. 

Floodplains 

Under Alternative C and Alternative D, the proposed transmission interconnect line would cross the 
air space over the Snake River. No impacts to the floodplain of the Snake River would occur from 
this action. 

Farm Lands 

No impacts to farm lands would occur under any of the Proposed Project alternatives. 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


3.1 PHYSICAL RESOURCES 

3.1.1 Climate and Air Quality 

Climate 

The nearest climate recording station from the Proposed Project area is at the town of Malta, located 
approximately five miles to the east of the Proposed Project area at the base of Cotterel Mountain. 
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service 
(NRCS, formerly Soil Conservation Service) does not believe that the Malta station is entirely 
representative of the weather patterns throughout the area. The Malta weather station is located in the 
rain shadow of several mountains in the area, including Cotterel Mountain, Jim Sage Mountain, 
Mount Harrison, and Mount Independence. The average annual precipitation ranges from 12 to 16 
inches throughout these mountains at elevations below about 6,000 feet. Above 6,000 feet, 
precipitation can range from 14 to more than 25 inches per year. Approximately 60 percent of the 
precipitation in the area falls in April through September. Average seasonal snowfall at the Malta 
station is about 18 inches (USDA, NRCS 1986). On the higher mountains more than 50 percent of the 
precipitation may fall as snow. 

At the Malta station, the winter average temperature is 29 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), the average daily 
minimum temperature is 10°F, and the extreme historical low was -27°F. In summer, the average 
temperature is 60°F and the average daily maximum temperature is 85°F with an extreme historical 
high of 104°F (USDA, NRCS 1986). 

Wind on Cotterel Mountain typically blows from west to east with minor seasonal variations. Winter 
snowfall blows clear on some portions of the mountain while forming deep drifts on others. During 
winter there are periods when low clouds settle over the mountain. When temperatures are low 
enough, these clouds can create freezing fog that forms rime ice on the west face of trees, shrubs, 
fences, and other structures. In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms can form resulting in heavy 
rainfall events with lightening and strong winds. 

Air Quality 

The Proposed Project would be located entirely in Cassia County, Idaho, in United States (U.S.) 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality Control Region 63. The area is classified as 
attainment or unclassifiable for all of the following federal and state criteria air pollutants: 

• Carbon monoxide (CO); 

• Nitrogen dioxide (N0 2 ); 

• Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10 microns (PM )0 ); 

• Oxides of sulfur (SO x ); 

• Ozone (O3); and 

• Lead (Pb). 


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3.0 Affected Environment 


The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants are shown in Table 3.1- 
1. These match the Idaho Ambient Air Quality Standards listed in the Idaho Administrative Rules 
(IDAPA) 58.01.01.577. 


Table 3.1-1. National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 


Pollutant 

Averaging Period 

NAAQS 3 

CO 

1 -hour 

8 -hour 

40 mg/m 3 

10 mg/m 3 

no 2 

Annual 

100 pg/m 3 

PM 10 

24-hour 

Annual 

150 pg/m 3 

50 pg/m 3 

SOx 

(measured as S0 2 ) 

3-hour 

24-hour 

Annual 

1,300 pg/m 3 

365 pg/m 3 

80 pg/m 3 

0 3 

1 -hour 

235 pg/m 3 

Pb 

Quarterly 

1.5 pg/m 3 

a mg/m 3 = milligrams per cu 

?ic meter 


pg/m 3 = micrograms per cubic meter 
CO = Carbon monoxide 
N0 2 = Nitrogen dioxide 

PM io = Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10 microns 
SO x = Oxides of sulfur 
0 3 - Ozone 
Pb = Lead 

All areas throughout the country are assigned to one of three different classes of air quality protection. 
These are called Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Classes I, II, and III. Essentially, they 
help to ensure that the air quality in clean air areas remains clean, and does not deteriorate to the level 
of the NAAQS. The mechanism created by Congress to meet this goal is the establishment of “PSD 
increments.” These increments define the maximum allowable increases over baseline concentrations 
that are allowed in a clean air area for a particular pollutant. These increments are promulgated in the 
EPA PSD regulations at 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 52.21(c). Idaho has adopted these 
increments as state regulation in IDAPA 58.01.01.577. 

In the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments, Congress designated all international parks, national 
wilderness areas, and national memorial parks, which exceed 5,000 acres in size, and all national 
parks, which exceed 6,000 acres in size as mandatory PSD Class I areas. Class I areas are to receive 
special protection from degradation of air quality, and the most stringent PSD increments apply in 
these areas. The Class I areas closest to the Proposed Project area are: the Craters of the Moon 
National Monument, located 60 miles north of the proposed area, and the Jarbidge Wilderness area in 
Nevada, located 75 miles southwest of the proposed area. All of Cassia County and the remainder of 
Idaho are designated as PSD Class II areas. PSD Class II areas are those that need reasonably or 
moderately good air quality protection. Most proposed development projects can be accommodated 
within the increments set for PSD Class II areas. There are no Class III areas in Idaho. 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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The two pollutants of concern in Idaho are PM 10 and CO; PMi 0 is currently the most problematic 
pollutant in Idaho. PM t o sources include windblown dust, re-entrained road dust, smoke (residential, 
agricultural, and forest fires), industrial emissions, and motor vehicle emissions (EDEQ 2001). There 
are five areas in Idaho designated as PM i0 nonattainment. The PM ]0 nonattainment area nearest to the 
proposed area is located approximately 70 miles northeast at Fort Hall, Idaho. 

PM 10 was monitored at the Rupert active ambient air monitoring station by EDEQ from 1995 to 1998. 
Rupert is located approximately 14 miles northwest of the proposed area in Minidoka County. Data 
collected from 1995 to 1998 indicate that the PMi 0 NAAQS were not exceeded at this station during 
this time. From 1995 to 1998, the mean annual PMi 0 concentration was 23 pg/m3 and the maximum 
mean annual PM ]0 concentration was 24.5 pg/m3. From 1995 to 1998, the maximum 24-hour PM ]0 
concentration was 145 pg/m3. 

The primary source of CO is incomplete fossil fuel combustion. CO concentrations have the potential 
to be high in urbanized areas where automobile traffic is heavy and cars frequently idle at stoplights. 
The Boise area is the only CO nonattainment area in the state. No violations of the 1-hour CO 
NAAQS have occurred in Idaho since 1987. The 8 -hour CO NAAQS in Boise was exceeded once in 
1991 on January 11. There have been no exceedances since that date (EDEQ 2001). 

3.1.2 Geology 

Cotterel Mountain is a long, low ridge with a relatively steep face or escarpment on the east side and 
a long, gentle slope on the west side. Cotterel Mountain comprises part of the Malta Range, which 
flanks the west side of the Raft River Valley. The Raft River Valley is a north-trending intermontane 
tectonic basin approximately 37 miles long and approximately 15 miles wide with an average valley 
floor elevation of about 4,600 feet. The valley opens northward toward the broad Snake River Plain. 
The Raft River basin lies in the northeast part of the Basin and Range province and is within an area 
of relatively high heat flow known as the Cordilleran thermotectonic anomaly (Williams et al. 1982). 

The eastern side of Cotterel Mountain is flanked by the Raft River detachment fault, which is an east¬ 
dipping low-angle normal fault. North-striking normal faults are numerous and conspicuous in the 
Cotterel Mountain vicinity, implying that the area is block faulted. This is common for late Cenozoic 
tectonic activity in the Basin and Range province, which has been recognized as a region dominated 
by extensional tectonics (Williams et al. 1982). 

The Proposed Project area generally consists of Pliocene and Upper Miocene volcanic rocks, rhyolite 
flows, tuffs, and ignimbrites (Link 2002). Specifically, the northern end of Cotterel Mountain is 
composed of lower and upper successions of rhyolite flows, and a middle unit of varied lithology with 
a total maximum thickness of approximately 3,900 feet. The lower and upper rhyolite flows are very 
similar and consist of mainly dark gray to black, glassy porphyritic rhyolite that weathers to dark 
reddish brown. The rhyolite rock is commonly flow banded, and has well-developed columnar 
jointing that is square in cross section. The southern part of Cotterel Mountain is volcanic explosion 
breccia that was produced by rhyolite flowing into a body of water. The breccia is overlain by two 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


thin, vitric, rhyolite ash-flow tuffs that were erupted from sources to the east. The tuffs are overlain 
by approximately ten feet of white to gray tuffaceous sandstone to siltstone (Williams et al. 1982). 


The basalt of the northern end of Cotterel Mountain is the oldest basalt in the Raft River region and 
consists of two flows. The basalt rock is gray to light gray with a reddish oxidation tint. It contains 
olivine and plagioclase clasts in a dense groundmass of fine-grained plagioclase, olivine, pyroxene, 
opaque minerals, and glass (Williams et al. 1982). 

GeoEngineers (2004) performed a limited subsurface geotechnical investigation as a basis for 
developing preliminary recommendations for foundation design of the wind turbine towers. Their 
investigation included drilling eight air-track holes and four rock core holes. The rock core holes were 
drilled to a depth of about 40 feet; three holes were drilled in rhyolite, and one hole was drilled in 
basalt. GeoEngineers described the core, which included assigning a rock quality designation (RQD). 
RQD is a modified core recovery index defined as the total length of unfractured core greater than 
100 millimeters in length, divided by the total length of the core run. The resulting value is presented 
in the form of a percentage (Deere and Deere 1988). A high RQD value generally means that the rock 
has few natural discontinuities (fractures, faults, etc). The RQD percentage is typically translated into 
the following descriptors of rock quality (Deere and Deere 1988): 


0- 25% RQD = 
25- 50% RQD = 
50- 75% RQD = 
75 - 90% RQD = 
90- 100% RQD = 


Very Poor rock quality; 
Poor rock quality; 

Fair rock quality; 

Good rock quality; and 
Excellent rock quality. 


The basalt exhibits good rock quality. The rhyolite exhibits very poor to poor rock quality. 

Mineral Resources 

The Cotterel Mountain area has known mineral resources (Griggs 2004). There is a platy rhyolite 
locally referred to as “desert antique” in the southern reaches of the Proposed Project area. Due to the 
difficulty of access, there has been little or no interest in mineral sales. The Nibbs Creek Community 
Pit is within one mile of the Proposed Project, and there has been one mineral material sale from that 
site since April 2003 (Griggs 2004). Within the Proposed Project area, there are: 


• No known oil and gas discoveries; 

• No active coal leases; 

• No coal bed methane producing resources; 

• No locatable minerals are known to exist in sufficient quantities for economical recovery. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Co tterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Geologic Hazards 

The potential for seismic activity within the Proposed Project area is moderate, according to the 
Uniform Building Code Seismic Code Map (Idaho Geologic Survey 2003). There are landslides 
within the proposed ROW boundary, located on the east side of the escarpment (Griggs 2004). 

3.1.3 Soils 

Soils in the Proposed Project area were differentiated and mapped by the NRCS into 17 soil types 
(USDA, NRCS 1986). These 17 soil types all have the following general characteristics. They are 
located at high elevation, have low water-carrying capacity, have a potential for erosion by wind and 
water, and have minimal to moderate productivity capabilities as rangeland. For the Proposed Project 
area, we separated the 17 soil types into six soil groups; based on characteristics such as slope, soil 
depth, depth to bedrock or hardpan, and susceptibility to erosion. Each soil group contains from one 
to five soil types. Figure 3.1-1 shows the locations of these six major soil groups. The following 
descriptions for the soil groups are compilations of the individual soil types described by the NRCS 
(USDA, NRCS 1986). 

Group 1 consists of deep silt-loam soils on slopes of less than 12 percent. These soils occur 
predominantly on hillsides, in alluvial fans and on fan terraces. Bedrock occurs at a depth of greater 
than 60 inches. Water capacities of these soils are higher relative to other soils in the Proposed Project 
area. This may result in complications for construction due to severe frost action. Erosion potential 
from water runoff is moderate to very severe within this group, while the potential for wind-caused 
erosion is only moderate. Soils in Group 1 represent approximately 22 percent of the total soils in the 
Proposed Project area and about eight percent of the soils that may be affected by construction. Soil 
units in Group 1 include: 

Rexburg Silt-Loam; 

Watercanyon Silt-Loam; 

Hades Gravelly Loam; 

Heglar Silt-Loam; and 
Kancan Gravelly Silt-Loam. 

Group 2 consists of moderately deep loam to silt-loam soils on slopes less than eight percent. These 
soils are typically found on fan terraces or hillsides. Bedrock occurs at a depth of greater than 60 
inches. A hardpan generally exists at a depth of 20 inches to 40 inches in Group 2 soils. This hardpan 
may impact any proposed construction activities in these soils. Erosion potential due to water run-off 
is only slight to moderate within this group, but erosion potential due to wind is moderate to severe. 
Soils in Group 2 represent about one percent of the total soils in the Proposed Project area and about 
one percent of the soils that may be affected by construction. Soil units in Group 2 include: 

Raftriver loam; and 
Taunton Silt Loam. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-6 







Figure 3.1-1. Soil Groups in Project Area. 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Legend 


Soil Group 

Group 1 
f! j-:-. 1 Group 2 
Group 3 


[_• . Group 4 
| | Group 5 

ff- -'J Group 6 


£"3 Project Area “ 

■ ■■ « 

m | Alt. B Interconnect ROW ■ 

^ _l Att C and D Interconnect ROW 
*“• • Transmission Lines 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 
































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Group 3 contains a deep silt-loam soil located on top of basalt bedrock at a depth of 40 inches. This 
soil group can be found on basalt plains and fan terraces in the area. Erosion potential due to water 
and wind are only slight to moderate within this group. Because of the low erosion potential and 
gentle slopes, this soil group would be suitable for the proposed construction activities. Group 3 soils 
represent three percent of the soils in the Proposed Project area and less than one percent of the soils 
that may be affected by construction. The soil unit in Group 3 includes: 

McClendon Silt-Loam. 

Group 4 contains silt-loam soils interspersed with large stones or rock outcrops. These occur on 
gentle slopes of less than 12 percent. The soils are very shallow because of a short depth to bedrock 
or hardpan. This factor also results in moderate to severe erosion potential from water and wind. 
Proposed construction may be difficult due to the shallow depth to bedrock or hardpan. Group 4 soils 
represent approximately ten percent of the total soils in the Proposed Project area and approximately 
11 percent of soils that may be affected by construction. The soil units in Group 4 include: 

Trevino Rock Outcrop Complex; and 

Harroun Stony Silt-Loam. 

Group 5 contains gravelly loam soils on moderate slopes of four percent to 35 percent. Soils are 
shallow to moderately deep because the bedrock occurs at depths of ten to 20 inches. These soils are 
typically found on the slopes of cuestas, hillsides, and mountainsides. Erosion potential is moderate to 
severe for water and wind. Depth to bedrock, erosion potential, and steeper slopes may result in 
difficult construction conditions. This soil group represents 16 percent of the soils in the Proposed 
Project area, and 69 percent of soils that may be affected by construction. The soil units in Group 5 
include: 


Hutchley Gravelly Loam; and 
Hutchley Vipoint Complex. 

Group 6 is characterized by large stones with very deep soils between them. These soils are typically 
found on sides of canyons and mountainsides on slopes between 30 percent and 70 percent. Erosion 
potential due to water is very severe, while wind erosion potential is only slight to moderate. Steep 
slopes, large stones, and the potential for water erosion may result in extremely difficult construction. 
This soil group represents 48 percent of the total soils in the Proposed Project area, and 11 percent of 
soils that may be affected by construction. The soil units in Group 6 include: 

Rubble Land - Jimsage Complex; 

Vitale - Jimsage Association 

Watercanyon - Jimsage - Rexburg Association; 

Jimsage - Doodlelink Complex; and 
Jimsage — Vitale Association. 


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Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


GeoTek (2004) evaluated the soil at ten test pits along the proposed 4.5 mile-long Cotterel Mountain 
north access road. GeoTek visually assessed and described the soil encountered in the test pits. In 
general, the upper zero to one foot of soil consists of silt, silt with sand, and clay. From one to about 
12 feet below the surface, the soil in the test pits consists primarily of silt, sand, and gravel; some of 
the gravel is cemented with calcium carbonate, forming a hardpan layer located at depths ranging 
from two to six feet beneath the surface. 

GeoEngineers (2004) performed a limited subsurface geotechnical investigation as a basis for 
developing preliminary recommendations for foundation design of the wind turbine towers. 
GeoEngineers indicated that where the towers are to be located, the soil cover over the rock typically 
varies from one to two feet thick, and in many places, the soil is non-existent. 

3.1.4 Water Resources 

The Cotterel Mountain ridgeline divides the Raft River watershed on the east from the Lake Walcott 
watershed on the west. There are no major streams within the Proposed Project area. Intermittent 
streams fed by snowmelt contribute directly and indirectly to perennial streams in the Proposed 
Project vicinity, such as Cassia Creek on the southern end of Cotterel Mountain. Cassia Creek is a 
tributary to the Raft River located east of Cotterel Mountain. The Raft River drains into the Snake 
River. Marsh Creek near the north end of Cotterel Mountain is also fed by intermittent streams, and is 
also a tributary to the Snake River. The Snake River is the dominant hydrologic feature in southern 
Idaho, with a drainage basin of approximately 72,000 square miles (IDWR 1999). 

There are 14 springs, three spring developments, and one well within the Proposed Project area 
(Figure 3.1-2). There are additional springs and stream developments outside the Proposed Project 
area. Some of the springs and stream developments along the eastern and southern slopes feed 
intermittent streams such as Coe Creek, Nibbs Creek, and Rice Creek, which feed the perennial 
streams such as Cassia Creek. Along the western slopes of Cotterel Mountain, a few spring and 
stream developments feed Cow Creek and Howell Creek, both of which are direct tributaries to 
Marsh Creek. 

Many of these springs have been developed for use by livestock. Spring development can be as 
simple as driving a section of pipe horizontally into the location where the spring appears on the 
slope. Of the remaining springs, several have not been developed because they occur on steep slopes 
along the east flank of Cotterel Mountain, or because flows are probably too low for development. 

The occurrence of springs is closely related to the geology of an area. If an impervious layer of rock, 
such as a clay deposit, underlies a layer of water-saturated soil or rock, then a line of springs will tend 
to appear on a slope where the clay layer outcrops. Igneous rocks are also impervious to water, yet 
they are often extensively fractured, and springs commonly appear where water-saturated fractures 
come to the surface, or where the fractures intersect underlying impervious rock. Springs are also 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-9 





Legend 

Springs 

Stream Development 
# Well 

Project Area 


“ Transmission Lines 
Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


I __ .1 Alt. B Interconnect ROW 
i * Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 


Figure 3.1-2. Springs in the Project 
Area and Vicinity. 




1.8 Miles 

-H 






v / v - '•'--1 




Cotterel Wind Power Project 
















































































Cofferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


common along faults, because the fault plane may act as a conduit for groundwater to reach the 
surface, or the fault plane may be impervious, and force the water to reach the surface. 

Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and tribes are required to develop lists 
of impaired waters that do not meet water quality standards. Cassia Creek, Marsh Creek, and the Raft 
River are listed by the State of Idaho as impaired or threatened waters under the 303d designation 
(IDEQ 2003). Table 3.1-2 summarizes the status of the 303d designation for each stream segment. 


Table 3.1-2. Impaired (303d designation) Waters Near the Proposed Project Area 
(IDEQ 2003). 


Cassia Creek 
(Headwaters to Connor 
Creek) 

De-listed from 303(d) list in 1998. 

Cassia Creek (Connor 
Creek to Raft River) 

Listed in 1996 for concerns over habitat alteration and sediment. 

Raft River (Malta to 

Snake River) 

Listed in 1996 for concerns over pathogens (replaced by “bacteria” in 
the 1998 list), dissolved oxygen, channel flow alteration, ammonia, 
nutrient loading, and sediment. 

Marsh Creek 

Listed in 1998 for reasons not stated. 


The State of Idaho has designated beneficial uses for Cassia Creek, Marsh Creek and the Raft River. 
Each of these perennial streams should provide water quality appropriate for aesthetics, irrigation and 
livestock, industrial water supply, and wildlife habitat. In addition, the Raft River should also provide 
water quality suitable for primary contact recreation (i.e. swimming), the protection and maintenance 
of populations of cold-water species, and habitat for the active self-propagation of salmonid fish 
species. 

Groundwater within the Proposed Project vicinity occurs at depths ranging from 800 to 2,500 feet 
below ground surface within the unconfined Raft River Valley aquifer. Regional groundwater flows 
to the northwest towards the Snake River. The western slopes of Cotterel Mountain are within a 
Critical Groundwater Management Area designated by the Idaho State Department of Water 
Resources (IDWR). This designation indicates that all or part of the groundwater basin does not have 
sufficient groundwater to provide a reasonably safe supply for irrigation or other uses at the current or 
projected rates of withdrawal (IDAPA 1993; IDWR 1999). There are no public drinking water wells 
within the Proposed Project area boundary (Risley 2003). 

3.1.5 Noise 

Sound is mechanical energy transmitted by pressure waves through a medium such as air. Noise is 
defined as unwanted sound. Sound is characterized by various parameters that include the rate of 
oscillation of sound waves (frequency), the speed of propagation, and the pressure level or energy 
content (amplitude). In particular, the sound pressure level has become the most common descriptor 
used to characterize the loudness of an ambient sound level. Sound pressure level is measured in 


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Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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decibels (dB), with zero dB corresponding roughly to the threshold of human hearing, and 120 to 140 
dB corresponding roughly to the threshold of pain. 

Human response to noise is subjective and can vary greatly from person to person. Factors that can 
influence individual response include: intensity, frequency, and time pattern of the noise; the amount 
of background noise present prior to the intruding noise; and the nature of work or human activity that 
is exposed to the noise. The adverse effects of noise include interference with concentration, 
communication, and sleep. At the highest levels, noise can induce hearing damage. 

There are several methods of characterizing sound. Environmental noise is usually measured in A- 
weighted decibels (dBA). This scale gives greater weight to the frequencies of sound to which the 
human ear is most sensitive for typical environmentally occurring sounds. Some representative noise 
sources and their corresponding noise levels (in dBA) are shown in Table 3.1-3 (USDOT-FHWA 
1998). The noise levels presented in Table 3.1-3 are representative of measured noise at a given 
instant in time; however, they rarely persist consistently over a long period of time. 


Table 3.1-3. Representative Noise Sources and Corresponding Noise Levels. 


Noise Level (dBA) 

Common Indoor Noise Levels 

Common Outdoor Noise Levels 

100-110 

Above 100 dBA - rock band 

Jet flyover at 1,000 feet. 

90-100 

Inside subway train (New York) 

Gas lawn mower at 3 feet. 

80-90 

Food blender at 3 feet, garbage 
disposal at 3 feet. 

Diesel truck at 50 feet, noisy urban 
daytime 

70-80 

Shouting at 3 feet, vacuum cleaner 
at 10 feet. 

Gas lawn mower at 100 feet 

60-70 


Commercial area, heavy traffic at 
300 feet. 

50-60 

Large business office 

Quiet urban daytime setting 

40-50 

Small theater 

Quiet urban nighttime setting 

30-40 

Conference room (background), 
library 

Quiet suburban nighttime setting 

20-30 

Concert hall (background) 

Quiet rural nighttime setting 

10-20 

Broadcast and recording studio 


0-10 

Threshold of hearing 



Federal, state, and local agencies regulate different aspects of environmental noise. Federal and state 
agencies generally set noise standards for mobile sources such as aircraft and motor vehicles, while 
regulation of stationary sources is left to local agencies. Local regulation of noise involves 
implementation of general plan policies and noise ordinance standards. 

At the federal and state level, there are no regulations that would apply to noise from commercial 
wind turbine generator operation. In a Wind Energy Programmatic EIS Frequently Asked Question 
report (USDI, BLM 2004), the BLM stated that much of the wind turbine noise is masked by the 
sound of the wind itself, and that turbines only operate when the wind is blowing. Noise from wind 
turbines has diminished as the technology of turbines has improved. Newer turbine blade design 


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Cotferel Wind Power Project 


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results in wind energy being converted into greater rotational torque with less acoustic noise versus 
early-model turbines. Under most conditions, modem wind turbines are quiet (USDI, BLM 2004b). 

The relatively remote Proposed Project area has no industrial noise sources. Existing background 
noise in the Proposed Project area is expected to be similar to the EPA “farm in valley” noise 
category, which is about 32 to 39 dBA. Existing noise in the Proposed Project area vicinity is 
attributable to: recreational users such as off-highway vehicles (OHV) and snowmobile riders; 
occasional low flying aircraft; agricultural equipment; and traffic on area roads such as State 
Highway (SH)-77, SH-81, and Interstate 84 (1-84). 

3.2 BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES 

As a federal land manager, the BLM is responsible for conserving wildlife, plant populations, and 
their habitats in the Proposed Project area. Within the Proposed Project area, the potential impact on 
biological resources required studies of vegetation and wildlife. Biological resources may not be 
found in the same place from year to year. Therefore, inventories needed to be completed prior to the 
construction of the Proposed Project. To provide an adequate inventory, some of the resource studies 
extended beyond the Proposed Project area boundary to better assess potential project impacts to wide 
ranging species like ferruginous hawk, sage-grouse, and mule deer. 

3.2.1 Vegetation 

The Proposed Project area is located within the southeast portion of the Interior Columbia Basin. The 
area is characterized primarily as semi-desert shrub-steppe with sagebrush and woodland sites as the 
major potential vegetation groups (USDA, FS 1994; USDA, NRCS 1994; USGS 2003). 

Vegetation types within the Proposed Project area were delineated from digital color 
orthophotography with an approximate ground resolution of one foot (0.3 meter). A buffer of 2.5 
miles around the Proposed Project area was mapped using digital color orthophotography with a 
ground resolution of approximately two feet (0.6 meter). The buffer area delineation is approximately 
67,600 acres. Additional resources used in the vegetation delineation and verification process 
included district soil maps (USDA, NRCS 1994), sagebrush assessment data (USGS 2003), and 
ground surveys. Six major and six minor community types were delineated within the Proposed 
Project area (Figure 3.2-1). Overlapping polygons in Figure 3.2-1 are transition sites where 
characteristics from multiple community types are represented. 

Community Types 

Twelve general community types were located within the Proposed Project area and the associated 
buffer (Figure 3.2-1). Within the Proposed Project area nine community types were identified 
including: low sagebrush, mountain mahogany, juniper, juniper/mountain mahogany mix, mountain 
sagebrush, low/mountain sagebrush mix, grasslands, big sagebrush, aspen, rock outcrops, and riparian 
communities (Tables 3.2-1, 3.2-2 and 3.2-3). Because of the complexity and distribution of the 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cottcrel Wind Power Project 


Figure 3.2-1. Vegetation Communities. 


Legend 

t ~ | Project Area -Interstate 

Alt. B Interconnect ROW ™Major Roads 

t. . J Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW Other Roads 

”*• • Transmission Lines 


Juniper Community 
Big Sagebrush Community 
Grassland Community 
Low Sagebrush Community 
Mtn. Mahogany Community 
Mtn. Sagebrush Community 




a * 


Agriculture 
Open Water 
Riparian 
Rock Outcrop 
















































































Cofferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


overlapping community type ranges of low/mountain sagebrush mix and juniper/mountain mahogany 
mix, they were not able to be visually displayed on the vegetation map for the Proposed Project area. 


Table 3.2-1. Vegetative Components within Each Community Type. 


Community 

Type 

Tall Woody 
Shrubs 

Low Woody 
Shrubs 

Forbs 

Grasses and 

Grass Like Species 

Low 

sagebrush 

Not Present (NP) 

low sage, and 
rabbitbrush 

phlox, onions, 
buckwheat, agoseris, 
death camas 
(Zygaenus 
venenosos), 
and cactus 

Sandberg’s bluegrass, 
bluebunch wheatgrass, and 
squirreltail 

Big sagebrush 

NP 

Great Basin and 
Wyoming big 
sagebrush, and 
rabbitbrush 

arrowleaf balsamroot, 
yarrow, buckwheat, 
stone seed, agoseris, 
lupine, phlox, mullein 
(Verbuscum thapsus), 
common dandelion 
(Taraxacum 
officinale) 

bluebunch wheatgrass, 
Sandberg’s bluegrass, 
bulbous bluegrass, needle 
and thread grass, great basin 
rye, and crested wheatgrass, 
cheatgrass, and indian rye 
grass 

Mountain 

sagebrush 

NP 

mountain 
sagebrush, and 
rabbit brush 

arrowleaf balsamroot, 
phlox, buckwheats, 
lupines, penstemon, 
agoseris, depinium 
yarrow, mertensia 

bluebunch wheatgrass, 
Sandberg’s bluegrass, 
bulbous bluegrass, great 
basin wild rye, needle and 
thread, and squirrel tail 

Juniper 

juniper 

Wyoming Big 
sagebrush, 
mountain big 
sagebrush, bitter 
brush and 
rabbitbrush 

buckwheat, and 
cactus 

Sandberg’s bluegrass and 
bluebunch wheatgrass 

Mountain 

mahogany 

mountain mahogany 

mountain 
sagebrush, rabbit 
brush, bitter brush, 
and snowberry 

buckwheat, yarrow, 
and cactus 

bluebunch wheatgrass and 
Sandberg’s bluegrass 

Grasslands 


rabbitbrush, big 
and mountain 
sagebrush 

phlox, onions, 
agoseris, penstemon, 
buckwheat, stone 
seed, death camas, 
and cactus 

Intermediate and desert 
wheatgrass, bulbous 
bluegrass, cheatgrass, 
Sandberg’s bluegrass, 
bluebunch wheatgrass, 
Russian wild rye, Great 

Basin wild rye, annual 
fescue, and indian rice grass 

Aspen 

service berry, 

Rocky Mountain 
Juniper, 
chokecherry, 
snowberry, 
currant (Ribes spp.) 

mountain big 

sagebrush, 

rabbitbrush 

yarrow, arrowleaf 
balsamroot, lupine, 
stone seed, lily, videt, 
waterleaf 



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Table 3.2-2. Acreage of Each Community Type Within Vegetation Survey Area. 


Vegetative Community 

Total Acres 

Percent of Total Area 

Low sagebrush 

2,376 

3.1% 

Big sagebrush 

17,582 

22.6% 

Mountain sagebrush 

2,079 

2.7% 

Low/mountain sage mix 

356 

0.5% 

Juniper 

11,449 

14.7% 

Mountain mahogany 

265 

0.3% 

Juniper/Mahogany mix 

1,805 

2.3% 

Grasslands 

25,521 

32.8% 

Aspen 

42 

0.1% 

Agricultural land 

14,998 

19.3% 

Rock outcrop 

469 

0.6% 

Riparian 

333 

0.4% 

Open water 

50 

0.1% 

Existing roads* 

395 

0.5% 

Total Area: 

77,720 acres 

100% 


Total area calculation is +/- 2%. 
*Not included as a community type. 


Table 3.2-3. Acres of Each Community Type Within The Proposed Project Area. 

Vegetative Community 

Acres within 
Proposed Project Area 

Percent of 

Proposed Project Area 

Low sagebrush 

1,435 

12.8% 

Big sagebrush 

1,522 

13.6% 

Mountain sagebrush 

1,527 

13.7% 

Low/Mountain sage mix 

84 

0.8% 

Juniper 

1,267 

11.3% 

Mountain mahogany 

255 

2.3% 

Juniper/Mahogany mix 

1,127 

10.1% 

Grasslands 

3,465 

31.0% 

Aspen 

41 

0.4% 

Agricultural land 

0 

0.0% 

Rock outcrop 

268 

2.4% 

Riparian 

20 

0.2% 

Open water 

0 

0.0% 

Existing roads* 

158 

1.4% 

Total Area: 

**11,169 acres 

100% 


*Not included as a community type. 


**Total area calculation is +/- 1%. Actual Proposed Project area is approximately 11,500 acres. 


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Low Sage 

The low sage community type is principally shrub land with a dominant low shrub layer. It occupies 
approximately 2,376 acres (3.1%) of the total area and 1,435 acres (12.8%) of the Proposed Project 
area. This community type normally occurs on hilltops and ridges and consists of well-drained 
shallow soils that are severely susceptible to water and wind erosion. 

The low sage community is comprised primarily of woody shrubs, with some forbs, grasses, moss, 
and lichens. The vegetation component of this community makes up approximately 55 percent of the 
ground cover (Tharp 2004), with the rest consisting of litter, cryptogrammic soils, rock and bare 
ground. The total vegetation cover of this community type can vary significantly depending on the 
amount of rock and soil depth. It consists of: low, woody shrubs consisting of low sage ( Artemisia 
arbuscula ), and rabbitbrush ( Chrysothamnus spp .); grasses, including Sandberg bluegrass ( Poa 
secunda), bluebunch wheatgrass ( Agropyron spicatum ), and squirreltail ( Sitanion hystrix ); forbs, 
including hoods phlox (. Phlox hoodii ), onion ( Allium spp.), buckwheat ( Eriogonum spp.), Mariposa 
lily ( Calochortus spp.), and cactus ( Opuntia spp. and Pediocactus simpsonii ); and moss and lichens. 

Wyoming/Great Basin Big Sage 

The big sagebrush community type is normally found in the lowest elevation of the Proposed Project 
area and is principally shrubland with a dominant layer of low shrubs and a significant graminoid/ 
herb understory. This community type occupies approximately 17,582 acres (22.6%) of the total area 
and 1,522 acres (13.6%) of the Proposed Project area. It consists of well-drained, very deep soils that 
are severely susceptible to water erosion and only moderately susceptible to wind erosion. 

The Wyoming/Great Basin big sage complex includes low shrubs, forbs, grasses, moss, and lichens. 
Great Basin big sage generally occupies drainage bottoms and deeper soils within the Wyoming 
sagebrush zone. The vegetation component comprises approximately 55 to 60 percent (Tharp 2004) 
of the total ground cover, with litter, bare ground, and rocks comprising the remainder. The 
vegetation cover of this community type consists of: low shrubs such as Great Basin ( Artemisia 
tridentata spp. tridentata) and Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. Wyomingensis) and 
rabbitbrush; grasses, including Bluebunch wheatgrass, Sandberg bluegrass, bulbous bluegrass, needle 
and thread grass (Stipa thurberiana), Indian rice grass ( Oryzopsis hymenoides), Great Basin wild rye 
(Elymus scinereus), cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum)', forbs consisting of 
arrowleaf balsamroot, yarrow, buckwheat, lupine, and phlox; and moss, and lichens. 

Mountain Big Sage 

The mountain big sagebrush community type is principally shrub land with a dominant layer of low 
shrubs and a significant graminoid understory. It is normally found at elevations above Wyoming and 
Great Basin sagebrush habitat and occupies approximately 2,079 acres (2.7%) of the total area and 
1,527 acres (13.7%) of the Proposed Project area. It consists of well-drained, deep soils that are 
severely susceptible to water erosion, but only slightly susceptible to wind erosion due to increased 
vegetative cover. 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


The mountain big sage community includes woody shrubs, forbs, grasses, moss and lichens. The 
vegetation component of the community comprises approximately 60 to 70 percent of the ground 
cover (Tharp 2004), with the remainder consisting of litter, open-faced rock, and bare ground. The 
total vegetation cover of this community type consists of: short, woody shrubs including mountain 
sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush; grasses consisting of bluebunch wheatgrass, Sandberg 
bluegrass, bulbous bluegrass ( Poa bulbosa). Great Basin wild rye, and squirrel tail; forbs such as 
phlox, buckwheat, onions, lupine ( Lupinus spp.), and arrowleaf balsamroot ( Balsamorhiza hookeri ); 
and moss and lichens are present as well. 

Low Sagebrush/Mountain Sagebrush Mix 

The low sagebrush/mountain sagebrush mix community occupies approximately 356 acres (0.5%) of 
the total area and 84 acres (0.8%) of the Proposed Project area. This type is characterized by an 
irregular mix of low sagebrush and mountain community types. 

Juniper 

The juniper ( Juniperous Osteosperma) community type is generally a low precipitation woodland 
with varying amounts of understory. It occupies approximately 11,449 acres (14.7%) of the total area 
and 1,267 acres (11.3%) of the Proposed Project area. It consists of well-drained, deep soils that are 
severely susceptible to water erosion, but only slightly susceptible to wind erosion. 

The juniper community includes tall and short woody shrubs, forbs, grasses, moss, and lichens, 
comprises approximately 65 percent of the ground cover, with the rest consisting primarily of bare 
ground and some open-face rock. The total vegetation cover of this community type consists of: 
juniper and mountain mahogany; low shrubs including big sagebrush, mountain sagebrush, 
bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush; grasses that consist of Sandberg bluegrass and bluebunch wheatgrass; 
forbs such as buckwheat and cactus; and moss and lichens are present as well. 

Mountain Mahogany 

The mountain mahogany community type is low-precipitation woodland generally found in 
environments similar to Utah Juniper (USGS 2003; USDA, FS 1994). It occupies approximately 265 
acres (0.3%) of the total area and 255 acres (2.3%) of the Proposed Project area. It typically occurs on 
hilltops and east-facing slopes with shallow soils with little understory. 

The mountain mahogany community includes woody shrubs, forbs, grasses, moss and lichens. It 
comprises approximately 50 to 65 percent of the ground cover (Tharp 2004), with the rest consisting 
of litter, bare ground, and some open-faced rock. The total vegetation cover of this community type 
consists of: mountain mahogany ( Cercocarpus ledifolius)\ low, woody shrubs, including mountain 
sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp. Vaseyana), rabbitbrush, and bitterbrush; grasses consisting of 
Bluebunch wheatgrass and Sandberg bluegrass; forbs such as buckwheat, yarrow (Achillea 
millefolium ), and cactus; and moss, and lichens. 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Juniper/Mountain Mahogany Mix 

The juniper/mountain mahogany mix community type occupies approximately 1,805 acres (2.3%) of 
the total area and 1,127 acres (10.1%) of the Proposed Project area. 

Grasslands 

The grassland community type is composed primarily of native and seeded communities that were 
historically big sagebrush, low sagebrush, and juniper communities that burned primarily due to 
wildfire. This type contains some of the most disturbed, and support primarily localized concentration 
of annual exotics. It occupies approximately 25,521 acres (32.8%) of the total area and 3,465 acres 
(31.0%) of the Proposed Project area. It consists of soil types ranging from well-drained, very deep 
soils that are only moderately susceptible to water and wind erosion to well-drained, shallow soils 
that are very susceptible to water and wind erosion (USDA, NRCS 1994). 

The grassland community includes tall and short woody shrubs, forbs, grasses, moss, and lichens that 
comprise approximately 30 to 60 percent of the ground cover, with the rest consisting of litter, bare 
ground and rock. The vegetation cover of this community type consists primarily of grasses including 
Intermediate ( Agropyron intermidia ) and desert wheatgrass, bulbous bluegrass, cheatgrass ( Bromus 
tectorum ), Sandberg bluegrass, bluebunch wheatgrass, Russian wild rye ( Elymus junceus), Great 
Basin wild rye, six weeks fescue ( Vulpia bromoides ), Indian rice grass, bulbous bluegrass, needle and 
thread grass, crested wheatgrass, and Junegrass {Koeleria cristata). Scattered among the grass species 
are sparse patches of low, woody shrubs such as rabbitbrush, big sage, and mountain sagebrush, as 
well as forbs such as phlox, onion, agosoris ( Agosoris spp.), penstemon ( Penstemon spp.), buckwheat, 
stone seed ( Lithospermum ruderale ), western wheatgrass, and cactus, moss and lichens. 

Aspen 

The aspen community type is generally found at mid elevations on east-facing slopes. It is principally 
occupied by a dominant layer of tall to medium deciduous shrubs and a significant graminoid/herb 
understory. This community type occupies approximately 42 acres (0.1%) of the total area, and 41 
acres (0.4%) of the Proposed Project area. It typically occurs in snow catch pockets or near springs 
with very deep, highly erodable soils (USGS 2003; USDA, FS 1994). 

The aspen community includes tall trees, woody shrubs, forbs, and some moss and lichens, which 
comprises approximately 85 percent of the ground cover. The rest of the community consists of litter, 
bare ground, and some open-faced rock. The total vegetation cover of this community type consists 
of: aspen trees and service berry ( Amelanchier alnifolia); Rocky Mountain Juniper ( Juniperus 
scopulorum); chokecherry ( Prunis virginiana ); snowberry ( Symphoricarpos albu ); currant ( Ribes 
spp.); low, woody shrubs, including mountain big sagebrush and rabbitbrush; and forbs such as 
yarrow, arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, stone seed, lily, videt, and waterleaf. 


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3.0 Affected Environment 


Minor Community Types 

There are a variety of other community types that make up a very small portion of the Proposed 
Project area but are key functional components including: barren rock outcrops make up 469 acres 
(0.6%) of the total area and 268 acres (2.4%) of the Proposed Project area; open waters make up 50 
acres (0.1%) of the total area and zero acres of the Proposed Project area; riparian zones make up 333 
acres (0.4%) of the total area and 20 acres (0.2%) of the Proposed Project area; and agricultural lands 
make up 14,998 acres (19.3%) of the total area and zero acres of the Proposed Project area (Tables 
3.2-2 and 3.2-3). These minor community types make up approximately 15,850 (20.4%) of the total 
area and 288 acres (2.6%) of the Proposed Project area. They occur throughout the area and are key 
process and structural components of the Cotterel Mountain area ecosystem, as well as habitat and 
forage sites for wildlife, birds, cattle, and big game. However, based on the limited size and low 
probability of impact from the Proposed Project, these community types have not been described in 
detail. Non-vegetated community influences include: rock outcrop, disturbed sites, and open water. 

Threatened or Endangered Plant Species 

The only federally listed plant species in the area is Christ’s paintbrush ( Castilleja christii; federal 
candidate). This species is known only from the type location at Mount Harrison, approximately 12 
miles west of the Proposed Project area, at the northern end of the Albion Mountains in Cassia 
County, Idaho. It occurs primarily on gentle, northerly-facing slopes between 8,600 and 9,200 feet, 
and is inversely related to the density of sagebrush. It generally occurs only in openings in the 
sagebrush and within the nearly shrubless swales of the patterned ground (CDC 2000). According to 
personal communications with James Tharp of BLM, Christ’s paintbrush has not been found, and is 
not expected to be found, within the Proposed Project area due to a lack of appropriate habitat. 

Special Status Plant Species 

There is only one special status species that has been identified by the Idaho Conservation Data 
Center (CDC), or the BLM, that is within the Proposed Project area, the Simpson’s hedgehog cactus 
(Pediocactus simpsonii ). Cotterel Mountain supports a large population of Simpson’s hedgehog 
cactus. This species occurs sporadically on almost every portion of the Mountain. 

Noxious Weeds 

There are six known noxious weed species that are currently identified by the BLM within or near the 
Proposed Project area (within five to ten miles). These include, leafy spurge (. Euphorbia esula), 
Russian knapweed ( Centaurea repens ), diffuse knapweed ( Centaurea diffusa ), Scotch thistle 
(Onopordum acanthium ), rush skeleton weed, and black henbane ( Hyoscyamus niger). Only two, 
scotch thistle and black henbane, of these noxious weed species have been found within the Proposed 
Project area. Scotch thistle is primarily found only on the northern end of Cotterel Mountain, where 
black henbane is found scattered along roadways within the Proposed Project area. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Several species identified as “invasive species” do occur within the Proposed Project area. These 
species include: cheatgrass, bulbous bluegrass, curlycup gumweed ( Grindillia squarrosa), annual 
sunflower ( Helianthus annuus ), field bindweed ( Convolvulus arvensis), tumble mustard ( Sisymbrium 
altissimum), and Russian thistle ( Salsola iberica). These invasive species typically occur on disturbed 
areas including: the current roadway corridors, communication facility platforms, OHV and livestock 
trails, burned areas, and rodent dig spots. These species can be monitored and controlled with 
appropriate mitigation with the exception of cheatgrass and bulbous bluegrass. These two species 
have spread throughout a majority of southern Idaho and can only be controlled on a site-specific 
basis with intensive management actions. 

3.2.2 Wildlife 

This section is a summary of wildlife resources in the vicinity of the Proposed Project area. The 
sources of information include published literature, unpublished Idaho Department of Fish and Game 
(IDFG) data on big game and game birds, BLM sensitive species lists from the Burley Field Office 
(BFO), BLM Wildlife Data Base, and interviews with BLM and IDFG biologists familiar with the 
area. In addition, a year-long baseline field study was conducted starting in the fall of 2002, and 
included surveys of nesting raptors, breeding sage-grouse, bird use, diurnal fall raptor migration, and 
a radar study of nocturnal fall migrating birds and bat species. The detailed methods and results of the 
baseline study are provided in the Technical Baseline Reports for Biological Resources (TBR 2004) 
The Technical Baseline Reports for Biological Resources is a compilation of nine reports 
documenting the results of field surveys, data searches, and historical BLM data summaries. These 
reports were prepared by numerous authors (ABR 2004; Sharp 2004; TREC 2004a; TREC 2004b; 
TREC 2004c; URS 2004; USDI BLM 2004) and constitute the best available knowledge of the 
existing biological resources within the Proposed Project area. 

Typically, wildlife species are evaluated across their range by using ranking systems. These ranking 
systems evaluate each species population status and provide a general idea about the overall trend of 
the species. IDFG, Idaho BLM and CDC all use different ranking systems, which are discussed 
below. Species are classified by several different ranking systems including BLM sensitive species 1 
to 5; Idaho State Status 1 to 5; Global Status 1 to 5, and federally protected under the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543) (1973) including: Endangered, Threatened and Candidate 
species. Federally protected species will be evaluated in greater detail in Biological Assessments 
(BA) presented to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and available for public 
review. 

IDFG ranks nongame species based on a ranking protocol of 1 to 5. State ranked species are 
summarized in the following ranks: (1) critically imperiled because of extreme rarity or because of 
some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction (typically five or fewer 
occurrences); (2) imperiled because of rarity or because of other factors demonstrably making it 
vulnerable to extinction (typically six to 20 occurrences); (3) vulnerable (typically 21 to 100 
occurrences; (4) not rare, and apparently secure, but with cause for long-term concern; and (5) 
demonstrably widespread, abundant and secure. 


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Cofferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


The Nature Conservancy is a worldwide conservation organization that ranks a species not just within 
one state, but also on a worldwide (global) level. The Nature Conservancy uses the same definitions 
for their ranking system 1 to 5 as CDC. The state status and the global status ranks of the same 
species provide a description of the status of this species within Idaho and worldwide. 

BLM sensitive ranking includes Type 1 to 5. Species listed by the USFWS as threatened or 
endangered or are proposed or candidates for listing under the ESA are Type 1. Species experiencing 
significant declines throughout their range with a high likelihood of being listed in the foreseeable 
future due to their rarity and/or significant endangerment factors are Type 2. Species that are 
experiencing significant declines in population or habitat, or are in danger of regional or local 
extinctions in Idaho in the foreseeable future, are listed as Type 3. Species that are generally rare in 
Idaho with the majority of their breeding range located largely outside of the state, are listed as Type 
4. Watch list species are not considered BLM sensitive species and are listed as Type 5. Watch list 
species include species that may be added to the sensitive species list depending on new information 
concerning threats, species biologist evaluations, or statewide trends. 

Big Game 

Four big game mammal species occur within or near the Cotterel Mountain area: mule deer 
(Odocoileus hemionus), mountain lion (Felis concolor ), California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis 
californiana), and American pronghorn ( Antelocapra americana). 

Mule Deer 

Mule deer are the most abundant big game species in the Proposed Project area. Populations in Idaho 
have been decreasing since 1996, primarily due to habitat reduction, specifically critical winter 
habitat. Winter/year-round range is defined as that range of which a portion is used yearlong, but 
which during winter has a substantial influx of animals from other seasonal ranges. The Proposed 
Project area is located within year-round mule deer habitat. Approximately 5,475 acres (48%) of the 
Proposed Project area lies within winter habitat range for mule deer (IDFG 2003a; Figure 3.2-2). 

Mule deer occupy nearly all habitats in Idaho from dry, open country to dense forests. They prefer 
rocky, brushy areas, open meadows, open pine forests, and bums (Brown 1992). Mule deer can also 
be found in coniferous forests, shrub steppe, chaparral, and grasslands with shmbs. Mule deer are 
often associated with early succession vegetation or vegetation resulting from disturbance, especially 
near agricultural lands. 

Cotterel Mountain is within mule deer hunting management unit #55. This unit is restricted to archery 
between November 25 and December 19th, and any-weapon controlled hunts between August 15 and 
September 24th and October 5 and October 31. All other hunting means are prohibited in this unit. 
Mule deer harvest statistics for 1999-2003 are shown in Table 3.2-4. Table 3.2-4 shows a decline in 
the number of permits issued, but an increase in the number of deer harvested. For the 2003 hunting 
season, the number of permits being issued for the any-weapon October hunt were reduced to 350, 
due to the decreasing populations within the area (IDFG 2003b). 


May 2005 


Draff Environmental Impact Statement 


3-22 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 3.2-2. Big Game Habitat. 


Legend 

Interstate 

m ^ m Major Roads 
Other Roads 

l — — 1 Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 
”• “ Transmission Lines 


1\\1 Bighorn Winter Range 
\//\ Mule Deer Winter Range 

[_J. Project Area 

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General Archery 

Any-Weapon Early-Antlered 

Any-Weapon Antlered - Oct. 

Total 

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Total 

General Archery 

Any-Weapon Early-Antlered 

Any-Weapon Antlered - Oct. 

Total 

General Archery 

Any-Weapon Early-Antlered 

Any-Weapon Antlered - Oct. 

Total 

General Archery 

Any-Weapon Early-Antlered 

Any-Weapon Antlered - Oct. 

Total 

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1998 




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May 2005 Draft Environmental Impact Statement 3-24 









































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Mountain Lion 

Mountain lions generally prefer mountainous country with cliffs and rimrock, and semi-wooded 
canyon habitat with slopes of mixed open areas and forest. They range over vast areas and thus can 
move through a diversity of habitat types (Holmes 2000). Mountain lions are active day or night 
throughout the year and in all kinds of weather. In the absence of human disturbance, peak activity 
occurs within two hours of sunset and sunrise; near human presence, activity peaks after sunset. With 
the exception of females with kittens, mountain lions are primarily solitary. Population densities are 
usually not more than 3 to 4 animals per 40 square miles. Mountain lion home range size varies 
greatly in different areas. In Idaho, home ranges of males were from 20 to 90 square miles, while 
females had home ranges of 5.5 to 57 square miles (Holmes 2000). 

Mountain lions are hunted annually on Cotterel Mountain. Mountain lion hunting season in hunting 
management unit #55 is from August 30 to March 31 or until the female quota is reached, whichever 
comes first. Harvest statistics are not known for the specific unit but are tallied for the entire Magic 
Valley region, which includes statistics for units 43-49, 52, and 52a-57. Since 1996, there have been 
190 (80 females, 110 males) mountain lions killed, primarily using hounds (76 to 80%). Of those 
killed, 11 to 15 percent were killed by hunters who were not hunting specifically for mountain lions 
(LDFG 2003b). 

Mountain lions could occur on any portion of Cotterel Mountain. While conducting surveys for other 
resources in 2003, four Mountain lions were observed on Cotterel Mountain. One observation was of 
a female with two kittens. During 2004, two observations of Mountain lions were observed on 
Cotterel Mountain (USDI, BLM 2005). The average mountain lion population on Cotterel Mountain 
is estimated to range between 4-5 adult individuals. 

Bighorn Sheep 

California bighorn sheep (BLM sensitive Type 3; G4 and S4) inhabit high mountain grass meadows 
in the summer, using open slopes where the land is rough, rocky, sparsely vegetated, and 
characterized by steep slopes and canyons. In winter, they occupy high, windswept ridges, or migrate 
to the lower elevation sagebrush-steppe habitat as low as 4,800 feet to escape deep winter snows and 
find more nutritious forage (Lauer and Peek 1976). Typically, this species relies heavily upon 
grassland forage and forbs. 

California bighorn sheep are currently not known to occur on Cotterel Mountain. Bighorn sheep do 
occur in the Jim Sage Mountains located about eight miles south of Cotterel Mountain, and may be 
rare visitors to Cotterel Mountain. In February of 2000 and 2001 the IDFG, BLM, and The 
Foundation for North American Wild Sheep reintroduced 45 California bighorn sheep into the Jim 
Sage Mountains. By September 2001, 17 of the originally released sheep had died. During the 2000 
California bighorn sheep release, one ewe and her lamb initially used the southern portion of Cotterel 
Mountain, but were predated by cougars (Fowles 2002). The majority of these mortalities were the 
result of kills by mountain lions (Fowles 2001). The reintroduced herd has since increased to about 75 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-25 




Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


individuals. Prior to the initial bighorn sheep release, Cotterel Mountain was evaluated as potential 
bighorn sheep range (ID-024-EA-99-023). 

American Pronghorn 

Pronghorn groups have not been observed on Cotterel Mountain. They have been recorded to the 
north and east of the Proposed Project area. Pronghorn groups are considered to be unlikely to occur 
in the Proposed Project area. 

Furbearers 

Bobcat 

Bobcats (Game species; S4; G5) are generally trapped for their fur on Cotterel Mountain. Populations 
in southern Idaho are up to one bobcat per 3.9 square kilometers (Knick 1990). Bobcats are solitary, 
except during breeding and typically forage on rabbits. When rabbit numbers decline, then bobcat 
populations follow. During 2003, two photographs of bobcats were obtained and cataloged (USDI, 
BLM 2005). The estimated bobcat population on Cotterel Mountain is unknown, but Cotterel 
Mountain offers suitable habitats for home ranges including rocks, crevices and a surrounding 
productive rabbit population. 

Bats 

Bats probably use Cotterel Mountain on a year-round basis. Bats forage and roost from lower 
elevations on Cotterel Mountain to the highest elevations of the mountain (EDFG 2002). Bats utilize 
water resources on the mountain as foraging habitat for some species, and as a water source for most, 
if not all species. Two types of bat groupings occur on Cotterel Mountain including resident bats that 
remain on site year round or during the spring through fall breeding and rearing season and migrating 
bats or those that fly over the site in the spring or the fall. Bat migration typically follows the moth 
migrations. In southern Idaho, moth migrations generally peak about the first two weeks in October. 
Moth migration times vary at different elevations and depending upon the species, moths generally 
migrate through a higher elevation site later in the season. 

One bat (unknown type) was recorded during all of the surveys for this Proposed Project; however, 
many bat species are known to, or suspected to occur in the study area (CDC 2002; EDFG 2002; 
USDI, BLM 2003). Species known to occur in the area include the western small-footed myotis 
(Myotis ciliolabrum ), long-eared myotis ( Myotis evotis), and pallid bat {Antrozous pallidus ). Species 
suspected to occur in the Proposed Project area include the big brown bat ( Eptesicus fuscus), 
Townsend’s big-eared bat ( Corynorhinus townsendii ), Yuma myotis {Myotis yumanensis), long- 
legged myotis {Myotis volans), and western pipistrelle {Pipistrellus hesperus). Migratory species such 
as the hoary bat {Lasionycteris noctivagans ) and silver-haired bat {Lasiurus borealis) may also pass 
through the area during the fall, following the moth migrations of southern Idaho. 

The western small-footed myotis (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S4) is primarily found in arid sites with 
cliffs and talus slopes. It may be more abundant in southern Idaho in lava-tube caves where it 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-26 






Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


hibernates in cracks and crevices. During summer months, the western small-footed myotis roosts in 
rock crevices, under boulders, beneath loose bark, or in buildings. It leaves its daytime roost shortly 
after sunset. The western small-footed myotis generally forage along cliffs and rocky slopes for small 
insects including moths, flies, true bugs, and ants. It hibernates in caves and abandoned mines in 
winter (one of the last bats to begin hibernation). 

The long-eared myotis (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S3) is found in a wide range of habitats. In shrub 
communities, it may be found in crevices in cliffs, crevices in rocks on the ground, lava-tube caves, 
and abandoned mines. An Idaho study found roosts were normally associated with areas adjacent to 
reservoirs or streams containing slow-moving water. Their diet consists primarily of moths and 
beetles, along with lacewings, true bugs, wasps, and bees. This species may glean insects from the 
surface of a variety of desert shrubs but it also occurs and feeds in coniferous forests. In northern 
Idaho, long-eared myotis appear to feed near the back of mines, especially at the portal. They do not 
seem to use these mines for night roosting or winter hibernation. The long-eared myotis is known to 
forage with long-legged myotis, big brown bat, silver-haired bat, and hoary bat, but an Idaho study 
found species foraged earlier in evening than several other bat species (Keller et al. 1993; Keller 
2000 ). 

The pallid bat (No BLM ranking; G5; SI) is generally found in arid or semi-arid shrub 
steppe/grasslands, and to a lesser extent in higher elevation coniferous forests, where rocky river 
canyons or cliffs are near water. They roost in rock crevices, mines, hollow cavities in trees, and 
buildings. Their prey can be captured in the air, but is predominantly captured on the ground. The 
pallid bat is a gregarious species that fly at low levels and have a much more acute sense of sight than 
the Myotis genus. They seldom hibernate, are active year round, and only migrate short distances. 
Breeding occurs in late fall, but sperm is stored until ovulation in early spring (IDFG 2002; Keller 
2000 ). 

The big brown bat (No BLM ranking; G5; S4) is a common species throughout North America; it can 
even be found in urban areas. In forested areas, they generally roost in hollow spaces in snags or 
living trees. The big brown bat is a common species near the entrances of caves and mines but usually 
does not cluster with other individuals in these colder locations. Foraging occurs primarily near the 
permanent roost, but temporary roosts may also be utilized. They may hibernate for a shorter period 
of time than members of the genus Myotis. Breeding occurs in late fall and sometimes in winter 
(IDFG 2002; Keller 2000). 

The Townsend’s big-eared bat (BLM sensitive Type 3, G4, S2) roosts colonially in caves, buildings, 
and mine adits. This species may use Cotterel Mountain for both roosting and foraging needs (EDFG 
2002). In addition, there is a known hibernation site on the east side of the Proposed Project area 
(IDFG 2002). The Townsend’s big-eared bat occurs at a wide range of elevations in a variety of 
habitats from desert shrub to deciduous and coniferous forests. In Idaho, some individuals likely 
migrate to hibernal sites to overwinter and disperse to forested areas during summer when the sexes 
separate. Their diet consists mostly of moths, beetles, flies, and lesser amounts of other insects. The 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-27 




Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Townsend’s big-eared bat may eat insects near or over still or slow moving water (Vullo et al. 1999). 
During winter months they hibernate. If multiple hibernation sites are close together, some bats may 
move from one to the other (Vullo et al 1999). Populations in southern Idaho are strongly loyal to 
roost sites during winter hibernation (Humphrey and Kunz 1976; Wackenhut 1990), and weakly loyal 
to roost sites during summer months due to shifting prey populations (Keller et al. 1993). 

The Yuma myotis (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S3) occurs in a wide variety of upland and lowland 
habitats, including riparian settings, desert scrub, and moist woodlands. Summer roosts include 
crevices in cliffs, old buildings, underground mines, caves, bridges, and abandoned cliff swallow 
nests. They eat a variety of soft-bodied small insects, especially moths and emergent aquatic insects, 
including stoneflies and mayflies found near and over water. No large winter concentrations of this 
species have been studied in Idaho (Keller et al. 1993; Keller 2000). 

The long-legged myotis (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S3) occurs in a variety of habitats from desert to 
mountainous coniferous forests, where it may be the most common bat species, especially if open 
water occurs in the area. They eat a variety of small insects found in forests including moths, 
leafhoppers, lacewings, termites, flies, and small beetles. The food taken may vary with insect 
availability. Summer roosts include cliff crevices, cracks in the ground, hollows in snags, hollow 
areas under exfoliating bark and in living trees, and old buildings. Winter hibernal sites include caves 
and mine tunnels. No large winter concentrations of this species have been found in mines in Idaho 
(Keller et al. 1993; Keller 2000). 

The western pipistrelle (BLM sensitive Type 4; G5; SI) is found in deserts and lowlands, desert 
mountain ranges, desert scrub flats, and rocky canyons. In Idaho, it prefers cliffs and canyon walls 
close to water. The western pipistrelle roosts in crevices, mine tunnels, and buildings. They emerge in 
the early evening, especially in canyon areas, where they are often seen feeding over slack water. An 
important predator on small swarming insects, pipistrelles feed on flying ants, mosquitoes, 
leafhoppers, and fruit flies, but often select only one kind of insect that is abundant when feeding 
(Keller et al. 1993; Keller 2000). 

Small Mammals 

Cliff chipmunks (Neotamias dorsalis) and an unidentified fox were observed during 2003 field 
surveys (TBR 2004). Several other small mammal species observed at Cotterel Mountain were Uinta 
chipmunk ( Tamias umbrinus), snowshoe hare ( Lepus americanus ), coyote ( Canis latrans), bushy 
tailed woodrat ( Neotoma cinerea ) (USDI, BLM Wildlife Database 2005). A variety of other mammal 
species occur on Cotterel Mountain, including shrews, voles, mice, pack rats, ground squirrels, pocket 
gophers, weasels, coyotes, cottontails, and jackrabbits (IDFG 2003a). 

Amphibians and Reptiles 

No amphibians or reptiles were recorded during the 2003 field surveys. BFO has conducted 
amphibian and reptile surveys within the Proposed Project area from 1997 through 2004 and have 
found the following species around the Proposed Project area: Great Basin spadefoot toad 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-28 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


(,Scaphiopus intermontanus ) and eggs in McClendon Spring pond; western toad {Bufo boreas) in Coe 
Creek; striped whipsnake ( Masticophis taeniatus ) along Nibbs Creek; and Common racer ( Coluber 
constrictor) in mountain mahogany on rocky outcrops. Other common species that were found in the 
past within the general area include Pacific treefrog {Hyla regilla) and western skink (USDI, BLM 
2005). 

The majority of amphibian and reptile species found in southern Idaho could potentially be found in 
suitable habitats on Cotterel Mountain including: longnose lizard ( Gambelia wislizenii ); short homed 
lizard ( Phrynosoma dougalassii ); desert homed lizard {Phrynosoma platyrhinos)’, sagebrush lizard 
(Sceleporus graciosis); western fence lizard ( Sceloporus occidentalis); western skink ( Eumeces 
skiltoninus ); gopher snake ( Pituophis catenifer ); western garter snake ( Thamnophis elegans)', 
common garter snake ( Thamnophis sirtalis); and night snake ( Hypsiglena torquata). 

Three of these species will be discussed in further detail due to their BLM sensitive species status 
including the common garter snake, night snake and western toad. The common garter snake (BLM 
sensitive Type 3; State 5; GS 5) is noctumal/diumal and usually found in habitats associated with 
water, such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes. They can also be found in open meadows 
and coniferous forests. They hibernate underground, or under surface cover at times with other snake 
species. Active from about March or April through October in northern range and at higher 
elevations, active season is longer in southern range, to year-round in Florida (Nussbaum et al. 1983; 
Cossell 1997). 

The night snake (BLM sensitive Type 5; State Status 5; Global Status 3) is nocturnal. This snake 
inhabits desert lowlands, grassland, chaparral, sagebrush flats, woodlands, and moist mountain 
meadows that generally have a rocky component. They can also be found in areas lacking rocks, 
provided there are rodent burrows (Diller and Wallace 1986; Cossell 1997). 

The western toad (BLM sensitive Type 3; G4; S4) is found in mountain meadows to bmshy desert 
flats and typically near a water source. Its distribution is throughout Idaho, but populations appear to 
be declining in parts of the U.S. due to water channeling and re-direction, thus leading to a loss of 
habitat (Bartels and Peterson 1994). 

Birds 

Large expanses of big and low sagebrush, juniper, grasslands and mountain mahogany are found 
within the Proposed Project area. These vegetation covers are potential habitat for a number of BLM 
sensitive species, including sage-grouse, Brewer’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, loggerhead shrike, 
pinyon jay, plumbeus vireo, sage sparrow, and sage thrasher. In addition, the abundance of open 
cliffs, strong updrafts, and the close proximity of agricultural lands make this area prime habitat for 
BLM sensitive raptor species including ferruginous hawks, peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, golden 
eagle and Swainson’s hawk. In addition to the wide diversity of bird species found during the 
surveys, there are specialized topographical features that provide breeding, nesting and wintering 


A/I ay 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-29 





Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


habitats for many avian species that are not widely available in the Raft River Valley-Cassia Creek 
and Marsh Creek sub-basin habitats. 

Avian Survey Efforts 

To assess the abundance and location of birds using specific habitats in the area, the following studies 
were conducted: (1) a yearlong avian point count survey; (2) a fall migration point survey; (3) a raptor 
nest survey; (4) a nocturnal bird migration survey using radar; (5) two sage-grouse lek surveys; and 
(6) a sage-grouse radio telemetry study (TBR 2004). The field methods chosen for use in the Cotterel 
Mountain study were derived from a review of guidelines for studying wind energy and bird 
interactions published by the National Wind Coordinating Committee (Anderson et al. 1999) and of 
the methods used in a number of other recent avian baseline studies at proposed wind plants in the 
western U.S. The baseline studies included Johnson et al. (1997); Johnson et al. (2000b); Erickson et 
al. (2001a); Sharp et al. (2001a), West Inc. (2002) and Young et al. (2002). During the point count 
surveys, in-transit observations were made of large birds and sensitive species while the observers 
were in transit between observations points. In-transit observations were entered into a separate 
database and analyzed separately. After analysis, these data were deemed not comparable to the point 
count data. Therefore, the in-transit observation data were only used in a general way to augment the 
species composition and richness information for the avian study areas. 

Yearlong Avian Point Count Survey 

For the yearlong avian point count survey, 11 circular plots, each with a radius of 1,970 feet (600 
meters), were established on Cotterel Mountain, and each plot was surveyed for 20 minutes at weekly 
intervals between November 26, 2002 and November 23, 2003 (Figure 3.2-3; TBR 2004). 
Approximately 17.3 hours of observations were made at each circular point count station through the 
four seasons for an entire year. All birds, including raptors, passerines, corvids, upland gamebirds and 
other species were recorded and when possible, ocular estimates of flight height of these birds were 
also recorded. In addition, flight paths of large birds were mapped. Data were recorded on data sheets, 
entered into a database, and analyzed. Flight paths were digitized into a Geographical Information 
System coverage layer. 

Observational data was compiled for each point count location. For the yearlong avian point count 
survey, 84 species of birds were identified. Species observed are listed in the Technical Baseline 
Reports for Biological Resources report prepared by the Applicant’s consultant for the Proposed 
Project (TBR 2004). Table 3.2-5 lists the avian groups and their subtotals. The averages of bird use 
varied geographically among the yearlong point count survey plots. Near the north end of Cotterel 
Mountain, plots 7, 8, and 9, had the highest average use, while near the south end of the mountain, 
plots 2, 11, and 12 had the lowest average use (Figure 3.2-4). By season, the number of species 
observed, along with percent of total birds observed for each season were: 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-30 






Figure 3.2-3. Avian Survey Plot Locations. 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Legend 


_| Avian Survey Plot Locations Interstate 

’*'• ■* Transmission Lines “■■■ Major Roads 

L_j.Project Area Other Roads 

|._ J Alt. B Interconnect ROW 

Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


• Winter, with 21 species and 22 percent of total birds observed; 

• Spring, with 62 species and 30 percent of total birds observed; 

• Summer, with 66 species and 23 percent of total birds observed; and 

• Fall, with 49 species and 25 percent of total birds observed. 

During the yearlong avian point count survey, the most abundant avian groups identified during all 
seasons were as percentages of total number of birds: 

• Passerines, 68 percent (31 percent were finches); 

• Raptors, 15 percent (observations of: 131 turkey vultures, 123 red-tailed hawks, and 119 
northern harriers); 

• Corvids, ten percent (mostly common ravens); 

• Upland gamebirds, about two percent (about one percent sage-grouse); and 

• A variety of other groups for the remaining five percent. 


25 


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Figure 3.2-4. Avian Use by Point Count Station. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-32 





























Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Table 3.2-5. Avian Abundance During Yearlong Point Counts in the Cotterel Study Area. 


Group Name 
Common Name 

Winter 

Spring 

Summer 

Fall 

Total 

# ind 

# obs 

# ind 

# obs 

#ind 

# obs 

# ind 

# obs 

# ind 

# obs 

Corvids 

48 

41 

118 

86 

92 

41 

264 

80 

522 

248 

Doves 

0 

0 

13 

8 

48 

33 

3 

3 

64 

44 

Gulls 

0 

0 

52 

5 

0 

0 

15 

1 

67 

6 

Other 

2 

2 

38 

31 

51 

42 

20 

18 

113 

93 

Passerines 

1028 

79 

1009 

321 

676 

460 

711 

177 

3424 

1037 

Raptors 











American Kestrel 

0 

0 

9 

9 

37 

35 

18 

17 

64 

61 

Bald Eagle 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

1 

1 

1 

1 

Cooper's Hawk 

0 

0 

1 

1 

0 

0 

11 

11 

12 

12 

Ferruginous Hawk 

0 

0 

2 

2 

1 

1 

0 

0 

3 

3 

Golden Eagle 

8 

7 

9 

9 

10 

7 

5 

5 

32 

28 

Merlin 


0 

0 

2 

2 

0 

0 

2 

2 

4 

Northern Goshawk 

0 

0 

2 

2 

0 

0 

3 

3 

5 

5 

Northern Harrier 

4 

4 

72 

65 

33 

31 

21 

19 

130 

119 

Prairie Falcon 

0 

0 

5 

4 

9 

8 

1 

1 

15 

13 

Red-tailed Hawk 

1 

1 

38 

29 

57 

50 

47 

43 

143 

123 

Sharp-shinned Hawk 

0 

0 

2 

2 

2 

1 

13 

13 

17 

16 

Swainson's Hawk 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

1 

1 

1 

1 

Turkey Vulture 

0 

0 

80 

40 

138 

81 

13 

10 

231 

131 

Unknown Buteo 

0 

0 

3 

3 

2 

2 

69 

2 

74 

7 

Unknown Raptor 

1 

1 

0 

0 

2 

2 

5 

4 

8 

7 

Raptor subtotal 

14 

13 

225 

168 

291 

218 

210 

132 

740 

531 

Upland Gamebirds 











Chukar 

6 

1 

17 

16 

17 

10 

12 

12 

52 

39 

Gray Partridge 

0 

0 

1 

1 

0 

0 

3 

1 

4 

2 

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0 

0 

19 

4 

1 

1 

12 

3 

32 

8 

Upland Gamebird 

6 

1 

37 

21 

18 

11 

27 

16 

88 

49 

subtotal 











Total All Birds 

1098 

136 

1492 

640 

1176 

805 

1250 

427 

5018 

2008 


Passerines were consistently the most abundant group observed during all four seasons, with winter 
use being significantly higher than the other seasons. One half of the passerines (52 to 55%) that were 
observed during the point count surveys were estimated to fly at a height within the rotor-swept area 
of the three proposed turbine types (TBR 2004). It should be noted that while avian surveys on 
Cotterel Mountain indicate that approximately one half of the birds are flying within the rotor swept 
area of the turbine blades, not all of these birds would be expected to be killed as they would be able 
to fly through the rotor swept area without being hit (See Section 4.6.4). 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-33 












Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Raptor sightings were similar during the spring, summer, and fall surveys (ranged from 1.49 to 1.89 
birds per plot), but declined during the winter (to 0.18 birds per plot). Turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk 
and northern harrier were the three species with highest use of the area during spring and summer. 
Sixty-two to seventy-eight percent of raptors were estimated to fly at a height within the rotor-swept 
area of three proposed turbine types (TBR 2004). 

Of the corvids, the common raven was consistently one of the top two species with highest use of the 
plot areas during all seasons. High percentages (65 to 76%) of Corvids were estimated to fly at a 
height equal to the rotor-swept area of three different turbine types (TBR 2004). 

Three groups of upland game birds were observed during the yearlong avian point count survey: the 
chukar (52 observed), the gray partridge (four observed), and the sage-grouse (32 observed). The 
greater sage-grouse is the only native species of the three. Low to moderate percentages (six to 56%) 
of upland game birds were estimated to fly at a height within the rotor-swept area of three different 
turbine types (TBR 2004). 

Other avian groups observed included: two small flocks of migrating California gulls and two small 
flocks of ring-billed gulls, both flocks observed during the spring; and a single flock of 15 American 
white pelicans observed during the fall. 

Of the small birds observed during the yearlong avian point count survey, gray-crowned rosy finches 
and Townsend’s solitaire had the highest plot area use during fall and winter, while the rock wren, 
mountain bluebird, western meadowlark, American robin, spotted towhee, vesper sparrow, violet- 
green swallow, chipping sparrow, dark-eyed junco, and Brewer’s sparrow had the highest plot area 
use during spring and summer. The species with the highest plot area use generally had the highest 
frequency of occurrence during the yearlong avian point count surveys (except for the gray-crowned 
rosy finch). 

Fall Migration Survey 

For the fall migration plot survey, 18 plots, each with a radius of 3,280 feet (one kilometer), were 
established on Cotterel Mountain, and each plot was surveyed for 30 minutes, six days a week, from 
mid-August to mid-October 2003 (TBR 2004; Figure 3.2-5). The data were similar to the yearlong 
avian point count survey, but only raptors, large birds of interest, and threatened or endangered or 
sensitive (TES) species were recorded. 

For the fall migration plot survey, 49 species of birds were identified. Species observed are listed in 
the Technical Baseline Reports for Biological Resources report prepared by the Applicant’s 
consultant (TBR 2004). Table 3.2-6 lists the avian groups and their subtotals. Use by plot area varied 
from 5.5 birds per survey at plot 15, to 22.4 birds per survey at plot 11. Plots 8, 9, 11, and 13 had the 
highest plot area use, while plots 4, 6, 12, and 13 had the lowest plot area use. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-34 






Cotterel Wind Power Project 

Figure 3.2-5. Fall Migration Survey 
Plot Locations. 


Legend 

Fall Migration Survey Areas • Transmission Lines 

Fall Migration Survey Points Interstate 

_ Major Roads 

^Project Area Other Roads 

(_ J Alt. B Interconnect ROW 

^ J 1 Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 


























































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Cofferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


The most abundant avian groups as percentages of total number of raptors, large birds of interest, and 
TES species identified during the fall migration period were: 

• Corvids, 46%; 

• Raptors, 29%; 

• Passerines, 17%; 

• Doves, 6%; and 

• Upland game birds, 2%. 

The common raven was the most frequently observed species, accounting for 54 percent of 
observations during the fall migration plot survey. Other species observed in more than five percent 
of the surveys included the northern harrier (30%), American kestrel (22%), turkey vulture (19%), 
sharp-skinned hawk (15%), and Cooper’s hawk (15%). 

Daily mean raptor use ranged from 0.6 to 8.3 raptors per 20-minute survey, with day-to-day 
variations in numbers (Figure 3.2-6). This pattern is typical of fall raptor migration. 



Figure 3.2-6. Mean Daily Raptor Use During Fall Migration 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-37 















































































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


High percentages (66 to 70%) of corvids were estimated to fly at a height equal to the rotor-swept 
area of three different turbine types. 

Moderate to high percentages (54 to 62%) of raptors were estimated to fly at a height equal to the 
rotor-swept area of three different turbine types. 

Moderate to high percentages (60 to 62%) of passerines were estimated to fly at a height equal to the 
rotor-swept area of three different turbine types. 

Moderate to high percentages (43 to 87%) of doves were estimated to fly at a height equal to the 
rotor-swept area of three different turbine types. 

No upland game birds were estimated to fly at a height equal to the rotor-swept area of three different 
turbine types. 

Raptor Nest Survey 

A raptor nest survey was conducted during May and June 2003 to evaluate the numbers and 
distribution of nesting raptors that may be potentially influenced by the Proposed Project (TBR 
2004). Two helicopter aerial surveys, along with ground surveys were used to locate active raptor 
nests within a raptor nesting area defined by a two-mile buffer surrounding the outermost edge of the 
proposed turbine strings. 

A total of 21 active and 20 inactive raptor nests were identified in the raptor nesting area surveyed. 
Nine nesting species were identified: golden eagle, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, Swainson’s hawk, 
ferruginous hawk, northern harrier, prairie falcon, short-eared owl, and great homed owl. Figure 3.2-7 
is a map of raptor nests active during the 2003 raptor nest survey. Based on observations made during 
the 2003 aerial and ground surveys, the sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel, and bam owl probably 
also nested in the study area. The cliffs on the east side of Cotterel Mountain provide nesting habitat 
for golden eagles, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and bam owls. The 
ferruginous and Swainson’s hawk nests were generally at lower elevations to the east and mostly two 
miles or farther from Cotterel Mountain. 

Nocturnal Bird Migration Survey 

A radar study of bird migration was conducted during August and October 2003 (ABR 2004). Radar 
observations were collected for about 6 hours per night on 30 nights within the 45-day study period. 
The baseline information collected included flight direction, migration passage rates, and flight 
altitude of nocturnal passerine migrants. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-38 





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# 

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o 

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Cotterel Wind Power Project 

Figure 3.2-7. Active Raptor Nests. 






T~N 


Legend 

*'• “ Transmission Lines = 

Nest survey area """" 

[_I*| Project Area 

(_. Alt. B Interconnect ROW 

„ | Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


/ 


/ 


4 











































































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


The results of the radar study showed: 

• A south, southeast average flight direction; 

• A variable migration passage rate ranging from two to 210 targets per 0.62 mile (one 
kilometer) per hour, with an average rate of 32 targets per 0.62 mile (one kilometer) per 
hour; 

• An overall average nocturnal flight altitude of 1,854 feet (565 meters) above ground 
level; and 

• On low ceiling cloud nights, avian flight altitude decreased with statistical significance in 
relationship to the cloud height. 

About 700 to 3,700 nocturnal migrating birds were estimated to pass through the rotor-swept zone of 
the proposed turbines during the 45-day study period. 

3.2.3 Special Status Species, Including Endangered, Threatened, Candidate Sensitive and 
Watch List Species 

The ESA protects listed threatened and endangered plant and animal species and their critical 
habitats. To ensure compliance with the ESA, a BA analyzing the effects of the Proposed Project on 
Federally Listed and candidate species is being prepared and will be available for public review. 
USFWS was contacted to initiate informal consultation and to obtain a list of Federally Listed species 
potentially present within and adjacent to the Proposed Project area. The USFWS response indicated 
that the bald eagle and gray wolf are the only TES species that may occur in or adjacent to the 
Proposed Project area (USFWS 2003). USFWS routinely requests that BFO provide ecosystem level 
management and consider the following species and their habitats in project planning and review: 
pygmy rabbit, spotted bat, Townsend’s big eared bat, California bighorn sheep, cliff chipmunk, 
western pipistrelle, little pocket mouse, kit fox, American white pelican, northern goshawk, prairie 
falcon, ferruginous hawk, Greater sage-grouse, loggerhead shrike, Brewer’s sparrow, sage sparrow, 
grasshopper sparrow, western toad and common garter snake (Moroz 2004). In addition, observation 
records obtained from the CDC provided a list of state sensitive species that occur on or adjacent to 
the Proposed Project area. A list of BLM sensitive species that could potentially occur within or 
adjacent to the Proposed Project area was also provided. Table 3.2-7 presents information on special 
status species known or suspected to occur within the Proposed Project area. 

The federal Bald Eagle Protection Act (16 CFR 668-668c) prohibits the taking possession, purchase, 
sale, barter, transport, export, or import of any bald or golden eagle or any part, nest, or egg of a bald 
or golden eagle, except for certain scientific, exhibition, and religious purposes. Eagle permit 
regulations are found in 50 CFR 22. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-40 




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Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


No specific surveys were conducted for special status species. However, special status species 
observations were recorded during point count, in-transit, and raptor fall migration studies. 
Information review indicates that as many as 45 Special Status species may be present in or near the 
Proposed Project area (Table 3.2-7). Of the 45 TES species reported in Table 3.2-7, six are known 
from recent or historical records or observations, fourteen were observed during the 2003 baseline 
surveys for this Proposed Project, including nine species that were suspected to occur but had not 
previously been documented in the Proposed Project area. The only federally listed species observed 
was the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Threatened). 

Birds 

Bald eagle (Threatened) home ranges are generally associated with large montane rivers, lakes, 
impoundments, and coniferous and cottonwood forests. They generally occupy riparian or lakeside 
habitat during the breeding season, but occasionally exploit upland areas for food and roost sites. 
However, nesting sites in the BFO are located at least 25 miles from the Snake River (USDI, BLM 
Wildlife Database 2005). Some breeding birds remain near nesting territories throughout the winter 
months. Wintering bald eagles are usually associated with areas that have a high number of daytime 
perch sites near open slow-moving water (Gough et al. 1998; USFWS 1986). 

The bald eagle was observed only twice during the avian surveys. All observations occurred during 
the fall months. No nests for this species were observed. There are four bald eagle nesting sites 
located within the Cassia Creek-Raft River Valley area. One nesting site is located approximately 
eight miles south of the Proposed Project area. A second is located approximately ten miles from the 
Proposed Project area; a third and fourth nest are located approximately 15 miles from the Proposed 
Project area. An annual winter bald eagle survey route has been conducted for the past 20 years 
within the Cassia Creek-Raft River area. Up to 12 bald eagles are observed during the route every 
year with an average of five bald eagles observed per survey year. Bald eagles do winter along 
Cassia Creek located about three miles south of the Proposed Project area. They also are known to 
winter and forage for waterfowl at the man-made pond located on Marsh Creek northwest of the 
Proposed Project area. In addition, bald eagles have been observed perching on utility poles in the 
Raft River Valley located to the east of the Proposed Project area (USDI, BLM 2005). Bald eagles 
may search Cotterel Mountain for winter kill carrion for foraging. 

The golden eagle (protected under the Bald Eagle Protection Act 1978) is found on prairies, tundra, 
open wooded country, and barren areas, especially in hilly or mountainous regions where they 
generally build stick nests on cliffs, or in trees. In Idaho they prefer open and semi-open areas in both 
deserts and mountains. They commonly forage in early morning and early evening and feed on small 
mammals, but may also eat insects, snakes, birds, juvenile ungulates, and carrion. Jackrabbits are 
their principal prey in southern Idaho, and there is a positive correlation between golden eagle 
breeding success and jackrabbit numbers reported in Idaho, Colorado, and Utah (Gough et al. 1998; 
Karl 2000). Golden eagles were observed 141 times during all avian surveys. In 2003 there were three 
active golden eagle nests on Cotterel Mountain. These nests were located on east and southeast facing 
cliffs. The nest success rate for Golden Eagles was estimated at 100 percent and the fledging success 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-46 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


rate at 75 percent (TBR 2004). During 2004 golden eagles nested on a southeast facing slope and 
fledged two young (USDI BLM 2005). 

The greater sage-grouse is a popular upland game bird that was once abundant throughout sagebrush 
habitats in the west. Its original range encompassed the western to northwestern U.S. and three 
provinces of southwestern Canada. Currently, the greater sage-grouse range has measurably 
decreased within eleven states and two Canadian provinces. Since the 1950s, the greater sage-grouse 
population has declined by an estimated 45 to 80 percent (Braun 1998), with about 150,000 to 
200,000 breeding greater sage-grouse remaining throughout the range (Connelly and Braun 1997). 
Greater sage-grouse are no longer present in some western states. Core populations of greater sage- 
grouse have survived in several states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, but even 
these populations have significantly declined. In Idaho, recent population trends show an estimated 
statewide decline of 40 percent from the long-term average (IDFG 1997). The average number of 
chicks produced per hen has declined by 40 to 50 percent in many areas (Connelly et al. 2004). 

The success of the sage-grouse is directly dependent on, and correlates to, the health of the sagebrush 
shrub-steppe community. The decline of the sage-grouse is thought to be a result of: habitat loss or 
fragmentation from invasive species; agriculture; degradation due to fire; overgrazing; urbanization; 
hunting and poaching; predation; disease; weather; accidents; herbicides; and physical disturbance 
(Connelly et al. 2004). 

All populations of sage-grouse have been reviewed for listing under the ESA, but the USFWS 
recently determined that listing was not warranted (USFWS 2005). USFWS cited that 92 percent of 
the known active leks (traditional sites where males and females congregate for courtship) occur in 
ten core populations across eight western states, and that five of these populations are large and 
expansive. In addition, approximately 160 million acres of sagebrush, a necessary habitat for sage- 
grouse, currently exists across the western landscape. In Canada, sage-grouse have been listed 
provincially as endangered or threatened (Aldridge 2000). 

In 2003 and 2004, sage-grouse lek surveys and lek counts were conducted on Cotterel Mountain. 
Prior to 2003, there were four known leks on Cotterel Mountain (IDFG 2003c). Lek surveys in 2003 
confirmed the existence of two additional active leks, and three potential new lek sites on Cotterel 
Mountain. In 2004, at least four sage-grouse leks were active on Cotterel Mountain (Figure 3.2-8). 
This is one less than in 2003. The sum of the maximum number of male sage-grouse observed at all 
leks in 2004 was 24, almost 50 percent less than the 45 observed in 2003. At this time, it is unknown 
if this is a biological meaningful population decrease, or the result of sampling variability and/or 
weather patterns. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-47 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 3.2-8: Sage Grouse Leks 


Legend 


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Project Area 

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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


In an effort to better understand the year round use of Cotterel Mountain by sage-grouse, a radio 
telemetry study was initiated in March of 2004 (TREC 2005). The objective of this study was to 
monitor the annual movements and to identify areas used for nesting, brood-rearing, and wintering of 
the grouse population on Cotterel Mountain to provide pre-construction data to serve as a baseline 
against which to evaluate the impacts of the Proposed Project if approved, on sage-grouse. This study 
is proposed to continue for several years. A total of 37 sage-grouse were trapped and fitted with 
radio-collars. All marked sage-grouse were located on a weekly basis between March 8 and 
December 31 2004. The first year results of the study documented the following results: 

• Overall nesting effort was high and the nest success rate was above the range-wide 
average. 

• Some male sage-grouse left Cotterel Mountain in spring following the leking season. 

• In 2004, hunters harvested 21 percent of the collared grouse, which is higher than harvest 
rates reported for other areas in southwest Idaho. 

As data are collected in subsequent years of the study, additional information on these issues will 
become available. 

The brewer’s sparrow (BLM sensitive Type 3; G5, S5 protected nongame species) is usually found in 
association with sagebrush and alpine habitats. During migration and in winter, it is also found in 
desert scrub and creosote bush. An Idaho study found Brewer's Sparrows prefer large, living 
sagebrush for nesting (Gough et al. 1998; Karl 2000). Brewer’s sparrows were observed a total 121 
times during all avian surveys. Most observations of Brewer’s sparrow occurred during spring and 
summer (TBR 2004). Brewer’s sparrows could potentially nest on Cotterel Mountain. 

The Cassin’s finch (BLM sensitive Type 5; S5; G5) is generally found in open, montane coniferous 
forests at higher elevations. During migration and in winter, it’s also found in deciduous woodlands, 
second growth, scrub, brushy areas, partially open sites with scattered trees, and occasionally in 
suburbs near mountains. Cassin’s finch was observed a total 49 times during all avian surveys. All 
observations of Cassin’s finch occurred during spring and fall and were evenly distributed between 
the two seasons (TBR 2004). Cassin’s finch could potentially nest on the Cotterel Mountain. 

The prairie falcon (BLM sensitive Type 3; G4; S5) is found in open situations in mountainous shrub 
steppe, or grasslands areas. In Idaho, it breeds in shrub steppe and dry mountainous habitat, and 
winters at lower elevations (Gough et al. 1998; Karl 2000). The prairie falcon was observed a total 42 
times during all avian surveys. All observations of prairie falcon occurred during spring and summer 
with the majority occurring during the summer months (TBR 2004). In 2003 there were two active 
prairie falcon nests. Both nests were located on east facing cliffs. One nest contained two eggs and the 
other had two downy chicks. The success of these nesting and fledging attempts are unknown (TBR 
2004). 


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The pinyon jay (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S2) is generally found in pinyon/juniper woodland, less 
frequently pine; in nonbreeding season, also occurs in scrub oak and sagebrush. They normally nest in 
juniper or pine trees, sometimes oak. They form complex social organizations and forage on ground 
or in foliage for pinion seeds (Ehrlich et al. 1988; Karl 2000). Cotterel Mountain is located at the very 
northern edge of the recorded pinyon jay range. The pinyon jay was observed 28 times during all 
avian surveys (TBR 2004). All observations occurred during the fall months. Pinyon jay could 
potentially nest in juniper or taller shrubs on Cotterel Mountain. 

The sage thrasher (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S5) is found in sagebrush plains, primarily in arid or 
semi-arid communities. During migration and in winter, they can also be found in scrub, brush, and 
thickets (rarely around towns). In the northern Great Basin, it breeds and forages in tall 
sagebrush/bunchgrass, juniper/sagebrush/bunchgrass, aspen/sagebrush/bunchgrass and mountain 
mahogany/shrub communities. An Idaho study found that big sagebrush used for nesting was taller 
than average, had greater foliage density, and most often faced easterly (Ehrlich et al. 1988; Karl 
2000). The sage thrasher was observed 17 times during the avian surveys (TBR 2004). All 
observation occurred during the fall months. Sage thrashers could potentially nest in big sagebrush on 
Cotterel Mountain. 

The northern goshawk (BLM sensitive Type 3; G5; S4) is generally found in deciduous and 
coniferous forests, along forest edges, and in open woodlands. In Idaho they usually summer and 
nests in coniferous and aspen forests and winter in riparian and agricultural areas. Northern Goshawks 
have been studied extensively in the South Hills of Twin Falls County, Sawtooth Forest. They 
migrate mostly along ridges and coastlines and forage in cultivated regions (Gough et al. 1998; Karl 
2000). The northern goshawk was observed 12 times during the avian surveys (TBR 2004). All 
observations occurred during the spring and fall months. Northern goshawks could potentially nest on 
Cotterel Mountain, most likely in an aspen stand. 

The ferruginous hawk (BLM sensitive Type 3; G4; S3) is a grassland, pinyon/juniper or desert shrub- 
steppe nester and prey primarily on jackrabbits and rodents. Of the large raptors, it is second only to 
the red-tail hawk in habitat versatility. They generally avoid agricultural and cultivated lands 
(McAnnis 1990). 

The Raft River Valley-Curlew National Grassland was nominated and accepted as a Globally 
Important Birding Area by the American Bird Conservancy. It is estimated that one percent of the 
global ferruginous hawk productivity occurs in this area. In addition, ferruginous hawk nesting 
densities in the Jim Sage-Cotterel Mountain area are one of the highest in Idaho. The BFO, United 
States Geological Survey (USGS), and Boise State University have conducted nesting, banding or 
productivity surveys annually on ferruginous hawks in the Raft River Valley for 23 of the past 27 
years (USDI, BLM Wildlife Database 2005). Approximately 305 nests occur within the BFO and of 
those about 20 percent produce young each year. Unlike northern Utah and some other states, since 
1977, the Globally Important Birding Area ferruginous hawk population has remained stable. In 


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recent years nesting productivity within the Jim Sage and Cotterel Mountains have been influenced 
by severe spring weather, human disturbance to nesting and other factors (TBR 2004). 

The ferruginous hawk was observed ten times during the avian surveys (TBR 2004). All observations 
occurred during the spring and summer months. Ferruginous hawks have been observed most 
frequently during the late summer or early fall along the Cotterel Mountain eastern most ridgeline 
(USDI, BLM Wildlife Database 2005). In 2003, aerial nest surveys located three active nests of this 
species within two miles of the Proposed Project area (TBR 2004). All were in solitary junipers on 
relatively flat ground on the east slope of Cotterel Mountain. Only one of the three active nests was 
considered successful. 

The loggerhead shrike (BLM sensitive Type 3, G5; S3) is generally found in open country with 
scattered trees and shrubs, in savannas, desert scrub and, occasionally, in open juniper woodlands. 
Often found on poles, wires or fence posts. It constructs bulky, cup-shaped nest in shrubs. A study in 
southeastern Idaho located nests in sagebrush, bitterbrush, and greasewood (Gough et al. 1998; Karl 
2000). The loggerhead shrike was observed eight times during the avian surveys (Sharp 2004). All 
observations occurred during the spring months. Loggerhead shrike could potentially nest on Cotterel 
Mountain. 

The peregrine falcon (BLM sensitive Type 3; G5; SI) is found in various open situations from tundra, 
moorland, steppes, and seacoasts (especially where there are suitable nesting cliffs), to mountains, 
open forested regions, and populated areas. In Idaho, former and current nest sites are located in both 
mountain and desert regions, and are generally associated with bodies of water (Gough et al. 1998; 
Karl 2000). The peregrine falcon was observed only twice during the avian surveys. All observation 
occurred during the fall months. No nests for this species were observed. Suitable peregrine falcon 
nesting habitat (high cliff faces) does occur within and adjacent to the Proposed Project area (Sharp 
2004). 

The Green-tailed towhee (BLM sensitive Type 5; G5; S5) is usually found in low shrubs, sometimes 
interspersed with trees, and avoids typical forest, other than open pinyon/juniper woodlands. It was 
observed 12 times during fixed-point count observations (Sharp 2004). Green-tailed towhee could 
potentially nest on Cotterel Mountain. 

The plumbeus, or solitary, vireo (BLM sensitive Type 5) is found in northern hardwood-coniferous 
forests, mixed woodlands, humid montane forests, pine savannas, oak forests, aspen forests, foothill 
riparian forests, Gambel oak shrublands with scattered tall trees, and pinyon/juniper communities. 
During migration and in winter, it can also be found in a variety of forests, woodlands, scrub, and 
thicket habitats, but prefers forest edges and semi-open areas. It occasionally breeds in lowland 
riparian forests adjacent to foothills (Karl 2000; Robbins et al. 1966). The plumbeus vireo was 
observed only once during the avian surveys (Sharp 2004). The single observation of this species 
occurred during the summer months. The plumbeus vireo could potentially nest on Cotterel 
Mountain. 


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Sensitive Species Not Present During Surveys 

The BLM has previously documented occurrences of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse 
(Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) in the vicinity of Cotterel Mountain. Similarly, the IDFG 
has identified the Long-billed curlew ( Numenius americanus-Type 5), Northern pygmy-owl 
(Glaucidium gnoma- Type 5), and Western burrowing owl ( Speotyto cunicularia-Type 5) in the 
Cotterel Mountain vicinity, but no observations of individuals or nest sites were recorded during 
fixed-point counts, fall migration surveys, or intransit observations for any of these species. These 
species have potentially suitable habitat adjacent to the Proposed Project area, but are not likely to 
occur in the Proposed Project footprint area due to unsuitable available habitats and rocky soils. 

There is also potential habitat within the Proposed Project area for the: Flammulated owl ( Otus 
flammeolus-Type 3); Willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii- Type 3); Sage sparrow ( Amphispiza belli- 
Type 3), Grasshopper sparrow ( Ammodramus savannarum-Type 3); Red-naped sapsucker 
(Sphyrapicus nuchalis- Type 5); Virginia’s warbler ( Vermovora virginae- Type 5); and Calliope 
hummingbird ( Stellula calliope) Type 5. These species have not previously been recorded within the 
Proposed Project area, and there were no observations of individuals or nest sites recorded during 
fixed-point counts, fall migration surveys, or intransit observations. Habitat is present for these 
species, although they have not been documented within the Proposed Project area. 

There is no suitable habitat present within the Proposed Project area for the American white pelican 
(Pelecanus erythrorhynchos; BLM sensitive Type 2; G3; SI) or Black tern ( Chlodonias niger, BLM 
sensitive Type 3; G4; S2). It is possible that these species may migrate or use the air space above the 
Proposed Project area. 

Mammals 

The gray wolf (Federally listed Endangered/Experimental Non-Essential Population) was historically 
found in most of North America. In the west, they now occur only in Alaska, Canada, Idaho, 
Wyoming, Montana and Washington State. This species was re-introduced to Idaho in 1997 and is 
estimated at a current population of 500 individuals within Idaho. Suitable habitat for these wide- 
ranging mammals includes (1) secluded denning and rendezvous sites to raise pups; (2) a sufficient, 
year-round prey base of ungulates and beaver; and (3) sufficient land area that is not subject to 
disturbance from humans. Wolves generally prefer habitat with no roads or very low road density. 
Gray wolf territories are large, encompassing up to 100 to 260 square miles. 

In 1994, final rules in the Federal Register made a distinction between Idaho wolves that occur north 
of Interstate 90 (1-90) and wolves that occur south of 1-90. Gray wolves occurring north of 1-90 are 
listed as endangered species and receive full protection in accordance with provisions of the ESA. 
Gray wolves occurring south of 1-90 are listed as part of an experimental population, with special 
regulations defining their protection and management. 

No gray wolves (ESA, Experimental Population) were observed during any of the surveys conducted 
for the Proposed Project. However, Cotterel Mountain does provide suitable habitat for the gray wolf. 


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Foraging opportunities include mule deer and beaver along Marsh Creek to the west and Cassia Creek 
to the south. 

The pygmy rabbit (BLM sensitive Type 2; G4; S3) is currently petitioned for listing by the USFWS. 
This species typically prefers areas of tall, dense sagebrush cover with high percent woody cover, 
growing in deep, loose sediment (Gabler 1997). The IDFG has a historic documented occurrence in 
the vicinity of Cotterel Mountain along SH-77. Surveys of this historic location found no evidence of 
occurrence or use by pygmy rabbits. Additional historically occupied sites are located north of Albion 
at lower elevations. Soils over most of the Proposed Project area are shallow and rocky and therefore 
unsuitable for pygmy rabbits. Therefore, no further analysis on pygmy rabbits will be conducted in 
this Draft EIS. 

The cliff chipmunk (BLM sensitive species Type 4; G5; SI) is usually found in rocky pinyon/juniper 
woodlands and lower elevations of pine forests. Also found in higher-elevation Douglas-fir and 
Mexican pine. In Idaho, it generally occurs only in pinyon/juniper stands in south-central part of state 
and primarily inhabits cliffs and rocky areas where it consumes a wide variety of seeds, acorns, and 
fruits (Streubel 2000). The cliff chipmunk was observed numerous times during surveys conducted 
for the Proposed Project. This species has been observed and live-trapped in selected habitats from 
Rock Creek, Idaho east to Weston Canyon, Idaho (USDI, BLM Wildlife Database 2005). 

3.3 HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES 

Historic and cultural resources are defined as nonrenewable remains of past human activity including 
buildings, sites, structures, or objects, each of which may have historical, architectural, 
archaeological, cultural, or scientific importance. Historic and cultural resources are protected under 
the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 
1979. The archaeological record of the Proposed Project area has been partially examined through 
surveys ethnographic materials regarding Native American populations, and historic documents 
pertaining to the settlement and use of the area by Euro-Americans. 

3.3.1 Natural and Cultural Setting 

The Proposed Project area is located within the Snake River Plain of the Great Basin. Cotterel 
Mountain is bordered by the Raft River Valley to the east, the Albion Mountains to the west, and the 
Jim Sage Mountains to the south. The Cotterel and Jim Sage Mountains are formed from Miocene 
rhyolite lava flows and ash-flow tuffs and as a result contain abundant sources of obsidian (Link and 
Phoenix 1994). The Silent City of Rocks, found in the Albion Range south of Cotterel Mountain, is 
an Oligocene granite pluton, weathering of which results in rounded monoliths (Link and Phoenix 
1994) and an area of unique geology that has been of cultural importance throughout prehistory and 
history (Heritage Research Associates 1996). 

Low rainfall and extreme seasonal temperatures characterize the climate in the Snake River Plain. 
Native vegetation in the area reflects the relatively arid climate and is characterized by the Artemisia 
tridentata/Agropyron spicatum vegetation zone (Franklin and Dymess 1988). The principal large 


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mammal species of the sagebrush communities of the Snake River Plain include pronghorn antelope 
(Antilocapra americana ) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus ), though mountain sheep and bear are 
also present (Walker 1978). Smaller faunal resources found in desert areas include burrowing rodents, 
small birds, and occasional predators such as fox, coyote, and hawk. Along the edge of the desert in 
sagebrush areas kangaroo rats, chipmunks, woodrats, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, cottontails, and 
sagehens are typical faunal resources (Harper 1986). Many of these natural resources were of great 
economic importance to the Native American inhabitants of the Snake River Plain. The diverse plant 
and animal resources provided food, materials for shelter and clothing, and minerals for making tools 
and weapons. 

Prehistory 

A general cultural sequence has been proposed for the Snake and Salmon River areas, defined by 
three broad periods and sub-periods which are discussed in detail below (Butler 1986; Butler 1978) 
(Table 3.3-1). Results of archaeological excavations indicate the prehistory of the Upper Snake River 
region extends back to possibly 12,500 B.C. and document a unique region within the intermontane 
area that is connected to both the northwestern Plains and Great Basin culture areas (Butler 1986). 


Table 3.3-1. Chronological Subdivisions of Upper Snake River Prehistory. 


Cultural Period 

Temporal Range 

Key Sites 

Key Sites: 

Early Big Game Hunting 

Period 

Clovis Subperiod 

Folsom Subperiod 

Plano Subperiod 

12,500-5800 B.C. 

10,000-9000 B.C. 

9000 - 8600 B.C. 

8600-5800 B.C. 

Jaguar Cave; Simon Site 

Owl Cave; Jaguar Cave 

Owl Cave; Veratic Cave 

Archaic Period 

5800 B.C.-A.D. 500 

Veratic Cave; Owl Cave; 

Weston Canyon Rockshelter 

Late Period 

A.D. 500- 1805 

Clover Creek; Givens Hot 
Springs; Wilson Butte Cave 


The Early Big Game Hunting Period (12500 to 5800 B.C.) represents the earliest human occupation 
of the Upper Snake and Salmon River area and reflects the hunting of big-game animals including 
several species that reached extinction during the terminal phase of the Late Pleistocene or in the 
Early Holocene. The Early Big Game Hunting period is divided into three subperiods: Clovis, 
Folsom, and Plano, and several sites throughout Idaho are attributed to this period, though dated 
contexts are rare (Yohe and Woods 2002). Clovis culture in Idaho is not well known, but these groups 
are presumed to have been hunters that pursued now-extinct forms of elephant and camel, and to have 
lived in caves or temporary shelters. Folsom subperiod sites are better documented in the southern 
Idaho region, and have been documented both as isolate finds (Swanson 1961; Moe 1982; Titmus 
1985) and from in situ deposits (Miller 1978). In general, Folsom people appear to have hunted herds 
of large animals, particularly bison, and lived in temporary shelters while following these herds. The 


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Plano subperiod is the best represented of the Early Big Game Hunting Period and is characterized by 
a more diverse artifact assemblage and increased occupation of rockshelters and caves (Plew 1986). 
Significant climatic and environmental changes coincided with the end of the Early Big Game 
Hunting Period and the gradual transition to the Archaic Period (5800 B.C. to A.D. 500), which is 
defined primarily by a change in tool technology. In the archaeological record, the transition between 
the two periods primarily involves the introduction of the atlatl and dart weapon system (Butler 1978; 
Butler 1986). The bulk of the tool kit remained unchanged, however, suggesting that the Archaic 
Period does not represent a major break with the preceding Early Big Game Hunting Period. 
Although the horse, camel, and elephant had become extinct by this time, modem forms of bison and 
mountain sheep had emerged and replaced the older forms in the region. In western Idaho, another 
feature of the Archaic Period is the Western Idaho Burial Complex, a distinctive burial pattern best 
known from the Braden site near Weiser, Idaho. Increased sedentism is suggested by early pit houses 
found at Givens Hot Springs on the Snake River, though large semi-permanent villages are not 
characteristic of this period (Butler 1986). 

In the northern Great Basin, the Late Period (A.D. 500 to 1805) is manifested by at least two 
distinctive sets of cultural remains, the Northern Fremont and the Shoshonean. The Northern Fremont 
is a Formative Stage culture best known from Utah, while the Shoshonean culture is a continuation of 
the Archaic stage (Butler 1986). Though most evidence for Fremont culture is found near the Great 
Salt Lake, occasional deposits have been identified in the Snake River Plain. Sites that have been 
recognized as Fremont are often marked by Great Salt Lake gray ware pottery in association with 
semisubterranean housepits, manos and pestles, and small, comer-notched Rose Spring or Rosegate 
projectile points and are dated between A.D. 500 and 1350. Most Late Period structures in western 
Idaho, however, are small wikiup-sized structures, with the exception of a large semisubterranean 
house identified at Givens Hot Springs (Butler 1986). In general, it appears that the Fremont cultural 
complex was short-lived and is not clearly identified in Idaho. The pattern of hunting and gathering 
established throughout the Archaic Period persisted through the Late Prehistoric and into the 
ethnographic past, as manifested by the Shoshonean cultural complex found along the Snake River 
Plain. 

Ethnography 

At the time of historic contact, southern Idaho was the homeland of the Northern Shoshone and 
Bannock Indians. Sometime prior to Euro-American contact, the Northern Shoshone, who 
traditionally occupied southeastern Idaho, were joined by an intrusive group, the Bannock, who spoke 
a dialect of the Northern Paiute language. Similar social institutions developed between the two 
groups, so that they became known as the Shoshone-Bannock for purposes of general description 
(Murphy and Murphy 1986; Walker 1978). 

The Northern Shoshone and Bannock occupied an area generally along the Snake River plains and the 
mountains to the north, though many neighboring Eastern Shoshone and Northern Paiute groups also 
used resources of this region (Murphy and Murphy 1986). Local groups within the Shoshone region 
were often identified by other Indian groups and by early settlers based on foods that were commonly 


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eaten, such as “Agaideka” for “salmon eaters” living along the Snake River, “Tukudeka” for 
“sheepeaters” found in the Sawtooth mountains, and “Kammedeka” for “jackrabbit eaters” living 
along Bannock Creek and the Raft River. However, this nomenclature does not refer to political 
divisions and resulted in confusing designations given the high mobility and seasonal exploitation of 
resources by all of these groups (Murphy and Murphy 1986). Northern Shoshone populations focused 
near the Proposed Project area are more commonly referred to as the upper Snake River or Fort Hall 
Shoshone, a mounted group that lived in close association with the Bannock. 

The Shoshone-Bannock were generally atypical of other Great Basin cultures because of their 
proximity to the Great Plains, their adoption of Great Plains cultural attributes, and their location 
along the upper Snake River, which allowed for a more productive resource base (Walker 1978). 
Wealth accumulated in horses, organization into larger communities, and composite band political 
groupings further differentiate the Shoshone-Bannock from traditional Great Basin cultures (Walker 
1978). 

The Shoshone-Bannock relied heavily upon small game, birds, insects, seeds, and nuts, much like the 
Northern Paiute (Walker 1978), though use of the horse and the nomadic lifestyle of some Northern 
Shoshone groups increased access to bison on the eastern Plain. This equestrian lifestyle provided 
mobility for hunting large game such as bison and digging camas roots in distant areas (Walker 
1978). Ecological determinants prevented adoption of an equestrian lifestyle by many native 
inhabitants, particularly in western Idaho, and as a result there were both mounted and unmounted 
Shoshone groups that occupied the Snake River Plain. 

The availability of anadromous fish, together with hunting and gathering activities, dictated seasonal 
population shifts and village locations. While buffalo hunting was a major attribute of Northern 
Shoshone economy, salmon fishing constituted a principal source of subsistence for the lower Snake 
River Shoshone living below Shoshone Falls and in western Idaho. The Shoshone recognized several 
runs by the agai, or salmon, the first of which would occur in March or April (Steward 1938). Large 
numbers of people would temporarily gather during these runs, and the abundance of fish allowed the 
resource to be dried and cached for winter (Steward 1938). In eastern Idaho, the upper Snake River 
Shoshone and Bannock would form into a large composite group each fall to hunt buffalo toward the 
east, returning together to the Snake River bottomlands to pasture their horses for the winter (Steward 
1938) In the spring, smaller groups would travel along the Snake River to below Shoshone Falls for 
salmon fishing, and south toward Bear River for hunting and collecting berries (Steward 1938). 
Annual trips were also made to Camas Prairie, near modem Fairfield, Idaho, to dig camas bulbs, 
while seeds and berries were gathered in the hills between the Prairie and the Snake River (Daugherty 
and Welch 1985; Murphy and Murphy 1986). The Northern Shoshone of the Snake River also 
collected pine nuts from northwestern Utah (Murphy and Murphy 1986). Seasonal cycles dictated 
resource use; typically, large game hunting and fishing occurred in spring until mid-summer when 
large groups traveled to the hunt bison. Large intertribal gatherings would also take place in summer. 
Women collected berries roots, nuts, seeds, and insects throughout the year until winter, which was a 
time of limited hunting and gathering (Walker 1978). This hunting and gathering subsistence pattern 


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of the Shoshone-Bannock, which was based on seasonal exploitation of resources and migration, 
appears to have persisted from prehistoric times throughout the ethnographic period. 

History 

First Euro-American contact is generally attributed to the Corps of Discovery, sent by President 
Thomas Jefferson in 1805 to discover an overland route to the Pacific Ocean. Less than a decade 
following the expedition, British and American fur trading posts were established throughout the 
Pacific Northwest. Early explorers of the Snake River Plain included Wilson Price Hunt and partner 
Donald McKenzie who traveled the Upper Snake River in 1811; much of their route would be 
explored by other expeditions and traders throughout the 1820s and would later become the Oregon 
Trail (Brown 1932). Various Snake River Plain expeditions were conducted between 1824-1831, 
headed successively by Alexander Ross, Peter Skene Ogden, and John Work of the Hudson’s Bay 
Company, who provided primary sources on the Northern Shoshone and Bannock in their journals 
(Murphy and Murphy 1986). 

Competition between British and American interests manifested itself in the fur trade, but by 1821, 
the Hudson’s Bay Company dominated the fur enterprise throughout the Pacific Northwest (Galbraith 
1957). One response of the Hudson’s Bay Company to the increased American competition was to 
create a “fur desert” by annihilating as many beaver as possible in the Snake River country so as to 
establish a buffer between the Pacific Northwest and the Americans to the east. In spite of attempts by 
the Hudson’s Bay Company to reduce the American presence, trappers Kelley, Wyeth, and 
Bonneville each led expeditions that crossed through Snake River country in the 1830s. Wyeth later 
returned to the area in 1834 and established Fort Hall near present-day Pocatello (Brown 1932). The 
fort functioned as a center of trade, where Indians could barter skins and buffalo meat for Euro- 
American goods such as knifes and tobacco (Franzen 1981). Fort Hall was located at a strategic 
position, an area still rich in beaver and at the intersection of old Indian trails from all directions that 
would later become emigrant routes (Brown 1932). In response to construction of Fort Hall, the 
Hudson’s Bay Company constructed Fort Boise; competition later forced the sale of Fort Hall to the 
Hudson’s Bay Company in 1837 (Ghent 1929). A rapid decimation of the buffalo and beaver 
populations led the trappers to gradually leave the Snake River country once the area no longer 
produced significant quantities of fur (Beal and Wells 1959[ 1 ]); by the early 1840s, the fur-trapping 
era drew to a close and the stage was set for the great overland migration along the Oregon Trail 
(Dicken and Dicken 1979). Fort Hall became an important stop along the travelers’ route, as it was 
located approximately two-thirds of the way from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City. Hudson’s 
Bay Company men aided the emigrants passing along the Oregon Trail and raised cattle for trade with 
Indians and the emigrants (Beal and Wells 1959). 

The Proposed Project area is located adjacent to the Raft River Valley, which lies immediately east of 
Cotterel Mountain and is situated near a historically important crossroads of the Oregon Trail. The 
“Parting of the Ways” or “Separation of the Trails,” located on the west bank of the Raft River, was 
the junction where travelers had to decide whether to head south toward California or proceed west 
along the Snake River toward the Oregon Country (Figure 3.3-1). The California Trail route, 


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originally traveled in 1841 by the Bidwell party, became better traveled by the mid-1840s, and use of 
the name “California Trail” became commonplace after 1843. The year 1849 was a turning point, as 
for the first time more emigrants traveled to California than to Oregon. The gold rush to California in 
1849 also resulted in the opening of Hudspeth’s Cutoff from the Oregon Trail (Hope 1990). The 
California Trail and Hudspeth’s Cutoff junctioned at Cassia Creek just north of the City of Rocks, 
which became an important landmark for travelers along the trail (Heritage Research Associates 
1996). The effects of the Oregon Trail usage on Native Americans in the region was considerable in 
terms of use of natural resources, primarily forage and firewood fuel, by the emigrants. An estimated 
240,000 emigrants with 1.5 million animals traveled through the territory of the Fort Hall Indians 
during the great migration (Madsen 1980). Subsequently, hostilities between Native Americans and 
new emigrants increased. A number of massacres and ambushes, led by both Native Americans and 
military cavalry, occurred near the Raft River Valley throughout the 1800s (Sudweeks 1941). 

The Idaho area remained largely unsettled by Euro-Americans, however, until the discovery of gold. 
By the early 1860s, a number of gold discoveries had occurred in the areas of the Salmon and Boise 
rivers, sparking a mining boom that lasted for several decades. Mineral mining in southeastern Idaho 
did not take hold until the 1870s, when mining areas were developed at Cariboo Mountain, at 
Bonanza Bar at the mouth of the Raft River, and at Black Pine (Franzen 1981). 

Concomitant to the 1860s gold rush was the establishment of farming and ranching, including along 
the Raft River Valley, as demand by miners for cattle increased. The earliest settlements in 
southeastern Idaho were established by Mormon pioneers traveling north from Salt Lake City and 
were based on agriculture and ranching rather than mining (Franzen 1981). By the early 1860s, the 
mail and stage lines were established between Brigham City, Utah, and Boise, and preceded Mormon 
pioneer settlement of the Raft River Valley (Franzen 1981). The “Boise-Kelton Road” was the 
primary transportation corridor connecting the new settlements with Utah. Later known as the 
“Albion to Conner’s Comer Road”, this transportation corridor went through the community of 
Sweetzer and south of Cotterel Mountain along current SH-77. 

The increased Euro-American settlement and subsequent disruption of traditional Native American 
lifeways resulted in periodic skirmishes in southern Idaho that culminated in the Bannock War of 
1878 and the Sheepeater War of 1878-1879 (Murphy and Murphy 1986). The process of placing the 
Native Americans onto reservations in this region began in the 1860s and the Fort Hall Reservation 
was set aside in 1867. Encroachment by white settlers resulted in a series of cessions throughout the 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that reduced the original size of the reservation considerably 
(Murphy and Murphy 1986; Ruby and Brown 1992). 


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Legend 

Historic Trails 
California Trail 

■ ■ California Trail, Estimated (Not Visble) 
■■■•California Trail, Visible 

■ ■ Hudspeth Cut-Off. Estimated (Not Visible) 

Hudspeth Cut-Off. Visible 

Oregon Trail 

■■ l Oregon Trail. Trail Estimated (Not Visible) 
■■■■Oregon Trail, Trail Visible 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 3.3-1. Historic Trails 


Legend 


I Project Area 
,1 Alt. B Interconnect ROW 
* Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 
■ Transmission Lines 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


2 Miles 


IDAHO 


IDAHO 


( 


1 



_ 1 

t 

< 

/ 

' 

4 

«. 



' j T' 

■ 






































































Cotferel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Several small towns near Cotterel Mountain, including Albion, Oakley, Elba, and Malta, were first 
permanently settled in the 1870s and led to the creation of Cassia County in 1879, which had a 
population of 2,500 by 1885 (Bancroft 1890). By 1890, Cassia County produced wheat, oats, barley, 
and potatoes and grazed large herds. Improvements in transportation and irrigation systems 
precipitated an agriculturally based economy. The Oregon Short Line Railroad Company, later 
absorbed by the Union Pacific Railroad, began construction in 1881-1884 through southern Idaho. 
Spur branches were built throughout southern Idaho, including the Minidoka and Southwestern 
Railroad in 1904, which headed west toward Burley from Minidoka, and a spur line between Burley 
and Oakley (Beal 1962). Many towns sprung up along the railroad, including Burley, which was not 
settled until 1905 but succeeded Albion as the county seat of Cassia County by 1918. The Northern 
Utah Railroad attempted construction of a railroad grade that would have connected the Burley 
vicinity with Kelton, Utah in the early 1900s. Also referred to as the “Salt Lake and Idaho Railroad 
(SL&I),” this line was never completed and the project was abandoned near Idahome; portions of the 
grade are present along the northern Proposed Project area. 

Improvements in irrigation via canal construction and the Minidoka Dam construction, which began 
in the early 1900s as a Reclamation Act project, allowed further economic development and 
settlement. Native vegetation was replaced by irrigated croplands for grains, sugar beets, potatoes, 
and alfalfa, and resulted in a disruption of the natural hydrologic system (Franzen 1981). By the 
twentieth century, public land was set aside as a response to the environmental disturbances caused 
by overgrazing and deforestation, and resulted in land management by federal agencies such as the 
BLM and Forest Service (Franzen 1981). To date. Cassia County retains its agricultural economy; 
sugar beet plants, potato processing plants, dairy fanns, and wood product processing plants continue 
to contribute to regional development. 

Literature Review and Records Search 

The archaeological record has been partially examined through field survey, background research, 
and consultation with Native American groups. A literature review and record search was completed 
for the Proposed Project area at the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office in Boise, and at the BLM 
field office in Burley, and indicates that the Cotterel Mountain area has been subjected to few cultural 
resource surveys. No large-scale inventories had been undertaken within the Proposed Project 
corridor along higher elevations of the ridgeline, though several small-scale cultural resource surveys 
were conducted by the BLM along scattered portions of the mountain. Other surveys were linear in 
nature and were conducted for pipeline, fiber optic cable line, and transportation projects, but these 
inventories were limited to lower elevations along the valley floor. The previous surveys identified a 
total of five sites in or adjacent to the Proposed Project area of potential effects (APE), including: 
10CA298, a lithic scatter; 10CA862, the Oregon National Historic Trail; 10CA864, the SL&I 
Railroad Grade; 10CA629, an unnamed historic trail remnant; and 10CA961, the Conner’s Comer to 
Albion Stage Road. 


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Survey Findings 

Archaeological survey of the Proposed Project APE is required to assist in implementing Sections 
106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act, procedures of the Advisory Council on 
Historic Preservation (36 CFR 800), and BLM policy requiring inventory and evaluation of cultural 
resources within potential impact areas. Section 106 requires that, prior to any action, federal agencies 
identify cultural resources potentially affected by the action, which may qualify as eligible to the 
National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). If eligible resources are identified, federal agencies 
must take prudent and feasible measures to avoid or reduce adverse impacts and provide the Advisory 
Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on these measures. Under NRHP 
criteria, archaeological sites are generally recognized as eligible based on research potential. 

The cultural resources inventory and evaluation activities resulted in the identification of 21 
archaeological sites and 61 isolated finds in or adjacent to the Proposed Project APE, in addition to 
the five previously recorded sites. To date, a total of 26 sites are identified in the Proposed Project 
corridor and are subject to consideration of construction impacts. Both prehistoric and historic themes 
are represented by the cultural materials. Twenty sites are defined by prehistoric lithic scatters, two by 
historic can scatters, and four as linear historic transportation corridors. Table 3.3-2 provides a 
summary of archaeological sites within the Proposed Project APE and their recommended eligibility 
status for the NRHP. 

The inventory focused on an approximately 14-mile long, 400-foot wide (ca. 680 acre) linear corridor 
along the highest elevations of the ridgeline where the wind turbines and secondary access roads 
would be constructed, where the majority of the Proposed Project impacts would occur. The current 
inventory does not address one of the two proposed transmission interconnect lines because the exact 
location of this facility has not been determined. The corridors will be inventoried and evaluated prior 
to completion of the Final EIS. However, information from the completed ridgeline inventory and the 
record search provides estimates for the density and type of cultural resources that can be expected 
along the currently non-surveyed portions of the Proposed Project APE. 

The sites and isolates identified during survey reflect multiple periods of use of the Cotterel Mountain 
ridge throughout prehistory, and more limited use in the historic past. Based on survey, the quantity 
and type of isolates and sites are indicative of transitory use for hunting, migration, and/or spiritual 
quests. Of the 61 newly recorded isolates, six are historic and 55 are prehistoric artifacts consisting of 
lithic debitage, bifacially-worked stone tools, or cores. A single cairn was encountered. Prehistoric 
site types range from very small lithic scatters exhibiting limited complexity to larger scatters 
containing considerable variation in material and tool types. No evidence was found for extensive 
habitation but this was not expected given the scarcity of permanent water sources as well as the 
mountainous terrain. Resource-rich regions along the Raft River and Snake River would have been 
conducive to more permanent occupation, and prehistoric use of the ridge would likely have been 
seasonal due to the high elevation and annual snowfall. Based on diagnostic tools noted during 
survey, the recorded sites and isolates address the theme of prehistoric use from at least the Mid- 


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Archaic through the Late Prehistoric periods; while it is likely that the area has a considerably older 
human history, no older sites were identified. 


Table 3.3-2. NHRP Eligibility For Sites Within the Proposed Project Area. 


Site Number 

Site Type 

NRHP Eligibility 
Recommendation 

10CA298 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

10CA629 

Historic Trail 

Ineligible 

10CA862 

Oregon Trail 

Listed 

10CA864 

SL&I Railroad Grade 

Potentially Eligible 

10CA961 

Albion Stage Road 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-1 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-2 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-3 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-4 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-5 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-6/8 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-7 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-9 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-10 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-11 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-12 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-13 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-14 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-15 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-16 

Tin Can Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-17 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-18 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-19 

Tin Can Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-20 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 

CM-S-21 

Lithic Scatter 

Potentially Eligible 

CM-S-22 

Lithic Scatter 

Ineligible 


Evidence for historic use of the area is more limited but includes six archaeological resources and six 
isolated finds. Historic sites include transportation corridors located along the valley floor: 10CA864, 
the “SL&I Railroad Grade,” and site 10CA862, the Oregon National Historic Trail, both located 
along the valley floor at the northern end of the Proposed Project area where the extant gravel road 
accesses SH-81; site 10CA629, an historic trail segment located on the valley floor within 
approximately 0.25 miles of the proposed northern transmission line connection; and site 10CA961, 
the “Conners Comer to Albion Stage Road”, located where the extant gravel road accesses the 
southern portion of Cotterel Mountain from SH-77. Historic sites CM-S-16 and CM-S-19 are both 
small historic tin can scatters that were identified during survey of higher elevations along the 
ridgeline. The isolates recorded include assorted tin cans, an enamelware pail, and a horseshoe. The 
recorded historic sites and isolates likely represent the themes of transitory ranching or hunting 
activity dating from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. 


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Based on apparent integrity of the recorded resources and identified research potential, NRHP 
eligibility was assessed for sites within the Proposed Project area. Of the previously and newly 
recorded sites, only one, 10CA862, the Oregon National Historic Trail, is listed on the NRHP. Four 
prehistoric sites defined by lithic scatters, CM-S-2, CM-S-3, CM-S-6/8, and CM-S-21, and the 
historic Conner’s Comer to Albion Stage Road (10CA961), are recommended as eligible for the 
NRHP. Thirteen prehistoric sites (CM-S-1, -5, -7, -9, -11, -12, -13, -14, -15, -17, -18, -20, and -22) 
and three historic sites (10CA629, CM-S-16, and CM-S-19) are recommended as ineligible for 
nomination to the NRHP based on lack of integrity and/or information potential. Three prehistoric 
sites (10CA298, CM-S-4 and CM-S-10) and one historic site, the SL&I Railroad Grade (10CA961), 
remain unevaluated due to insufficient data. 

3.4 AMERICAN INDIAN CONCERNS 
3.4.1 Treaty Rights 

American Indian concerns are identified through consultation as directed by the Fort Bridger Treaty 
of 1868, the Ruby Valley Treaty, Executive Order 13007 (Sacred Sites Act) and Executive Order 
13175 (Govemment-to-Govemment Consultation). 

Shoshone-Bannock treaty rights are those rights reserved or retained by the Shoshone-Bannock 
Tribes as stated in the 1868 Ft. Bridger Treaty. Specifically, “they shall have the right to hunt on the 
unoccupied lands of the U.S. so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists 
among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts.” Later interpretations of these 
rights include any right not specifically extinguished by the treaty, such as gathering, fishing, 
collecting plants, and collecting materials important to both the secular and sacred well being of tribal 
members. 

Shoshone-Paiute: Although the Duck Valley Reservation of the Shoshone-Paiute was established by 
Executive Order in 1877, the Shoshone-Paiute understand that they retain the aboriginal rights as a 
consequence of the Ruby Valley Treaty and the failure of the U. S. Government to ratify either the 
Boise Treaty, Bruneau Treaty, or the Long Tom Treaty. The Ruby Valley Treaty neither ceded land 
nor extinguished rights held by the Shoshone-Paiute. 

During scoping consultation, the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute expressed concern about 
how the Proposed Project would affect their rights on Cotterel Mountain. Both tribes stated that 
Cotterel Mountain is still important to them and had some specific concerns about access, wildlife, 
and the preservation of their rights. Specifically, the Shoshone-Bannock mentioned traditional rabbit 
hunting grounds to the east of Cotterel Mountain in the Raft River Valley. Specific resources in the 
Proposed Project area were not addressed. 

Govemment-to-Govemment consultation will continue and conclude when the terms of Executive 
Order 13175 are fulfilled. 


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3.4.2 Trust Responsibility 

The BLM has a trust responsibility to the Tribes to acknowledge and preserve the Tribes treaty rights 
for present and future generations and should address concerns identified by the Tribes regarding the 
environment, natural and other resource identified as treaty rights on land which BLM manages. 

3.4.3 Traditional Cultural Places and Use Areas 

Information concerning Traditional Cultural Places and Use Areas is considered highly sensitive by 
Tribal members. Locations and uses are carefully guarded by Tribal members and would be similarly 
treated within the confines of government to government consultation. 

The BLM has initiated Native American consultation. The BLM and tribal representatives from the 
Fort Hall Reservation participated in a visit to the Proposed Project area. Consulted parties expressed 
some knowledge of past use of the Cotterel Mountain area, with the exception of general use of the 
ridge as a transportation corridor. No specific concerns about culturally sensitive areas in the 
Proposed Project area were presented during initial consultation. Consultation will be on going during 
the course of the Proposed Project. 

3.4.4 Sacred Sites 

No specific sacred sites were identified during initial consultations. It was noted that ridges and 
mountaintops had a special interest to the Tribes to identify special places, significant events, and 
group identities. Any such sites would require the application of Executive Order 13007. 

3.5 SOCIOECONOMICS 

This report describes the existing social and economic conditions in the Proposed Project area, and 
analyzes the socioeconomic impacts that would be attributable to construction and operation of the 
Proposed Project under each alternative. Socioeconomic issues analyzed here include: labor force, 
employment, and income; population and housing, including property values; taxes; social values; 
and environmental justice issues. The study area for this analysis is Cassia County and Minidoka 
County combined. The Proposed Project would be located entirely within Cassia County. Local 
purchases and tax benefits attributable to the construction contract, and the permanent increase in 
property values attributable to the Proposed Project would result in economic benefits to both Cassia 
County and Minidoka County. 

3.5.1 Existing Conditions 

Sources of information for the existing conditions include the Idaho Department of Labor (IDOL); 
local cities, counties, school districts, public services agencies, real estate professionals, newspapers, 
and economic development associations; the U.S. Census Bureau; private research findings (for travel 
impact data and property value information); the Idaho Department of Commerce; the Idaho State 
Tax Commission; the Census of Agriculture; and the U.S. Department of Labor. Estimated and 
projected economic data were collected for past, current and future conditions. For all economic 


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variables, data are presented for the most current year for which that type of data was available. 
Existing conditions are the same for all build alternatives. 

3.5.2 Regional Economy and Community 

Background 

The Proposed Project would be located in Cassia County, beginning south of where 1-84 meets 
Interstate 86 (1-86) and extending south (Figure 1.0-1). Cassia County is a rural county surrounded by 
Twin Falls, Jerome, Minidoka, Blaine, Power and Oneida counties in Idaho; Elko County in Nevada; 
and Box Elder County in Utah. Cassia County is most closely linked economically with Minidoka 
County to the north. The two-county area is called the Mini-Cassia area. 

The Mini-Cassia economy was built around agricultural industries, such as livestock (beef and dairy 
cattle, sheep) and crop production (sugar beets, grains, potatoes, alfalfa, and beans) (Cassia County 
History 2003). In 2002, Cassia County ranked first among all counties in the state for value of 
agricultural products sold, second for value of livestock and poultry, and third for value of crops. The 
same year, Minidoka County ranked second for value of crops, eighth for value of agricultural 
products sold, and twelfth for value of livestock and poultry (Minidoka County Information 2004). 
For value of sales in 2002, Cassia County dropped to second (from first rank in 1997) for cattle and 
calves. In 2002 it ranked third in the grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas category; and the other 
crops and hay category. In 2002, Minidoka County ranked first for sheep and goats, and second for 
the category of vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes (NASS 2003, 1997). 

Today, the Mini-Cassia area economy continues to be centered on agricultural industries such as food 
processing. Both counties have higher average unemployment rates compared to other southern Idaho 
counties, in part due to seasonal layoffs typical of the food processing industry. The area has 
experienced business closures and layoffs in recent years, including: the closure of the original J.R. 
Simplot potato plant in Heybum, which resulted in over 600 lost jobs in 2004 (Idaho Statesman 
2003); the closure of a Kmart in Burley; and layoffs at other potato plants (Anderson 2003; Idaho 
Statesman 2003). The retail job losses at Kmart may be countered by an expansion of 200 jobs at the 
Burley Wal-Mart by mid-2004 (Anderson 2003). On Cotterel Mountain, there are two grazing 
allotments with 12 permittees within the Proposed Project area (Idaho Watersheds Project 1999). 

Labor Force and Employment 

In 2003, the Mini-Cassia area labor force of 19,644 workers was 2.8 percent of the State of Idaho 
labor force. During the period 1980 to 2003, employment in the Mini-Cassia area generally grew 
slower than total Idaho employment, except for Cassia County employment between 2000 and 2003, 
which grew at a rate similar to the state rate (Table 3.5-1). 

Employment in Minidoka County grew slower than Cassia County’s employment from 1980 to 2003. 
The relatively slower rates are typical of the rural south-central Idaho counties (IDOL 2003c). 


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Between 1995 and 2003, the annual average unemployment rate for Cassia County was highest in 
1995, 1997 and 1998 at 7.1 percent, while the same measure for Minidoka County was highest in 
1995 and 1997 at 8.5 percent (IDOL 2003c). 

In 2003, unemployment was 6.6 percent in Cassia County and 8.3 percent in Minidoka County. The 
Mini-Cassia area had more unemployed residents compared to the State of Idaho as a whole, which 
had 5.4 percent unemployed residents in 2003. The J.R. Simplot plant closure is reflected in the July 
2004 unemployment rate in Minidoka County of 9.3 percent (Rogers 2004). The U.S. government has 
designated both Cassia County and Minidoka counties as Federal Labor Surplus Areas 1 (Rogers 
2004). 


Table 3.5-1. Labor Force and Employment for Cassia County, Minidoka County and the 
State of Idaho. 



Labor Force 

Employment 

Unemployment Rate 

Cassia County 1980 

7,744 

7,267 

6.2 

Cassia County 1990 

8,423 

7,775 

7.7 

Cassia County 2000 

9,430 

8,840 

6.3 

Cassia County 2003 

9,935 

9,276 

6.6 

AARG, 1980-1990 

0.8% 

0.7% 

- 

AARG, 1990-2000 

1.1% 

1.3% 

- 

AARG, 2000-2003 

1.8% 

1.6% 

- 

Minidoka County 1980 

8,981 

8,401 

6.5 

Minidoka County 1990 

8,914 

8,240 

7.5 

Minidoka County 2000 

9,596 

8,899 

7.3 

Minidoka County 2003 

9,709 

8,907 

8.3 

AARG, 1980-1990 

-0.1% 

-0.2% 

- 

AARG, 1990-2000 

0.7% 

0.8% 

- 

AARG, 2000-2003 

0.4% 

0.0% 

- 

State of Idaho 1980 

429,010 

394,993 

7.9 

State of Idaho 1990 

492,613 

463,472 

5.9 

State of Idaho 2000 

656,778 

624,806 

4.9 

State of Idaho 2003 

692,552 

655,104 

5.4 

AARG, 1980-1990 

1.4% 

1.6% 

- 

AARG, 1990-2000 

2.9% 

3.0% 

- 

AARG, 2000-2003 

1.8% 

1.6% 

- 

Notes: AARG = Average Annual 

^ate of Growth. 


Source: IDOL 2003c. 


Employment level trends closely follow labor force trends in both Cassia County and in the State of 
Idaho (IDOL 2003c). However, for Minidoka County, the labor force trend shows an increase in 
recent years when compared to the employment level trend (Figure 3.5-1). This indicates an increase 
in the unemployment rate in recent years for Minidoka County. 


1 A county designated a federal Labor Surplus Area has an average unemployment rate of at least 20 percent 
above the average unemployment rate for all states during the previous two calendar years (USDOL 2003). 


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Figure 3.5-1. Labor Force and Employment Trends for Cassia County, Minidoka County, and 
the State of Idaho. 


Cassia County Labor Force and 

Unemployment Minidoka County Labor Force and 

Employment 


12,000 
10,000 - 
8,000 
6,000 - 
4,000 
2,000 - 
0 - 

1980 1990 2000 2003 

-Labor Force.. Employment 



10,000 - 

9.500 
9,000 

8.500 

8,000 

7.500 - 

1980 1990 2000 2003 

-Labor Force.Employment 



State of Idaho Labor Force and Employment 


800,000 

700,000 

600,000 

500,000 

400,000 

300,000 

200,000 

100,000 

0 




1980 1990 2000 2003 


Source: IDOL 2003c. 


Labor Force. Employment 


Industry 

Important industries in the Mini-Cassia area include food processing (Ore-Ida and McCain, both 
potato processors), manufacturing (Boise Cascade Corporation, a manufacturer of cardboard boxes), 
machinery manufacturing, milk processors, feed mills, commercial livestock feed lots, and gravel and 
cement processors (Cassia County History 2003). 


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Most jobs in Cassia County are in retail trade (25%); manufacturing (19%); and agriculture, forestry, 
fishing and hunting (19%). Most Minidoka County jobs are in manufacturing (30%) and agriculture, 
forestry, fishing and hunting (22%). In comparison, jobs in the State of Idaho as a whole are in 
general more balanced among different industries, with the most jobs in retail trade (16%) and 
manufacturing (14%) (Table 3.5-2; IDOL 2003b). 


Table 3.5-2. Industry Share of Employment, 2002 for Cassia County, Minidoka County and 
the State of Idaho. 



State of Idaho 

Cassia County 

Minidoka County 

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 

4% 

19% 

22% 

Mining 

0% 

2% 

0% 

Utilities 

0% 

1% 

1% 

Construction 

8% 

7% 

4% 

Manufacturing 

14% 

19% 

30% 

Wholesale trade 

5% 

7% 

13% 

Retail trade 

16% 

25% 

8% 

Transportation and warehousing 

3% 

7% 

5% 

Information 

2% 

2% 

3% 

Finance and insurance 

4% 

4% 

1% 

Real estate and rental and leasing 

1% 

1% 

0% 

Professional and technical services 

6% 

3% 

2% 

Management of companies and 
enterprises 

2% 

0% 

0% 

Administrative and waste services 

7% 

0% 

0% 

Educational services 

1% 

0% 

0% 

Health care and social assistance 

11% 

0% 

0% 

Arts, entertainment, and recreation 

2% 

0% 

0% 

Accommodation and food services 

10% 

0% 

8% 

Other services, except public 
administration 

3% 

3% 

3% 

Unclassified 

0% 

0% 

0% 

TOTAL 

100% 

100% 

100% 


Notes: 

ND = Data not disclosed. 
N/A = Data not available. 
Source: IDOL 2003b. 


2 Employment in Table 3.5-2 represents jobs within Cassia County or Minidoka County as opposed to residents 
of Cassia County or Minidoka County who are employed. Table 3.5-1 represents Cassia County and Minidoka 
County residents who are employed. The difference between these estimates is the number of residents who 
commute in or out of the respective counties for work. 


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Table 3.5-3 shows the projected growth by industry for the period 2000 to 2010 in South Central 
Idaho. The highest rates of projected growth are expected to be in: agriculture, forestry and fishing 
(7.3%); construction (3.4%); and services (3.1%). Within the construction category, the expected 
annual growth rates by subcategory are: 3.2 percent for general building contractors, 0.7 percent for 
heavy construction, and 4.0 percent for special trade contractors. These rates are similar to rates for 
the State of Idaho as a whole. The growth rate of the electric, gas, and sanitary services industry is 
expected to grow 0.1 percent faster than in the state as a whole (IDOL 2003d). 


Table 3.5-3. Projected Job Growth by Industry 2000-2010 for South Central Idaho Compared to 
the State of Idaho. 


Industry 

Estimated 

Employment 

2000 

Projected 

Employment 

2010 

Annual 
Average 
Rate of 
Projected 
Growth 

Annual 
Average Rate 
of Projected 
Growth, Idaho 

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Total 

1,712 

2,970 

7.3% 

3.1% 

Mining, Total 

156 

180 

1.5% 

-2.5% 

Construction, Total 

4,723 

6,315 

3.4% 

3.3% 

General building contractors 

1,450 

1,907 

3.2% 

3.2% 

Heavy construction, except building 

536 

576 

0.7% 

0.8% 

Special trade contractors 

2,737 

3,832 

4.0% 

4.0% 

Manufacturing, Total 

8,595 

9,163 

0.7% 

1.7% 

Transportation and Public Utilities 

4,250 

5,059 

1.9% 

1.6% 

Transportation, Total 

3,089 

3,744 

2.1% 

1.7% 

Communications 

476 

565 

1.9% 

1.8% 

Electric, gas, and sanitary services 

685 

750 

0.9% 

0.8% 

Communications and Utilities, Total 

1,161 

1,315 

1.3% 

1.4% 

Wholesale and Retail Trade, Total 

17,952 

22,462 

2.5% 

2.5% 

Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, Total 

2,242 

2,775 

2.4% 

2.6% 

Services, Total 

18,405 

24,155 

3.1% 

2.9% 

TOTAL 

58,035 

73,079 

2.6% 

2.6% 


Source: IDOL 2003d. 


Tourism and Recreation 

Most jobs in the tourism and recreation industry are in retail trade, services, or local government, 
three industries with notable representation in the Mini-Cassia Area. Tourism and recreation 
resources in the county include public land for hunting, fishing, hiking, climbing, camping, horseback 
riding, bicycling, and scenic viewing. The Snake River is located north of the Proposed Project area, 
dividing Cassia County and Minidoka County, and provides boating, boat racing, water skiing, and 
fishing opportunities. Pomerelle Mountain Resort on Mt. Harrison, west of the Proposed Project area, 
provides snow skiing and snowmobiling areas. It is located to the southwest of the Proposed Project 
area and serves all of southeast Idaho. The City of Rocks National Reserve, Cache Peak, and 


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Independence Peak are hiking and climbing areas located southwest of the Proposed Project area. A 
section of the Sawtooth National Forest including Mt. Harrison and Lake Cleveland is located in 
Cassia County (Cassia County History 2003). 

The City of Burley has a golf course, and parks with softball, swimming, tennis, soccer and boating 
facilities. Private facilities in Burley also include a golf course, bowling, health club, and racquetball 
facilities. Other towns in Cassia County also have parks and softball facilities. Other tourist 
attractions in Burley include the Cassia County Museum and the Cassia County Fair and Rodeo. 

Recreational activities that take place at Cotterel Mountain and near the Proposed Project area include 
dispersed hiking, hunting, wildlife viewing, OHV riding, and hang-gliding. Public access to Cotterel 
Mountain is limited, especially on upper roads. No designated or maintained hiking trails exist in the 
Proposed Project area. Picnic areas accessible in dry weather include a small picnic area west of the 
radio tower at Coe Creek, and McClendon Springs, which is an improved picnic site with wildlife and 
plant viewing opportunities. McClendon Springs is located on the east side of Cotterel Mountain near 
Malta, and is maintained by BLM. This area has riparian habitat for migratory songbirds because 
livestock are fenced out of this location, which increases opportunities for wildlife watching (Idaho 
Watersheds Project 1999). 

In 1997, travel and tourism spending in south central Idaho 3 was approximately $135 million and was 
associated with 2,122 jobs (Dean Runyan Associates 2003). The Mini-Cassia portion of this 
economic impact was $36.4 million in spending and 550 jobs. These travel and tourism jobs 
represented three percent of the total jobs in the Mini-Cassia area that year. 

Income 

Median household income in Cassia County was $33,322 in 1999, representing 88 percent of the 
State of Idaho median household income, and 94 percent of the median household income of South 
Central Idaho as a whole. The median household income of Minidoka County of $32,021 in 1999 
represented 85 percent of the State of Idaho and 90 percent of South Central Idaho median household 
income for the same year (Census 2000d). Per capita personal income in Cassia County was $22,121 
and $17,823 in Minidoka County in 2001 (IDOL 2003a), compared to $24,506 in the State of Idaho 
as a whole. The relatively lower income levels can be typical of a rural area that has not had recent 
strong economic growth. 

Table 3.5-4 shows annual covered wages and percentage of total wages by industry in 2000 for Cassia 
County, Minidoka County, and the State of Idaho. The industries with percentages of total wages over 
15 percent in Cassia County were manufacturing (23%), retail trade (20%) and agriculture, forestry, 
fishing and hunting (16%). In Minidoka County, the manufacturing industry represents 42 percent of 
wages, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting represents 17 percent of wages. Manufacturing 


3 Dean Runyan Associates (Dean Runyan Associates 2003) included Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, 
Minidoka, and Twin Falls counties in “south central Idaho” for the purpose of their estimates. 


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wages are relatively higher than retail trade wages as shown by comparing the industry share to 
wages by industry. 


Table 3.5-4. Annual Covered Wages and Percentage of Total Wages, 2002 ($l,000s) for 
Cassia County, Minidoka County and the State of Idaho. 



State of 
Idaho 

%of 

Total 

Cassia 

County 

%of 

Total 

Minidoka 

County 

%of 

Total 

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 

438,450 

3% 

21,317 

16% 

23,384 

17% 

Mining 

70,349 

1% 

3,195 

2% 

— 

0% 

Utilities 

131,452 

1% 

1,701 

1% 

2,186 

2% 

Construction 

1,132,450 

9% 

12,621 

9% 

5,828 

4% 

Manufacturing 

2,478,592 

19% 

30,144 

23% 

57,787 

42% 

Wholesale trade 

861,499 

7% 

9,186 

7% 

17,856 

13% 

Retail trade 

1,488,232 

12% 

26,287 

20% 

9,040 

7% 

Transportation and warehousing 

421,525 

3% 

11,347 

8% 

5,919 

4% 

Information 

305,019 

2% 

3,604 

3% 

3,416 

2% 

Finance and insurance 

653,383 

5% 

6,695 

5% 

1,783 

1% 

Real Estate and rental and leasing 

139,113 

1% 

620 

0% 

431 

0% 

Professional and technical services 

1,210,010 

9% 

3,585 

3% 

2,039 

1% 

Management of companies and 
enterprises 

480,620 

4% 

(ND) 

0% 

(ND) 

0% 

Administrative and waste services 

590,804 

5% 

(ND) 

0% 

(ND) 

0% 

Educational services 

106,860 

1% 

(ND) 

0% 

(ND) 

0% 

Health care and social assistance 

1,515,284 

12% 

(ND) 

0% 

(ND) 

0% 

Arts, entertainment, and recreation 

135,843 

1% 

(ND) 

0% 

207 

0% 

Accommodation and food services 

474,066 

4% 

(ND) 

0% 

4,449 

3% 

Other services, except public 
administration 

287,383 

2% 

3,228 

2% 

2,300 

2% 

Unclassified 

8,816 

0% 

N/A 

0% 

25 

0% 

Total 

12,929,750 

100% 

133,530 

100% 

136,650 

100% 


ND = Not disclosed by BLS. 
N/A = Data not available. 
Source: IDOL 2003b. 


3.5.3 Population, Housing and Property Values 

Population 

Table 3.5-5 and Figure 3.5-2 show the population trends in Cassia County, Minidoka County and the 
State of Idaho. In 2002, Cassia County had a population of 21,720 and Minidoka County had a 
population of 19,465; together representing three percent of the State of Idaho population (IDOL 
2003a). In recent years, the population of the Mini-Cassia area has grown more slowly than the 
population of the state. From 1980 to 2001, the population of Cassia County grew between 0.1 and 
1.5 percent per year, while the total population of the state grew between 0.6 and 3.2 percent per year 
(IDOL 2003a; Cassia County 2003a). From 1980 to 2001, the population of Minidoka County has 
been decreasing, except during the early 1990s (IDOL 2003a; Table 3.5-5). Population decreases in 
the Mini-Cassia area may be caused by the high unemployment rate and relatively slow economic 
growth. 


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Figure 


4.0% -| 


3.0% 


2 . 0 % 


1 . 0 % 


0 . 0 % 


- 1 . 0 % 


- 2 . 0 % - 


-3.0% - 


-4.0% J 


3.5-2. Annual Average Rates of Population Growth in Cassia County, Minidoka County 
and the State of Idaho 



— —Cassia County 

- - - Minidoka County 
-State of Idaho 


Table 3.5-5. Population Trends in Cassia County, Minidoka County and the 
State of Idaho. 



Cassia 

County 

Minidoka 

County 

Idaho 

Mini-Cassia 
Percent of State 
Population 

Population 

1980 

19,427 

19,718 

943,935 

4% 

1990 

19,532 

19,361 

1,006,734 

4% 

1995 

20,996 

20,759 

1,177,322 

4% 

2000 

21,416 

20,174 

1,293,953 

3% 

2001 

21,595 

19,569 

1,320,585 

3% 

2002 

21,720 

19,465 

1,341,131 

3% 

Annual Average Rates of Population Growth 

AARG, 1980-1990 

0.1% 

-0.2% 

0.6% 

N/A 

AARG, 1990-1995 

1.5% 

1.4% 

3.2% 

N/A 

AARG, 1995-2000 

0.4% 

-0.6% 

1.9% 

N/A 

AARG, 2000-2001 

0.8% 

-3.0% 

2.1% 

N/A 

AARG, 2000-2002 

0.7% 

-1.8% 

1.8% 

N/A 

AARG, 2001-2002 

0.6% 

-0.5% 

1.6% 

N/A 


AARG = Annual average rate of growth 
N/A = Data not available. 

Source: IDOL 2003a 


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Forecasts of county-level population in the State of Idaho were not available at the time this report 
was written. However, the U.S. Census predicted in 2000 that the State of Idaho would grow by 
approximately two percent per year (on average) between 2000 and 2015, and by approximately one 
percent per year between 2015 and 2025 (Census 2000e). These rates are consistent with and slightly 
lower than recent rates as shown in Table 3.5-5. 

Cities closest to the Proposed Project area with populations over 20,000 are Twin Falls (61 miles to 
the west), home to 34,469 residents, and Pocatello (82 miles to the northeast), home to 51,466 
residents (Census 2000c). Other large cities in the region include American Falls (57 miles to the 
northeast), and Boise (178 miles to the northwest). Smaller cities and their distances from the 
Proposed Project area are: Oakley, 20 miles; Heybum, 16 miles; Burley, 15 miles; Rupert, 14 miles; 
Declo, 8 miles; Albion, 5 miles; and Malta, 4 miles. Unincorporated communities and their distances 
from the Proposed Project area are: Marion, 22 miles; Basin, 17 miles; Springdale, 13 miles; and 
Elba, 6 miles. 

The cities closest to the Proposed Project area are Malta, located 4 miles east of the ridgeline along 
SH-81 and Albion, located 5 miles west of the ridgeline along SH-77. Albion (population 262) has 
approximately one block of commercial development that includes: a gas station/general store, a 
saloon, a restaurant/cafe, a bank, a bed and breakfast, an inn, and public facilities such as city offices, 
a fire department, a grange hall, and an elementary school. A few residential streets are located south 
and east of the commercial block. Other homes are located in unincorporated Cassia County, on roads 
leading away from Albion. Albion also has some historic structures. Malta (population 177) consists 
of approximately ten square blocks of residential uses, along with two motels, two restaurants, a high 
school, an elementary school, a junior high school, a post office, a fuel depot and store, a gift shop, a 
gas station, and a grocery store. Similar to Albion, homes are located along roads leading away from 
Malta, outside of the city limits. 

The largest city within 50 miles of the Proposed Project area is Burley, with 9,074 residents (Idaho 
Department of Commerce 2003a). It is located 15 miles northwest of the Proposed Project area. 
Burley is the county seat, the largest city in Cassia County, and the home of 42 percent of the county 
population. The unincorporated Cassia County area is home to over half the county population (Table 
3.5-6; Idaho Department of Commerce 2003a). Cities in Cassia County had near-zero percent 
population growth between 1980 and 2000. Only the unincorporated area and the City of Declo had 
annual average growth rates in population greater than zero, for both 5-year periods 1990 to 1995, 
and 1995 to 2000. 


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Table 3.5-6. Population Distribution in Cassia County. 



Albion 

Burley 

Declo 

Malta 

Oakley 

Unincorporated 

Area 

1980 

286 

8525 

276 

196 

663 

9,481 

1990 

305 

8420 

279 

171 

635 

9,722 

2000 

262 

9316 

338 

177 

668 

10,655 

2002 

264 

9375 

339 

178 

669 

10,895 

% of County in 2002 

1.2% 

43.2% 

1.6% 

0.8% 

3.1% 

50.2% 


Source: Idaho Department of Commerce 2003a. 


Cities in Minidoka County include Acequia, Heybum, Minidoka, Paul and Rupert. The largest cities 
are Rupert, with 5,402 residents, and Heybum, with 2,805 residents. Over half the residents of 
Minidoka County live in the unincorporated area (Table 3.5-7). 


Table 3.5-7. Population Distribution in Minidoka County. 



Acequia 

Heyburn 

Minidoka 

Paul 

Rupert 

Unincorporated 

Area 

1980 

100 

2,889 

101 

940 

5,476 

10,212 

1990 

106 

2,714 

67 

901 

5,455 

10,118 

2000 

144 

2,899 

129 

998 

5,645 

10,359 

2002 

139 

2,805 

123 

971 

5,402 

10,025 

% of County in 2002 

0.7% 

14.4% 

0.6% 

5.0% 

27.8% 

51.5% 


Source: Idaho Department of Commerce 2003a. 


No known residences are located within 2 miles of the Proposed Project area. The closest house to the 
Proposed Project area is approximately 2.5 miles from the proposed west string. Approximately 80 
homes exist along SH-77 or SH-81, outside of the towns of Albion and Malta, but within view of the 
Proposed Project. 

3.5.4 Housing and Property Values 

Units, Vacancy and Types of Housing 

The Mini-Cassia area had approximately 15,360 housing units in 2000, representing three percent of 
total housing units in the State of Idaho. Mini-Cassia area housing units were seven to ten percent 
vacant that year, compared to 11 percent for the State of Idaho as a whole, indicating a slightly tighter 
real estate market when compared to the state average. Although the Mini-Cassia area is generally 
healthier (in terms of fewer vacant units) than other areas in the State of Idaho, the vacancy rate in the 
area is on par with the national average of nine percent. In 2000, 68 percent of the total housing units 
in the Mini-Cassia area were owner-occupied, and 90 percent of housing units were built prior to 
1988. New development has not been common in recent years in the Mini-Cassia area. 


The breakdown of housing units by type in 2000 (Table 3.5-8) indicates that 72 percent of the units in 
Cassia County were single-family, and approximately 17 percent were mobile homes, boats, RVs or 


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other types of housing units. In Minidoka County, 78 percent of units were single-family and 12 
percent were mobile homes, boats, RVs or other types of housing units. Compared to the State of 
Idaho, the Mini-Cassia area has more mobile homes and single family homes relative to multi-family 
homes. However, more mobile homes are vacant in the Mini-Cassia area when compared to the state. 


Table 3.5-8. Housing Types and Characteristics, 2000 in Cassia County, Minidoka County and the 
State of Idaho. 



Total 

Units 

%of 

Total 

Vacant 

Units 

%of 

Total 

Owner 
Occ’d. Units 

%of 

Total 

Renter 
Occ’d. Units 

%of 

Total 

Cassia County 

7,862 

— 

802 

— 

5,125 

— 

1,935 

— 

Single family 

5,690 

72% 

438 

55% 

4,195 

82% 

1,057 

55% 

Multi-family 

837 

11% 

143 

18% 

107 

2% 

587 

30% 

Mobile homes 

1,275 

16% 

199 

25% 

785 

15% 

291 

15% 

Other (RVs, boats, etc.) 

60 

1% 

22 

3% 

38 

1% 

0 

0% 

Minidoka County 

7,498 

— 

525 

— 

5,360 

— 

1,613 

— 

Single family 

5,861 

78% 

278 

53% 

4,666 

87% 

917 

57% 

Multi-family 

693 

9% 

141 

27% 

49 

1% 

503 

31% 

Mobile homes 

934 

12% 

106 

20% 

642 

12% 

186 

12% 

Other (RVs, boats, etc.) 

10 

0% 

0 

0% 

3 

0% 

7 

0% 

State of Idaho 

527,824 

— 

58,179 

— 

339,913 

— 

129,732 

— 

Single family 

369,924 

70% 

35,493 

61% 

285,977 

84% 

48,454 

37% 

Multi-family 

91,004 

17% 

12,328 

21% 

10,838 

3% 

67,838 

52% 

Mobile homes 

64,163 

12% 

8,852 

15% 

42,081 

12% 

13,230 

10% 

Other (RVs, boats, etc.) 

2,733 

1% 

1,506 

3% 

1,017 

0% 

210 

0% 


Source: Census 2000f. 


Housing Values and Rents 

The median value of housing in Minidoka County was $74,600 (Census 2000f) in 2000; this is 30 
percent lower than the median value of housing for Idaho as a whole. The median value of housing in 
Cassia County was $53,100 (Census 2000f) in 2000; this is 22 percent lower than the median value of 
housing for Idaho as a whole (Table 3.5-9). 


Table 3.5-9. Median Housing Values in Cassia County, Minidoka County 
and the State of Idaho in 2000. 


Area 

Median 
Housing Value, 
1990 

Median 

Housing Value, 
2000 

Percentage 

Increase, 

1990 to 2000 

Minidoka County 

$41,500 

$74,600 

79.8% 

Cassia County 

$46,000 

$83,100 

80.7% 

State of Idaho 

$58,000 

$106,300 

83.3% 


Source: Census 2000f. 


Median rent in Cassia County doubled to $403 per month between 1990 and 2000. Minidoka County 
median rent also doubled to $394 in 2000. The median rent was $413 in 2000 throughout the State of 


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Idaho (Census 2000d). The lower housing values and rents in the Mini-Cassia area suggest a relaxed 
housing market in contrast to the relatively low vacancy rate. 

On Friday June 6, 2003, eight single-family homes, one manufactured home, and parcels for 
manufactured homes were listed for sale in the South Idaho Press. Four of the eight single family 
homes were listed with prices that ranged from $51,000 to $75,000. 4 Locations for three of the single¬ 
family homes were listed as one in Burley and two in Heybum. The paper also listed over twelve 
apartments for rent ranging from $250 to $425 per month. Over 17 homes were listed for rent in 
Rupert, Heybum, Burley, Paul, and Declo from $325 to $650. Prices and locations were not included 
in all listings (South Idaho Press 2003). 

According to local real estate agents, new construction in the Mini-Cassia area included homes priced 
from $160,000 to $185,000 for 1,500 to 1,800 square feet for single-family homes, and custom-built 
single-family homes priced up to $500,000 (McCall 2003; Anderson 2003). Custom-built homes are 
typically under construction outside of Burley, while lower-priced new homes ranging in price from 
$85,000 to $100,000 are under construction within Burley city limits. The housing market in the 
Mini-Cassia area is generally stable and steady, with few highs and lows, and has been this way for 
several decades. In the future, local agents expect the market to remain steady, and for more homes in 
the $75,000 to $85,000 range to enter the market (McCall 2003; Anderson 2003). In 2000, 90 percent 
of existing housing units in the Mini-Cassia area were built prior to 1988. 

Temporary Lodging 

At least 972 lodging rooms in hotels or motels exist within 60 miles of the Proposed Project area 
(Table 3.5-10). Assuming a summer vacancy rate of 15 percent on average (weekends and weekdays), 
approximately 150 rooms would be available at one time. 

Campgrounds and RV parks near the Proposed Project area include: 

• Heybum Riverside RV Park in Heybum; 

• Willow Bay Recreation Area, and Indian Springs Swimming and RV in American Falls; 

• KOA Campground in Jerome; 

• Budget RV Park in Pocatello; and 

• Central Idaho 4-H Camp, Oregon Trails Campgrounds Center, Curry Trailer Park, and 
Nat Soo Pah Hot Springs and RV in Twin Falls (Idaho Lodging 2003). 


4 The other four listings did not include price. 


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Table 3.5-10. Temporary Lodging Near the Proposed Project Area. 


Name and Location 

City/Town 

Miles from Albion, Idaho 

No. of 

Rooms 

Marsh Creek Inn 

Albion 

5 

12 

Best Western Burley Inn & Convention Ctr. 

Burley 

18 

126 

Budget Motel of Burley 

Burley 

18 

139 

East Park Motel 

Burley 

18 

12 

Lampliter Motel 

Burley 

18 

16 

Evergreen Motel 

Burley 

18 

13 

Parish Motel 

Burley 

18 

15 

Powers Motel 

Burley 

18 

23 

Starlite Motel & Taxi 

Burley 

18 

9 

Super 8 

Heybum 

20 

68 

Tops Motel 

Heybum 

20 

16 

Flamingo Lodge Motel 

Rupert 

18 

15 

Hillview 

American Falls 

57 

33 

Amber Inn Motel 

Eden 

44 

25 

AmeriTel Inn 

Twin Falls 

57 

118 

Best Western Apollo Motor Inn 

Twin Falls 

57 

50 

Capri Motel 

Twin Falls 

57 

23 

Comfort Inn 

Twin Falls 

57 

52 

El Rancho Motel 

Twin Falls 

57 

14 

Holiday Motel 

Twin Falls 

57 

18 

Holiday Inn Express 

Twin Falls 

57 

59 

Monterey Motor Inn 

Twin Falls 

57 

28 

Motel 6 

Twin Falls 

57 

132 

Red Lion Canyon Springs 

Twin Falls 

57 

112 

Shilo Inn - Twin Falls 

Twin Falls 

57 

128 

Super 7 Motel 

Twin Falls 

57 

40 

Super 8 Motel Twin Falls 

Twin Falls 

57 

93 

Twin Falls Motel 

Twin Falls 

57 

8 

Weston Inn 

Twin Falls 

57 

97 

Estimated Number of Rooms Within 60 miles 

972 


Source: URS 2003. 


3.5.5 Public Finance and Fiscal Conditions 

The State of Idaho collects property tax, sales tax, and personal and corporate income tax from its 
residents. The Idaho State Tax Commission collects the income and sales taxes, and counties collect 
property taxes. The taxing of property within Cassia County funds county operations. Taxes that 
would apply directly to Proposed Project construction and operation include property and sales taxes. 

Property Tax 

Cassia County would benefit from tax revenue attributable to the Proposed Project because the 
Proposed Project site is within the County. Tax impacts are discussed in Chapter 4, Environmental 
Consequences. 


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The 2002-2003 budget for Cassia County was $11.4 million (Cassia County 2003a). Of this amount, 
$2.9 million (25%) was from annual property tax revenue. Almost half of property tax revenue was 
allocated to the Justice Fund (i.e., law enforcement needs), while approximately one-fifth was 
allocated to the Current Expense Fund (Table 3.5-11). Other funds each received less than ten percent 
of tax revenue. 

The 2003 average property tax rates for the State of Idaho were 1.67 percent for urban areas, and 1.17 
percent for rural areas. For Cassia County, the urban area average rate was 1.56 percent, slightly 
lower than the state urban average rate, while the Cassia County rural rate average was 1.17 percent, 
which was the same as the state rural average rate (Holland 2003). 

Table 3.5-11. Cassia County Distribution of Property Tax Revenue from 


the 2002-2003 Adopted Budget. 


Fund 

Amount 

Percent of Total 

Justice Fund 

$1,407,350 

48.9% 

Current Expense Fund 

$614,580 

21.4% 

Jail Bond 

$250,000 

8.7% 

Indigent Fund 

$186,760 

6.5% 

Junior College Fund 

$129,560 

4.5% 

Weed and Pest Fund 

$82,000 

2.8% 

Re Evaluation 

$66,250 

2.3% 

Ambulance Services Fund 

$58,000 

2.0% 

Fair Exhibits 

$57,000 

2.0% 

Co. Roads (Unorg.) Fund 

$16,480 

0.6% 

Historical Society 

$10,400 

0.4% 

Total 

$2,878,380 

100.0% 


Source: Cassia County 2003a. 


Table 3.5-12 shows the Cassia County taxable assessed value in 2001 was $210.8 million (Cassia 
County 2003b). The Proposed Project is located within Tax Code Areas 16 and 17 (ITC 2003a), 
which are taxed at 1.2 percent. 

Over half of the tax revenue collected from Tax Code Areas 16 and 17 funds Cassia Joint School 
District No. 151, which serves most of Cassia County and portions of Oneida and Twin Falls counties 
(Table 3.5-12). Cassia Joint School District includes 16 schools and over 5,000 students (Cassia Joint 
School District 2003). The property tax revenues represent 21 percent of total funding for school 
operations. Remaining funding is provided by state tax revenues (65%) and federal funds (14%) 
(Cassia Joint School District 2003). 


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Table 3.5-12. Property Tax Rates in Tax Code Areas 16 and 17. 


Taxing District 

Tax Code Area 16 Rate 

Tax Code Area 17 Rate 

School Dist. 151 

0.644% 

0.644% 

County 

0.315% 

0.315% 

Raft River Hwy 

0.194% 

0.194% 

Flood District 15 

0.043% 

0.043% 

Raft River Fire 

0.014% 

0.014% 

Valley Vu Cemetery 

0.007% 

0.000% 

TOTAL 

1.218% 

1.211% 


Source: Cassia County 2003b. 


Retail Sales Tax 

Retail sales in Cassia County in 1997 accounted for $193 million (Cassia County 2003b). This 
represented 1.7 percent of total retail sales in the State of Idaho, and resulted in a ranking of 15 out of 
44 counties in the State of Idaho (Census 1997). From 1993 to 2002, retail sales in Cassia County 
grew at rates ranging from four to 11 percent per year, and represented one percent of the total retail 
sales in the State of Idaho (Idaho Department of Commerce 2003b). 

Sales taxes apply to the sale, rental, or lease of tangible personal property, and some services. The 
Idaho sales tax rate was increased from five to six percent on May 1, 2003 (Poplar 2003). Based on 
$193 million in retail sales in 1997 in Cassia County (Cassia County 2003b), sales tax revenue 
collected that year would have been approximately $9.7 million. 

Social Values 

Rural communities tend to be characterized by social and lifestyle patterns that are distinct from their 
metropolitan counterparts. Smaller rural communities are often characterized by a high level of what 
social scientists call social cohesiveness. Cohesiveness refers to the forces or attractions that hold 
members of a community together, and is based on the quality of social life within the community, 
and an important emphasis on a sense of place and togetherness. An impact that may decrease the 
attractiveness of the community itself, or the desirability of associating with, or identifying with the 
community may have a detrimental effect on the level of cohesion and the corresponding sense of 
community (Finsterbusch 1980). Social values in the Mini-Cassia area are likely rooted in a strong 
social cohesiveness, along with a high regard for agriculture and its related industries. In addition, the 
Mini-Cassia area contains vast open spaces with remote, mountainous terrain. Residents also likely 
value these natural settings and the recreational opportunities afforded by them. 

3.5.6 Environmental Justice 

Executive Order 12898 (1998) requires that federal agencies address high and disproportionate 
environmental impacts on minority and low-income populations (“environmental justice” impacts) 
attributable to projects proposed on federal land. Enviromnental justice impacts would result if 
potentially high and adverse environmental impacts attributable to the Proposed Project would fall 


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disproportionately on minority or low-income populations. The first step of an enviromnental justice 
analysis involves screening the Proposed Project area to determine if environmental justice 
populations exist in the area. The second step (addressed in Chapter 4) is to determine whether 
Proposed Project impacts would be high, and if they would disproportionately affect any 
environmental justice populations. 

Minority Populations 

The U.S. Census classifies 21 percent of the population of Cassia County and 28 percent of the 
population in Minidoka County as a racial minority, compared to 17 percent in the South Central 
Idaho region 5,6 (Census 2000a). The State of Idaho as a whole was 12 percent minority in 2000. The 
Mini-Cassia area population was 24 percent minority on average and more racially diverse than South 
Central Idaho and the state as a whole (Table 3.5-13). 

Census blocks are the smallest geographic units used in compiling the decennial U.S. Census. The 
decennial census has always reported population by state and county, and in the latter half of the 
twentieth century added the concepts of the census tract, the block group, and the census block to its 
spatial subdivision of the nation. The census block, normally used only in urbanized areas, is an 
actual physical block or other spatial unit within the census tract. The census block group combines, 
on average, about four census blocks to comprise approximately 1,500 persons and normally 
represents a residential subdivision or other reasonable geographic entity. The populations of these 
spatial units can vary widely, and may even have a population of zero (Census 1994). 

The Proposed Project area is located within five designated census blocks within Census Tract 9501 
(Table 3.5-13). Two of the five census blocks have no population. The remaining three census blocks 
contain a combined population of 48, of which 4 residents are listed as minority residents (Census 
2000a). These four minority residents live within census block 2000, which covers the northern end 
of the proposed turbine strings. 


5 Minority populations include Hispanic, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, 
Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, & other non-white races. 

6 This report uses the definition for the South Central Region of Idaho used by the IDOL. The South Central 
Region of Idaho includes the counties of Cassia, Minidoka, Blaine, Camas, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and 
Twin Falls. 


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Table 3.5-13. Minority Populations in the South Central Region of Idaho. 


Geographic Area 

Population 

Minority Population (a) 

Percentage of Total 

Census Tract 9501 and 
Census Block 2000 

20 

4 

20% 

Census Tract 9501 and 
Census Block 2014 

0 

0 

N/A 

Census Tract 9501 and 
Census Block 2015 

2 

0 

0% 

Census Tract 9501 and 
Census Block 2245 

0 

0 

N/A 

Census Tract 9501 and 
Census Block 2246 

26 

0 

0% 





Cassia County 

21,416 

4434 

21% 

Minidoka County 

20,174 

5,622 

28% 

Mini-Cassia area 

41,590 

10,056 

24% 





Blaine County 

18,991 

2,460 

13% 

Camas County 

991 

81 

8% 

Gooding County 

14,155 

2,782 

20% 

Jerome County 

18,342 

3,551 

19% 

Lincoln County 

4,044 

669 

17% 

Twin Falls County 

64,284 

7,894 

12% 

South Central Idaho (b) 

162,397 

27,493 

17% 





State of Idaho 

1,293,953 

154,662 

12% 


Note: 


(a) Minority populations include Hispanic, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, 
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and other non-white races. 

(b) This report uses the definition for the South Central Region of Idaho used by the IDOL. The South Central 
Region of Idaho includes the counties of Cassia, Minidoka, Blaine, Camas, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and 
Twin Falls. 

Source: Census 2000a. 

Low Income Populations 

Fourteen percent of Cassia County residents and 15 percent of Minidoka County residents lived 
below the poverty level in 1999 (Table 3.5-14). In comparison, 13 percent of residents in South 
Central Idaho lived below the poverty level, and 12 percent of Idaho residents lived below the poverty 
level in 1999 (Census 2000b). That year, the Mini-Cassia area had slightly more residents living in 
poverty (14%, on average) when compared to South Central Idaho and the State of Idaho. 

In census block group 2 within census tract 9501 (which surrounds the Proposed Project), relatively 
fewer residents live below the poverty level (10%, Table 3.5-14). 


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Table 3.5-14. Populations Living Below Poverty Level, 1999 in the South Central Region 
of Idaho. 


Geographic Area 

Population for Whom 
Poverty Status Is 
Determined 

Population Living 
Below Poverty Level 

Percentage of 
Total 

CT 9501 CBG 2 

1,280 

134 

10% 





Cassia County 

21,109 

2,875 

14% 

Minidoka County 

19,992 

2,960 

15% 

Mini-Cassia area 

41,101 

5,835 

14% 





Blaine County 

18,868 

1,469 

8% 

Camas County 

985 

82 

8% 

Gooding County 

13,916 

1,922 

14% 

Jerome County 

18,235 

2,526 

14% 

Lincoln County 

3,995 

522 

13% 

Twin Falls County 

63,123 

8,038 

13% 

South Central 

Idaho (a) 

160,223 

20,394 

13% 





State of Idaho 

1,263,205 

148,732 

12% 


Notes: 


(a) This report uses the definition for the South Central Region of Idaho used by the IDOL. The South Central 
Region of Idaho includes the counties of Cassia, Minidoka, Blaine, Camas, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and 
Twin Falls. 

Source: Census 2000b. 


3.6 LANDS AND REALTY 

The Proposed Project area is within public lands managed by the BLM BFO. These lands are 
managed in accordance with the Cassia Resource Management Plan (Cassia RMP) (USDI, BLM 
1985a; Figure 3.6-1). They are part of Management Area 11, Cotterel Mountain, within the Cassia 
RMP (Figure 3.6-2). Major land uses include livestock grazing, wildlife habitat, recreation, utility 
distribution, and communication facilities locations. 

Management goals for the Proposed Project area include expanding dispersed recreation 
opportunities, providing for livestock grazing, and transferring certain lands from federal ownership 
(USDI, BLM 1985a). Prominent land uses around the Proposed Project area include: rural community 
commercial use that is zoned for the cities of Malta and Albion; commercial recreational use at the 
Pomerelle Mountain Resort; and agricultural uses such as fanning, grazing, and confined animal 
operations. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-82 



























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Cotterel Wind Power Project 

Figure 3.6-1. Existing Land Ownership. 

Legend 


Transmission Lines 

Ownership 

Interstate 

1 1 B.L.M. 

"■■■ Major Roads 

| Forest Service 

Other Roads 

1 1 Private 

Project Area 

FI State of Idaho 

I. _ J Alt. B Interconnect ROW 


t m Jt Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 3.6-2. Management Area 11 of 
the Cassia RMP 


Legend 

^3 Management Area 11 
Transmission Lines 
1 i Project Area 
I. _■ Alt. B Feeder Line ROW 
£ 2 Alt. C and D Feeder Line ROW 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 





















































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


Currently there are approximately 320 existing rights-of-way (ROW) within the Cassia RMP area. 
These include: highways and access roads; electric power transmission and distribution lines; fiber 
optic cables; telephone lines; water, natural gas, and liquid petroleum pipelines; ditches and canals; 
communications facilities; and various types of project area ROW. Within the Proposed Project area, 
there are approximately 15 ROW and special uses. 

3.6.1 Land Status 

The lands within the Proposed Project area are predominantly public lands managed by the BLM, in 
addition to a small percentage of state land. Public, state, and private lands surround the Proposed 
Project area. The City of Albion is located about five miles to the west of Cotterel Mountain, and the 
City of Malta is located about four miles to the east. 

3.6.2 Existing Land Use 

A primitive road extends along the Cotterel Mountain ridge top providing access to the entire 
mountain. Public access to the top of the mountain is available from the north, southwest and 
southeast. Several feeder roads and trails provide additional access down lateral ridges and drainages, 
but large areas of Cotterel Mountain remain roadless. Hunting, sightseeing, OHV use, and winter 
recreation pursuits are common in the area. The area is a Special Resource Management Area. There 
are two grazing allotments (North Cotterel #5001 and South Cotterel #5002) located within the 
Proposed Project area. These areas are discussed below and detailed in Section 3.8 Livestock 
Grazing. Although the Proposed Project area is open to mineral entry, no mineral or mining claims 
exist. 

Agriculture/Rangelands 

The Proposed Project area is located within two grazing allotments: North Cotterel (#5001) and South 
Cotterel (#5002). The North Cotterel allotment consists of approximately 9,981 acres of public land; 
1,280 acres of state land, and 320 acres of private land. Permitted use on the North Cotterel allotment 
is 1,428 animal unit months (AUM). An AUM, as defined by the Cassia RMP, is the amount of 
forage needed by 1-cow, 1-horse, 5-sheep, 5.3-deer, or 9.4-antelope for one month (approximately 
800 lbs. dry weight). Of the 1,428 AUMs, 37 are designated for horse use and 1,389 AUMs are for 
livestock. Livestock grazing begins May 1 and ends December 27. The number of livestock and 
timing of grazing in the North Cotterel allotment can fluctuate; however, livestock use has generally 
occurred from June 1 to July 31 during the past several years (Shaw 2004). The Cassia RMP 
identified the opportunity to increase the permitted use in the North Cotterel allotment by 275 AUMs 
pending the completion of proposed land treatments. 

The South Cotterel allotment consists of 30,007 acres of public land, 640 acres of state land, and 120 
acres of private land. Permitted use on the Cotterel South allotment is 3,242 AUMs, which are all 
designated for cattle use. Livestock use in the allotment begins on May 1 and ends November 30. 
More than 100 range improvements are located in both the North and South Cotterel allotments. 
These improvements include water development, fences, cattle guards, and vegetation treatments. 


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Utility Distribution and Commercial Use 

The area is open to energy resource exploration, mining, and ROW under the current restriction 
prescribed by the Cassia RMP. 

Rights-of-Wav and Special Use Permits 

The following are current existing ROW and special use permit holders (permit number in 
parentheses). 

• State of Idaho Communications Site (IDI-016817) 

• Bonneville Power Administration Communications Site (EDI-016828) 

• Bureau of Reclamation Communications Site (IDI-16460) 

• Fisher Broadcasting Company Communications Site (IDI-012066) 

• Raft River Electric/ATC Communications Site and Access Road (IDI-29847) 

• Federal Aviation Administration Communications Site and Access Road (IDI-013642) 

• Moo View Cow Palace Communications Site and Access Road (IDI-32796) 

• ATC Communications Buried Telephone Cable (IDI-5128) 

• Raft River Electric Company Buried Power Distribution Line (IDI-4446) 

• Windland, Inc. Meteorological Data Collection (IDI-33675) 

• Chevron Pipeline Company Buried Liquid Petroleum Pipeline (IDI-0602) 

• Raft River Electric Company Overhead Power Transmission Line (IDI-014294) 

• State Land Easement to the U.S. for a Buried Stockwater Pipeline and Storage Facility 
(IDI-29653) 

• Private Land Easement to the U.S. for an Access Road (IDI-31422) 

• Numerous range improvements including a water station and water storage facility on the 
north end of the Proposed Proj ect area 

Tribal Land Use 

No tribal deeded or reservation lands are present in the Proposed Project area. However, the 
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes continue to maintain historical hunting and gathering rights within the 
Proposed Project area in accordance with the Fort Bridger Treaty Act of 1868. 

3.6.3 Planned Land Use 

Management direction is outlined in the Cassia RMP. It includes continuation of fire management, 
livestock grazing, use of motorized vehicles with restrictions, recreation, and wildlife habitat 
management. Activity Plans that have been initiated or planned for implementation include: 
Allotment Management Plans; a Recreation Area Management Plan; a Limited Suppression Fire Plan; 
a Watershed Management Plan; and a Habitat Management Plan. 

Presently the Cassia RMP limits ROW to existing facilities and localities (Page 40 Section D). It also 
recommends managing the area to maintain scenic quality and open space. The BLM evaluated the 


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Proposed Project in relation to the current restrictions in the Cassia RMP and determined that it is not 
consistent with the plan. Because of several factors including, but not limited to, the fact that wind 
energy development was not considered in 1985 when the Cassia RMP was completed, the 
relationship of the Proposed Project to the President’s Energy Policy, and the growing demand for 
electric power in the region, BLM has proposed to amend the plan to allow ROW for wind energy 
developments in the Cotterel Mountain Management Area. Land Use Plans such as the Cassia RMP 
can be amended in accordance with BLM regulations (43 CFR 1600), and the National 
Environmental Policy Act process, as detailed in the Council on Environmental Quality regulations, 
which guide the preparation of plan amendments (40 CFR 1500). The plan amendment process is 
tailored to the anticipated level of public controversy and potential for significant impacts. For this 
proposal, an assessment for consistency with the existing Cassia RMP was completed by the BLM as 
stated above. The proposed plan amendment will be assessed by alternative in Chapters 2 and 4 of 
this document to determine the impact on existing resource objectives. A summary of the proposed 
amendment based on this assessment is provided below. 

3.6.4 Rights-of-Way 

Current Plan Objective: 

Limit ROW to existing facilities and localities. 

Proposed Amendment: 

The proposed amendment would lift the ROW restriction on Management Area 11 of the Cassia RMP 
to the extent that wind energy development would be permitted. It would also change the Cassia RMP 
objective of managing the area to maintain scenic quality and open space. No other developments 
would be allowed. 

These aspects of the Cassia RMP would be amended through the interdisciplinary and public 
participatory National Environmental Policy Act process in conjunction with BLM resource program- 
specific guidance. 

3.7 RECREATION 

The region of south-central Idaho is typically rural in nature. Sparse populations and open space 
characterize the landscape, with large areas under agricultural production. Desert mountain ranges, 
caves, rugged lava flows, forested terrain, and large expanses of valley land and rolling mountains 
make it a unique area in Idaho providing opportunities for a variety of recreational uses. Much of the 
area is federal land that helps to satisfy the growing public demand for outdoor recreation. The 
Pomerelle Mountain Resort is located about nine miles west of the Proposed Project area and 
provides winter recreation in the form of skiing and snowmobiling. The City of Rocks National 
Reserve, a popular camping, hiking, rock climbing, and historical area is located about 24 miles 
southwest of the Proposed Project area. The recreational uses of Cotterel Mountain include hunting, 
OHV use, picnicking, hiking, and some dispersed camping. The public lands associated with Cotterel 


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Mountain are mandated by the Cassia RMP to provide for multiple uses, including a diverse choice of 
recreation opportunities. 

3.7.1 Recreation Opportunities 

The physical environment often determines where, when, and what types of recreational activities 
occur. Landscape attributes that enhance opportunities for recreation and attract visitors to public land 
include desert badlands, mountains, canyons, lava features, grasslands, and wooded environments. 
The Proposed Project area provides opportunities for a number of recreational activities including: 
sightseeing, wildlife viewing, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, upland game bird and big game 
hunting, OHV riding, mountain biking, and camping. Visitor use numbers (dispersed) for the Cotterel 
Mountain area have been approximately 7,500 individuals for each fiscal year since 2000 (Thompson 
2004). Wheeled vehicle use has been limited to existing roads and trails. There are currently no plans 
to construct any new trails for the area. 

The Proposed Project area is designated a Special Resource Management Area. These areas are 
described in the BLM Land Use Manual-Section 1601 as administrative units established to direct 
recreation program priorities, including the allocation of funding and personnel, to those areas where 
a commitment has been made to provide specific recreation activity and experience opportunities on a 
sustained yield basis (USDI BLM 2000). 

The Recreational Opportunities Spectrum (ROS) for the Proposed Project area is semiprimitive 
motorized. The ROS provides a management tool for inventory, planning, and administration of 
outdoor recreation resources on public land. The BLM often uses the ROS as a framework for 
defining the environment present for outdoor recreation opportunities. The ROS recognizes that 
people differ in their needs and the experience they desire and that the resource base is not uniform. 
The ROS allows managers to characterize all possible combinations of recreational opportunities and 
resources and arrange combinations of activities, setting, and experience along a continuum. The 
ROS establishes management objectives for recreational activities into six classes, ranging from 
essentially natural low-use areas (resource-dependent recreational opportunities) to highly developed, 
intensive use areas (facility/vehicle-dependent recreation opportunities). The six classes are identified 
as primitive, semiprimitive nonmotorized, semiprimitive motorized, roaded natural, rural, and urban. 
Once these opportunities have been defined, managers are able to determine which opportunities 
should be provided and are able to assess the impacts of other resource actions on the recreation 
resource. 

3.7.2 Hunting 

Hunting in the area (Management Unit #55) consists mainly of upland game birds, deer, and 
mountain lion. The IDFG manages hunts within the Proposed Project area. IDFG hunting data from 
1990 to 2003 indicates that the area receives moderate use (IDFG 2003b). 


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3.7.3 Camping 

Two developed recreation sites are located on Cotterel Mountain. The Coe Creek picnic site is located 
at the head of Coe Creek within the Proposed Project area. McClendon Spring Campground is located 
on the lower east side of Cotterel Mountain, outside of the Proposed Project area. These recreational 
sites have been upgraded and are considered developed, but use is minimal. Total yearly visits to 
these sites are estimated to be 700 individuals for Coe Creek, and 1,500 individuals for McClendon 
Springs. 

3.7.4 Off-highway Vehicle Use 

OHV use occurs throughout BLM lands in Southern Idaho and can be characterized as either a 
method of transportation or as recreation use. In the transportation category, OHVs are used to 
transport people to remote areas for activities such as hunting. In the recreation category, OHVs are 
often used for touring, sightseeing, family outings, hill climbing, and various competitive events. 

OHV use on BLM land has increased substantially in recent years. Current regulation and policy 
require that BLM manage public land for OHV use by designating areas as open, limited, or closed. 
The Cassia RMP states that the Proposed Project area is open to snowmobiles, but wheeled vehicle 
use is limited to existing roads and trails. 

3.8 LIVESTOCK GRAZING 

The grazing history of the Proposed Project area is similar to that of much of the northwest U.S. prior 
to the mid-twentieth century. Ranchers throughout southern Idaho and northern Utah have used 
intermixed private, state, and public lands to support cattle, sheep, and horses. The communities 
surrounding Cotterel Mountain have a rich history of sheep grazing, but due to changing markets, 
changes in vegetation, irrigation, and loss of area to development, there is a greater emphasis now on 
cattle. 

In the Proposed Project area, the federal grazing program was initiated with the implementation of the 
Taylor Grazing Act in 1934, administered by the Grazing Service and the Division of Grazing. The 
program has since been administered by the BLM and is currently managed by the BFO under the 
Cassia RMP. The guidelines specific to rangeland management are summarized below: 

• Provide allocation of available forage among domestic livestock, and wildlife; 

• Reserve sufficient vegetation for maintaining plant health, soil stabilization, wildlife 
cover, and other non-consumptive uses; and 

• Range improvements, grazing systems, and other range management practices would be 
considered in conjunction with livestock management on allotments. 

3.8.1 Livestock use of Grazing Allotments 

The Proposed Project area, approximately 11,500 acres, lies within two BLM-administered 
allotments: North Cotterel and South Cotterel (Table 3.8-1 and Table 3.8-2). Thirty-nine percent 


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(4,400 acres) of the Proposed Project area is within the North Cotterel allotment. Areas in the 
allotment are not suitable for livestock grazing due largely to steep slopes and water availability. 
Currently, the majority of the livestock use is within and adjacent to the Proposed Project area, with 
the northern portion of the allotment receiving a larger portion of the use due to water availability. 
The average stocking rate for the North Cotterel allotment is seven acres per AUM; therefore, about 
629 AUMs are located within the Proposed Project area boundaries. 


Table 3.8-1. Current Grazing Permits in the Proposed Project Area. 


Name 

Number of 
livestock/type 

Dates of 
grazing 

Percent 

public 

land 

AUMs 

North Cotterel Allotment #5001 

Jeff and Tamara Chatbum 

243 cattle 

5/20-7/19 

80 

389 

9 horses 

5/20-9/24 

100 

38 

Six S Ranch 

377 cattle 

5/20-7/31 

100 

904 

9 cattle 

5/20-12/27 

100 

65 

Brigham Young University 

5 cattle 

4/16-10/15 

100 

30 

South Cotterel Allotment #5002 

Helen Anderson 

70 cattle 

5/01-6/08 

100 

90 

44 cattle 

5/01-9/13 

100 

197 

Blackjack Ranch 

5 cattle 

5/01-10/12 

100 

27 

Albert Cottle 

7 cattle 

3/25-4/30 

100 

9 

8 cattle 

2/01-2/28 

100 

7 

Grant Clark 

27 cattle 

5/01-9/15 

100 

122 

D & K Cattle Co. 

41 cattle 

5/01-11/30 

100 

288 

Larry and Darlene Kincade 

50 cattle 

5/01-11/06 

100 

312 

Hank Higley 

164 cattle 

5/01-9/15 

93 

692 

Ramona Sears 

37 cattle 

5/01-6/15 

100 

56 

17 cattle 

5/01-9/15 

100 

77 

1 cattle 

5/01-5/31 

100 

1 

Wallace Sears Jr. 

8 cattle 

5/01-9/30 

100 

40 

Ward Livestock Inc 

350 cattle 

5/01-5/31 

100 

357 

130 cattle 

5/01-9/30 

100 

654 

67 cattle 

10/1-11/14 

100 

99 

224 cattle 

11/15-12/14 

100 

221 


Table 3.8-2. Grazing Allotment Distribution in the Proposed 
Project Area. 



Total Acres 

Total AUMs 

North Cotterel 

12163 

1680 

South Cotterel 

30767 

3802 


Ninety-one percent of the permitted use (AUMs) on the North Cotterel Allotment is from cattle, and 
occurs from May 20 to July 31. Horse use (3% of the permitted use) occurs from May 20 to 


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September 24. The remaining use is from cattle (ten head) that are authorized to graze from May 20 
to December 27. During recent years approximately 68 percent of the permitted use has not been 
activated. The remaining 32 percent (both horses and cattle) has been used form mid-May to mid- 
July. 

On the North Cotterel allotment, there are three developed springs, two catchments, and a pipeline 
system that are fed by a well, which supplies livestock drinking water within the allotment area are 
found within the Proposed Project. Due to limited water availability, a rotational grazing system is not 
feasible. However, when adequate water is available, the livestock permittees rotate grazing between 
the north and south portions of the allotment. 

Three ranching operations are permitted to graze livestock on the North Cotterel allotment; however, 
only two of the three permittees have livestock near or in the Proposed Project area. The third 
permittee uses the portion of the allotment located on the flats east of Cotterel Mountain. Table 3.8-1 
lists the grazing permittees authorized to use the North Cotterel allotment. 

Ten ranching operations are permitted to graze livestock on the South Cotterel allotment. Of these 
ten, nine are authorized for livestock use within the Proposed Project area. The remaining operator 
uses only the lower elevation pastures in the South Cotterel allotment. 

Twenty-one percent (6,490 acres) of the South Cotterel allotment lies within the Proposed Project 
area. The allotment is divided into eleven pastures. Three of these pastures are located on Cotterel 
Mountain (mountain pastures) and the remaining eight are on the flats east of Cotterel Mountain (east 
flats pastures). The Proposed Project area lies within the mountain pasture, specifically the summit 
pasture. The average stocking rate in the mountain pasture is six acres per AUM; therefore, about 
1,082 AUMs are located within the Proposed Project area boundary. Incorporated into the Proposed 
Project area is the proposed Raft River power line route, which passes through the Coe Creek 
mountain pasture and the allotment #8 pasture. 

A rest-rotation grazing system is implemented on both the upper and lower pastures. Cattle are 
scheduled to move into the mountain pastures from June 1 to 15 and remain there until about 
September 30. Annually, livestock grazes two of the mountain pastures and the third is rested. 
Livestock are in each of the grazed pastures for approximately forty-six days. The lower eight 
pastures are also managed using a rest-rotation grazing system with two pastures rested annually. 

Livestock water in the Summit, Coe Creek, and Allotment #8 pastures are supplied by numerous 
developed and undeveloped springs found throughout the Proposed Project area (Figure 3.1-2). Coe 
Creek provides another source of water for livestock in the Coe Creek pasture. Pasture and allotment 
division fences run across, or are adjacent to, the Proposed Project area. 

3.8.2 Rangeland Conditions 

Monitoring data is important in evaluating the effects of livestock grazing to identify sites of 
concentrated use and impact. In addition, key forage species including: bluebunch wheatgrass; 


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Sandberg’s bluegrass; crested and intermediate wheatgrass; as well as invasive species (cheatgrass, 
juniper, etc.) are monitored to examine short-term and long-term effects on range condition and trend. 
These range conditions are evaluated based on their departure from Ecological Reference Areas, as 
stated in the Idaho Standards for Rangeland Health-43 1480, in order to assess if the ecological 
processes are functioning within a normal range of variability. Range conditions on Cotterel 
Mountain have not recently been assessed and are not current. Historic range conditions show a slight 
to moderate dissimilarity with the Ecological Reference Areas. The primary factors affecting 
ecosystem functionality are decreased amounts of litter, increased bare-ground, and the introduction 
of invasive species. 

3.8.3 Rangeland Improvements 

Under the guidance of the Cassia RMP, these allotments, located in Management area 11, are to be 
managed according to specific objectives created to improve rangelands and provide sustained forage 
for livestock and wildlife (USDI, BLM 1985). Objectives specific to the North and South Cotterel 
allotments include: 

• Expand dispersed recreation opportunities on approximately 18,000 acres south of the 
communication facility. 

• Manage the area to maintain scenic quality and open spaces. 

• Improve 31,212 acres of poor and fair condition rangeland to good. 

• Provide 5,278 acres of forage for livestock. 

• Provide forage for the following mule deer by season of use: 403 spring; 403 summer; 
403 fall; 563 winter. 

• Provide yearlong forage for 127 antelope. 

• Maintain or improve 6,414 acres of critical deer winter range and 703 acres of sage- 
grouse brood-rearing habitat. 

• Protect nesting ferruginous hawks from human disturbance. 

• Control surface disturbing activities on 5,677 acres having soils with high erosion 
potential. 

• Transfer 440 acres out of federal ownership: 280 acres via private exchange and 160 
acres via sale or other disposal method. 

Boundary fences and water developments were constructed by permittees and the BLM in the 
Proposed Project area from 1950 to present. Under the Cassia RMP, permittees are responsible for 
maintenance of these improvements as assigned. 

A rangeland health assessment/evaluation was completed for the South Cotterel allotment in 2004. 
Vegetation in the Proposed Project area consisted primarily of native plant communities with some 
exotic species present. In general, the assessment described the range as being healthy, with less than 
four percent of the range marginally healthy. The assessment described the majority of the range as 
exhibiting good plant diversity, plant production, and seedling recruitment. Encroaching juniper and 


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decadent sagebrush are contributing factors in those areas showing marginal rangeland health. A 
determination as to compliance with the Idaho Standards and Guidelines for Rangeland Health is 
pending. A rangeland health assessment was also completed for the North Cotterel allotment in 2004, 
but the written evaluation and determination are pending. 

3.8.4 Wildhorses 

No wildhorses or burros are found in or managed for in the Proposed Project area. 

3.9 VISUAL RESOURCES 

3.9.1 Visual Resource Management System 

In order for the BLM to meet its responsibility to maintain the scenic values of the public lands, they 
use a Visual Resource Management (VRM) system. This system defines the levels of scenic value, 
and provides a way to describe and evaluate landscapes (USDI, BLM 1986a; USDI, BLM 1986b). 
Different levels of scenic values require different levels of management. For example, management of 
an area with high scenic value might be focused on preserving the existing character of the landscape. 
In contrast, management of an area with little scenic value might allow for major modifications to the 
landscape. Determining how an area should be managed first requires an assessment of the scenic 
value of the area. 

Assessing scenic values and determining visual impacts can be a subjective process. To increase 
objectivity and consistency, the VRM system describes and evaluates landscapes by using the basic 
design elements of form, line, color, and texture. This same system can also be used to describe 
proposed actions. Projects that repeat these design elements are usually in harmony with their 
surroundings, and those that do not create contrast. By adjusting project designs so that the elements 
are repeated, visual impacts can be minimized. The VRM system provides a way to identify and 
evaluate scenic values. It also provides a way to analyze potential visual impacts and apply visual 
design techniques to ensure that surface-disturbing activities are in harmony with their surroundings. 
Basically, the VRM system consists of two stages: inventory classification and management 
classification (USDI, BLM 1986b). The VRM Inventory stage is summarized below, followed by the 
management classification for the Cotterel Mountain area. The analysis is presented in Chapter 4, 
Environmental Consequences. 

3.9.2 Visual Resource Inventory 

The Visual Resource Management Inventory involves identifying the visual resources of an area and 
assigning them to one of four classes using the BLM visual resource inventory process (USDI, BLM 
1986a). The process involves rating the visual appeal of a tract of land, measuring public concern for 
scenic quality, and determining whether the tract of land is visible from travel routes or observation 
points. The VRM Inventory Class for an area is determined by using a classification matrix that ranks 
scenic quality, visual sensitivity, and distance zones (Table 3.9-1). Inventory classes provide a basis 
for considering visual values in the RMP process, but they do not establish management direction and 
shouldn’t be used as a basis for constraining surface disturbing activities. Visual values are 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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considered throughout the RMP process, and the visual resources are then assigned to VRM classes 
with the following established objectives. 


Table 3.9.1. Existing VRM Inventory Ratings for the Proposed Project Area. 


Scenic 
Quality 
Rating Unit 

Scenic Quality 
(raw score) 

Visual 

Sensitivity 

Distance Zone 

Classification 

Unit 202 

C - Low (5) 

Low- 

Moderate 

Foreground/ 

middleground 

Class IV 

Unit 220 

B = Moderate (12) 

High 

Foreground/ 

middleground 

Class II 

Unit 243 

B = Moderate (12) 

Moderate 

Background 

Class IV 

Unit 244 

B = Moderate (15) 

Moderate 

Background 

Class IV 

Unit 245 

C = Low (9) 

Low 

Foreground/ 

middleground 

Class IV 


VRM Class I Objective : To preserve the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to 
the characteristic landscape should be very low and must not attract attention. 

VRM Class II Objective : To retain the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to the 
characteristic landscape should be low. 


VRM Class III Objective : To partially retain the existing character of the landscape. The level of 
change to the characteristic landscape should be moderate. 

VRM Class IV Objective : To provide for management activities which require major modification of 
the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to the characteristic landscape can be 
high. 

Scenic Quality is a measure of the visual appeal of a tract of land. In the visual resource inventory 
process, public lands are give an A, B, or C rating based on the apparent scenic quality that is 
determined using seven key factors: landform, vegetation, water, color, adjacent scenery, scarcity, 
and cultural modifications. During the rating process, each key factor is ranked on a comparative 
basis with similar features within the area. As an example, within the key factor of landform, 
prominent cliffs with high, vertical relief would receive a score of 5, while a flat valley bottom would 
receive a score of 1. Within the defined sensitivity level-rating unit, the rankings of each factor are 
summed. A, B, or C ratings for scenic quality are assigned as follows: 

A = 19 or more; 

B = 12-18; and 
C = 11 or less. 


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Visual Sensitivity is a measure of public concern for scenic quality. Public lands are assigned high, 
medium, or low sensitivity levels for each Scenic Quality Rating Units (SQRU; described below) by 
analyzing various indicators of public concern, such as: type of users, amount of use, public interest, 
adjacent land uses, and special areas such as wilderness. 

Scenic Quality Rating Units . A planning area is subdivided into map area units called SQRU for 
visual resource rating purposes. SQRU are delineated on a basis of: like physiographic characteristics; 
similar visual patterns, texture, color, variety, etc.; and areas which have similar impacts from man¬ 
made modifications. The size of SQRU may vary from several thousand acres to 100 or less acres, 
depending on the homogeneity of the landscape features, and the detail desired in the inventory. 
Normally, more detailed attention would be given to highly scenic areas or areas of known high 
sensitivity. Within a planning area, each SQRU is assigned a unique map number. 

Distance Zone . Landscapes are subdivided into three distance zones based on relative visibility from 
travel routes or observation points. The three zones are: foreground-middleground, background, and 
seldom seen. The foreground-middleground zone includes areas seen from highways, rivers, or other 
viewing locations that are less than three to five miles away. The background zone is beyond the 
foreground-middleground zone, but usually less than 15 miles away. The seldom-seen zone includes 
areas not seen as foreground-middleground or background (i.e., hidden from view). 

3.9.3 Management Class Rating for the Cotterel Mountain Area 

Management Classes differ from inventory classes in that management classes are assigned through 
the RMP. Although visual values must be considered throughout the RMP process, the assignment of 
visual management classes is ultimately based on the management decisions made in the Cassia 
RMP. For example, an area deemed highly scenic that warrants special management attention may be 
designated as a scenic Area of Critical Environmental Concern and classified as VRM Class I. Figure 
3.9-1 shows the Existing VRM Classes for the Proposed Project area. 

All of the Proposed Project area (including access roads) is within the Cassia RMP Management Area 
11, which includes VRM Class II, III, and IV. The objective for visual resources within Management 
11 is to “manage the area to maintain scenic quality and open space” (USDI, BLM 1986a; USDI, 
BLM 1986b). All of the proposed turbine strings would fall within VRM Class IV. About one mile of 
existing access road from the south would pass through VRM Class III. Less than one-tenth of a mile 
of existing access road from the south would pass through VRM Class II. About 1.5 miles of 
proposed access road from the north would pass through VRM Class III (Figure 3.9-1). Table 3.9-1 
lists the VRM ratings as identified in the Cassia RMP for the proposed turbine string areas, the 
existing access road, and the proposed access road. 


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Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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Other Roads 


2 Miles 





























































Cotterel Wind Power Project 


3.0 Affected Environment 


3.10 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS 

A hazardous wastes and materials evaluation was conducted to help identify potential issues located 
within a one-mile vicinity of the Proposed Project area. Information was gathered from federal and 
state environmental databases through Environmental FirstSearch Technology Corporation. This 
information was reviewed to evaluate whether activities within or adjacent to the proposed study area 
have the potential to impact environmental conditions within the Proposed Project area (FirstSearch 
2003). There are eight sites located within a one-mile radius of the proposed study area: six 
underground storage tanks; one leaking underground storage tank; and one Comprehensive 
Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) Information System No Further 
Remedial Action Planned, Archived Site. The archive designation indicates that, to the best of EPA 
knowledge, assessment at the site has been completed, and that EPA has determined no further steps 
will be taken to list this site on the National Priorities List. Each of the eight sites is designated as 
closed, site cleanup completed, or No Further Remedial Action Planned. A site review of the 
Proposed Project area was found to be free of obvious environmental degradation within the scope of 
the hazardous substances and petroleum products identified in the CERCLA. 

3.11 FIRE MANAGEMENT 

The Proposed Project area is located within the Albion Fire Management Unit (FMU) in the BLM 
Twin Falls District. The terrain of the Proposed Project area is mountainous with mostly contiguous 
parcels of BLM managed lands along the ridge tops. Table 3.11-1 illustrates the Fire Management 
Priority Rankings for the Albion FMU. Communities considered at risk from wildfire that are near the 
Proposed Project area include Albion, Conner, and Elba. Due to the proximity of the wildland urban 
interface and key wildlife habitat in the Proposed Project area, all fire management priorities are 
ranked as high. Wildland fire use is considered not appropriate anywhere within the Albion FMU. 


Table 3.11-1. Albion FMU Fire Management Priority Ranking 


Suppression 

High 

Fuels Treatments 

High 

ESR 

High 

Community Assistance/ 

Protection 

High 


Fires are an intricate component of the development and maintenance of natural plant communities in 
the western U.S. (Brown 2000). Fire exclusion activities, grazing, and agriculture on public lands 
from the early 1900s to the present have caused fine fuels to accumulated to higher levels than would 
have been present with more frequent fires, resulting in more severe fires that bum hotter, and have 
greater impacts on: soil stability and structure; hydrological function; biotic integrity; and overall 
community dynamics and functionality (Keeley et al. 1999). 

This movement away from natural fire regimes has created a need for increased fire management. 
The National Wildland Fire Plan defines and designates agencies nationally to work together using a 
cohesive strategy for establishing past conditions, identifying current departure, and recommending 


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3.0 Affected Environment 


future strategies for achieving desired outcomes. Information from the Cassia RMP and Southern 
Idaho Fire Management Plan have been used to formulate and define alternatives directly related to 
the Proposed Project area. 

Fire History 

Fire plays an essential ecological role in the regeneration and maintenance of a diverse mosaic of 
healthy cover types across ecosystems. Historically (prior to 1900), the area landscape would have 
been dominated by vegetation characteristic of Fire Regime Condition Class 1 (FRCC 1; USDI 
2004b). 

From 1984 to 2003, 290 fires burned 145,233 acres of BLM managed land in the Albion FMU. The 
Proposed Project area is located in the southern part of the FMU where an increased number of fires 
are human caused; however, these fires are generally small due to suppression response. Fires caused 
from lightning strikes are also common. Average fire size on BLM lands within the FMU is 501 
acres. A tendency for large, repeated wildland fires is increasing in the FMU. 

Fire Ecology 

A mosaic of three vegetation cover types dominates the Proposed Project area; mountain shrub, mid¬ 
elevation shrub steppe, and juniper, pinyon/juniper mix. Each vegetation type has a corresponding 
fuel model (FM) that can be used to predict fire behavior. Fuel models in the Proposed Project area 
are predominantly FM 2, FM 5, and FM 6. Wildfires in the Proposed Project would be carried by one 
or more of these FMs. Juniper and mid-elevation shrub covertypes typically fall under Historic Fire 
Regime II (up to 35 years, stand replacement) while the mountain shrub covertype falls under 
Historic Fire Regime III (35 to 100 years, mixed severity). 

Fuel Model 2 - Timber (Grass and Understory): 

Fire spread is primarily through the fine herbaceous fuels, either curing or dead. These are surface 
fires where the herbaceous material, in addition to litter and dead-down stemwood from the open 
shrub or timber overstory, contribute to the fire intensity. Open shrub lands and pine stands or scrub 
oak stands that cover one-third to two-thirds of the area may generally fit this model; such stands may 
include clumps of fuel that generate higher intensities and that may produce firebrands. Some 
pinyon/juniper may be in this model. 

Fuel Model 5 - Brush (2 feet): 

Fire is generally carried in the surface fuels that are made up of litter cast by the shrubs and the 
grasses or forbs in the understory. The fires are generally not very intense because surface fuel loads 
are light, the shrubs are young with little dead material, and the foliage contains little volatile 
material. Usually shrubs are short and almost totally cover the area. 


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Fuel Model 6 - Dormant Brush, Hardwood Slash: 

Fire carries through the shrub layer where the foliage is more flammable than FM 5, but this requires 
moderate winds, greater than eight miles per hour at mid-flame height. Fire can drop to the ground at 
low wind speeds or at openings in the stand. The shrubs are older, but not as tall as the shrubs types 
of FM 4, nor do they contain as much fuel as FM 4. This model covers a broad range of shrub 
conditions. Fuel situations to be considered include intermediate stands of chamise, chaparral, oak 
brush, low pocosin, Alaskan spruce taiga, and shrub tundra. Even hardwood slash that has cured can 
be considered. Pinyon/juniper shrublands may be represented but may over-predict rate of spread 
except at high winds, like 20 miles per hour at the 20-foot level. 

Fire Regime Condition Class 3 (FRCC3) dominates the Proposed Project area with small pockets of 
FRCC2 interspersed. 

Fire Regime Condition Class 2 ( FRCC2): 

Fire regimes on these lands have been moderately altered from their historical range by either 
increased or decreased fire frequency. A moderate risk of losing key ecosystem components has been 
identified in these lands. To restore their historical fire regimes, these lands may require some level of 
restoration as through prescribed fire, mechanical or chemical treatments, and the subsequent 
reintroduction of native plants. 

Fire Regime Condition Class 3 (FRCC3): 

These lands have been significantly altered from their historical range. Because fire regimes have 
been extensively altered, the risk of losing key ecosystem components from fire is high. 
Consequently, these lands verge on the greatest risk of ecological collapse. To restore their historical 
fire regimes before prescribed fire can be utilized to manage fuel or obtain other desired benefits 
these lands may require multiple mechanical or chemical restoration treatments, or reseeding. 

Fire Management 

The Cassia RMP states that maximum suppression efforts on 18,000 acres south of the Federal 
Aviation Administration (FAA) communication site are needed to protect resource values and 
recreational facilities and opportunities. Limited suppression efforts and prescribed bums would be 
allowed on the 22,967 acres north of the FAA communications tower, in coordination with Clean Air 
Act regulations. 

Wildfires will be aggressively suppressed in the Albion FMU and the full range of Appropriate 
Management Response is allowed. Fires in the Proposed Project area will be suppressed at less than 
500 acres per ignition 90 percent of the time. No more than 80,000 acres of the entire FMU would be 
allowed to bum (prescribed fire and unplanned wildfire) over a ten-year period, of which 30,000 acres 
are projected wildland fire acres. Fire would be suppressed using the least amount of surface 
disturbance necessary. Public lands and resources affected by fire would be rehabilitated in 
accordance with multiple uses identified in the affected area, subject to available funding. Goals and 
objectives associated with fire management include allowing fire to resume a more natural ecological 


May 2005 


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3.0 Affected Environment 


role on BLM lands, reducing fire suppression costs, reducing the number of acres damaged by severe 
wildfires, and increasing public safety from wildfires. Short-term goals are to reduce hazardous fuels 
through various treatment methods (mechanical, chemical and prescribed fire) and to re-introduce fire 
into the ecosystem. 

Fire Mitigation Considerations: Emphasis should be focused on prevention, detection, and rapid 
suppression response and techniques that would reduce unwanted ignitions and threats to life, 
property, and natural and cultural resources. 

Fire Suppression Considerations: Virtually all wildland fires would be actively suppressed except 
where Wildland Fire Use is determined to achieve resource objectives and where such an activity 
would not decrease public safety. 

Fuel Treatment Considerations: Non-fire treatments are employed. Prescribed fire is allowed 
everywhere except where specifically excluded in the Cassia RMP. Pile burning of mechanically 
removed vegetation is acceptable. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


3-100 





CHAPTER 4 



ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 






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4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 


4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 

This chapter describes the environmental consequences, or potential impacts, on the natural, cultural 
and human environment on Cotterel Mountain from implementation of the alternatives considered in 
this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The topics discussed are by resource, in the same 
order as those described in Chapter 3, Affected Environment. 

For each topic, the impact analysis follows the same general approach. Impact indicators for intensity 
of impacts were developed based on individual resources. A study area, or area of impact analysis, 
was also specified for each topic and impact duration definitions (short-term, long-term) were 
assessed where applicable. Impacts were then identified and assessed based on these definitions and 
indicators; a review of relevant scientific literature, previously prepared environmental documents 
(Cassia Resource Management Plan (RMP)), and the best professional judgment of Interdisciplinary 
Team (IDT) resource specialists. 

Much of the information on the affected environment and potential environmental consequences is 
derived from detailed technical reports prepared by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) specialists, 
the URS Group, Inc. (URS), and subcontractors to the prime consultant. These reports are available 
for review as part of the Analysis File maintained for the Cotterel Wind Power Project (Proposed 
Project) at the Burley Field Office (BFO). 

Knowledge is, and always will be, incomplete regarding many aspects of the terrestrial species, 
vegetative communities, the economy, and communities and their interrelationships. The ecology, 
inventory, and management of ecosystems are a complex and evolving discipline. However, basic 
ecological relationships are well established, and a substantial amount of credible information about 
ecosystems in the Proposed Project area is known. The alternatives were evaluated using the best 
available information about these ecosystems. While additional information may add precision to 
estimates or better specify relationships, new information would be unlikely to appreciably change 
the understanding of the relationships that form the basis for the evaluation of effects. 

The numbers generated and used for comparison of impacts are for analysis purposes only. The exact 
location and size of the Proposed Project features cannot be determined until a final document is 
completed. Therefore, the exact areas of impact to specific resources are estimates based on the best 
available information at the time of this writing. 

4.1 DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS 

Effects are described in general terms and are qualified as short-term and long-term, as appropriate. 
Impacts may also be described as direct or indirect. Direct impacts are caused by an action and occur 
at the same time and place as the action. Indirect impacts are caused by an action and occur later in 
time or farther removed from the area, but are reasonably foreseeable. 


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4.0 Environmental Consequences 


4.2 CUMULATIVE IMPACTS 

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires assessment of cumulative effects in the decision-making 
process for federal projects. Cumulative effects are defined as “the impact on the environment which 
results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably 
foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (federal or non-federal) or person undertakes 
such other actions” (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1508.7). Cumulative effects are 
considered for each resource. 

Cumulative effects were determined by combining the effects of the alternative with other past, 
present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Therefore, it was necessary to identify other past, 
ongoing, or reasonably foreseeable future actions in this area and in the surrounding landscape. All 
resource impacts would be added to these actions to present the cumulative picture or incremental 
contribution this Proposed Project would have on the resources. 

4.3 PAST/PRESENT ACTIONS 

Past use of the Proposed Project area has included: livestock and wildlife grazing; recreation 
including hunting, off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, sightseeing, camping, mountain biking, horseback 
riding, and wildlife sightseeing; and siting of communication facilities (microwave and cell phone 
transmitters). These uses continue through the present and are anticipated to continue into the 
reasonably near future. 

4.4 FUTURE FORSEEABLE ACTIONS 

On Cotterel Mountain, future foreseeable actions, other than the Proposed Project, would be limited 
to general recreation, OHV use, hunting, and grazing. 

The Idaho Transportation Department is proposing to reconstruct a portion of the City of Rocks Back 
County Byway between Elba and Almo, Idaho. This 17-mile stretch of road would be built in phases 
with completion of the project occurring in 2007 or 2008. 

At this time, there are no other wind projects planned for the Cotterel Mountain area. However, other 
wind plant sites or other energy developments on public lands in Idaho may be considered in support 
of the President’s National Energy Policy, which encourages the development of renewable energy 
resources, including wind energy. Other potential future actions associated with energy development 
would include: 

• The firm U.S. Geothermal is conducting exploratory geophysical exploration on private and 
BLM managed lands south of Jim Sage Mountain, which is south of the Proposed Project 
area. It is the goal of U.S. Geothermal to develop a commercially viable geothermal electrical 
generation facility on private land in this area. Their proposed development would be 
approximately 25 miles south of the Proposed Project. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-2 





Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


• Currently there are three other wind energy rights-of-way (ROW) applications on BLM 
managed lands in Idaho. These sites are located at Danskin Mountain, north of Mountain 
Home, north of Glenns Ferry, and at Brown’s Bench southwest of Twin Falls. These projects 
are in various phases of wind speed monitoring. There is no guarantee that these projects will 
result in the construction of wind energy facilities at these sites. 

• On private lands in Idaho, there are currently two operating wind power projects. One project 
located between Boise and Mountain Home consists of three operational wind turbines. The 
other project, located near Hagerman and South of the Snake River has seven operational 
wind turbines. Currently, there are other proposed wind power projects on private land that 
have received county approval for construction: a trio of 200 megawatts (MW) projects near 
Idaho Falls, by Ridgeline/Airtricity; a pair of 200 MW projects near American Falls, by 
Ridgeline/Airtricity; a 200 MW project near American Falls, by Windland, Inc. (Windland); 
and four 10 MW projects near Hagerman. 

• There are currently over 30 wind-monitoring towers collecting data on wind speed scattered 
across eastern, southcentral, southern and western Idaho. These towers are located on private, 
state, Tribal, and federal lands. Whether these sites would be developed into commercially 
viable wind power projects is unknown at this time. 

4.5 PHYSICAL RESOURCES 

4.5.1 Climate and Air Quality 

This section describes air quality impacts that could result from construction and operation of the 
Proposed Project. Wind power projects do not involve the combustion of fuels to generate electricity, 
so there are no air quality impacts from the generation of power. Any air quality impacts would be 
related to emissions from vehicles and from fugitive dust associated with construction and operations 
and maintenance (O&M) activities. The Proposed Project would not result in any impacts to the 
climate. 

Alternative A 

Under Alternative A there would be no new sources of emissions or fugitive dust. Existing 
recreational use would continue resulting in minor amounts of emissions from the exhaust of OHV. 
Small amounts of fugitive dust would be generated from OHV use and cattle trailing. Fugitive dust 
from wind erosion of the existing native surface roads would continue to occur. Smoke from possible 
wildland fires could result in a temporary reduction of air quality standards. 


May 2005 


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4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative B 

Construction 

Temporary and localized increases in criteria pollutant concentrations would occur during the 
construction phase of the Proposed Project. Expected emissions would consist of tailpipe emissions 
from the exhaust of construction equipment, particulate matter emissions from the concrete batch 
plants, combustion emissions from the diesel-fueled generators associated with the concrete batch 
plants, fugitive dust missions from vehicular traffic, and fugitive dust emissions from soil and rock 
disturbances. Since construction-related air pollution effects would be temporary and localized no 
impact on air quality or ambient values in the study area would occur. These temporary and localized 
potential emissions increases are not expected to have an appreciable impact on air quality. 

Operation 

The operation of the Proposed Project would not impact air quality. 

Alternative C 

Impacts to air quality for Alternative C would be similar to those described under Alternative B; 
however, the temporary affects would be slightly less due to smaller area disturbed by construction. 

Alternative D 

Impacts to air quality for Alternative D would be similar those described under Alternative B. 
Alternative D would result in the least amount of ground disturbance and would likely have a shorter 
construction period. Therefore, the temporary affects to air quality would be the least of all the action 
alternatives. 

4.5.2 Geology 

The primary impacts on geology associated with the Proposed Project are tied to the area of bedrock 
disturbance identified for each alternative. The type of bedrock disturbance would be different for 
each turbine location and roadway. The impacts would also be dependent on the number of acres of 
associated geologic disturbance, as well as the number and distribution of turbines and roadways 
proposed under each of the alternatives. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, no impacts related to geology would occur. 

Alternative B 

Under Alternative B, the proposed construction would have a permanent footprint of approximately 
203 acres due to blasting to set foundations for wind turbine pads and road construction. Because best 
management practices (BMP) would be used during construction (Appendix C), impacts regarding 
landslides and erosion potential would be minimized. 


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Earthquake induced landslide areas are apparent at the northeastern side of the study area. However, 
no literature could be located that documents these events (Griggs 2004). The potential for movement 
along faults and new landslides in the Proposed Project vicinity is considered low. The Proposed 
Project would be designed and constructed with appropriate seismic design codes, including 
foundations for the wind turbines placed directly on competent rock. 

Alternative C 

The proposed construction would have a permanent footprint of approximately 203 acres due to 
blasting to set foundations for wind turbine pads and road construction. Construction activities from 
Alternative C would less than those discussed under Alternative B because there would be less 
blasting and construction due to the placement of fewer turbines. 

Alternative D 

The proposed construction would have a permanent footprint of approximately 158 acres due to 
blasting to set foundations for wind turbine pads and road construction. Construction activities from 
Alternative D would less than those discussed under Alternative B or Alternative C because there 
would be less blasting and construction due to the placing of fewer turbines and roads. Impacts to 
geology from building the Proposed Project would be the least under Alternative D. 

4.5.3 Soils 

The primary impacts on soils associated with the Proposed Project are tied to the area of surface 
disturbance identified for each alternative. Although the type of surface disturbance would be similar 
for each turbine location and roadway, the impacts would be dependent on the number of acres of 
associated soil disturbance, as well as the number and distribution of turbines and roadways proposed 
under each of the alternatives. Impacts to soils would be minimized during construction using the 
BMP described in Appendix C. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, no impacts to soils from the Proposed Project would occur. 

Alternative B 

Under Alternative B, impacts to soils would be directly related to acres of surface disturbance. Soils 
would be disturbed, mixed structurally, compacted, and exposed to erosion during construction, 
possibly resulting in a temporary increase in erosion and windblown dust on up to approximately 368 
acres (3%) until construction is completed (Table 4.5-1). Following construction, approximately 165 
acres would be reclaimed. Post construction permanent impacts would affect about 203 acres (2%) of 
soils in the Proposed Project area. The construction of roads and turbines would impact soils by 
mechanically breaking down the soil structure, which would increase the erosion potential. Impacts to 
soils would indirectly impact vegetation and the ability to re-vegetate after construction. 


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Table 4.5-1 Acres of Soil Disturbance Under Each Alternative. 


Soil Group 

Alternative B 

Alternal 

tive C 

Alternative D 

Erosion 

Potential 

Hazard 

Size of turbine 
(meters) 

70 

77 

100 

77 

100 


Group 1 

19 

17 

17 

15 

15 

Moderate to 

severe 

Group 2 

1 

1 

1 

1 

1 

Slight to 
moderate 

Group 3 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Slight to 
moderate 

Group 4 

23 

72 

72 

73 

73 

High 

Group 5 

137 

105 

105 

69 

69 

Moderate to 

severe 

Group 6 

22 

8 

8 

0.4 

0.4 

Severe 

Total temporary 

164 

144 

131 

121 

109 


Total permanent 

201 

203 

203 

158 

158 



Alternative C 

The size of the temporarily disturbed areas varies only slightly based on type of turbines selected. 
Alternative C would initially impact between approximately 337 to 350 acres (3%) of soils in the 
Proposed Project area. Following construction, between approximately 134 to 147 acres would be 
reclaimed, resulting in about 203 acres (2%) of permanent impacts to soils within the Proposed 
Project area. Overall impacts to soils under Alternative C would be similar to those described under 
Alternative B. 

Alternative D 

Impacts to soils from construction and operation of the Proposed Project would be the least under 
Alternative D. The size of the temporarily disturbed areas varies only slightly based on type of 
turbines selected. Alternative D would initially impact approximately 269 to 270 acres (2%) 
depending upon which turbine is selected. Permanently disturbed acres would be about the same for 
both turbine sizes of about 158 acres (<1.5%) and would have similar impacts as described under 
Alternative B. 

4.5.4 Water Resources 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, no additional impacts to water resources would occur. 


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Alternative B 

Impacts to surface and groundwater quality and quantity would be low under Alternative B. There are 
14 springs, three spring developments, and one well located within the Proposed Project area 
boundary. There are also springs, livestock water wells, pipelines, and storage facilities in close 
proximity to the Proposed Project area. Potential impacts to water resources would be minimized 
using BMP during construction. Impacts due to accidental spills of hazardous materials (Section 4.14) 
would be low due to BMP used during construction and project O&M. Water used during 
construction would come from a source outside the Proposed Project area. 

Some of the road building, and all of the tower foundations would require the blasting of bedrock in a 
controlled fashion to break the rock just sufficiently to allow for easier excavation. Impacts to springs 
in the Proposed Project area from blasting are not anticipated. This is due to the type of ground water 
flow system that produces the springs. Two factors are considered as being favorable for maintaining 
spring flow: (1) blasting is not anticipated to affect rock at any great distance from the tower 
locations, and (2) any rock disturbance that might occur would most likely produce additional vertical 
fracturing in the bedrock without affecting the lateral flow of ground water as it moves down gradient 
off the mountain crest. This increase in secondary porosity would actually mimic the existing flow 
system, whereby precipitation and snow melt provide recharge water via vertical columnar jointing in 
the volcanic flow that forms the surface rock over most of the Proposed Project area. Thus, the overall 
mechanism of ground water flow would not be affected by blasting operations (see Chapter 3 for 
description of ground water flow). 

Potential impacts from construction of the Proposed Project to 303d listed streams would be limited 
to potential delivery of sediment to these water bodies. However, because there is no surface flow 
within the Proposed Project area where construction activities would occur, it would be unlikely that 
sediment would reach the 303d listed streams. Furthermore, construction activities would be required 
to follow BMP including erosion control and soils management techniques. These BMP would be 
employed during construction, O&M, and decommissioning, and are expected to prevent fine 
sediments from being introduced into drainages above existing levels. Therefore, the Proposed 
Project is not expected to impact the 303d listed streams that are located near the Proposed Project 
area. 

Alternative C 

Construction activities from Alternative C would approximate those for Alternative B, and would be 
expected to have a low impact to water resources in the Proposed Project area. 

Alternative D 

Construction activities from Alternative D would approximate those for Alternative B and Alternative 
C, and would be expected to have a low impact to water resources in the Proposed Project area. 


A/1 ay 2005 


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4.0 Environmental Consequences 


4.5.5 Noise 

Construction Impacts 

The Proposed Project area is relatively remote and unpopulated. The nearest residence is located 
approximately two miles west of the proposed turbine string. There are a number of residences along 
State Highway (SH)-77 and SH-81 in the towns of Declo, Albion, Connor and Malta. 

Construction would create the greatest project related noise impacts. The frequency and duration 
would vary with the amount of construction in each action alternative. In all of the action alternatives, 
noise would occur from construction equipment and other vehicles associated with road and turbine 
string construction. During the eight-month construction period, there would be approximately 2,205 
trips of large trucks delivering the turbine components and related equipment, and approximately 
12,735 trips including dump trucks, concrete trucks, cranes, and other construction and trade vehicles. 
Power tools such as pneumatic wrenches, vibrators, and saws would add temporarily to the overall 
noise level. Using typical construction site noise levels (United States (U.S.) Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) 1974), noise levels during construction would be expected to range from 68 
A-weighted decibels (dBA) to infrequent peaks of up to 95 dBA at 50 feet from the operating 
equipment. Construction noise caused by the Proposed Project may temporarily impact people and 
wildlife. However, the nearest resident is located approximately two miles west of the Proposed 
Project construction area. 

Blasting activity for the proposed construction would occur as needed in all action alternatives. The 
noise from blasts can extend for a few miles when geographical and atmospheric conditions are 
conducive. However, such noise would be infrequent and of short duration. Blasting would only be 
conducted during daylight hours. The vibration levels, which result from blasting, would not be 
anticipated to be of sufficient magnitude to adversely impact structures, because most of the blasting 
would occur along the Cotterel Mountain ridgeline well away from any structures or residences. 
Therefore, it is not anticipated that blasting would impact any residences or communities near the 
Proposed Project area. 

Visitors to the Proposed Project area during construction periods could be impacted by noise, based 
upon the proximity and type of construction activity. Within some portions of the Proposed Project 
area, topographic features would function to restrict most of the construction noise to the immediate 
vicinity of the construction activities. With rare exceptions, construction-related noise impacts would 
be limited to daytime hours. Impacts to nesting wildlife would be minimized by restricting 
construction activities during certain nesting periods (Appendix C and Appendix D). 

Operational Impacts 

Sound travel outdoors, especially over distances greater than 200 to 300 feet from a sound source, and 
is highly dependent on weather conditions. The atmospheric conditions that affect sound travel the 
most are temperature variations, wind currents, and humidity. Sound tends to travel farther than 
expected when it is traveling with the wind. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


As noise spreads out from a source, the sound intensity would drop at a rate of three decibels (dB) per 
doubling of distance for a line source such as a road and at six dB per doubling of distance for a point 
source such as truck or piece of heavy equipment. The type of ground (hard or soft, vegetated or 
unvegetated) can affect this rate of drop in the sound level as well as natural barriers. 

Modem wind turbines are designed with large rotor diameters that have very low rotational speeds. 
Efficient power generation is achieved at these low rotational speeds, thereby reducing noise impacts 
that would result from higher rotational speeds. The rotor blades make a slight swishing sound when 
rotating. Because of these technological advances and the distance of the blades from the ground 
(minimum of 95 feet), even when standing immediately underneath a turbine, this noise is anticipated 
to be minimal. Furthermore, as wind speeds increase, the sound made from the wind passing over the 
human ear is typically louder than and drowns out the swishing sound of the rotating turbine blades. 

Vibration-reducing features are incorporated into the design of the turbines. On large modem wind 
turbines, the chassis frame of the nacelle is designed to ensure the frame would not vibrate as a result 
of movement of the other turbine components. As discussed in Chapter 2, regular maintenance is 
scheduled for the structures. Routine maintenance would also reduce the likelihood of excessive noise 
and vibration from worn parts or lack of lubricating oils. Therefore, minimal noise and vibration is 
anticipated to result from the operation of the wind turbines. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, existing background noise levels on Cotterel Mountain and its vicinity would 
continue without influence of the Proposed Project. Existing sources of noise that would continue to 
occur under Alternative A include: recreational users such as OHVs; snowmobile riders; occasional 
low flying aircraft; agricultural equipment; and traffic on area roads and highways such as SH-77, 
SH-81, and Interstate 84 (1-84). 

Alternative B 

Noise impacts due to construction are expected to be low during the construction period. The 
transportation noise from large trucks during the initial construction period would be temporary (eight 
months). Operational impacts from noise would not be expected to occur. Noise generated by the 
operating wind turbines would most likely dissipate prior to reaching residences that are located over 
two miles from the Proposed Project. Recreational users of Cotterel Mountain when standing near or 
under the operating wind turbines would hear the swishing sound of the rotor blades. Whether this 
swishing sound is bothersome would likely depend upon the individual. 

Alternative C 

Under Alternative C, impacts from noise as a result of construction and operational activities would 
be the same as Alternative B. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cofferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative D 

Under Alternative D, impacts from noise as a result of construction and operational activities would 
be similar to Alternative B and Alternative C. However, Alternative D would have fewer turbines and 
therefore would have less potential to affect recreational users of the mountain as a result of 
operational noise. 

4.6 BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES 

4.6.1 Vegetation 

This section discusses the potential impacts to vegetation resulting from implementation of the 
alternatives. This analysis describes how the proposed activity could directly, indirectly, and 
cumulatively affect community composition and dynamics. The analysis takes into account existing 
and future vegetation population and distribution patterns. 

The primary impacts on vegetation associated with the Proposed Project are tied to the vegetation 
community affected and the area of surface disturbance identified for each alternative. Although the 
type of surface disturbance would be similar for each turbine location and roadway, the impacts 
would be dependent on the number of acres of associated vegetation, as well as the number and 
distribution of turbines and roadways proposed under each of the alternatives. For this analysis, acres 
were used for each vegetation type affected for the entire Proposed Project rather than a site-by-site 
basis. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Direct and indirect impacts to vegetation in the area would be associated with activities currently 
outlined in the Cassia RMP including: wildlife use, continued livestock grazing, vegetation 
treatments, range improvement projects, recreation, and some minor modifications and alterations to 
the existing communication facilities. These uses and potential modifications are not expected to alter 
the existing vegetation beyond the levels identified in the Cassia RMP. 

Alternative B 

Construction impacts associated with Alternative B would initially affect approximately 368 acres 
(3%) of the Proposed Project area. Post-construction reclamation would restore vegetation to 
approximately 165 acres (45%) of this affected area. It could take 20 to 40 years or more for 
reclaimed areas to return to their pre-disturbance community types. It should be noted that 
approximately ten percent to 20 percent of the temporarily disturbed sites could have shallow soils 
that would have a low probability of successful restoration. The result would be a permanent impact 
to approximately 203 acres (2%) of the Proposed Project area. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cctferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Vegetation community types that would be directly affected from construction activities include: 
juniper; mountain mahogany; big, low, and mountain sagebrush; grasslands; and some riparian sites 
(Table 4.6-1). Approximately one-tenth acre (less than 1% of the Proposed Project area) of riparian 
habitat along Marsh Creek would be affected as a result of culvert replacement and road improvement 
of the south access road. Agricultural land, aspen communities, and open water sites would not be 
affected by this alternative. 

The construction of roadways and turbines throughout the Proposed Project area would directly 
impact vegetation and special status plant species by reducing established native communities and 
habitat. It could also indirectly impact vegetation and special status species habitat by mechanically 
impacting soils, increasing the potential for establishment and spread of invasive and noxious weed 
species, and potentially alter the fire regime within the system. 

Construction activities such as trampling, surface disturbance, accidental spills, or burning would 
directly impact established native communities, including non-vascular and special status species 
populations. These impacts would decrease the number of individuals available for fertilization and 
seed production, reducing the potential number of seeds for reestablishment and genetic variability of 
subsequent generations; therefore, short-term and long-term direct impacts to vegetation would limit 
the capacity of these communities to reestablish. 

Mechanical effects to soil from construction activities, such as surface disturbance or soil compaction, 
would indirectly affect vegetation and special status species by impacting soil structure and function. 
Surface disturbances from excavation and blasting could lead to increased erosion potential and the 
loss of topsoil. The loss of this soil layer could result in: diminished structural support for, and 
exposure of, root systems; a reduction of available nutrients for established plants; and a diminished 
seed bank. Soil compaction on the other hand, could reduce water infiltration, restricted root depth, 
and limited seed germination. Individually, or a compilation of these two impacts, could indirectly 
lead to further reductions in native plant communities and potential for reestablishment. 

Surface disturbances from construction activities could also indirectly impact vegetation and special 
status species by creating habitat for invasive species, or increasing the susceptibility of the system to 
new invasive species and noxious weeds from external sources. The establishment and spread of these 
species would lead to increased direct competition for limited resources (nutrients, water, space, etc.) 
with native and desired plant species. Indirectly, invasive and noxious weed species could augment 
the amount and continuity of fuels, which could lead to decreased fire return intervals (Peters and 
Bunting 1994; Whisenant 1990). The compilation of decreased fire return intervals and competition 
for resources could appreciably alter community dynamics (fire frequency and severity, soil stability, 
nutrient cycling, etc.); therefore, surface disturbances would likely have short-term and potentially 
long-term impacts on vegetation and special status species. Maintenance activities may also redisturb 
native and/or restored vegetation communities and continue to provide sites for invasive vegetation. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-11 




Table 4.6-1. Permanent and Temporary Impacts to Vegetation (in acres) from the Proposed Project. 


Vi 

<U 

U 

c 

CD 

cr 

0 

V) 

C 

U 

42 

c 

0) 

E 

c 

2 

> 

c 

Uj 

q 


Alternative D 77m to 100m 

TOTAL 

o 

r—H 

»—H 

O 

o 

20 to 21 

19 to 20 

(N 

Os 

17 to 18 

20 to 21 

145 to 

153 

o 

26 to 27 

o 

o 

<N 

269 to 

282 

Temporary 

Construction 

Impacts 

o 

4 to 5 

8 to 9 

8 to 9 

- 


7 to 8 

Os 

O 

+-> 

oo 

60 to 67 

o 

11 to 12 

o 

o 

- 

111 to 

123 

Permanent 

Impact 

o 

Uo 

<N 

* < 

- 


o 

<N 

85 

o 

in 

o 

o 

- 

158 

Alternative C 77m to 100m 

TOTAL 

o 

15 to 16 

22 

22 


22 

25 to 26 

53 to 55 

143 to 

148 

o 

30 to 31 

o 

o 

m 

337 to 

350 

Temporary 

Construction 

Impacts 

o 

6 to 7 

Os 

Os 

- 

OS 

V < 

O 

■i—' 

o 

21 to 23 

57 to 62 

o 

12 to 13 

o 

o 

- 

134 to 

147 

Permanent 

Impact 

o 

Os 

m 

i—H 

m 

<N 

cn 

IT) 

32 

86 

o 

oo 

o 

o 

CN 

203 

Alternative B 

TOTAL 

o 

m 

24 

25 

22 

47 

27 

72 

69 

o 

47 

o 

0.2 

N" 

368 

Temporary 

Construction 

Impacts 

o 

tj- 

- 

- 

o 

T—H 

CN 

CN 

32 

ro 

o 

1— -H 

(N 

o 

VO 

<N 

165 

Permanent 

Impact 

o 

r- 


XT 

T H 

(N 

r—H 

26 

in 

40 

38 

o 

26 

o 

VO 

(N 

203 


Vegetation 

Community 

Aspen 

Juniper 

Juniper/mountain 

mahogany 

Mountain 

mahogany 

Big sagebrush 

Mountain 

sagebrush 

Mountain 
sage/low sage 

Low sagebrush 

Grassland 

Agricultural 

Disturbed/existing 

roads 

Open water 

Riparian 

Rock outcrop 

Total 




May 2005 Draft Environmental Impact Statement 4-12 





































Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative C 

Construction impacts associated with Alternative C would initially affect approximately 337 to 350 
acres (3%) of the Proposed Project area. Post-construction reclamation would restore approximately 
134 to 147 acres (40% to 42%) of this affected area. However, it should be noted that approximately 
ten percent to 20 percent of the temporarily disturbed sites could have shallow soils that would have a 
low probability of successful restoration. The result would be a permanent impact to approximately 
203 acres (2%) of the Proposed Project area. 

Vegetation community types that would be directly affected from construction activities include: 
juniper; mountain mahogany; big, low, and mountain sagebrush; grasslands; and some riparian sites 
(Table 4.6-1). Agricultural land, aspen communities, and open water sites would not be affected by 
this alternative. 

Impacts to vegetation and special status plants species from construction activities would be similar to 
Alternative B. The number of acres permanently affected would be the same as Alternative B. 
However, under Alternative C, the total acres of vegetation affected by both temporary and 
permanent impacts would be less (Table 4.6-1). By affecting fewer acres, the number of individual 
plants lost would be reduced; therefore, the direct impacts to reproduction and reestablishment would 
be decreased. Similarly, a reduction in the number of acres directly affected would decrease the 
potential for indirect impacts associated with invasive species, mechanical impact to soils, and 
alteration of community dynamics. 

Alternative D 

Construction impacts associated with Alternative D would initially affect approximately 269 to 282 
acres (3%) of vegetation within the Proposed Project area. Post-construction reclamation would 
restore approximately 111 to 123 acres (41% to 44%) of this affected area. However, it should be 
noted that approximately ten percent to 20 percent of the temporarily disturbed sites could have 
shallow soils that would have a low probability of success restoration. The result would be a 
permanent impact to approximately 158 acres (1%) of the Proposed Project area. 

Vegetation community types that would be directly affected from construction activities include: 
juniper; mountain mahogany; big, low, and mountain sagebrush; grasslands; and some riparian sites 
(Table 4.6-1). Agricultural land, aspen communities, and open water sites would not be affected by 
this alternative. 

Under Alternative D, potential impacts to vegetation and special status plants species from 
construction activities would be less than those expected for Alternative B and Alternative C. Also, 
Alternative D would affect fewer total acres of vegetation when considering both temporary and 
permanent impacts (Table 4.6-1). By affecting fewer acres, the number of individual plants lost would 
be reduced; therefore, the direct impacts to reproduction and reestablishment would be decreased. 
Similarly, a reduction in the number of acres directly affected would decrease the potential for 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-13 






Cofterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


indirect impacts associated with invasive species, mechanical impact to soils, and alteration of 
community dynamics. 

4.6.2 Wildlife 

A detailed report on probable impacts of this Proposed Project is provided in the Proposed Project 
technical report for biological resource impacts (Sharp et al. 2005). There are no similar operating 
wind projects located on the common landforms (long, narrow ridge with cliffs), region (southeast 
Idaho), or within specific habitats (sagebrush and mountain mahogany) that exist on Cotterel 
Mountain. As a consequence, there is no specific case history available to use in predicting the 
impacts of this Proposed Project on wildlife. Thus, this impact analysis relies on the experience and 
data from other western wind plants and in some cases, midwestem wind plants. It should be noted 
that there are several wind power projects on private land that have recently received permits in Idaho 
and which could be under construction during the next few years. These may provide some insight 
into wildlife impacts but none are in habitat similar to that on Cotterel Mountain. Therefore, they will 
not be a factor in the analysis of potential wildlife impacts from this Proposed Project. 

Ranking systems provide insight into species-specific population status (e.g. potential decline, 
population fragility, or potential for impacts) and will be used in this section to assist in describing the 
context and intensity of impacts to specific species from this Proposed Project. For example, 
suspected impacts to a BLM Type II Special Status Species would be more closely scrutinized than 
would those of a BLM Type V watch species because it is likely that the population of a watch 
species would be more stable. 

Potential impacts to wildlife will be analyzed in terms of: (1) local populations, (2) surrounding area 
populations, and (3) landscape populations. Local impacts are those that are anticipated to result from 
the Proposed Project on-site. Surrounding area impacts are those that may affect connected or 
adjacent populations, migrations, habitat use, or “ripples” from the local effects. The surrounding area 
would be considered the Raft River-Cassia Creek and Marsh Creek watersheds. Landscape level 
effects are generally thought of as impacts to populations such as migratory birds, bats, or other 
migratory species. A landscape effect could include analysis of impacts to wildlife populations in 
other states. 

Wildlife impacts for ranked species in the local, surrounding area and landscape, both direct and 
indirect as well as cumulative impacts will generally be discussed within the framework of the 
following effects: direct mortality, habitat loss, habitat avoidance (i.e. displacement), and habitat 
degradation. 

Big Game 

Big game species are an important natural resource in Idaho, and hunting is one of Idaho’s primary 
outdoor recreational activities. High quality, relatively undisturbed big game winter range is an 
important resource, especially those areas where human disturbance is low. The quantity and quality 
of winter range usually limits big game populations, so a reduction in the carrying capacity of winter 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-14 





Cofterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


range could result in permanently lowered populations. The quality of winter range is affected by the 
amount of human disturbance, which is in turn related to how easily people can access winter range 
habitat. Big game using the parts of Cotterel Mountain outside the vicinity of the access road to the 
radio tower site is typically accustomed to seclusion and low levels of human intrusion. 

Alternative A CNo Action) 

The No Action Alternative would not adversely affect big game winter range on Cotterel Mountain. 
Alternative B 

Big game species potentially occurring on Cotterel Mountain (mule deer, bighorn sheep, and 
mountain lion) would experience direct habitat loss, and the indirect impacts of displacement from the 
vicinity of the site during both construction and operation of the Proposed Project. The acreages of 
impact to big game habitat presented below are for the amount of habitat actually disturbed by the 
Proposed Project; additional habitat adjacent to the actual disturbance may not be used by big game 
due to the presence of humans, equipment, and noise during construction and O&M activities. 

Approximately 105 acres of mapped mule deer winter range, comprising two percent of the total 
mapped winter range within the Proposed Project area, would be permanently eliminated under 
Alternative B (Table 4.6-2). The loss of two percent of the total mule deer winter range within the 
Proposed Project area is not expected to affect the number of deer that can be supported during winter 
on Cotterel Mountain; therefore, impacts from the Proposed Project on mule deer winter range are 
expected to be low. Some habitat avoidance and habitat degradation would also be expected to occur. 


Table 4.6-2. Potential Mapped Big Game Habitat Loss From the Proposed Project. 


Alternative 

Big Game Species Habitat Type 


Mule Deer Winter 
Range 
(acres) 

Bighorn Sheep 
Winter Range 
(acres) 

Mountain Lion 
(acres) 

Alternative B 

Permanent impact 

105 

194 

203 

Percent of total 

habitat 

2% 

2% 

2% 

Alternative C 

Permanent impact 

62 

162 

203 

Percent of total 

habitat 

1% 

1.5% 

2% 

Alternative D 

Permanent impact 

58 

115 

158 

Percent of total 
habitat 

1% 

1% 

1.5% 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-15 





























Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


The overall response of mule deer to the operating wind power project is difficult to predict. Radio 
telemetry studies have shown that mule deer avoided oil and gas exploration sites for distances of up 
to one mile in Wyoming (NWCC 2004). It is possible that some portion of the mule deer that use 
Cotterel Mountain would habituate to the presence of the operating project as well as to the increased 
traffic associated with maintenance of the Proposed Project. Some mule deer may not habituate to the 
presence of the Proposed Project and its associated activities and therefore would avoid the Proposed 
Project area. It would be anticipated that mule deer would use other winter range within the Raft 
River Valley drainage system. In addition, mule deer may avoid the Proposed Project area year round, 
thus losing not only winter range use, but potentially other seasonal use of the area. It is unknown if 
this displacement would adversely affect the behavior and fitness of these deer. 

The Proposed Project, under Alternative B, has the potential to increase the number of visitors to 
Cotterel Mountain. Increased human activity would be expected to result in additional displacement 
of mule deer further from their Cotterel Mountain winter range. Improved road access available to 
hunters could result in increased harvest or poaching of deer. However, if human use increases 
following completion of the Proposed Project, then some displacement of mule deer from the area 
would be expected. 

Alternative B would permanently eliminate a total of 115 acres of mapped bighorn sheep winter 
range, which is less than one percent of the total area of winter range within the Proposed Project area 
(10,877 acres). Although most of Cotterel Mountain is designated as bighorn sheep winter range 
(Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) 2003b), it is currently not used and therefore adverse 
impacts are not expected from Alternative B. However, it could be expected that bighorn sheep 
habitat on Cotterel Mountain would become unsuitable with the development of the Proposed Project 
and increased human use of the area, thus the potential for bighorn sheep use on Cotterel Mountain in 
the future would be lost. 

The use of fencing within the Proposed Project area would be very limited. Chain link fences would 
be used to prevent big game, livestock, and people from entering the Proposed Project substations. 
Since individual wind towers would not be fenced, it is anticipated that big game movement through 
the Proposed Project area would not be curtailed or hindered. 

Disturbance during and after construction would also have adverse impacts on mountain lions. 
Mountain lions, would likely initially avoid the area during project construction. Following 
construction mountain lions may habituate to the operating project to some degree depending on the 
level of public use of the area, and to any changes that may occur to mule deer distribution. 
Construction and O&M may change the patterns of mountain lion use and decrease prey availability 
on Cotterel Mountain. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-16 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative C 

The impacts of Alternative C to big game would be similar to those expected to occur under 
Alternative B, with slightly smaller areas of temporary impacts (Table 4.6-2). 

Alternative D 

The impacts to mapped mule deer winter range from Alternative D would be slightly less than 
Alternative B but would be about the same as Alternative C. Under Alternative D, no turbines would 
be constructed along the east ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. Overall, there would be a reduced 
potential for disturbance to mule deer from construction activities and there would be no O&M 
activities along the east ridge area. 

Impacts to mapped bighorn sheep winter range from Alternative D would be slightly less than 
Alternative B and Alternative C (Table 4.6-2). Under Alternative D, no turbines would be constructed 
along the east ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. Overall, there would be reduced potential for 
disturbance to mapped bighorn sheep from construction activities and there would be no O&M 
activities along the east ridge area. 

Impacts to mountain lions from Alternative D would be the similar to Alternative B. Under 
Alternative D, no turbines would be constructed along the east ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. 
Overall, there would be reduced potential for disturbance to mountain lions from construction 
activities and there would be no O&M activities along the east ride area. 

General Wildlife Habitat for Birds and Non-Game Mammals 

Alternative A (No Action) 

The No Action Alternative would not adversely affect wildlife habitat on Cotterel Mountain. 
Alternative B 

Non-game mammals and small birds would be affected by increased traffic and human presence on 
Cotterel Mountain, but primary effects would occur in direct proportion to the amount of potential 
habitat removed by Proposed Project construction. Alternative B would permanently eliminate about 
200 acres, or two percent of the 11,500-acre Proposed Project area, and temporarily alter an 
additional 164 acres (1.4%), which would be restored once construction is complete. It should be 
noted that restoration of shrub-steppe vegetation to a condition where it is again providing suitable 
habitat could take many years. Due to the added complication of soil compaction during construction 
of the Proposed Project, it could take up to 20 years or longer to restore temporarily altered habitat on 
Cotterel Mountain. 

Under Alternative B, there would be loss of a portion of seasonal (winter and nesting) habitat for 
many different species such as small birds, small mammals and raptors. Based on the vegetation 
analysis, there is not expected to be a total loss of any single vegetation cover type or habitat found on 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-17 








Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Cotterel Mountain. During construction, some areas would likely be avoided by those resident birds 
and mammals that are sensitive to human disturbance. Once construction is complete and disturbance 
levels decline, many of those species would be expected to reoccupy habitats near the facility. During 
operation, nesting passerines may avoid the area within a few hundred meters of the turbines (Leddy 
et al. 1999), but no species are expected to permanently disappear from Cotterel Mountain. 

It has been shown that small birds may avoid the area surrounding the wind turbines, transmission 
interconnect lines, and roads of wind projects by up to 590 feet (NWCC 2004). Using this 590-feet 
potential avoidance zone from the Proposed Project features, the area of avoidance for passerines 
under Alternative B would be approximately 4,485 acres. 

Alternative C 

The impacts under Alternative C would be similar to, but slightly less than those of Alternative B in 
terms of the permanent and temporary disturbance footprints. The 180-meter avoidance zone under 
this alternative would affect approximately 3,700 acres. 

Alternative D 

The impacts under Alternative D would be similar to, but less than those of Alternative C, and much 
less than those of Alternative B, in terms of a 180-meter avoidance zone which would be 
approximately 3,120 acres. The temporary and permanent construction footprints of this alternative 
would also affect the fewest number of acres of the three action alternatives. 

4.6.3 Amphibians and Reptiles 

Alternative A fNo Action) 

Alternative A would not have an impact on amphibians and reptiles at Cotterel Mountain. 

Alternative B 

Impacts to local amphibian habitats would be expected to be low because the Proposed Project road 
construction generally would occur outside of the riparian habitat where amphibians would occur. 
Less than one percent of the riparian habitat would be impacted from road construction. Impacts to 
reptilian habitat would be expected to be moderate because the Proposed Project would generally 
occur within rocky areas, including blasting which could alter thermal attributes snake hibernation 
sites and potentially make them unusable or it could create additional snake hibernation sites. In 
addition, local mortality impacts are expected to be high because many reptiles are attracted to warm 
roads during the summer and thus are expected to experience higher fatality rates from vehicles. 

Alternative C 

Expected impacts to amphibians and reptiles would be similar to those of Alternative B. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-18 










Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative D 

Impacts to amphibians and reptiles would be similar to those of Alternative B and Alternative C, 
although the area of ground disturbance would be lowest under this alternative and it would likely 
have the least impact of the action alternatives on amphibians and reptiles. 

4.6.4 Bat and Bird Fatalities from the Operations of the Proposed Wind Project 

Wind power projects may have effects on wildlife, particularly avian species and bats, depending 
upon the location, geography, and natural setting of the Proposed Project. Long-term effectiveness 
monitoring of the Proposed Project (five years or greater) is key in understanding the relationships 
between the Proposed Project design, siting of the towers, and operation of the facility and effects on 
wildlife. These effects can occur in a variety of ways but based on data collected from other wind 
farms, are chiefly associated with occasional bird collisions with the large propellers that drive each 
of the wind turbines (referred to as the rotor swept area of each turbine). 

Long-term monitoring is also necessary to determine how the characteristics of the Proposed Project 
and its turbines affect the behavior and migration of birds and bats and to determine if there are 
certain turbines along the string that are contributing to bird and bat mortality that would trigger the 
need to implement management actions to reduce these effects. The Applicant and BLM recognize 
that effectiveness monitoring results may require operational changes or adaptive management 
actions and will work cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and EDFG to 
develop adaptive management actions that will address wildlife mortality if it occurs. Adaptive 
management tools that are available to the Applicant and BLM include, but are not limited to: timing 
stipulations during construction, operational changes of turbines, siting considerations, lighting 
scenarios, and color schemes. These adaptive management tools are addressed in Appendix D. 

Many existing wind power projects that have multiple strings of wind turbines stacked one behind 
another create a “gauntlet” for birds and bats. Mortality factors increase in these maze-like wind farm 
layouts where there can be multiple risks to birds and bats that attempt to navigate through them. 
Recent data at other wind energy sites across the country that have these layouts (including Altamont 
and Stateline) have identified “problem turbines” that often cause the majority of bird and bat 
mortalities. 

The Proposed Project involves only one linear string of towers with the towers being approximately 
one-quarter mile apart. In addition, the proposed Cassia RMP amendment is specific to the Proposed 
Project only, and no other wind energy projects will be permitted on Cotterel Mountain. This will 
eliminate the possibility of the “gauntlet” effect on birds and bats in the future. 

Understanding how a wind power generating facility function helps better understand the potential 
effects to resources and other public use of the area and aids in developing responsive management 
strategies to avoid, reduce and mitigate these effects wherever possible along the turbine string. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-19 





Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


The Proposed Project is projected to operate at 0.35 (35%) capacity factor under optimum wind 
conditions. This means that the Proposed Project generates 0.35 (35%) of its total nameplate capacity 
over time because the wind does not always blow at a speed high enough to turn the blades of the 
turbines and generate electricity; and at times it blows so fast, i.e., during storms, that the blades are 
feathered or braked (stopped). 

This is not to say that all of the turbines in a project are running 35 percent of the time or that they all 
are not running 65 percent of the time. Each turbine functions independently of each other. The 
turbine blades begin to turn when the wind reaches speeds of approximately eight to nine miles per 
hour or greater. When wind speeds exceed approximately 55 miles per hour, the blades are feathered 
and turned out of the wind. 

Naturally, wind speeds are variable along the length of a mountain ridge. As you move along a 12 to 
14 mile turbine string, as is proposed on Cotterel Mountain, each turbine turns independently of the 
others according to the wind speed at its location. The observer will normally see that some turbines 
are turning and others are not turning at any given time. Rarely would all the turbines be either 
turning or not turning at the same time. Each turbine operates as a single entity; some may generate 
45 percent of the time and others only 25 percent of the time because of their location on the 
mountain (it is only the overall Proposed Project average that is 35%). In summary, it is difficult to 
predict at what time and how long any one turbine would be turning. There is, however a general 
difference between diurnal and nocturnal wind patterns. 

Migratory Bats 

Most studies have shown that the majority of bat mortalities at wind plants are long-distance 
migratory tree and foliage roosting species, such as the hoary bat, little brown myotis, and silver- 
haired bat. Of these species, the hoary bat has a higher wind turbine impact mortality rate than all 
other species in the west (Erickson et al. 2002; Gruver 2002). The data also show that mortality is 
almost nonexistent during the breeding season and generally occurs during migration and dispersal in 
late summer between July and September (Johnson et al. 2002; Gruver 2002). The same studies also 
showed that mortality rates were higher during fall migration than spring. This was attributed to a 
lower migration concentration because females leave earlier than males in the spring, but not in the 
fall (Gruver 2002). Studies also indicate that bats follow large migrations of moths during the fall 
months. Further, it is well documented that these same species have a history of impact mortality with 
transmission interconnect lines, television and communication towers, and even lighthouses (Erickson 
et al. 2002). 

The evidence also shows that resident bats, which are foraging or commuting between roosts, do not 
make up the bulk of collision mortality (Crawford and Baker 1981; Johnson et al. 2000b). This is 
based on impact distribution data among turbines and observed forage habitat characteristics. Since 
resident bats would have a defined flight corridor between roosts, they should exhibit higher densities 
of fatalities in these corridors, but in a majority of the cases that were studied, there are no patterns; 
rather, there are no areas of appreciably higher densities in the distribution of fatalities (Erickson et 
al. 2002; Johnson et al. 2000a). 


A/1 ay 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


In addition to flight corridor data, evidence from foraging behavior demonstrates that it is unlikely 
that fatalities would occur in resident bat populations rather than migrating ones (Erickson et al. 
2000). Normally, bats do not forage at heights associated with turbine activity or in areas associated 
with wind-turbine projects, since these areas generally are very flat and windy and have reduced 
insect populations. Rather, they are normally associated with less wind and more water (Johnson et 
al. 2002). 

Migratory bat species may be more likely to be involved with collision mortality events because they 
fly higher in the air and in denser clusters when migrating (Harvey et al. 1999). This not only puts the 
bats at a height associated with the turbine impact zone, but because they migrate in groups, their 
ability to use echolocation is affected (Griffin 1970). Evidence also shows that fatality events during 
migration may be dependent on the surrounding habitat. Studies done at Foote Creek Rim (Wyoming) 
and Buffalo Ridge (Minnesota) wind plants have shown an inverse relationship between the number 
of turbine mortalities and the distance to the nearest woodland habitat (Erickson et al. 2002; Johnson 
et al. 2000b). There are woodlands (juniper and mountain mahogany) in the immediate vicinity of 
some of the proposed turbines. The same studies also showed that turbines with lights mounted on or 
near the turbines did not cause appreciably higher numbers of fatalities. 

Based on the available information, larger, less maneuverable, migrating species are primarily 
associated with wind turbine mortality events. In addition, those species, most notably hoary and 
silver haired bats in the western U.S., migrating in large colonies in late fall, make up the majority of 
fatalities observed and recorded (Erickson et al. 2002; Johnson et al. 2000a). Although there have 
been limited quantifiable data about wind turbine/bat collision effects on bat populations, qualitative 
and circumstantial data suggest that turbine mortalities do not appreciably contribute to population 
declines (Erickson et al. 2002), at least in the west. 

Resident Bats 

Cotterel Mountain has three known bat species (western small-footed myotis, long-eared myotis, and 
pallid bat) that may be affected by disturbances from construction or impact caused mortality from 
turbines. Other bat species may occur, but have not yet been identified. If bat hibemacula or nursery 
colonies are present in the cliffs and rock outcrops along Cotterel Mountain, blasting and/or drilling 
during construction could disturb bats and cause temporary or permanent abandonment of these areas 
during the hibernating or nursery season. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would not adversely affect resident bats on Cotterel Mountain. 

Alternative B 

The construction of turbine foundations and roads would directly affect only about one acre of rock 
outcrop within the Proposed Project area. However, noise and percussion from blasting, drilling, 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-21 







Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


digging, and movement of large vehicles could affect roosting, breeding, or hibernating bat species. 
Once construction is complete and disturbance levels decline, displaced bat species would be 
expected to reoccupy roosting habitats near the facility. Therefore, the primary potential impact to bat 
species from the Proposed Project would be to those species attempting to rear young and hibernate 
within rock outcrops near the construction sites both from potential displacement and potential impact 
mortality due to turbine proximity to cliff areas. 

Of the three species of bat known to occur on Cotterel Mountain, the western small-footed myotis is 
the only species that hibernates winter-long (one of the last species to start) and uses rock outcrops 
and caves as primary roosting, breeding, and hibernating habitat. Construction activity from late May 
or June through early July could displace hibernating or breeding western small-footed myotis and 
lead to increased offspring mortality. 

The long-eared myotis is normally found near open water and roosts/hibemates in trees (IDFG 2002). 
Pallid bats are also found near open water, and generally do not hibernate. Both of these species are 
less likely to be affected adversely by Proposed Project construction. 

No turbine impact caused mortality has been recorded for western small-footed myotis, long eared 
myotis, and pallid bat at any other wind plant. Therefore, impacts from operation of the Proposed 
Project should be low to these species. 

Alternative C 

Impacts would be similar to that of Alternative B, but to a lesser extent. 

Alternative D 

Impacts would be similar to that of Alternative B and Alternative C, but would be the smallest of the 
three action alternatives. 

Birds 

Passerines are the most frequent fatality recorded at wind plants and often comprise more than 80 
percent of the fatalities recorded in modem wind plants in the west (Erickson et al. 2001b). The 
degree of collision risk to birds at wind plants appears to be species-specific, based on the results of 
fatality monitoring at other wind plants throughout the west. For example, fatalities of ravens, turkey 
vultures, and ferruginous hawks are rare, while fatalities of American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, and 
homed larks are more common. The siting of a wind power project in specific types of habitat and the 
behavior of an individual species plays a large role in its risk of collision. 

Flight heights recorded in the field during point counts and diurnal fall migration surveys were 
analyzed to produce risk indices for each species and combined to produce overall indices for each 
group, although it must be recognized that there is variability within each group. Avian risk indices 
were calculated by turbine type for the avian and fall migration studies. Risk was calculated by 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-22 







Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


multiplying use, expressed as the average number of birds of that group observed per plot survey, by 
the proportion of those birds that were observed flying, by the proportion of those flying birds that 
flew within the rotor swept area of that turbine. The risk indices for each group are therefore the 
average number of flying birds observed, per plot survey that flew within the rotor swept area of that 
turbine type. 

Vertical risk indices were calculated from point count and diurnal fall migration data by multiplying 
percentages flying within the vertical rotor-swept area (RSA) by use. These risk indices varied among 
species, and were fairly similar among turbine types (Sharp et al. 2005). The vertical risk estimates 
for individual species varied from zero for sage-grouse, chukar, and pinyon jay to higher levels in the 
0.2 to 0.8 range for the red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, northern harrier, and a high of 0.6 to 3.8 for 
the common raven during point counts and diurnal fall migration, respectively. The American kestrel 
risk was in the lower range around 0.05 during the year long point counts and in the higher 0.1 to 0.2 
range during the fall migration surveys, presumably because migrating birds flew higher than 
resident, hunting birds. The common raven, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, northern harrier, and 
American kestrel were the five species with the highest risk indices based on data from both the 
yearlong point counts and the fall migration surveys. Among passerines, swallows, unknown 
passerines, pine siskins, mountain bluebirds, and gray-crowned rosy finches had the highest risk 
indices. Tables 4.6-3 and 4.6-4 provide summaries of the risk indices by group, from the yearlong 
point counts and fall migration surveys, respectively. Risk indices by species are presented in the 
Proposed Project technical report for biological resource impacts (Sharp et al. 2005). 


Table 4.6-3. Vertical Risk Indices by Avian Group and Turbine Type Based on 


Year-long Point Counts. 


Avian Group 

Vertical Risk Indices by Turbine 

Diameter Type and Group 

Overall 

Use 

70-meter 

77-meter 

80-meter 

92-meter 

100-meter 

Corvids 

0.51 

0.48 

0.60 

0.55 

0.60 

0.830 

Doves 

0.05 

0.03 

0.05 

0.04 

0.05 

0.103 

Gulls 

0.07 

0.07 

0.07 

0.07 

0.07 

0.101 

Others 

0.04 

0.02 

0.04 

0.03 

0.04 

0.145 

Passerines 

2.654 

1.86 

2.70 

2.56 

2.70 

5.857 

Raptors 

0.82 

0.92 

1.02 

0.97 

1.02 

1.347 

Upland game birds 

0.04 

0.00 

0.04 

0.00 

0.04 

0.105 


These risk calculations, however, do not account for the obvious fact that the majority of birds must 
see turbines and avoid them, since birds are always present at wind plants in varying numbers, and the 
number of fatalities recorded is small, estimated to range between zero and four birds per turbine per 
year in the west. For example, a comparison of spring radar data and nighttime fatality estimates at 
the Stateline (Washington/Oregon), Buffalo Ridge (Minnesota), and Nine Canyon (Washington) wind 
plants indicated that between less than 0.01 percent to 0.08 percent of the targets passing through the 
area resulted in fatalities (NWCC 2004). 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-23 



















Cofterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Table 4.6-4. Vertical Risk Indices by Avian Group and Turbine Type Based on Fall 
Migration Surveys. 


Avian Group 

Vertical Risk Indices by Turbine 

Diameter Type and Group 

Overall 

Use 

70-meter 

77-meter 

80-meter 

92-meter 

100-meter 

Corvids 

3.49 

3.35 

3.86 

3.71 

3.86 

5.345 

Doves 

0.57 

0.27 

0.57 

0.27 

0.57 

0.685 

Others 

0.02 

0.02 

0.02 

0.02 

0.02 

0.025 

Passerines 

1.20 

1.01 

1.23 

1.11 

1.23 

2.020 

Raptors 

1.81 

1.82 

2.27 

2.07 

2.29 

3.398 

Upland game birds 

0.00 

0.00 

0.00 

0.00 

0.00 

0.123 


Avian Risk Indices were calculated by turbine for all birds observed flying in the avian and fall migration studies. The overall use in these tables is the 
average number of birds of that group observed per plot survey. Vertical Risk was found using the formula: 

Vertical Risk = Use * Proportion of Birds Flying * Proportion of Birds Flying in the RSA 


Flight direction patterns mapped on Cotterel Mountain showed that large birds moved predominantly 
southward during the fall, based on point count and fall migration survey data (TBR 2004). Flight 
directions during the spring, and of small birds, however, did not show such strong trends. The point 
count flight path maps showed that a fairly large proportion of raptor flight paths were parallel to and 
offset from the ridgetop where the turbines are proposed. The fall migration data showed some 
species-specific tendencies in terms of flight paths. Sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks tended 
to be to one side or the other of the ridgetop, and American kestrel flight paths were often to the west 
of the ridgetop. The flight paths of other species appeared to be somewhat uniformly distributed over 
the Proposed Project area. 

The aerial raptor nest surveys documented an average of 0.32 active large raptor nests per square mile 
(mi ) in the 68-square-mile raptor nesting survey area (excluding ravens and ground nesters such as 
northern harrier). The raptor nesting density in the raptor nesting survey area at Cotterel Mountain is 
slightly higher than raptor nesting densities recorded for other wind projects located in Colorado, 
Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. These other wind projects reported nest densities ranging from 
0.03 to 0.30 nests per mi , with a median density of 0.16 nests per mi (n = 28) (Erickson et al. 
2001b). This higher nesting density for raptors at Cotterel Mountain is attributed to the differences in 
habitat and topographic features between Cotterel Mountain and these other wind projects. Cotterel 
Mountain habitat is comprised of forested juniper and mountain mahogany with an abundance of 
cliffs. Habitat within the other projects was predominantly dry, open grassland and active, dry 
agriculture where the scarcity of trees and cliffs present raptors with few suitable nesting 
opportunities. Table 4.6-5 lists the comparative raptor nesting survey data. Potential raptor fatalities 
are of concern at the Projected Project area, because both the nesting density of 0.32 active nests per 
mi 2 and rates of use (1.3 raptors per 20-minute survey) are relatively high, compared to that at other 
western wind plant sites (Sharp et al. 2005). 


A/lay 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-24 



















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May 2005 Draft Environmental Impact Statement 4-26 































Table 4.6-5. Raptor Nesting Density Comparisons. 


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A/1 ay 2005 Draft Environmental Impact Statement 4-27 


















Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Nesting Raptors 

Alternative A fNo Action) 

Alternative A would not result in any impacts on raptor populations. 

Alternative B 

The impact of Alternative B on nesting raptors would depend on a number of factors including the 
construction methods used, the proximity of the construction to the nest, the noise level, and whether 
the construction activity is visible to the birds in the nest. Blasting during the nesting season would 
have the highest likelihood of causing abandonment of raptor nests. Resident hunting raptors may 
avoid the vicinity of the turbines and in combination with the habitat lost to construction have a 
slightly smaller prey base available within their territories. This reduction could affect the 
productivity or survival of individual pairs of birds. Golden eagles and prairie falcons nest among the 
cliffs very near the Proposed Project. Construction and Proposed Project operations would be 
precluded within a one-quarter mile circle around a known golden eagle nest location. 

Alternative C 

The impacts of Alternative C would be similar to that of Alternative B. 

Alternative D 

The impacts of Alternative D would be very similar to that of Alternative B and Alternative C. Under 
Alternative D, there would be fewer turbines constructed. There would be no turbines constructed 
along the east ridge of Cotterel Mountain. This would result in reduced potential impacts to nesting 
raptors along the east ridgeline area. The two golden eagle nests located at the north and south end of 
the east Cotterel Mountain ridgeline would be avoided. Overall, there would be a reduced potential 
for disturbance to nesting raptors from construction activities and there would be no O&M activities 
in this area. 

Waterfowl, Shorebirds, and Waders 

This group of species is not expected to be measurably affected by any of the Proposed Project 
alternatives, because no suitable habitat is present at Cotterel Mountain for birds in this group, and 
only a very few migrants were observed during on-site avian surveys (TBR 2004). There would be 
the potential for migrating individuals from this group to occasionally pass through the Proposed 
Project area. However, this would be expected to be rare and would not be expected to result in a 
measurable affect on any local or regional population of this group of species. 

Passerines and Other Small Birds 

Radar Data 

The radar study conducted during the fall of 2003 (ABR 2004; TBR 2004) indicates that fall 
nocturnal migration passage rates at Cotterel Mountain are similar to two other locations studied (i.e., 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-28 









Cotterel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


at the Stateline and Vansycle wind-energy sites in eastern Oregon; Mabee and Cooper 2002). Flight 
altitudes were also similar between these sites. Overall, only 3.3 percent of nocturnal targets flew at 
or below 125 meters above ground level during the fall radar study. Risk of fatality in nocturnal 
migrants is predicted to be similar to the mortality rates at Stateline and Vansycle, although a direct 
comparison cannot be made, as the data from Stateline and Vansycle were collected at a different 
time and included spring migrants. Further, turbine heights at the Stateline and Vansycle projects are 
lower than the proposed turbines at the Proposed Project. The passage rates and elevations indicate 
that the fatality rates for nocturnal migrants would be expected to be similar to rates from eastern 
Oregon and Washington. 

There are no existing wind projects on the same type of landform, region, and habitat at Cotterel 
Mountain. As a consequence, there is no case history available to use in predicting the impacts of this 
Proposed Project on wildlife. Some new wind plants in other regions of the U.S. have experienced 
higher fatality rates of raptors and bats than those in Minnesota, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington. 
Considering this new information, the fatality rates for bats and/or birds at this Proposed Project may 
be higher than predicted rates based solely on the Minnesota, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington 
rates. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would not adversely affect birds or bats on Cotterel Mountain. 

Alternative B 

Table 4.6-6 provides a summary of the estimated ranges of annual fatalities for birds and bats at the 
Proposed Project, based on the fatality searches conducted in Minnesota, Wyoming, Oregon, and 
Washington wind plants. The estimated annual fatality range calculations were made three ways: per 
turbine, per 3000 square meters of RSA, and per MW. These three ranges were used based on the 
findings of the wildlife working group of the NWCC. This group is comprised of professional 
biologists conducting post-construction monitoring studies of wind plants. These professionals agree 
that it was prudent to use three estimates, given the large variation in turbine sizes currently in 
operation. Relatively few rigorous, standardized carcass searches, which also account for birds missed 
by the surveyors or removed by scavengers have been conducted, and therefore the range of estimated 
fatalities that result from these studies is large. This is typical of studies that attempt to obtain a 
sufficiently large sample of rare events. 

Considering data from other projects, it is estimated that annual raptor mortality for Alternative B 
may range from zero to 63 birds. The estimated number of all bird fatalities may range from zero to 
934 per year. The estimated number of bat fatalities may range from zero to 667 per year (Table 4.6- 
6). In all three cases, the range differs according to the basis of the prediction (number per turbine per 
year, number per 3000 square meters of RSA, or number per MW). 

Additional fatalities may also occur from collisions with overhead electric transmission interconnect 
lines, although such collisions are expected to be rare. Alternative B is likely to have the lowest 


A/1 ay 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-29 






Cofferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


mortality from transmission interconnect lines since it includes only nine miles of new transmission 
interconnect line. Fatalities would be most likely to occur during conditions of low visibility, or if 
transmission interconnect lines were located in areas where birds regularly flew between destinations, 
such as between foraging and nesting areas, or between attractive patches of habitat (bird movement 
patterns). 


Table 4.6-6. Estimated Annual Fatality Ranges, by Alternative, for Birds and Bats at the Proposed 
Project. 


Group and Basis for 
Estimate 

Annual Fatality 
Range Used for 
Estimate* 

Alternative B 

Alternative C 

Alternative D 


Low 

High 

70 meter 

77 meter 

100 meter 

77 meter 

100 meter 

Raptors 

Per turbine 

0 

0.036 

0 to 5 

0 to 4 

0 to 3 

0 to 3 

0 to 2 

Per 3000 sq meters of 
RSA 

0 

0.38 

0 to 63 

0 to 58 

0 to 81 

0 to 48 

0 to 66 

Per MW 

0 

0.265 

0 to 52 

0 to 39 

0 to 64 

0 to 33 

0 to 52 

All birds including raptors 

Per turbine 

0 

2.8 

0 to 364 

0 to 274 

0 to 227 

0 to 230 

Oto 185 

Per 3000 sq meters of 
RSA 

1.1 

5.6 

183 to 934 

167 to 852 

233 to 
1188 

140 to 713 

190 to 968 

Per MW 

0.9 

2.8 

176 to 546 

132 to 412 

219 to 680 

111 to 344 

178 to 554 

Bats 

Per turbine 

0 

3.2 

0 to 416 

0 to 314 

0 to 259 

0 to 262 

Oto 211 

Per 3000 sq meters of 
RSA 

1 

4 

167 to 667 

152 to 608 

212 to 848 

127 to 509 

173 to 691 

Per MW 

0.8 

3.3 

156 to 644 

118 to 485 

194 to 802 

98 to 406 

158 to 653 

Features of the alternatives 

Number of turbines 

130 

98 

81 

82 

66 

Rotor diameter (meters) 

70 

77 

100 

77 

100 

Total RSA (sq meters) 

500,300 

456,350 

636,174 

381,844 

518,364 

MW per turbine 

1.5 

1.5 

3 

1.5 

3 

Total MW 

195 

147 

243 

123 

198 


Based on data from Erickson et al. (2001b). 


Alternative C 

The impacts of the 147 MW variation of Alternative C would be slightly less than but similar to those 
of Alternative B. The impacts of the 243 MW variation of Alternative C would be higher (Table 4.6- 
6). It is estimated that annual raptor mortality at the Proposed Project may range from zero to 58 birds 
for the 147 MW variation of Alternative C, or zero to 81 birds for the 243 MW variation, based on 
fatality and use rates from other western wind power projects (Table 4.6-6). The estimated number of 
bird fatalities for the 147 MW variation of Alternative C is from zero to 852 per year, depending on 
whether the basis of the prediction was number per turbine per year, number per 3000 square meters 
of RSA, or number per MW. Bat fatalities are estimated to range from zero to 608 for the 147 MW 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-30 



























































Cofferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


variation of this alternative, and 57 to 848 per year for the 243 MW variation. The estimated number 
of fatalities varies, depending on the basis of the prediction: number per turbine per year; number per 
3000 square meters of RSA; or number per MW (Table 4.6-6). Fatalities resulting from collisions 
with overhead electric transmission interconnect lines may be higher than under Alternative B, due to 
the 19.7 miles of new transmission interconnect line, although this would also be related to the 
location of the transmission interconnect line in relation to bird movement patterns. 

Alternative D 

The 123 MW variation of Alternative D would probably cause the lowest number of fatalities of 
raptors, all birds, and bats, since it has the lowest number of turbines, RSA, and MW. This version of 
Alternative D is estimated to cause zero to 39 raptor fatalities, zero to 574 all bird fatalities, and zero 
to 410 bat fatalities per year. Conversely, the 198 MW version of Alternative D is estimated to cause 
fatality rates very similar to that of the 243 MW version of Alternative C (Table 4.6-6). Fatalities 
from collisions with transmission interconnect lines would be the same as those under Alternative C 
because there would also be 19.7 miles of new transmission interconnect line. 

4.6.5 Special Status Wildlife Species 
Threatened and Endangered Species 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would not impact either of the listed species, gray wolf or bald eagle. This alternative 
would also not have an impact on sensitive species. 

Alternative B 

The gray wolf (Threatened, nonessential population) and bald eagle (Threatened) are the only two 
listed species with potential to occur on Cotterel Mountain and which could be affected by the 
Proposed Project. Only two bald eagles were observed during the baseline study in the fall of 2003. 
Wolves or their signs were not observed during the baseline study, and there are no records of wolves 
on Cotterel Mountain or south of the Snake River. A complete analysis of Proposed Project impacts 
to bald eagle and gray wolf will be detailed in a biological assessment which is currently under 
preparation. 

Bald eagles appear to be rare migrants through the Cotterel Mountain area, based on the limited 
observations made during the baseline study. The habitat is not optimal for eagles due to the lack of 
large trees needed for perching, nesting and roosting. Mortality or injury is the primary potential 
impact to bald eagles from the Proposed Project. Mortality could occur from both electrocution and 
collisions with transmission interconnect lines and turbines blades. Bald eagle mortality from 
electrocution is not expected to occur because overhead transmission interconnect lines would be 
designed to discourage raptor perching and the distance between wires would be great enough to 
prevent eagles from touching two wires at once. In addition, electrical facilities at the two substations 
would be designed in such a way as to decrease the possibility of bird electrocution. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-31 







Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


The potential for bald eagles to be killed by the Proposed Project is unlikely, however, the potential 
does exist and cannot be discounted. Therefore, the potential for a “take” of a bald eagle(s) must be 
considered a possibility if the ROW for the Proposed Project is granted. As a result, the Proposed 
Project would require formal consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 
1973, as amended. A result of that consultation would be a Biological Opinion issued by the USFWS. 
Take can be authorized in the Incidental Take Statement of the Biological Opinion after the 
anticipated extent and amount of take has been described, and the effects of the take are analyzed 
with respect to jeopardizing the species or adversely modifying critical habitat. The Biological 
Opinion would also specify reasonable and prudent measures and conservation recommendations to 
minimize impacts on the bald eagle. 

According to available information from the BLM and the IDFG, gray wolves are not known to occur 
on Cotterel Mountain. Since the reintroduction of the gray wolf to central Idaho in 1996, this species 
has increased its range and population substantially. During the life of the Proposed Project, it is 
possible that this species could return to Cassia County and inhabit Cotterel Mountain. If wolves did 
return, they would be anticipated to avoid human activity and would not likely be affected by the 
operation of the Proposed Project. 

Alternative C 

The effects of Alternative C would be similar to those of Alternative B, and are not likely to adversely 
affect either bald eagles or gray wolves. 

Alternative D 

The effects of Alternative D would be similar to those of Alternative B and Alternative C, and are not 
likely to adversely affect either bald eagles or gray wolves. 

Special Status Species 
Small Mammals 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would not have an impact on any sensitive species. 

Alternative B 

Under Alternative B, the overall impacts to cliff chipmunk populations would likely be low due to the 
scattered distribution and extent of potential disturbance. During construction, some areas would 
likely be avoided or abandoned, but once construction is complete and disturbance levels decline, 
cliff chipmunks would be expected to reoccupy habitats near the facility. The potential absence of 
predators due to Proposed Project construction may benefit cliff chipmunk populations. 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


4-32 










Cotferel Wind Power Project 


4.0 Environmental Consequences 


Alternative C 

The impacts of Alternative C to special status species would be similar to those expected to occur 
under Alternative B, with slightly smaller areas of permanent and temporary impacts from Proposed 
Project construction and fewer turbines. 

Alternative D 

The impacts of Alternative D to special status species would be similar to those expected to occur 
under Alternative B and Alternative C, with slightly smaller areas of permanent and temporary 
impacts from Proposed Project construction. 

Birds 

Alternative A fNo Action) 

Alternative A would not have an impact on any sensitive species. 

Alternative B 

The impact from Alternative B on special status bird species would be dependent on the species and 
their associated habitat. Cassin’s finch, golden eagle, Brewer’s sparrow, prairie falcon, pinyon jay, 
sage thrasher, northern goshawk, ferruginous hawk, loggerhead shrike, peregrine falcon, plumbeous 
vireo and green-tailed towhee were all observed within the Proposed Project area during the avian 
surveys; therefore they are likely to occur within the Proposed Project area during construction and 
operation. 

Nesting and non-breeding golden eagles could be adversely affected not only by construction 
disturbance, but also from collisions with turbines. Golden eagle fatalities have been recorded at other 
western wind plants, including the Altamont Pass and Montezuma Hills areas of California. The 
Altamont Pass eagle population has been studied for many years (Hunt 2002), and it is not clear 
whether the 40 to 60 golden eagles killed there per year is having an adverse effect on local eagle 
populations. The eagles killed at Altamont were non-breeding adults and subadults termed “floaters.” 
These are birds that are look for territories to occupy and nest in. The nesting population of eagles 
within 30 kilometers of Altamont has not declined, but the floater population may have declined and 
floaters are not being produced within this population; therefore, the only source of floaters would be 
from immigration from other areas (Hunt 2002). 

Based on the point count and fall migration survey data, 53 to 70 percent of golden eagles observed 
flying were within the RSA, depending on turbine type. This indicates that golden eagles could be at 
relatively high risk of being killed by turbines. Golden eagle use at Cotterel Mountain is 
approximately four times lower than at the High Winds project. Golden eagle use at Cotterel 
Mountain is 0.068 birds per 20-minute survey, while it is 0.287 birds at the High Winds project site in 
the Montezuma Hills in California (Kerlinger et al. 2001). One golden eagle fatality was recorded 
during the first year of monitoring at the High Winds project (Kerlinger et al. 2005), which consists 


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of 90, 1.8-MW wind turbines with 80-meter rotor diameters. The High Winds project is used for this 
comparison because the type and number of turbines at the High Winds project are representative of 
what would be constructed for the Proposed Project and those at Altamont Pass are not. The 
approximate rate of expected golden eagle fatalities at the Proposed Project area could be one bird 
every four years. 

Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, long-billed curlew, northern pygmy-owl, and western burrowing owl 
have historically been observed within the Proposed Project area, but were not observed during the 
avian survey; therefore, they are not considered likely to occur within the Proposed Project area 
during the construction phase. Based on the rarity of occurrence of these species and the limited 
amount of disturbance that would occur within their possible habitat types, it is unlikely that Proposed 
Project construction would affect these species. 

Although there is potential habitat within the Proposed Project area for the flammulated owl, sage 
sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, red-naped sapsucker, Virginia’s warbler, and calliope hummingbird, 
there are no recorded observations of individuals or nest sites within the Proposed Project area. It is 
unlikely that Proposed Project construction would affect these species. 

There is no suitable habitat present within the Proposed Project area for American white pelican or 
black tern. Based on the low number of historic observations and lack of habitat, these species are not 
likely to occur within the Proposed Project area, and would not be impacted by Proposed Project 
construction. However, both species nest on the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge and may use the 
flight space over Cotterel Mountain during feeding or migration flights. 

Alternative C 

The impacts of Alternative C to special status species would be similar to those expected to occur 
under Alternative B, with slightly smaller areas of permanent and temporary impacts from Proposed 
Project construction and fewer turbines. The fatality risk from the turbines, however, may not be less 
if the total RSA is as high as Alternative B. 

Alternative D 

The impacts of Alternative D to special status species would be similar to those expected to occur 
under Alternative B and Alternative C, with slightly smaller areas of permanent and temporary 
impacts. The fatality risk from the turbines would likely be less because the total RSA would be 
lower than Alternative B and Alternative C. 

Greater Sage-Grouse 

There is incomplete and unavailable information regarding the affects of the Proposed Project on 
sage-grouse. Because there are currently no wind power facilities in operation close to occupied sage- 
grouse leks, nesting, rearing, or wintering habitat, there is no case history on which to base impact 
predictions. As a consequence, this impact assessment is based on case histories of the impacts of 


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new roads and transmission interconnect lines, as well as similar elements (e.g. other types of tall 
structures). This assessment is conservative because the opinions of experts and the results of research 
and anecdotal information on the effects of energy developments to sage-grouse are wide ranging and 
sometimes conflicting. The effects of the Proposed Project are unknown and could range from the 
extremes of temporary avoidance to extirpation of the local population and loss of use of winter 
habitat during severe winters by sage-grouse from other areas. 

Impacts of energy development in general, and wind-power generation developments in particular, on 
sage-grouse are not well known (Braun et al. 2002; Manes et al. 2003; Connelly 2003). Although 
scientists, conservationists, engineers, and developers speculate on the impacts, rigorous scientific 
study, which quantifies and demonstrates cause-effect relationships is mostly lacking. For example, 
the analysis of cause-effect relationships between land uses and population responses was the third 
highest among the eight key research needs identified for sage-grouse in Oregon (Rowland and 
Wisdom 2002). 

The primary reason for the nationwide decline in sage-grouse is habitat related, including, habitat 
loss, habitat fragmentation, and habitat degradation (Connelly et al. 2004). It is reasonable to assume 
any similar changes to sage-grouse habitat on Cotterel Mountain resulting from the development of 
Proposed Project would, on a smaller scale, also affect sage-grouse using the surrounding area such as 
Conner Ridge and Jim Sage Mountain. Whether such effects are measurable is unknown. 

Perhaps the single most unknown factor is how sage-grouse, which are accustomed to a relatively low 
vegetation canopy, would respond to numerous wind turbines hundreds of meters taller than the 
surrounding landscape. Some scientists speculate such a skyline may displace sage-grouse hundreds 
of meters or even miles from their normal range (Manes et al. 2002; Flake 2003; Connelly 2003; 
NWCC 2004). If birds are displaced, it is unknown whether, in time, local populations may become 
acclimated to elevated structures and return to the area. 

A second unknown is how sage-grouse would respond to increased human activity. Certain 
construction activities would be disruptive, and birds are likely to avoid the immediate vicinity during 
construction. How post-construction activities associated with O&M would affect grouse is also 
unknown. It is possible birds would become accustomed to routine activities and may return to the 
area. Historically small numbers of sage-grouse have used the irrigated lawns at the Central Facilities 
Area on the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, even though Central 
Facilities Area has over 50 buildings, 2,000 personnel, and vehicle traffic (Connelly et al. 2003). 

The sage-grouse inhabiting Cotterel Mountain are using the local habitat that already includes a 
gravel access road with intermittent traffic, and a cluster of tall communication towers on the 
mountain summit. The lek closest to this cluster of towers is 0.62 mile away, and the towers are 
visible from that lek. One observation made by TREC, Inc. staff during the spring of 2004 indicates 
that at least some of the sage-grouse are somewhat accustomed to being much closer to some tall 
structures. Several males were observed displaying directly beneath a meteorological tower located 


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within several hundred meters of an active lek. These meteorological and communication towers, 
however, are very different from a wind turbine, which would be much larger and have parts in 
motion. 

The direct loss and fragmentation of habitat associated with noise disturbances from vehicle traffic 
and construction have been shown to reduce attendance at sage-grouse lek sites and lower female nest 
initiation in proximity to these sites. According to one study that specifically addressed noise impacts 
on sage-grouse leking sites, noise disturbances within 660 feet of a lek site generally resulted in a loss 
of attendance. As the distance increased from the source of noise, the number of leks with reduced 
attendance decreased (Braun et al. 2002). Similarly, female sage-grouse were found to move greater 
distances from leks near noise disturbances, and had lower rates of nest initiation in areas disturbed 
by vehicle traffic (Lyon and Anderson 2003). Therefore, sage-grouse leks located within 660 feet of 
wind turbines and Proposed Project roads could experience reduced attendance as a result of noise 
generated from the Proposed Project features. Likewise, suitable nesting habitat located within 660 
feet of the Proposed Project roads and turbines could be made unavailable to sage-grouse due to 
avoidance as a result of Proposed Project generated noise. 

Following is a summary of some of the existing research results relevant to potential impacts of the 
Proposed Project. A more complete summary and critique of a wider spectrum of sage-grouse 
research through 2001 can be found in Rowland and Wisdom (2002). 

Energy Development: 

• Sage-grouse were displaced or otherwise disturbed by oil development and coal mining 
activities (Braun 1987; Braun 1998; Aldridge 1998; Lyon and Anderson 2003). 

• There is some evidence that once the activities ceased numbers returned to pre¬ 
disturbance levels (Braun 1987; Remington and Braun 1991). 

• Other studies showed a continued disruption of the nesting behavior (Lyon 2000). 

• Braun (1998) noted that populations did not attain pre-disturbance levels. 

• Removal of vegetation for well sites, access roads, and associated facilities can fragment 
and reduce the availability of suitable habitat (Aldridge 1998). 

• There were fewer males on leks within 0.4 kilometer (0.25 mile) of wells versus counts 
of males on less disturbed sites (Braun et al. 2002). 

Fences and Transmission Interconnect Lines: 

• Sage-grouse in some areas avoid fences, possibly because they are used as perches by 
avian predators (Braun 1998). 

• Fences and transmission interconnect lines pose hazards because they provide additional 
perch sites for raptor predators (Ellis 1987; Call and Maser 1985; Braun 1998). 

• Sage-grouse could be injured or killed by flying into fences and transmission interconnect 
lines (Call and Maser 1985; Braun 1998). 


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• Woven-wire fences are more dangerous to sage-grouse than one-to-three wire-strand 
fences (Braun 1998). 

• Moving away from the transmission interconnect line, numbers of sage-grouse increase 
for up to 600 meters (0.37 mile) and then level off (Braun 1998). 

Habitat Fragmentation: 

• Construction of roads, fences, reservoirs, ranches, farms, and housing developments 
resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation (Braun 1998). 

• Man-made structures such as fences, roads, and transmission interconnect lines fragment 
habitats; sage-grouse avoid these sorts of disturbed areas (Rowland and Wisdom 2002). 

Roads/Highways/V ehicles: 

• Roads and vehicles result in loss of habitat and direct mortality, and may result in 
reduction of sage-grouse use of leks within one kilometer (0.8 mile) because of noise 
(Braun 1998). 

• Sage-grouse have been documented to be impacted by vehicles during all seasons (Braun 
1998). 

• In Wyoming, successful hens in a natural gas field nested farther from roads than did 
unsuccessful hens (Lyon 2000). 

• Light traffic disturbance (one to 12 vehicles/day) near leks during the breeding season 
might reduce nest-initiation rates and increase distances moved from leks during nest-site 
selection (Lyon and Anderson 2003). 

• More heavily used roads and highways result in direct mortalities of sage-grouse, and 
contribute to habitat fragmentation (Patterson 1952). 

• Sage-grouse have also been known to form leks on well-used roads (Patterson 1952). 

• Roads and associated human disturbances can have adverse impacts, especially to lek and 
winter habitat areas (Wisdom et al. 2000). 

• Road density in the interior Columbia Basin was higher in range from which Sage-grouse 
were extirpated, and lower in occupied range (Wisdom et al. 2002). 

Wind Turbines: 

• The effects of construction and operation of the Foote Creek Rim wind power project in 
Wyoming on sage-grouse could not be documented because no active leks were present 
on the project site before or during construction (Johnson 2000b). 

• Avian mortality monitoring over three years at the Foote Creek Rim wind power project 
in southern Wyoming found no sage-grouse fatalities (Young et al. 2003). 


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Disturbed/Cleared Areas: 

• Sage-grouse used disturbed areas (two gravel pits and one recent bum) as leks (Connelly 
et ah 1981). 

Impact Assessment 

A slight increase in sage-grouse mortality could result from collisions with wind turbines, 
transmission interconnect lines, and vehicles due to fatal collisions. Sage-grouse using Cotterel 
Mountain may collide with the transmission interconnect lines and with the lower reaches of the 
moving rotors. However, given the relative infrequency of sage-grouse flights (i.e., usually limited to 
escape reactions, movements to foraging areas, short elevational migrations), it is unlikely that these 
collisions would be numerous or result in an impact to populations on or in the vicinity of Cotterel 
Mountain. None of the sage-grouse observed flying were within the RSA of any of the turbine classes 
during the point counts or fall migration surveys. Collisions with vehicles are more likely, especially 
if the public is given access to the area; it is assumed that Projected Project maintenance personnel 
would be trained to be sensitive to the presence of sage-grouse and drive slowly to prevent collisions. 

Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would not have any impacts on sage-grouse. 

Alternative B 

Under Alternative B, approximately 261 acres of potential sage-grouse habitat would be directly 
affected by the Proposed Project. Turbines and roads would be sited within one-quarter mile of all six 
known sage-grouse leks on Cotterel Mountain. In Wyoming, it was determined that there was no 
decrease in sage-grouse lek attendance due to the construction or operation of a large wind turbine in 
the vicinity of active leks (Yeo et al. 1984). However, mining activities at a surface coal mine 
contributed to a drop in male sage-grouse attendance at leks closest to the mining activity and, over 
time, altered the distribution of breeding grouse (Remington and Braun 1991). A relative of the sage- 
grouse, the lesser prairie chicken that also uses leks for breeding activities, abandoned 83 percent of 
their leks and nesting sites when associated with anthropogenic features such as gas and oil rigs. 
Since the Proposed Project would result in the siting of roads and turbines within one-quarter mile of 
active sage-grouse leks, it is likely that their presence would result in some level of impact to sage- 
grouse on Cotterel Mountain. Leks located adjacent to existing or newly constructed Proposed Project 
roads could experience additional disturbance from increased traffic due to operation activity and 
increased public access. 

Based on the best available science for the protection of sage-grouse and their habitat it has been 
recommended that energy facilities should not be developed within a 1.8 mile radius of sage-grouse 
leks (Connelly et ah 2000). Therefore, it could be assumed that sage-grouse use of habitat within 1.8 
miles of the Proposed Project area could affect 26,644 acres of potential habitat under Alternative B 
(Table 4.6-7). While potential habitat would remain mostly undisturbed, sage-grouse may be 
displaced due to disturbance from the Proposed Project construction and operation. This does not take 


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into consideration topographical or micro-habitat features of the area that may protect or reduce 
potential disturbance from the Proposed Project. 


Table 4.6-7. Potential Sage-grouse Habitat Loss from the Proposed Project. 


Alternative and Impact 

Sage-grouse habitat types 


Breeding 

(Leks) 

Nesting 

Brood- 

Rearing 

Wintering 

Total 

Alternative B 

Permanent impacts from Proposed 

Project footprint (acres). 

84 

33 

76 

68 

261 

Potential displacement impacts within 

1.8 miles of the Proposed Project 
(acres). 

3,395 

5,605 

11,209 

6,435 

26,644 

Alternative C 

Permanent impacts from Proposed 

Project footprint (acres). 

77 

28 

28 

48 

181 

Potential displacement impacts within 

1.8 miles of the Proposed Project 
(acres) 

3,345 

4,980 

9,936 

5,716 

23,977 

Alternative D 

Permanent impacts from Proposed 

Project footprint (acres) 

52 

15 

13 

34 

114 

Potential displacement impacts within 

1.8 mile of the Proposed Project (acres). 

3,255 

3,194 

8,734 

4,585 

19,768 


Alternative C 

Under Alternative C, approximately 181 acres of sage-grouse habitat would be directly affected by 
the Proposed Project (Table 4.6-7). This alternative would affect 30 percent less acres of sage-grouse 
habitat than Alternative B. However, turbines and roads would still be sited within one-quarter mile 
of all known sage-grouse leks on Cotterel Mountain. Therefore, impacts to sage-grouse would likely 
still occur under Alternative C. 


Within 1.8 miles of the Proposed Project, sage-grouse could be displaced from 23,977 acres of 
potential habitat under Alternative C. This alternative would affect ten percent fewer acres of 
potential sage-grouse habitat that Alternative B. Whether the reduced level of affected potential 
habitat from that estimated for Alternative B would result in lower levels of impact to sage-grouse is 
unknown, as it would depend on the nature of the reaction of the grouse to the Proposed Project 
features. 

Alternative D 

Under Alternative D, approximately 114 acres of sage-grouse habitat would be directly affected by 
the Proposed Project (Table 4.6-7). This alternative would affect 57 percent fewer acres of sage- 


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grouse habitat than Alternative B and 38 percent less than Alternative C. Turbines and roads would be 
sited within one-quarter mile of four of the six known sage-grouse leks and no turbines or roads 
would be sited along the east ridgeline of Cotterel Mountain. This would avoid potential impacts to 
two sage-grouse lekking areas. Overall, there would be a reduced potential for disturbance to sage- 
grouse from construction activities and there would be no O&M activities along the east ridge area. 

Within 1.8 miles of the Proposed Project, sage-grouse could be displaced from 19,768 acres of 
potential habitat under Alternative D. This would affect 36 percent fewer acres of potential sage- 
grouse habitat than Alternative B and 18 percent fewer acres than Alternative C. Whether the reduced 
level of affected potential habitat from that estimated for Alternative B and Alternative C would result 
in lower levels of impact to sage-grouse is unknown, as it would depend on the nature of the reaction 
of the grouse to the Proposed Project features. 

4.7 HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES 

There are three possible effects, which can occur to cultural resource sites as defined by 36 CFR 800: 

No Affect : If a site, which is eligible for or on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), is 
avoided, with a suitable buffer zone, which would assure that no disruption or visual intrusion would 
occur to the site. Sites which are ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP would usually have No Effect 
determinations although additional information from the site may be needed after the initial 
evaluation, such as sample collections or detailed mapping, as determined by the BLM guidelines. 

No Adverse Affect : A site which is on or eligible for the NRHP may have possible adverse effects 
mitigated through actions as stipulated in a mitigation plan that is reviewed by the BLM and State 
Historic Preservation Office. 

Adverse Affect: A site which is on or eligible for the NRHP, that has unmitigatable effects taking 
place, requires that a “Section 106 Compliance Case Report” completed that details the impacts. This 
Case Report is reviewed by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the State Historic 
Preservation Office, which results in a Memorandum of Agreement. A case report must be completed 
on each site so affected. 

4.7.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Implementation of Alternative A would have no effects on cultural resources. 

4.7.2 Alternative B 

Prior to the initiation of any activity, all sites which are currently evaluated as “Potentially Eligible,” 
will have sufficient data collection conducted so that they may be reevaluated as either eligible or 
ineligible. Any site which is evaluated to be eligible will have a formal Eligibility Determination 
completed. 


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Alternative B would result in the Proposed Project having a range of impacts on sites within the area 
of potential effects (APE), ranging from no effect (avoidance) to high impact (adverse effect or loss 
of integrity). Specific impacts to each site would be addressed on an individual basis after proximity 
of the site to the disturbance was defined more specifically (i.e., practicability of complete avoidance 
was addressed). Only complete avoidance of all sites would result in the Proposed Project having no 
effect. While it is likely that at least some sites located within the APE would be avoided, it is more 
likely that not all would be avoided. As necessary, additional site evaluation would be completed and 
an assessment of effect would be determined per 36 CFR 800. Mitigation, also determined on an 
individual site basis, would be required for any unavoidable NRHP listed or eligible site in order to 
reduce impacts that the Proposed Project would have. 

Alternative B would have no impact to sites CM-S-5, CM-S-16, CM-S-20, CM-S-22, or 10CA629 
since each of these is located outside of the APE and would be avoided. Proposed Project impacts to 
the remaining 21 sites, and to any sites discovered during additional survey of the transmission 
interconnect lines and access roads, would range from no impact to adverse affect depending on if the 
site is eligible not. 

At least four sites, recommended as NRHP eligible, would be subject to adverse effects if they were 
not avoided during Proposed Project construction. These properties include prehistoric sites CM-S-2, 
CM-S-3, CM-S-6/8, and CM-S-21, defined by lithic scatters. 

Though the Oregon National Historic Trail (10CA862) is listed on the NRHP, and the historic 
Conner’s Comer to Albion Stage Road site (10CA961) is eligible for nomination to the NRHP, the 
Proposed Project would have no direct impact to these sites because physical evidence of the linear 
trails/roads is not present in the APE. The Oregon Trail would have bisected the northernmost portion 
of the APE, however this area has been subjected to historical and modem disturbances such that 
surviving trail remnants are not visible. Therefore, construction of the transmission interconnect line 
and expansion of the extant access road near SH-81 would have no direct impact to the integrity of 
this resource. Indirect visual impacts to intact segments of this resource that are located outside of the 
APE are addressed in Section 4.13. 

Likewise, the integrity of NRHP-eligible site 10CA961, the Conner’s Comer to Albion Stage Road, 
would not be directly affected by the Proposed Project. Though the historic stage road would have 
bisected the southernmost portion of the APE, the area has been subjected to historical and modem 
disturbances such that surviving trail remnants are not visible. Because Proposed Project impacts 
would be confined to the existing access road that heads north from the SH-77 junction for the first 
one-quarter mile, there would be no impact to this resource. 

Four sites located in the APE that are currently unevaluated for NRHP eligibility include lithic 
scatters at sites CM-S-4, CM-S-10, and 10CA298, and the historic railroad grade, 10CA864. The 
unevaluated sites would require additional testing and evaluation prior to determination of impact or 
Proposed Project effect if they were not avoided during Proposed Project construction. 


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The remaining sites and isolates determined to be ineligible for nomination to the NRHP would be 
subject to impacts ranging from no impact to high impact. Regardless of Proposed Project impacts, 
per 36 CFR 800, no further management would be required for these sites. 

4.7.3 Alternative C 

Prior to the initiation of any activity, all sites which are currently evaluated as “Potentially Eligible,” 
will have sufficient data collection conducted so that they may be reevaluated as either eligible or 
ineligible. Any site, which is evaluated to be eligible, will have a formal Eligibility Determination 
completed. 

Impacts for Alternative C are similar to impacts for Alternative B with the exception that the 
Proposed Project would have no impact to site CM-S-17 in Alternative C because this site would be 
avoided. 

4.7.4 Alternative D 

Prior to the initiation of any activity, all sites which are currently evaluated as “Potentially Eligible,” 
will have sufficient data collection conducted so that they may be reevaluated as either eligible or 
ineligible. Any site, which is evaluated to be eligible, will have a formal Eligibility Determination 
completed. 

Impacts for Alternative D are similar to impacts for Alternative C with the exception that the 
Proposed Project would have no impact to sites CM-S-21, CM-S-22, CM-S-18, and CM-S-1 in 
Alternative D because these sites would be avoided. Alternative D would have the fewest impacts to 
historical and cultural resources. 

4.8 AMERICAN INDIAN CONCERNS 

Impacts to American Indian concerns would be identified during govemment-to-govemment 
consultation. These consultations would be sensitive to the Tribes and would be resolved with the 
Tribes. 

4.8.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Implementation of the No Action Alternative would have no impacts on cultural resources. 

4.8.2 Alternative B 

As of the publication of the Draft EIS, no sites of concern have been identified. 

4.8.3 Alternative C 

As of the publication of the Draft EIS, no sites of concern have been identified. 


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4.8.4 Alternative D 

As of the publication of the Draft EIS, no sites of concern have been identified. 

4.9 SOCIOECONOMICS 

4.9.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would result in no impacts or changes to regional or local socioeconomic conditions 
because the Proposed Project would not be constructed. The Proposed Project area would continue to 
function as a dispersed recreation area and would continue to provide seasonal grazing opportunities 
for livestock. The Mini-Cassia area would not experience the tax revenue benefits that would be 
associated with the Proposed Project. 

4.9.2 Alternative B 
Community and Regional Economy 

Construction 

Construction of the Proposed Project would last approximately eight months, from April through 
November of 2006. The cost of construction would be approximately $200 million, the majority of 
which would be the cost of the towers and turbines. Table 4.9-1 presents an approximate breakdown 
of the Proposed Project construction cost. 


Table 4.9-1. Construction Costs ($1000s) of the Proposed Project. 


Type of cost 

Cost 

Labor (107 to 132 construction workers) 

$3,000 

Non-labor costs 

$197,000 

130 foundations at $60,000 each, and concrete batch plant 

$8,000 

Wind turbines and towers 

$160,000 

Other materials and non-labor costs 

$10,000 

Roads, O&M building, site preparation 

$3,000 

Electrical and communications 

$16,000 

Total construction cost 

$200,000 


The aggregate for the concrete batch plant would be purchased within the Mini-Cassia area, along 
with other standard and available materials and supplies that would be needed for construction. 1 
Approximately five workers would constitute the road crew for the road building. The larger crew for 
the eight-month general construction period would average between 107 and 132 workers. Since the 
construction process would be an “assembly line” type of operation, the beginning and end of the 


1 The IMPLAN model assumes 20 percent of non-labor costs of construction (excluding cost of wind turbines 
and towers) would be spent within Cassia County or Minidoka County. 


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construction period would involve a slightly lower number of workers when compared to the middle 
months. The breakdown of the construction workforce by type is shown in Table 4.9-2. 


Table 4.9-2. Construction Workforce for the Proposed 
Project. 


Type of Worker 

Average Number 
Required Throughout 
the Construction Period 

Carpenter/form setter 

7 

Cement finisher 

3 

Cement, rebar 

4 

Electrician helper 

17 

Electrician, industrial 

11 

Electrician, master 

2 

Laborer 

43 

Structural steel worker 

9 

Backhoe operator 

5 

Cherry picker operator 

7 

Cable crane operator 

5 

Dozer operator 

2 

Power shovel operator 

3 

Road roller operator 

2 

Estimated daily total 

107 to 132 


Laborer positions and other construction worker positions that do not require specialized skills would 
likely be filled from the local Mini-Cassia area labor force. 2 The maximum 132-person workforce 
would represent one-fifth of construction employment in the Mini-Cassia area. Non-local workers 
could originate from other counties in south central Idaho, or also from further distances. The few 
construction workers who are predicted to commute on a weekly basis would stay in local lodging 
and would likely have less than an hour drive each way to the job site. 

Assuming ten percent of the construction workforce would commute on a weekly basis, a maximum 
of 14 workers would need lodging during the week. Local lodging facilities would have sufficient 
availability to accommodate these workers during the week. 

Construction activity would result in secondary economic impacts (both indirect and induced) within 
the Mini-Cassia area. Secondary employment effects would include (1) indirect employment resulting 
from the purchase of goods and services by firms involved with construction, and (2) induced 
employment resulting from construction workers spending their income in the local area. Similarly, 
indirect and induced income and spending effects would also occur as “ripple” effects from 
construction. Indirect and induced impacts were estimated using IMPLAN economic modeling 
software, an input/output model specific for the economic study area of Cassia County and Minidoka 


2 The IMPLAN model assumes 60 percent of the construction workforce would originate from Cassia County or 
Minidoka County. 


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County (IMPLAN 2003). Estimated indirect and induced effects of construction that would occur 
within Mini-Cassia may add 50 jobs, approximately $1 million in labor income, and approximately 
$3.3 million in total output. Similar to direct economic impacts from construction, these secondary 
economic impacts would occur one time. The secondary impacts would likely lag behind direct 
impacts by six to 12 months. 

In summary, approximately 40 percent of construction workers (53 workers) could originate from 
outside the Mini-Cassia area, and approximately ten percent (14 workers) would commute weekly. 
This would result in a temporary additional daily population in the area surrounding the Proposed 
Project from Monday through Friday, during the construction period. The change would be noticeable 
because the population near the Proposed Project area is small (e.g., 48 residents in the five census 
blocks near where the Proposed Project is located, 177 residents in Malta, and 262 residents in 
Albion). However, the population increase would be temporary and would only occur during the 
week (the majority of the increase would occur during daytime hours only, not overnight). The impact 
of additional population would be low because population near the Proposed Project area would not 
grow substantially or permanently. The increase in demand for services would be small and 
temporary, and no businesses or residences would be displaced by the Proposed Project construction. 
Communities and businesses would retain their physical arrangement and function. Workers would 
not likely relocate to cities or unincorporated areas near the Proposed Project area because the 
construction period would be relatively short. 

Beneficial impacts to local businesses and the economy would include: additional spending by 
workers for food, gas, and lodging; spending by the construction contractor for supplies and standard 
materials needed for construction; and additional jobs and related income. These impacts are expected 
to be low to moderate. 

Changes in tourism use and spending would likely represent no impact to a low impact due to 
construction because (1) the construction period would be relatively short, and (2) construction 
activities would be occurring in an area that is not widely used. Additionally, the “assembly line” 
construction sequencing allows construction to be completed in one area before construction is begun 
in the next. Therefore, construction would only occupy one section of the Proposed Project area at 
one time, freeing other areas for recreational activities. 

Construction of the Proposed Project, and in particular, the road system, would require materials to be 
transported by truck. Approximately 14,940 truck trips would be required under Alternative B. Of 
these total truck trips, 12,735 truck trips would be for the purpose of road building. These truck trips 
would result in impacts on local communities similar to impacts from truck trips transporting 
agricultural goods during harvest season. Types of impacts would include noise, dust, and additional 
traffic on roads. 


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Fiscal Impacts 

Sales and/or use tax revenue on the construction contract would accrue to Cassia County because 
Cassia County is the location of the Proposed Project construction. The contractor would need to 
apply for a use tax account with the Idaho State Tax Commission (ITC 2004). Sales tax revenue on 
the construction contract would be approximately $12 million. This one-time beneficial fiscal impact 
would more than double retail sales tax revenue accruing to Cassia County that year. 

Minidoka County would benefit from sales tax revenue to the extent that construction or operation 
employees purchase goods or services in Minidoka County. 

Operation 

Community and Regional Economy 

The Proposed Project operation would be expected to begin in late 2006 or early 2007, and would 
involve operation of the wind turbines 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Operating the 
Proposed Project would cost approximately $4.5 million annually (Table 4.9-3). 


Table 4.9-3. Annual Cost of Operation and Maintenance ($1000s) of the Proposed 
Project. 


Type of cost 

Cost 

Labor 

$600 

Non-labor costs 

$3,900 

Portion of non-labor costs occurring locally (does not include lubricants) 

$1,000 

Total annual operation cost 

$4,500 


Notes: The labor cost of $600,000 would include salaries, benefits, and other labor-related costs. 


Twelve employees would work at the Proposed Project on a permanent basis, including one office 
administrator, one foreman, and ten windsmiths/electricians. Employees would work eight-hour 
shifts, five days per week, with the exception of five of the windsmiths, who would likely rotate shifts 
to cover nights and weekends. It is anticipated that all permanent positions with the exception of the 
foreman position would be filled from the local labor force (within the Mini-Cassia area). Some 
windsmith training would be provided to those who have a basic understanding of electrical work. 

In addition to labor costs, the cost of operation also includes maintenance and other non-labor costs 
associated with operating the turbines and transmitting power. Maintenance costs could increase 
slightly in the future, after the five-year warranty on the turbine expires. The Applicant would employ 
on-call staff to address potential turbine breakdowns. 

Similar to construction, operation of the Proposed Project would result in secondary (indirect and 
induced) economic impacts that would occur within the Mini-Cassia area. 3 Indirect and induced 


3 The IMPLAN model assumes that 25 percent of non-labor operation and maintenance costs would be spent 
within Cassia County or Minidoka County. 


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impacts were estimated using IMPLAN (IMPLAN 2003). Unlike indirect and induced impacts from 
construction, indirect and induced impacts from operation would represent permanent increases in 
area economic variables. These impacts would lag behind direct economic impacts by approximately 
six to 12 months. Estimated indirect and induced impacts of Proposed Project operation that would 
occur within the Mini-Cassia area on an annual basis would be an additional seven permanent jobs, 
$145,000 in labor income, and approximately $472,000 in output. 4 

In summary, it is expected that one operation employee, at most, would originate from outside the 
area. This would not represent an increase in population, concentration of population, or increase in 
demand for public services. Operation of the Proposed Project would not disrupt or displace 
businesses or residences, and would not divide a community. 

Low but beneficial economic impacts to the local community and economy would include 12 new 
permanent jobs and related income, and additional spending at local establishments by workers (gas 
and food) and by the Applicant (supplies and standard materials for operational and maintenance 
functions). 

Use of the area by tourists and spending by tourists would not likely decrease substantially in the long 
run. Visual impacts to recreationists traveling in the area would likely occur. However, since Cotterel 
Mountain is not a destination recreation location, construction of the Proposed Project should not alter 
the decision of tourists to travel through the area. Therefore, tourism would not likely be affected by 
views of the Proposed Project. Users that chose to recreate on Cotterel Mountain in proximity to the 
Proposed Project would experience change in views compared to current conditions. 

Fiscal Impacts 

Property Tax 

After construction, the Proposed Project property would remain public land. ITC would set the 
estimated value of improvements because the property would be newly classified as “operating 
property.” According to the ITC, the estimated value of improvements would be $194 million of the 
$197 million non-labor cost of the Proposed Project, because $3 million would be the cost of roads 
and transmission interconnect lines. The transmission interconnect lines would be turned over to 
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) or to Raft River Rural Electric. Accordingly, the ITC 
estimates that the Proposed Project would add approximately $197 million in value of improvements 
in Cassia County (ITC 2003b). 

Sales Tax 

Sales tax revenue accruing to Cassia County would increase due to increased retail sales (i.e., supplies 
purchased) attributable to Proposed Project construction. Assuming approximately $7.5 million (20% 


4 The IMPLAN model assumes that seven of the 12 operation employees would originate from the Mini-Cassia 
area. 


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of non-labor construction costs excluding the cost of the wind turbines and towers) is spent locally, 
the one-time increase in sales tax revenue would be approximately $500,000. 

Similarly, assuming an annual $1 million is spent each year in the Mini-Cassia area for Proposed 
Project operation, the permanent increase to annual sales tax revenue would be $60,000. This estimate 
would increase to the extent construction and operation employees spend money locally on gas, food, 
and lodging throughout the area. According to the ITC, the amount of sales tax revenue that is 
returned to each county depends on population and assessed value (Poplar 2003). Therefore, because 
the Proposed Project would result in an increase in property value in Cassia County, the portion of 
sales tax revenue returned to the county should also rise. This would represent a moderate impact. 

Cassia Joint School District No. 151 

According to the distribution of property taxes, Cassia Joint School District No. 151 would receive an 
additional $1.3 million per year due to the Proposed Project. 5 As a result of this increase in tax 
revenue, the state would act in two ways: it would remove financial support that is currently provided 
to the School District, and it would replace those funds through the state property tax replacement 
system. The net effect of these actions would be an increase in revenues of only $123; therefore, the 
School District would experience a property tax benefit associated with the Proposed Project. These 
increases would benefit school districts in the State of Idaho, including Cassia County School District 
(Times News 2004). 

Road Maintenance 

The scoping process for this Draft EIS indicated that local citizens are concerned about increased 
demand for road maintenance by local agencies. The increased demand would result from increased 
use of existing roads throughout the Proposed Project area, and construction of new roads, for the 
purpose of Proposed Project construction and operation. Local taxes such as property taxes, sales 
taxes, and use taxes are meant to cover these additional costs associated with any type of 
development. 

Property Values 

Construction 

The proposed construction period would be approximately eight months. Because construction 
(workers, heavy equipment, staging areas, etc.) on the Proposed Project would be temporary and 
because the Proposed Project is located over two miles from the nearest residence, adverse property 
value impacts (decreases in property value due to views to construction) attributable to Proposed 
Project construction are not expected to occur. 


5 The estimate of $1.3 million in additional property tax revenue accruing to Cassia Joint School District No. 
151 is supported by a study completed in March 2003 by the ITC, “Proposed Cotterel Mountain Wind Farm 
Project - Likely Effect on Cassia County Property Taxes” (ITC 2003). 


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Operation 

ECONorthwest prepared a study that analyzed the economic effects of a wind power project on 
private land in Kittitas County, Washington (ECONorthwest 2002). The study included an assessment 
of property value impacts due to wind power projects. ECONorthwest (1) conducted a phone survey 
of tax assessors for counties that recently had wind turbines installed in their areas; (2) reviewed 
current literature to find statistical studies that quantified the impacts of wind turbines on property 
values, and (3) reviewed literature on the impacts that transmission interconnect lines have on 
property values. Assessors were chosen for interviews if the projects within their counties were ten 
years old or less, were viewed from residential properties, and had multiple turbines. ECONorthwest 
found that “views of wind turbines would not impact property values.” ECONorthwest did not find 
evidence supporting the claim that views of wind farms decrease property values (ECONorthwest 
2002). Applying the ECONorthwest research, even if a visual impact were to occur as a result of this 
Proposed Project, resulting decreases in property values would not necessarily occur. 

Social Values 

The Proposed Project would not interfere substantially with social values in the area. Grazing, 
hunting, and other activities that currently take place at Cotterel Mountain would continue to occur. 
Due to the increased public access provided by the new and improved roads that would be built as 
part of the Proposed Project, activities such as hunting could increase. Income that currently accrues 
to the Mini-Cassia area due to tourism is not likely to decrease because the activities would remain 
available, and the quality of the recreational experience would remain similar. 

Many people who submitted comments during the scoping period wrote in support of the Proposed 
Project. However, there were those, including some living near the Proposed Project area, who had 
concerns about property issues (value changes and maintaining boundaries when public access 
increases), recreation issues (increases in use due to greater public access and possible decrease in 
desirability due to perception of views), and fiscal impacts (tax impacts and increased need for road 
maintenance). There are also those, particularly in and surrounding the community, who are strongly 
opposed to the Proposed Project. This has contributed to a negative change (although minor) in the 
cohesiveness of the community and may continue to do so. 

Environmental Justice 

The Mini-Cassia area has more minority and low-income residents when compared to the south 
central region of Idaho and the State of Idaho. The five census blocks within which the Proposed 
Project would be constructed are, as a whole, eight percent minority, which is a lower percentage than 
the same measure for the Mini-Cassia area, South Central Idaho, and the State of Idaho. Similarly, the 
block group within which the Proposed Project would be constructed is ten percent minority, which is 
a lower percentage than the same measure for the Mini-Cassia area, South Central Idaho, and the 
State of Idaho. The residents closest to the Proposed Project, who would experience much of the 
temporary impacts of construction, should not be identified as a minority or low-income population. 


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Therefore, minority and low-income populations would not experience disproportionate impacts as a 
result of the Proposed Project. 

4.9.3 Alternative C 

Under Alternative C, construction and annual operation cost would be similar to Alternative B; 
therefore, the impacts would be similar. Under Alternative C, slightly fewer truck trips would be 
required than under Alternative B, and impacts due to the truck trips would be similar. 

4.9.4 Alternative D 

Alternative D would have 40 to 50 percent fewer turbines than Alternative B. Socioeconomic benefits 
such as tax revenue increases due to the Proposed Project would therefore be less in magnitude, and 
adverse impacts such as disturbances due to construction of the Proposed Project would likely be 
shorter in duration and less in magnitude. The type of impacts would be similar to Alternative B. 

Construction 

Community and Regional Economy 

The cost of construction would be approximately $125 million, based on the smaller number of 
turbines. The breakdown of costs would be proportionally the same as shown in Table 4.9-1. The type 
and amount of employment and the origin of workers would be similar to Alternative B. Secondary 
impacts would be similar in type to Alternative B, but smaller in magnitude. Impacts would be low to 
local businesses and the economy such as additional spending by workers for food, gas, and lodging; 
spending by the construction contractor for supplies and standard materials needed for construction; 
and additional jobs and related income. Impacts to tourism and related spending would be similar to 
Alternative B. Under Alternative D, fewer truck trips would be required, approximately one-third less 
than under Alternative B. Similar to other types of impacts under Alternative D, impacts from truck 
trips would be the same in type, but less in magnitude and duration when compared to Alternative B. 

Fiscal Impacts 

Sales or use tax revenue impacts would be similar to Alternative B, except smaller because the 
construction contract amount would be smaller. 

Operation 

Community and Regional Economy 

Operating the Proposed Project under Alternative D would cost approximately $2.9 million annually, 
based on the smaller number of turbines. The number of employees and related income associated 
with operation would be less than under Alternative B. The breakdown of operation costs would be 
proportionately the same as shown in Alternative B. Secondary impacts would be the same in type as 
Alternative B, but smaller in magnitude due to the smaller number of turbines. 


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Fiscal Impacts 

The effect on property tax revenue under Alternative C would be less than Alternative B because the 
estimated value of the improvements to the land would be less. The additional revenue from the 
construction of the Proposed Project would likely be distributed in the same manner as Alternative B 
(Table 3.5-11). 

Accrued sales tax revenue for Cassia County would also be less in comparison to Alternative B; 
therefore, fewer funds would be available for the School District under Alternative C, because the 
value of the improvements to the land would be less. 

Issues related to road maintenance would be the same as under Alternative B. 

Property Values 

The type of impacts due to construction would be the same as under Alternative B. Similar to under 
Alternative B, impacts (decreases) to property values due to changed views would not likely occur 
due to operation. 

Social Values 

Issues related to social values would be the same as under Alternative B. 

Environmental Justice 

Similar to Alternative B, minority and low-income populations would not experience disproportionate 
Proposed Project impacts. 

4.10 LANDS AND REALTY 

This section discusses the potential effects to land ownership, land uses, and land management plans 
in the Proposed Project area. 

4.10.1 Land Status and Ownership 

Surface or mineral ownership would not change by implementing any of the alternatives. No direct or 
indirect effects to existing surface land ownership or mineral ownership would occur by 
implementing any of the alternatives. 

The proposed wind turbines, roads, and ancillary facilities would be located on federal lands under 
the jurisdiction of the BLM. ROW approvals would be obtained from the BLM in accordance with 
the processes outlined in 43 Code of Regulations 2800 and the BLM ROW Handbook (H-2800-1). 

4.10.2 Land Use 

The primary impacts to land use associated with the Proposed Project are tied to change in landscape 
character, aesthetic quality and prior land use. Current predominant land use in the Proposed Project 
area consists of wildlife habitat, livestock grazing and recreation. 


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4.10.3 Alternative A (No Action) 

Alternative A would result in no change to landscape character, aesthetic quality or existing land uses 
within the Proposed Project area or its vicinity. 

4.10.4 Alternative B 

Moderate impacts would occur from an overall change in landscape character from a remote to an 
industrial character and a decline in the aesthetic quality of the land for recreational uses. No 
permanent changes to land use are expected within the Proposed Project area. All surface equipment 
would be removed from the area at the end of the economic life of the Proposed Project, and 
reclamation would restore disturbed sites to near prior conditions. All actions would be in 
conformance with county, state, and federal land use plans. 

Livestock grazing, recreation and wildlife use would continue within the Proposed Project area during 
construction and operation. Impacts to these resources are discussed in the individual resource 
sections. Prior land uses would be re-established after decommissioning of the Proposed Project, and 
final reclamation of turbine pads and roads. 

4.10.5 Alternative C 

For Alternative C, impacts to land use would be the similar to Alternative B. Under Alternative C, 
fewer miles of access road would be constructed, providing less access to the area than Alternative B. 

4.10.6 Alternative D 

Alternative D would have the fewest impacts to land use due to a smaller area of construction (fewer 
turbines) and fewer miles of access road. 

4.11 RECREATION 

Primary impacts to recreation are based on how the Proposed Project could change the Recreation 
Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) classification within the Proposed Project area and takes into account: 
existing recreation opportunities for activities such as camping, hunting, OHV use and sightseeing; 
visitor use; and potential for improvement of recreation facilities. Changes in visitor type or 
experience and degree of lost opportunities were used as indicators in the evaluation process. 

4.11.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Based on the activities outlined in the Cassia RMP, no change to recreation opportunities or degree of 
use would be anticipated in the area, beyond some minor modifications to recreation facilities and 
trails. These modifications are expected to enhance the recreation spectrum in the Proposed Project 
area. 

4.11.2 AlternativeB 

Under Alternative B, impacts to recreation resources are expected to be moderate. Public access to 
federal and state lands within the Proposed Project area would not be restricted, except during 


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construction of the Proposed Project for safety purposes. Following Proposed Project construction, 
public access to federal and state lands would be improved with about 25 miles of new or 
reconstructed roads. During construction of the Proposed Project, noise, dust, traffic, equipment use, 
and associated human activities would change the character of the area and result in a temporary loss 
of recreational opportunities. 

The Proposed Project would alter the aesthetic sense of Cotterel Mountain as a rural, undeveloped 
recreational area. The improved road system would likely result in an increased number of visitors to 
the area, and the daily presence of O&M personnel may discourage visitors seeking solitude. 
Increased access would enhance opportunities for legal hunting and wildlife sightseeing for some 
recreational users. However, this could lead to occurrences of poaching and other disturbances to big 
game and other wildlife. 

The Proposed Project may attract tourists to the area. The types of visitors could shift from 
predominately local visitors to visitors from outside the area that would be interested or curious about 
the wind turbines and energy generation. The novelty of the wind turbines and change from the 
relatively undeveloped prairie and sagebrush landscape along 1-84 would likely cause some travelers 
to view the Proposed Project with interest. Drivers passing by may be intrigued by the wind towers 
and stop to investigate or photograph them. Interpretive panels may be erected at the rest area along I- 
84 east of the Proposed Project area or at other locations along highways to inform drivers of the 
Proposed Project. 

Under Alternative B, a wind turbine would be located within about 760 feet of the Coe Creek picnic 
site. Visitors to the picnic site may be able to hear the wind turbines at times of turbine operation. In 
addition, several turbines would be visible from the picnic site. The auditory and visual presence of 
the wind turbines may deter some visitors from using the picnic site. Other visitors may be attracted 
to the picnic site by its unique location within an operational wind power generation facility. 

All surface equipment and structures would be removed during final reclamation. All turbine 
locations, selected roads, and other disturbed sites would be reclaimed to reestablish grazing lands, 
wildlife habitat, and recreational use. Some roads may be retained upon Proposed Project completion 
allowing increased recreational use of the area. 

The potential impacts to recreation could result in a change of visitor/use or experience. These 
potential changes to recreation use would not alter the current ROS category (semiprimitive 
motorized) for Cotterel Mountain and would not be in conflict with the Cassia RMP. 

4.11.3 Alternative C 

Under Alternative C, the Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about three miles of 
road and the construction of about 19.5 miles of new roads (about 23 miles total). Public use of 
Proposed Project roads would be restricted through a series of gates and natural rock barriers but 
would not result in a loss of access to traditional use areas. Primitive access would be maintained 


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wherever possible by linking the existing primitive road system through construction of new 
primitive roads. Similar to Alternative B, impacts to recreation resources are expected to be moderate. 

Under Alternative C, the closest wind turbine would be located within about one-quarter mile (1,400 
feet) of the Coe Creek picnic site. Visitors would likely be able to hear the turbines during times of 
turbine operation but less so than under Alternative B. Turbines would still be visible from the Coe 
Creek picnic site. 

The potential impacts to recreation under Alternative C could result in a change of visitor/use or 
experience. These potential changes to recreation use would not alter the current ROS category 
(semiprimitive motorized) for Cotterel Mountain and would not be in conflict with the Cassia RMP. 

4.11.4 Alternative D 

Under Alternative D, the Proposed Project would require the reconstruction of about three miles of 
road and the construction of about 15 miles of new roads (about 18 miles total). Public use of 
Proposed Project roads would be restricted through a series of gates and natural rock barriers but 
would not result in a loss of access to traditional use areas. Primitive access would be maintained 
wherever possible by linking the existing primitive road system through construction of new 
primitive roads. Similar to Alternative B and Alternative C, impacts to recreation resources are 
expected to be moderate. 

Impacts to users of the Coe Creek picnic site would be the same as those described under Alternative 
C. 

The potential impacts to recreation under Alternative D could result in a change of visitor/use or 
experience. These potential changes to recreation use would not alter the current ROS category 
(semiprimitive motorized) for Cotterel Mountain and would not be in conflict with the Cassia RMP. 

4.12 LIVESTOCK GRAZING 

Primary impacts to livestock grazing are based on how the Proposed Project could affect forage 
availability for livestock grazing, grazing management, and Animal Unit Months (AUMs). The 
information on current grazing permits in the Proposed Project area (Table 3.8-1) was used for 
calculating impacts. The following indicators were used in assessing potential impacts to grazing: 

• Acres of forage disposed from grazing for livestock and wildlife; and 

• Changes in range conditions and alteration of current range improvements. 

4.12.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Based on the activities outlined in the Cassia RMP no changes to grazing would be expected in the 
area beyond some vegetation treatments or minor range improvement projects to facilitate livestock 
grazing. Under Alternative A, these modifications are not expected to impact livestock grazing. 


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4.12.2 Alternative B 

A temporary loss of rangelands, associated with construction activities, would reduce forage 
availability on approximately 368 acres (3%) from the North and South Cotterel Allotments. This 
estimate is based on 100 percent of the affected area being available as forage, even though a 
percentage of these areas is of no forage value, i.e. rock outcrops, roads, bare ground, etc. It is 
assumed that impacts on range resources from construction activity would be evenly distributed 
throughout both grazing allotments. Following construction of the Proposed Project, reclamation and 
revegetation efforts would restore range improvement projects and forage availability on 
approximately 165 acres (45% of the impacted area). Restoration of disturbed vegetation to pre¬ 
construction conditions is expected to take approximately three to five years. Permanent impacts to 
rangeland vegetation would result in a loss of forage on approximately 203 acres (2%) of the 
Proposed Project area. 

The overall response of livestock to a fully operational wind power project is difficult to assess. It is 
likely that most of the livestock would habituate to the presence of the operating wind power project 
as well as to the increased traffic associated with maintenance of the Proposed Project. Some 
livestock may not habituate to the presence of the Proposed Project and its associated activities. These 
animals would likely stay some distance from the turbine strings and access roads; it is unknown if 
this displacement would adversely effect the range resource or the behavior and fitness of livestock. 

Clearing existing vegetation from construction sites may provide a corridor for the spread of invasive 
and noxious weeds, which could reduce available forage, and in some instances, be harmful to the 
health of livestock. Based on the amount and distribution of area impacted by Alternative B, impacts 
to grazing operations would not be appreciable during construction and throughout the period of 
operation of the Proposed Project. 

4.12.3 Alternative C 

Impacts to livestock grazing from Alternative C would be similar to Alternative B, but the total 
number of acres initially affected would be slightly less. The amount of available forage for livestock 
use would be greater under Alternative B. Alternative C would initially impact approximately 337 to 
350 acres (3%) of rangeland currently available for grazing within the Proposed Project area. 
Following construction of the Proposed Project, reclamation and revegetation efforts would restore 
range improvement projects and forage availability on approximately 134 to 147 acres (40% to 42% 
of the impacted area). Restoration of disturbed vegetation to pre-construction conditions is expected 
to take approximately three to five years. Permanent impacts to rangeland vegetation would result in a 
loss of forage on approximately 203 acres (2%) of the Proposed Project area. 

4.12.4 Alternative D 

Impacts to livestock grazing from Alternative D would be similar to Alternative B and Alternative C, 
but the total number of initial and permanent acres affected would be less. The amount of available 
forage for livestock use would be greatest under Alternative D. Alternative D would have the least 
amount of impact to livestock grazing compared to Alternative B and Alternative C. Alternative D, 


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would initially impact approximately 269 to 282 acres (3%) of rangeland currently available for 
grazing within the Proposed Project area. Following construction of the Proposed Project, reclamation 
and revegetation efforts would restore range improvement projects and forage availability on 
approximately 111 to 123 acres (41% to 44% of the impacted area). Restoration of disturbed 
vegetation to pre-construction conditions is expected to take approximately three to five years. 
Permanent impacts to rangeland vegetation would result in a loss of forage on approximately 159 
acres (1%) of the Proposed Project area. 

4.13 VISUAL RESOURCES 

Visual Resource Contrast Rating involves determining whether the potential visual impacts from 
proposed surface-disturbing activities or developments would meet the management objectives 
established for the Cotterel Mountain area or whether design adjustments would be required for the 
Proposed Project. The Visual Resource Contrast Rating method is summarized below, followed by 
the Visual Resource Contrast Rating for the Proposed Project 

4.13.1 Visual Resource Contrast Rating Method 

The Visual Resource Contrast Rating method is a systematic process used by the BLM to analyze 
potential visual impacts of a proposed action. The degree to which a proposed action affects the visual 
quality of a landscape depends on the visual contrast created between a proposed action and the 
existing landscape. The contrast can be measured by comparing the proposed action features with the 
existing major landscape features. The basic design elements of form, line, color, and texture are used 
to make this comparison, and to describe the visual contrast created by the proposed action. This 
process provides a means for determining visual impacts and for identifying measures to mitigate 
these impacts. 

To assess the visual impact from the Proposed Project, contrast ratings were completed from the most 
critical viewpoints, called key observation points (KOP). Initially, the BLM selected 12 KOP along 
commonly traveled routes, or at other likely observation points, such as the Pomerelle Mountain 
Resort. Specialists from the BLM evaluated these 12 points and chose four KOP as representing the 
best scenic value for the Proposed Project (Figure 4.13-1). The visual observation team visited, 
photographed, and rated the viewshed of the Proposed Project area from each of the four KOP. 
Photographs of the Proposed Project area were incorporated into a computer-generated visual 
simulation of the completed Proposed Project. From each KOP, the computer-generated simulation 
portrayed the proposed turbines in their proper locations and at the correct scale (Appendix G). Using 
these simulations, the specialists each completed the BLM visual contrast rating worksheets. A fifth 
site, in the town of Albion, was also photographed and computer-generated simulation created. 
However, this site was not selected as a KOP. Appendix G includes the visual simulations used for 
the visual contrast rating. 


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[Albion 


IDAHO 






- 



_ 

n— 










Oregon Trail crossing 
of Rainbow Ranch Road 








• • 


BLM Operation 
Yard Driveway 




Additional simulation from 
Marsh Creek Event Center 
in Albion (not a key obs. point) 








*1 


? 


\V^ 

• 



• 

t 



• 

• 


j r 

• ' 

\ 

• 



n 



Overlook on Road 
to Pomerelle 


! 


la It a 


California Trail south 
of McClendon Spring 


Cotterel Wind Power Project 


Figure 4.13-1. Key Observation Points. 


x ; i 


Legend 

Key Observation Point 
Project Area 

I.I.I Alt B Interconnect ROW 
l m 2 Alt. C and D Interconnect ROW 
* Transmission Lines 


Interstate 
Major Roads 
Other Roads 


2 Miles 

H 













































































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The team assessed the visual contrasts between the viewshed of the Proposed Project area and the 
existing viewshed. The team identified the basic features (landform, vegetation, and structures) and 
the basic elements (form, line, color, and texture) that cause contrast. The proposed development 
would primarily consist of landform features (e.g., roads and pads) and structural features (e.g., 
turbines, transmission interconnect lines). Each member of the team then rated the degree of contrast 
(none, weak, moderate, or strong) for each basic element within each basic feature using the visual 
resource contrast rating criteria (Table 4.13-1). 


Table 4.13-1. Visual Resource Contrast Rating Criteria. 


Degree of Contrast 

Criteria 

None 

The contrast is not visible or perceived. 

Weak 

The contrast can be seen but does not attract attention. 

Moderate 

The contrast begins to attract attention and begins to dominate the 
characteristic landscape. 

Strong 

The contrast demands attention, will not be overlooked, and is dominant 
in the landscape. 


Visual Resource Contrast Rating Results 

The individual contrast ratings produced by each member of the visual assessment team were 
averaged. Table 4.13-2 lists the average visual contrast rating for the four KOP (Figure 4.13-1). 

The contrast ratings were then compared to the approved Visual Resource Management (VRM) 
Inventory classes. For comparative purposes, the four levels of contrast (none, weak, moderate, and 
strong) roughly correspond with VRM Inventory classes I, II, III, and IV, respectively. Therefore, a 
"strong" contrast rating may be acceptable in a VRM Inventory Class IV area. All of the proposed 
turbine strings fall within VRM Inventory Class IV. 

The team also assessed the cumulative effect of all the contrast ratings, because a combination of 
ratings may suggest that there is a stronger overall contrast than the individual ratings show. For 
example, several "moderate" ratings, when viewed in combination, may warrant an overall "strong" 
visual contrast rating for the view of the Proposed Project from a particular KOP. Using this 
guidance, the Proposed Project would cause: an overall “moderate to strong” visual contrast when 
viewed from the Pomerelle KOP; overall “weak to moderate” visual contrasts when viewed from the 
Oregon Trail KOP and California Trail KOP; and an overall “weak” visual contrast when viewed 
from the BLM Office KOP. 


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Table 4.13-2. Visual Contrast Rating for the Proposed Project. 


LAND 

VEGETATION STRUCTURES 

KOP 1: California Trial 

H 

w 

s 

w 

a on 

FORM 

None 

None 

Moderate 

LINE 

Moderate 

None 

Moderate 

COLOR 

Moderate 

Moderate 

Moderate 

TEXTURE 

Weak 

Weak 

Moderate 

KOP 2: Oregon Trial 

ELEMENT 

S 

FORM 

Weak 

None 

Moderate 

LINE 

Moderate 

None 

Moderate 

COLOR 

Moderate 

Moderate 

Moderate 

TEXTURE 

Moderate 

Weak 

Moderate 

KOP 3: Howell Canyon Road 

ELEMENT 

S 

FORM 

Weak 

Weak 

Moderate 

LINE 

Strong 

Weak 

Moderate 

COLOR 

Moderate 

Moderate 

Moderate 

TEXTURE 

Moderate 

Weak 

Moderate 

KOP 4: BLM Office 

ELEMENT 

S 

FORM 

Weak 

Weak 

Weak 

LINE 

Weak 

None 

Weak 

COLOR 

Weak 

Weak 

Weak 

TEXTURE 

Weak 

None 

Weak 


4.13.2 Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, no impact to visual resources would occur from the Proposed Project. 

4.13.3 Alternative B 

Construction Phase 

Visual resources could be impacted over the short-term during the construction phase due to the 
amount of vehicle and heavy equipment traffic associated with the Proposed Project. The number of 
truck trips necessary to complete the Proposed Project would be greatest under this alternative. 

Impacts from dust plumes may be associated with construction of the proposed North and South 
Access Roads. Construction of these roads would involve a cut-and-fill process, using earth-moving 
equipment. The proposed North Access Road passes through the scenic corridor associated with SH- 
81. The proposed South Access Road would be visible from a Class II designated area associated with 
SH-77, (part of the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway). Both these areas have increased sensitivity to 
visual impacts due the public visibility associated with nearby highways and 1-84. Impacts from 
traffic and dust created by constructing both the access roads would be short-term. 

Cranes used to raise the towers could be visible from sensitive areas. Although the cranes would be 
operating within a Class IV area, they could be visible from the Class II designated area to the 


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southwest. This would represent an impact to visual resources. Crane activity would be the greatest 
under this alternative. 

Construction of the two transmission interconnect lines would be visible from the north and east side 
of the Proposed Project area. The north transmission interconnect line would pass over SH-81 and its 
associated scenic corridor. Construction crews and equipment would be visible to the public in this 
area and may result in visual impacts. The eastern transmission interconnect line would pass through 
a Class IV designation. Construction crews and equipment would be visible from the scenic corridor 
associated with SH-81, resulting in a visual impact. 

Operational Phase 

Under Alternative B, the west string would be about 0.8 mile in length and located along a short side- 
ridge, west of the main Cotterel Mountain ridgeline. This ridgeline resides within a Class IV 
designated area, but would be visible in the foreground-middleground zone from the Class II 
designated areas to the west, resulting in a direct impact to visual resources over the long-term. 

The center string of wind turbines would be about 10.9 miles in length and placed along the spine of 
the main ridgeline of the mountain. This string would reside within a Class IV designated area but 
would be visible in the middle-ground zone from a Class II designated area to the west that coincides 
with Albion Valley and a scenic corridor associated with SH-77. When viewed from these aspects, 
the center string would be visible and change the character of the landscape. It would contrast with 
the surrounding landscape by matching neither color, form, line, or texture. Compounding this 
difference in landscape contrast is the increased sensitivity of the viewsheds due to relatively high 
public visibility from the residents of Albion and Malta, and motorists on both SH-77 and SH-81, 
resulting in a visual impact over the long-term. 

The northern half of the center string would be visible from SH-81 and 1-84. These roadways lie 
within scenic corridors with an increased sensitivity level due to the large number of people who 
would see the Proposed Project, and may result in an impact. 

The east string could also be visible from the east along SH-81 and the community of Malta, Idaho. 
The community of Malta and SH-81 reside in a scenic corridor with increased levels of sensitivity 
due to the visibility from the roadway and the community residents. From this aspect, the towers 
would represent a direct impact over the long-term. 

Under Alternative B, the west string and the South Access Road would be the most visible aspects of 
the Proposed Project from both the Howell Canyon road (Pomerelle Mountain Resort Access road) 
and SH-77 City of Rocks Backcountry Byway. This visibility would impact the background view 
from these areas, resulting in a visual impact over the long-term. 

Alternative B calls for the expansion of the O&M building at the junction of SH-77 and the proposed 
South Access Road. There could be an impact to visual resources associated with this proposed 


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expansion to the extent that the facility becomes larger and more visible from the Class II area 
associated with SH-77. 

Improvements to the North Access Road could have impacts by making the road more visible from 
the scenic corridor associated with SH-81 and 1-84. Approximately one-half mile of the road 
improvement would take place within the scenic corridor, which is sensitive to visual impacts due to 
the large number of people who may see the improved road. 

Transmission interconnect lines would be visible from the north and east side of the Proposed Project 
area. The majority of the eastern transmission interconnect line would be parallel to the existing Raft 
River Transmission Line and match it, in both height and form. The north transmission interconnect 
line would be visible from 1-84, pass over SH-81 and through its associated scenic corridor. The 
northern transmission interconnect line would be visible to motorists in this area, resulting in long¬ 
term visual impacts. The eastern transmission interconnect line would pass through a Class IV 
designated area. The eastern transmission interconnect line would be visible from the scenic corridor 
associated with SH-81, resulting in a long-term visual impact. 

4.13.4 Alternative C 

Construction Phase 

Under Alternative C, short-term impacts to visual resources due to construction of the Proposed 
Project may occur due to the amount of vehicle and heavy equipment traffic associated with the 
Proposed Project. The number of truck trips necessary to complete the Proposed Project under this 
alternative would be 13 percent fewer than under Alternative B. 

Impacts associated with construction of the North Access Road would be the same as described under 
Alternative B. Impacts from traffic and dust created by constructing the access road would be short¬ 
term. 

Impacts associated with the visibility of cranes during construction would be similar to those 
described under Alternative B. Impacts under this alternative would be less than those described 
under Alternative B with fewer towers to be constructed, and the west string of towers closest to SH- 
77 would be eliminated. 

Impacts from the construction of a transmission interconnect line would be similar to those described 
under Alternative B. Under this alternative there would be a single transmission interconnect line that 
would be 19.7 miles in length. There is over twice as many miles of new transmission interconnect 
lines proposed under this alternative compared with Alternative B. However, the majority 
(approximately 15 miles) of the interconnect line would parallel the existing Raft River Transmission 
line where the Proposed Project interconnect line parallels the Raft River line. There would be no new 
element added to the visual landscape. 


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Operational Phase 

Under this alternative, facilities would be similar to those described under Alternative B. In 
comparison, there would be: 40 percent to 50 percent fewer towers, slightly fewer miles of new road, 
nearly twice as many miles of new transmission interconnect line, the turbine hubs would be 20 
percent higher, and the turbine diameter would be nine percent to 30 percent larger. Under this 
alternative, the seven turbines proposed for the west turbine string under Alternative B would not be 
constructed but the center string would be about 1.5 miles longer. Under this alternative, the 
combined length of both turbine strings would be 14.5 miles with more space between each tower. 

Impacts to visual resources from operation of the center string would be similar to those described 
under Alternative B. Under this alternative, the center string would be more visible from all 
directions, except the south where the string would be trimmed by 1.5 miles, due to the increased 
height of the towers and larger diameter of the turbines. Visual impacts to Albion Valley, SH-77, and 
SH-81 would be the same as described under Alternative B. 

When viewed from the north, the Proposed Project would result in similar impacts to those described 
under Alternative B. By comparison, the Proposed Project would be more visible to motorists on SH- 
81 and 1-84 due to a 1.5-mile extension to the north of the center string. Impacts to visual resources 
resulting from operation of the east string would be the same as those described under Alternative B. 
Under this alternative, the east string would be 1.25 miles shorter in length but the towers would be 
taller and the turbines would be larger. Impacts from the aspect of Howell Canyon Road and SH-77 
City of Rocks Backcountry Byway would be less than those described under Alternative B due to the 
elimination of the west string. Compared to Alternative B, visual impacts would be further lessened 
due to the elimination of the hill cut below the telecommunication towers on the summit of Cotterel 
Mountain. Expansion of the O&M building and improvements to the North Access Road would have 
the same impacts as described under Alternative B. 

Under this alternative, the northern transmission interconnect line would be eliminated. Impacts from 
the eastern transmission interconnect line would be similar to those described under Alternative B. By 
comparison, impacts from the eastern transmission interconnect line would be greater due to its 
increased length and proximity to 1-84. 

4.13.5 Alternative D 

Construction Phase 

Construction of the Proposed Project under this alternative would result in similar impacts to those 
described under Alternative B. Short-term impacts could result due to the amount of traffic associated 
with the Proposed Project. The number of truck trips necessary to complete the Proposed Project 
would be 33 percent less than under Alternative B. 


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Impacts associated with construction of the North and South Access Roads would be the same as 
described under Alternative B. Moderate impacts from traffic and dust created by constructing both 
the access roads would be short-term. 

Impacts associated with the visibility of cranes during construction would be similar to those 
described under Alternative B. Impacts under this alternative would be less than those described 
under Alternative B since there are fewer towers to be constructed, and both the east and west strings 
of towers would be eliminated. 

Impacts from the construction of a transmission interconnect line would be the same as those 
described under Alternative C. 

Operational Phase 

Under this alternative, facilities would be similar to those described under Alternative B. In 
comparison, there would be: 40 percent to 50 percent fewer towers, 27 percent fewer miles of 
Proposed Project roads, nearly twice as many miles of new transmission interconnect line, the turbine 
hubs would be 20 percent higher, and the turbine diameter would be nine percent to 30 percent larger. 
Under this alternative, there would be a single string of turbines 11.6 miles long. 

Impacts to visual resources from operation of the center string and when viewed from the north would 
be the same as those described under Alternative C. Impacts associated with Howell Canyon Road 
and SH-77 City of Rocks Backcountry Byway would be less than those described under C. The center 
string of turbines would still be visible resulting in impacts, however the east string would not be 
visible due to its elimination under this alternative. When viewed from the California Trail KOP, 
impacts to visual resources would be less than those described under Alternative C. The center string 
of turbines would be visible and create a contrast in landscape form, however the east string would 
not be visible due to its elimination under this alternative. Expansion of the O&M building and 
improvements to the North Access Road would have the same impacts as described under Alternative 
B. Operation of the transmission interconnect line would be the same as those described under 
Alternative C. 

4.13.6 Lighting and Dark-Sky Impacts 

Sky glow refers to the cumulative impact from illumination coming from towns, cities, and other 
developed areas. It is the yellowish glow visible in the night sky when looking toward a nearby town 
or city. Sky glow can impact and degrade the visual quality of an area. It can also affect dark-sky 
activities such as recreational and scientific space observation. 

As discussed in Chapter 2, it is anticipated that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required 
lighting would consist of medium-intensity white lights flashing during daylight and twilight hours 
and red beacons flashing during all other hours. The use of such lights is common for structures 
exceeding 200 feet in height. During daylight, these lights are not expected to distract drivers or 
attract any more attention than the turbines themselves. During non-daylight hours and non-twilight 


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hours, the lights would be apparent from the surrounding areas and would detract from the aesthetics 
of the night sky for those areas. The lighting of the turbines is not expected to create an abnormal 
distraction to drivers or produce other safety concerns. 

At present, the Proposed Project area and immediately surrounding area are primarily dark at night. 
Existing light is generated from the lights of the residences and business in the towns of Albion and 
Malta, traffic safety lighting along 1-84 north and east of the Proposed Project area, and lighting on 
cell phone and radio towers that are sited northeast of the of the Proposed Project. The flashing red 
lights associated with the turbines of the Proposed Project would be operated during nighttime hours 
and would introduce a new element into the nighttime environment of the Cotterel Mountain area. 
These lights would be limited in number, red and directional with little potential to create sky glow. 

At the O&M facility and substation(s), outdoor night lighting would be required for safety and 
security. This lighting would be restricted to the minimum levels required to meet safety and security 
needs. All lights would be hooded and directed to minimize backscatter 6 and illumination of areas 
outside of the O&M and substation(s) sites. The O&M facility and substation(s) would create sources 
of light in areas where there are currently no light sources. Substation(s) lighting may not be visible 
from the communities in the vicinity of the Proposed Project due to shielding from vegetation and 
geologic features. Nighttime users of Cotterel Mountain would experience scattered views of the 
substation(s) lighting. The lighting of the O&M facility would potentially be visible to drivers along 
SH-77 as they approached Conner Summit while traveling both in a northerly or southerly direction. 
Because all lighting of the substation(s) and O&M facility would be hooded and directional, the 
potential of lighting to create sky glow is minimal. 

4.14 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS 

Information obtained during site observations, along with a review of regulatory agency data 
indicates that there are no hazardous substances within the Proposed Project area. 

4.14.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, no impacts related to hazardous materials would occur from the Proposed 
Project. 

4.14.2 Alternative B 

During construction of Alternative B, BMP would be used to avoid spills, leaks, or dumping of 
hazardous substances. The potential to cause unmitigated hazardous materials impacts that could 
result from Alternative B is considered to be low. 

4.14.3 Alternative C 

The impacts under Alternative C would be the same as discussed under Alternative B. 


Backscatter refers to the reflection of light back toward the ground by moisture or dust in the atmosphere. 


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4.14.4 Alternative D 

The impacts under Alternative D would be the same as discussed under Alternative B and Alternative 

C. 

4.15 FIRE MANAGEMENT 

Impacts to fire and fuels could occur during the construction and operation phases of the Proposed 
Project. For purposes of this assessment fire management includes: suppression, wildfire use, and 
fuels management. The analysis takes into account guidance provided in the Cassia RMP and the 
Fire, Fuels, and Related Vegetation Management Direction Plan Amendment and Draft EIS (U.S. 
Department of the Interior (USDI), BLM 2004a). 

4.15.1 Alternative A (No Action) 

Under Alternative A, the ability of fire management to suppress wildfire and manage surface fuels 
within the Proposed Project area would not be affected. Fire frequency and intensity would not be 
changed by Alternative A. 

4.15.2 Alternative B 

Construction Impacts 

The risk of human caused ignitions in the Proposed Project area would increase slightly over the 
short-term as a result of road construction and improvement projects. Operation of heavy machinery 
and work crews in the Proposed Project area would increase the possible sources of ignition during 
road construction. The miles of new roads constructed and number of truck trips necessary to build 
Proposed Project roads would be highest under this alternative. 

Construction projects associated with towers, substations, and other structures would also slightly 
increase the risks of human caused ignitions in the Proposed Project area. Welding, or other 
fabrication activities that produce sparks would pose the highest risks. Operation of heavy machinery 
in the Proposed Project area could also increase ignition potential. The number of substations would 
be highest under this alternative. The number of truck trips necessary to construct turbines, 
substations, and other facilities would also be the highest under this alternative. 

In the event of an ignition in the Proposed Project area, the presence of construction crews and 
equipment could pose a moderate hazard to fire suppression crews. Limited access to the Proposed 
Project area may cause traffic congestion (vehicle and radio) that could increase safety hazards and 
response times as construction crews evacuate the area, and suppression crews enter. Traffic 
congestion could lead to more acres burned from wildfire. Additional hazards to suppression crews 
include any machinery or vehicles left behind by construction crews, overhead hazards (i.e., towers, 
transmission interconnect lines, substations, etc.), and hazardous materials. 


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Operational Impacts 

Operation of constructed and improved roads could have impacts to fire management. New and 
improved roads would provide increased access to the area. The public may be more likely to visit the 
Proposed Project area as a result of the increased access, increasing the probability for human caused 
ignitions; however, in the event of an ignition, suppression crew response times in the Proposed 
Project area could decrease with better roads, resulting in fewer burned acres. Impacts could result 
from the fuel breaks created by new and improved roads in the Proposed Project area. Roads provide 
a fuel break that may stop or slow the spread of fire, resulting in smaller fires over the long-term. 

The presence of towers, turbines, substations and transmission interconnect lines may limit the 
suppression strategies in the event of a wildfire. Engine and hand crews would experience impacts 
from increased overhead hazards while air attack crews would experience flight hazards. The 
presence of towers along the ridgeline could decrease the availability of potential helicopter landing 
sites. These limitations would likely cause suppression forces to use indirect tactics, resulting in more 
acres being burned. 

The towers would effectively increase the lightning-attractive area on Cotterel Mountain. The 
probability of lightning striking an object is found by multiplying the lightning-attractive area of the 
object by the local ground-flash density (lightning strikes to ground per unit area, Hasbrouck 2004). 
This may have an influence on the number of lightning caused fire starts in the area. 

Electrical trenching could impact fire suppression crews by hampering their ability to contain a 
wildfire fire by creating a fire line. Fire line created by earth moving equipment such as bulldozers 
may not be appropriate where electrical trenching exists. This could limit suppression actions, 
resulting in more acres burned. Impacts from electrical trenching could be realized during fire 
rehabilitation operations. Rangeland drills, or other heavy equipment that is sometimes used during 
the emergency stabilization and rehabilitation process may not be appropriate in the vicinity of an 
electrical trench. The most miles of electrical trenching are proposed under this alternative. 

The presence of towers, wind turbines, and substations along the ridgeline could have an impact on 
communications to the extent that they could scatter radio signals used by fire line personnel to 
communicate during fire management activities. 

4.15.3 Alternative C 

Construction Impacts 

Compared to Alternative B, the potential for ignitions during road construction and improvement 
would be less due to fewer miles of roads constructed and fewer truck trips necessary to complete 
Proposed Project roads. The presence of construction crews and equipment during suppression 
activities would have the same impacts described under Alternative B. 


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Operational Impacts 

Operation of constructed and improved roads would have impacts to fire management associated with 
new and improved roads acting as potential fuel breaks. By comparison, fewer miles of roads would 
be constructed resulting in fewer impacts than under Alternative B. 

Under this alternative, there would be fewer towers, turbines, and substations resulting in less 
widespread impacts, and slight reduction of the lightning-attractive area within the Proposed Project 
boundary. Also, fewer miles of trenching are proposed under this alternative, so the impacts would 
not be as widespread as Alternative B. Fewer structures would be constructed under this alternative, 
resulting in fewer impacts to communications during fire management activities. 

4.15.4 Alternative D 

Construction Impacts 

The potential for ignitions during road construction and improvement would be less under Alternative 
D than either Alternative B or Alternative C, due to fewer miles of roads constructed and fewer truck 
trips necessary to complete Proposed Project roads. Also, one fewer substation would be constructed 
and the number of truck trips necessary to complete the Proposed Project would be fewer, resulting in 
less of an impact than either Alternative B or Alternative C. The presence of construction crews and 
equipment during suppression activities would have the same impacts described under Alternative B. 

Operational Impacts 

Operation of constructed and improved roads acting as potential fuel breaks would have fewer 
impacts to fire management than Alternative B or Alternative C, due to fewer miles of roads. Impacts 
associated with possible increased ignitions from visitors and impacts associated with increased 
access for fire suppression crews would be slight. Under this alternative, there would be fewer towers, 
turbines, and substations resulting in less widespread impacts and a slight reduction in probability of 
ignitions due to lightning strikes. 

4.16 CUMULATIVE EFFECTS (IMPACTS) 

4.16.1 Physical Resources 

Air Quality 

Current resource uses, such as grazing and recreation, would continue to be the primary foreseeable 
uses for the area. In the past, these as well as other uses in the area including: highway construction 
projects, agriculture, changes in fuel loads and altered fire regimes; prescribed burns to treat 
vegetation; and wildfire have affected air quality, resulting in the current status. Based on current 
state and federal air quality regulations associated with these types of impacts, this action is not likely 
to affect air quality appreciably in the future. 


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Geology 

Current resource uses, such as grazing and recreation, would continue to be the primary foreseeable 
uses for the area. In the past, structures and roads built for access, may have affected the geology of 
the area, resulting in the current status. There are no other projects in the foreseeable future that 
would require drilling or blasting; therefore, geologic resources are not likely to be affected 
appreciably in the future. However, future ROW could be granted that require drilling or blasting. It is 
expected that geologic hazards would be avoided by all development projects wherever feasible. 
Therefore, cumulative impacts to or from geologic hazards would be negligible for the Proposed 
Project. 

Soils 

Current resource uses, such as grazing and recreation, would continue to be the primary foreseeable 
uses for the area. On Cotterel Mountain the existing roads, the communication site at the summit, and 
stock pond developments have all resulted in past and ongoing ground-disturbance. Other uses in the 
area including agriculture, changes in vegetation composition and the spread of invasive weed species 
have also affected soils. In the future, additional ROW that include ground-disturbing activities could 
be granted. Overall, the estimated cumulative impacts to soil resources would be expected to be 
negligible. 

Water Resources 

Past projects including road development, the communication site development, and other ground- 
disturbing activities may have impacted water resources in the area. The Proposed Project would use 
BMP to avoid impacts to 303(d) listed streams and other water resources. If future ROWs are granted 
that allow ground-disturbing projects, BMP will also be applied. Therefore, cumulative impacts to 
water resources are not expected. 

Noise 

Past projects including road development, the communication site development, and other projects 
using heaving machinery may have impacted noise levels. No other reasonably foreseeable projects in 
the vicinity of Cotterel Mountain have been identified that would result in noise impacts to residence 
or recreational users. The Proposed Project is not expected to impact noise levels, therefore, no 
cumulative noise impacts are anticipated. 

4.16.2 Biological Resources 

Vegetation 

Historical impacts to vegetation that have occurred within the Cassia-Raft River Creeks and Marsh 
Creek sub-basin include: construction of 1-84; livestock grazing; vegetation treatments; rural 
development; agricultural development that removed shrub steppe habitat; wildfire and prescribed 
burning; construction of transmission lines; livestock water developments; and removal of riparian 
vegetation. Cumulative impacts on vegetation resources could occur through increased loss and 


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alteration of habitat, as well as long-term affects from changes in grazing and fire regimes. 
Cumulative impacts of the Proposed Project include, reduced habitat and forage for livestock and 
wildlife, and possible increased populations of invasive species and noxious weeds. 

Big Game 

Historical cumulative impacts to big game that have occurred within the Cassia-Raft River Creeks 
and Marsh Creek sub-basins include: construction of 1-84; livestock grazing; rural development; 
agricultural development that removed shrub steppe habitat; wildfire and prescribed burning; 
construction of transmission lines; livestock water developments; mining; water channel alterations 
and removal of riparian vegetation; and hunting. 

Existing and foreseeable impacts to wildlife occurring within the Cassia-Raft River and Marsh Creek 
sub-basins include: public access, livestock grazing; continued alteration of streams for human 
purposes; mining; rural development; wildfire and prescribed burning; and alteration of shrub steppe 
habitats. 

Disturbance within big game habitat on and in the vicinity of Cotterel Mountain is anticipated. 
Livestock use on Cotterel Mountain is anticipated to be minimally affected by the proposed actions. 
Mule deer use on Cotterel Mountain could be altered due to increased human access. The Idaho 
Transportation Department is proposing to reconstruct a portion of the City of Rocks Back County 
Byway between Elba and Almo, Idaho. This 17-mile stretch of road would be built in phases with 
completion of the Proposed Project occurring in 2007 or 2008 (Jones 2004). Completion of this road 
reconstruction project could likely result in an increase in the number of visitors to the City of Rocks 
area and an increase in motor vehicle speeds along this section of road. This could result in an 
increase in mortality to big game as a result of an increase in wildlife vehicle collisions. Indirect 
impacts to big game such as those related to noise and human disturbance (i.e. displacement), are 
difficult to quantify, but probably would increase the overall level of cumulative impacts to big game 
habitat, over the long-term. 

Amphibians and Reptiles 

Regional cumulative impact to amphibian and reptile habitats and individuals include roads (e.g., 
federal and state highways, primary and secondary roads), future ROW authorizations, wildfire and 
vegetation management treatments. These disturbances would be expected to be scattered throughout 
the region, and probably would result in negligible impacts to amphibian and reptile populations. By 
implementing prompt revegetation and appropriate habitat protection measures following 
construction, cumulative impacts to amphibian and reptile populations within the region would be 
expected to be negligible. However, increased vehicle speeds and traffic in the Proposed Project area 
may increase roadway mortality of reptiles. 

Small Mammals 

Regional cumulative impact to small mammal habitats and individuals include roads (e.g., federal and 
state highways, primary and secondary roads), future ROW authorizations, and vegetation 


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management treatments. It would be expected that these disturbances would be scattered throughout 
the region, and probably presents a negligible impact to small mammal populations. By implementing 
prompt revegetation and appropriate habitat protection measures following construction, cumulative 
impacts to small mammal populations within the region would be expected to be negligible. 
However, potential increased vehicle speeds and traffic in the Proposed Project area may increase 
roadway mortality of small mammals. 

Birds and Bats 

Lack of data quantifying the status of local passerine and bat populations in the area make the 
assessment of cumulative impacts to birds and bats difficult. In the U.S., domestic cats, collisions 
with vehicles, buildings and windows, and communication towers each kill over one million birds 
every year, while all of the operating wind projects in 2001 were estimated to kill 10,000 to 40,000 
birds per year (Erickson et al. 2001b), roughly 80 percent of which are passerines. 

The level and sources of bat fatalities from human-induced causes are less well known, but bats are 
known to have collided with buildings and other tall structures, but less frequently than birds. Recent 
evidence indicates that wind turbines can kill bats, especially those species which migrate south for 
the winter. Bats are long-lived and produce few (usually one) young per year, which means that their 
populations could not recover as quickly from losses as could many birds that can produce many 
young per breeding cycle. Little is known about bat migration routes, corridors, or populations. 
However, the number of operating wind projects is expected to increase in the future. 

Raptors 

It is generally assumed that regional populations of common raptors are widely distributed and stable 
(Olendorff 1973; Newton 1979). During spring, Raft River Valley-Curlew National Grassland 
Globally Important Bird Area (GIBA) located to the east and south of the Proposed Project area 
contains the highest breeding population of ferruginous hawks in Idaho. Other than impacts from 
natural events, this population has been relatively unaffected for the past 30 years. Past and current 
levels of disturbance and actions have not appeared to impact productivity to a large degree within the 
GIB A. Raptors displaced by the Proposed Project could move to other territories if suitable unused 
habitat is available. Given the anticipated collision rates, local or regional cumulative impacts are not 
expected from the Proposed Project. 

Threatened or Endangered Species 

No past, present or reasonably foreseeable projects in the vicinity of Cotterel Mountain have been 
identified that would potentially affect bald eagle or gray wolf. There are several other wind power 
projects proposed in southern Idaho. These projects, if constructed within suitable habitat for either 
bald eagle or gray wolf could have the potential to impact these species. However, bald eagle 
fatalities at existing wind plants are rare to nonexistent. Gray wolf populations in Idaho continue to 
increase even with authorized and unauthorized removal of individuals due to predation. No 
cumulative impacts to gray wolf would be expected to occur. 


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Greater Sage-grouse 

It is generally assumed that regional populations of sage-grouse have been declining as a result of: 
habitat loss or fragmentation from invasive species; agriculture; degradation due to fire; grazing; 
urbanization; hunting and poaching; predation; disease; weather; accidents; herbicides; and physical 
disturbance (Connelly et al. 2004). 

Historical impacts to sage-grouse that have occurred in the Proposed Project area and its vicinity 
include: conversion of native vegetation to agricultural; wildfire; prescribed bums; constmction of I- 
84 and Interstate 86 (1-86); constmction of other roads; livestock grazing, water development, and 
fencing on private or public lands; rural development; constmction of transmission lines; mining; 
water channel alterations; drought; hunting; and disease. 

Future projects and anticipated natural events that could affect sage-grouse in the Proposed Project 
area and its vicinity include: continued livestock grazing, water development, and fencing on private 
or public lands; continued mral development; loss of shrub steppe habitat on private lands; potential 
wildfire; drought and severe winters; hunting; and disease. 

In Idaho, recent population trends show an estimated statewide decline of 40 percent from the long¬ 
term average (IDFG 1998). The average number of chicks produced per hen has declined by 40 to 50 
percent in many areas (Connelly et al. 2004). At least six sage-grouse leks are currently active or 
occasionally active on Cotterel Mountain. In 2003, the estimated population of sage-grouse on 
Cotterel Mountain was approximately 70 birds (TBR 2004). Within the Proposed Project area and its 
vicinity lek attendance trends over the last ten years have been flat. For the ten years prior to this 
period, there were declining lek attendance trends. 

Statewide it is estimated that there are 772 active leks and 5,684,900 acres of key sage-grouse habitat. 
If the Proposed Project results in the abandonment of all six known sage-grouse leks on Cotterel 
Mountain this would represent less than a one percent (0.008%) loss to the total number of leks state¬ 
wide. Under the proposed action (Alternative B), which would result in the largest project footprint, it 
is estimated that sage-grouse could potential be displaced from about 26,644 acres of suitable habitat 
on Cotterel Mountain. This displacement from potential suitable habitat would represent less than 
one-half percent (0.005%) loss to the total estimated acres of suitable sage-grouse habitat state-wide. 

In the Proposed Project area and its vicinity, it is estimated that there are 20 active leks and 142,927 
acres of key sage-grouse habitat. If the Proposed Project results in the abandonment of the six known 
sage-grouse leks on Cotterel Mountain, this implies an approximate 30 percent loss to the total 
number of leks in the area. Under Alternative B, displacement from potential suitable habitat would 
represent approximately a 19 percent loss to the total estimated acres of potential suitable sage-grouse 
habitat from the Proposed Project area and its vicinity. 

Cumulative impacts on sage-grouse could occur through: increased loss or alteration of habitat; 
increased access; agriculture; urbanization; hunting and poaching; predation; disease; herbicides; land 


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exchanges, as well as the development of energy resources. Past and present uses of the Proposed 
Project site and surrounding areas have altered vegetative composition and community dynamics (fire 
frequency and severity, soil structure and function, nutrient cycling, etc.), or converted sagebrush 
communities to agriculture or development purposes, resulting in loss of habitat. 

The construction of the Proposed Project, in conjunction with the development of other energy or 
land conversion projects within potential sage-grouse habitat, could have additive impacts by 
decreasing region-wide habitat. The continuing loss and fragmentation of sagebrush habitat has 
reduced the number of potential sites were sage-grouse are found; therefore, impacts to the remaining 
sage-grouse populations are multiplied when occupied habitat is affected. Future actions that continue 
this trend would result in a reduced population of sage-grouse. 

4.16.3 Historical and Cultural Resources 

The Proposed Project, in conjunction with other past projects or planned projects in the area, would 
result in ground disturbance that could potentially impact identified and unidentified prehistoric or 
historic sites, as well as cause impacts on traditional cultural properties. If surveys were conducted 
prior to construction of these unknown future projects, the location of these resources would be 
identified so impacts could be avoided to the extent possible. Implementation of mitigation programs 
in each individual project should help to limit project-specific impacts, therefore reducing overall 
cumulative impacts on cultural resources. 

Cumulative effects on cultural resources can also occur through natural erosion and weathering of 
lands containing archaeological sites. Cumulative impacts of the Proposed Project may include the 
disturbance and loss of unidentified cultural resources that could increase knowledge about past use 
of the area or an increase in visitation that may result in vandalism to the archaeological resources. 
Cumulative impacts may also result from gain in scientific discovery of new sites identified by 
construction and maintenance crews and the general public due to an expected increase in visitation to 
the area. 


4.16.4 American Indian Concerns 

As of the publication of the Draft EIS, no sites of concern have been identified. 

4.16.5 Socioeconomics 

Currently there are no other future foreseeable projects within the Cassia-Minidoka socioeconomic 
analysis area that when added to past actions and the Proposed Project would result any measurable 
cumulative affects. 

4.16.6 Lands and Realty 

Cumulative effects to land use issues are not expected from the Proposed Project, past actions, or 
future foreseeable actions. 


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4.16.7 Recreation 

Past BLM management, road and trail building activities, and the development of other recreation 
amenities have contributed to increase recreation opportunities and accessibility in the vicinity of 
Cotterel Mountain. In addition, the Idaho Transportation Department is proposing to reconstruct and 
pave a portion of the City of Rocks Back County Byway between Elba and Almo, Idaho. Completion 
of this road reconstruction project could likely result in an increase in the number of visitors to the 
City of Rocks area. Increased visitation to the City of Rocks could result in a rise of visitor use of 
Cotterel Mountain. At periods of high use, the campgrounds at the City of Rocks are often full. 
Visitors that do not obtain a campsite may search for appropriate dispersed camping sites in the 
vicinity of the City of Rocks, which could include Cotterel Mountain. An increase in dispersed 
camping could result in localized disturbances to wildlife, vegetation and soils. 

Nationwide the popularity of OHV use has been increasing (Motorcycle Industry Council 2003). A 
representative increase in off-highway motorcycles and ATV use would also be expected at the local 
level. The potential for the Proposed Project in combination with past projects and future foreseeable 
projects would not likely have cumulative impacts to the current ROS designation of semiprimitive 
motorized. 

4.16.8 Livestock Grazing 

Cumulative impacts could include increased concentration of livestock use, rangeland deterioration, 
and altered fire regimes. Construction on Cotterel Mountain would disturb vegetation and soil and 
create an environment that is susceptible to noxious weeds and invasive species establishment. If 
these species increase and become more dominant, they can alter the spatial distribution of livestock 
grazing. As key forage species (bluebunch wheatgrass and Idaho fescue) are replaced by invasive 
species that are less palatable (cheatgrass and bulbous bluegrass), livestock would begin to use those 
sites less and concentrate in areas with better forage (Bailey 1995). Concentrated livestock grazing 
can increase the mechanical effects on the soil, including hoof sheer and soil compaction, which 
could lead to further spread of invasive species, and decrease native reestablishment and the overall 
foragability of the site (Bailey et al. 1996). 

In addition, the spread of invasive species and the construction of the road systems could alter fire 
patterns. Based on the historic species composition and distribution on Cotterel Mountain, fire 
occurrences have primarily been low frequency, fire return intervals between 40 to 60 years (Marquez 
2004), low intensity mosaic bums. As invasive species populations increase, fuel loads within the 
system are augmented, which increases the probability and intensity of fire within the area. 
Constructed roads also affect the distribution of fire by acting as firebreaks. In doing so, natural fire 
patterns could be altered to produce more frequent, high intensity homogeneous bums. This could 
have positive affects by altering sagebmsh or juniper/mountain mahogany to grasslands, but it would 
also cause the suspension of use on AUMs associated with fire rehabilitation projects. 


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4.16.9 Visual Resources 

Past and current projects have created the existing visual conditions in the Cotterel Mountain area. 
The Proposed Project would have a cumulative impact on the visual resource. Each of the action 
alternatives would have varying degrees of impacts to visual resources beyond the Proposed Project 
area by failing to maintain the existing character of the landscape. 

No other planned projects are expected to occur in the immediate area surrounding the Proposed 
Project, except for improvement projects for range and wildlife. Such improvement projects would 
not contribute to the cumulative impact on the visual resource. 

Several other wind power projects are proposed for southern Idaho along the Snake River Plain. If 
these projects are constructed, wind turbines would become a more common sight in southern Idaho. 
Residents and frequent visitors to the region could view the turbines of one or more wind power 
projects in a single day. Over time, they would likely experience repetitive views of wind turbines 
through their local travels over a period of time. Consequently, some local residents and those 
traveling through the area might perceive a change to the overall character of the Snake River Plain 
landscape. 

4.16.10 Hazardous Materials 

The Proposed Project and future foreseeable projects in the area would be required to use BMP to 
avoid impacts to the environment from hazardous materials. When combined with past actions, there 
would not be any cumulative impacts due to hazardous materials. 

4.16.11 Fire Management 

The Proposed Project would have cumulative impacts by reducing the tools available to resource 
managers to treat surface fuels on district efforts to meet fuel reduction targets set by the National 
Fire Plan. This impact could extend beyond the boundary of the Proposed Project area by increasing 
the risk of large fires that may spread beyond the Proposed Project area boundary. Prescribed fire use 
may no longer be an acceptable method to achieve resource objectives in and adjacent to the 
Proposed Project area. The presence of the Proposed Project could increase the complexity of 
developing a prescription to the point where it would not be feasible. 

Cumulative suppression impacts could occur due to the hazards associated with wind farm 
infrastructure. Aerial suppression resources would not be appropriate due to turbine towers. Engine 
and hand crews would experience increased overhead hazards in the Proposed Project area. 
Construction of the Proposed Project would likely limit suppression within and adjacent to the 
Proposed Project area to indirect tactics in the event of a wildfire, resulting in larger fires in the 
Cotterel Mountain area. Larger fires may be either beneficial or harmful depending on the fuel type 
burned. 


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4.17 UNAVOIDABLE ADVERSE EFFECTS 

The Proposed Project design features, BMP, and compensatory off-site/mitigation would avoid or 
minimize many of the potential adverse effects. However, not all adverse effects can be avoided, nor 
would mitigation 100 percent effective in remediating all impacts. There would be at least a minimal 
amount of unavoidable adverse impact on all resources present in the Proposed Project area for at 
least a short time, due to the presence of equipment and humans in the area and the time necessary for 
restoration to be effective. Unavoidable impacts associated with the Proposed Project would include: 

• Soil compaction for road construction. 

• Loss of vegetation. 

• Loss of mule deer winter range. 

• Potential impacts to birds and bats. 

• Potential impacts to sage-grouse and their habitat. 

• Loss of livestock forage. 

• Changes to the viewshed of the Cotterel Mountain ridgeline from siting wind turbines 
and construction of roads. 

• Visual alternation of the nighttime environment due to turbine lighting. 

• Potential loss of aerial fire fighting options along the Cotterel Mountain ridgeline. 

4.18 IRREVERSIBLE AND IRRETRIEVABLE COMMITMENT OF RESOURCES 

An irreversible and irretrievable impact is defined as a permanent reduction or loss of a resource that 
once lost cannot be regained. Most energy development projects, such as gas, oil, or coal fire plants, 
result in an irreversible and irretrievable commitment of the power-generating resources (fuel). Wind 
is a renewable resource that would not be depleted or altered by the Proposed Project and could offset 
the need to consume fossil fuels. 

The loss of productivity (i.e., forage wildlife habitat) from lands used for the siting of the Proposed 
Project features (i.e., turbines roads, substations) would be an irreversible and irretrievable 
commitment of habitat resources for wildlife species, such as sage-grouse, dependent upon mature 
shrub-steppe plant communities. These vegetation communities may take 20 to 40 years or more to 
recover following decommissioning of the Proposed Project. Therefore, the majority of the land 
disturbed by the Proposed Project would not be returned to useful production for up to 50 to 70 years, 
if the Proposed Project does not go beyond 30 years. 

There would be an irreversible and irretrievable commitment of the energy used during manufacture 
of the turbine and other Proposed Project components as well as during construction, drilling, 
production, and restoration associated with the Proposed Project. Foundations or other facilities 
greater than six inches below ground surface would be permanent and abandoned in place. They 
cannot be recovered due to practical or economic considerations and they would be irreversibly and 
irretrievably committed. 


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CHAPTER 5 



CONSULTATION AND COORDINATION 







5.0 CONSULTATION AND COORDINATION 


5.0 CONSULTATION AND COORDINATION 

The Cotterel Mountain Wind Power Project is being proposed on public lands primarily managed by 
the Burley Field Office of the Idaho Bureau of Land Management (BLM). However, a variety of 
other organizations, agencies and people maintain an interest in the area or use the area for specific 
purposes. These include, but are not limited to: Idaho Department of Fish and Game (EDFG); U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); Idaho Department of Lands (DDL); Cassia County; the 
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes; the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes; communications site rights-of-way holders; 
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA); Idaho Power; and certain grazing permittees. BLM 
established a coordinated effort for participation in the analysis process by: 

• Inviting USFWS, IDFG, and BPA to cooperate in the preparation of this document; 

• Through organizing an the Interagency Wind Energy Task Team (IWETT); 

• Through formal consultation with the Tribes; 

• Through contacting, meeting with and providing information to various groups and local 
governments; and 

• By seeking the active participation of the public and existing permittees in the scoping 
process and throughout the analysis process. 

This chapter addresses the consultation and coordination that has taken place, in both an informal and 
formal setting, with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, federal, state and 
local government, interest groups and the general public. 

5.1 SPECIFIC CONSULTATION ACTIONS 

5.1.1 Formal and Informal Government-to-Government Consultation with Tribes 

During the initial public scoping period, a meeting was held on January 16, 2003 with the Shoshone- 
Bannock Land Use Policy Commission (Commission) to provide information on the Proposed 
Project, answer questions, and solicit Tribal input. During that meeting, it was suggested by the 
Commission that the Proposed Project be presented to the Tribal Business Council (Council). A 
meeting was subsequently scheduled and held with the Council on March 12, 2003. Prior to the start 
of the public scoping period, Mike Heckler of Windland, Inc. (Windland) met with Delbert Farmer, a 
former Council member, as well as Diane Yupe and LaRea Buckskin of the Heritage Tribal Office 
(HETO) to provide information on the Proposed Project. Members of the Tribal Environmental Staff 
attended a field tour of the Proposed Project area on September 22, 2003 and comments on the 
Proposed Project were received by the BLM in a letter dated October 17, 2003. Table 5.1-1 lists 
chronologically meetings and consultation with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Subsequent to the 
formation of the BLM, Twin Falls District on October 1, 2004, formal consultation was initiated with 
the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes through the Wings and Roots process on October 29, 2004. Since that 
date, the Burley Field Office Staff along with the Twin Falls District Manager have also participated 
in consultation through the Wings and Roots process on December 2, 2004, January 20, 2005 and 
February 23, 2005. 


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Table 5.1-1. Consultation with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe. 


Date 

Type of Contact 

July 8, 2002 

Informational meeting between Windland; Delbert Farmer, former 

Council member; and Diane Yupe and LaRea Buckskin of HETO 

January 16, 2003 

Meeting between the BLM and the Shoshone-Bannock Land Use Policy 
Commission 

March 12, 2003 

Meeting between the BLM and the Tribal Business Council 

September 22, 2003 

Field tour of the Proposed Project area 

October 17, 2003 

Letter from the Shosone-Bannock Tribes commenting on the Proposed 
Project. 

February 3, 2004 
March 9, 2004 

April 6, 2004 

May 11,2004 

Meetings with Shoshone-Bannock Land Use Policy Commission 

April 15,2004 

Formal Consultation with Fort Hall Tribal Business Council 

June 8, 2004 

Meeting with Tribal Environmental Staff 


5.1.2 Intergovernmental (State and Local) and Interest Group Coordination 

Members of state, county, and city governments and interest groups were contacted about the 
Proposed Project and invited to comment. In response, the IDL and IDFG submitted comment letters 
to the BLM identifying their preliminary concerns through the public scoping process. In addition, 
comment letters were received from the Western Watersheds Project, Advocates for the West, Land 
and Water Fund of the Rockies, Idaho Conservation League, Prairie Falcon Audubon Society and the 
Sierra Club, Sawtooth Group. Table 5.1-2 documents chronologically consultation with state, county, 
and city governments and other interest groups. 

Initial public scoping was conducted to help identify issues to be addressed in developing a full range 
of alternatives. Prior to the publication of the Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register, BLM 
agency representatives, at the request of local interest groups, provided preliminary information on 
the Proposed Project, and answered questions. These groups included: IDFG; the Albion Joint 
Management Association; the Cassia County Public Lands Committee; the Mini-Cassia Chamber of 
Commerce; the Burley Lions Club; the Cassia County Commissioners; and the Upper Snake River 
District Resource Advisory Council (RAC). This pre-National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
planning process facilitated a free-flow exchange of ideas, and a chance to educate interested and 
involved parties on wind as an energy resource and the trade-offs in terms of consequences to the 
environment as opposed to benefits from power generation. Consultation and project updates 
continued with these groups and others subsequent to the publication of the NOI and the beginning of 
the NEPA process. Additional groups and governments involved in the process were: the Cities of 
Albion, Malta, Declo and Burley; the Rotary Club; the Cassia Soil and Water Conservation Group; 
the C-Plan Committee; the North and South Cotterel Grazing Associations; and the Twin Falls 
District RAC. 


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5.1.3 Resource Advisory Council (RAC) 

Resource Advisory Councils are advisory boards established by the Governor of Idaho to coordinate 
with the BLM and provide input on important issues. A RAC consists of members of the public, each 
representing one or more of the many resources the BLM manages. Early on in this analysis process, 
the Upper Snake River District RAC was presented with the Proposed Project and invited to 
participate in the analysis. They were first introduced to the project at a RAC meeting on November 
19, 2002 where they were given a presentation on the proposal and information was shared. They 
were given project updates periodically until the Burley Field Office became part of the new Twin 
Falls District on October 1, 2004, at which time the new Twin Falls District RAC became involved. 
They in turn were presented with the Proposed Project and invited to participate at a RAC meeting on 
November 9, 2004. They have been periodically updated and are scheduled for an on-site tour in May 
of 2005. 

5.1.4 Cassia County Public Lands Committee 

The Cassia County Public Lands Committee is a local working group that expressed an interest in the 
Proposed Project. The committee is somewhat unique being one of only two such committees in the 
State of Idaho. It is comprised of citizens and local county officials that have varying interests in 
Federal actions and public lands. They meet regularly with the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service to 
discuss and provide input on the important issues that affect public lands within Cassia County. This 
group has also been presented with project updates throughout the analysis process. 

5.1.5 Congressional Staffs 

Local Congressional Staffs were briefed on the Proposed Project by Field Office Manager, Theresa 
Hanley at a meeting in Twin Falls in December of 2002. Members of the Burley Field Office Staff 
also briefed the BLM Acting State Director, along with several members of his staff on the project in 
October of 2002, and obtained their concurrence for the necessity for the preparation of a Resource 
Management Plan amendment and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed Project. 
Wendy Reynolds, the current Field Office Manager for the Burley Field Office, conducted a briefing 
and on-site tour of the proposed Cotterel Mountain Proposed Project area with congressional 
representatives, Heather Teal, Linda Culver and Mike Matthews on August 23, 2004. 


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Table 5.1-2. Consultation with State, County, and City Government. 


Date 

Type of Contact 

June 25, 2002 

BLM and Windland give a presentation on the Proposed Project to the 
Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce 

August 20,2002 

Sensitive species information request to the IDFG Conservation Data 

Center 

August 22, 2002 

URS Group, Inc. (URS) and Windland hold meeting with the IDFG Magic 
Valley Region Staff to disclose the features of the Proposed Project. 

September 27, 2002 

BLM and Windland give a presentation to the Burley Lion’s Club 

November 19, 2002 

Upper Snake River District RAC Mtg. (presentation on Proposed Project) 

December of 2002 

Local Congressional Staffs were briefed by BLM Field Office Manager, 
Theresa Hanley 

January 7, 2002 

Scoping comments from Idaho Department of Lands 

February 3, 2003 

IDFG attendance at agency scooping meeting 

February 10, 2003 

BLM gives a project briefing to the South Cotterel Grazing Assoc. 

February 11, 2003 

BLM contacts Mayors and/or City Councils of Malta, Declo and Burley to 
consult on the Proposed Project 

February 19, 2003 

BLM gives a project briefing to the North Cotterel Grazing Assoc. 

February 21, 2003 

Scoping comment letter from EDFG 

February 25, 2003 

BLM and Windland give a presentation to the Albion City Council 

February 27, 2003 

Resource Advisory Council Meeting (project update) 

April 11,2003 

BLM updates IDFG on the Proposed Project 

May 1, 2003 

IDFG participates in a field tour with BLM and USFWS 

August 20, 2003 

IDFG attendance at Interdisciplinary team Proposed Project area field trip 

November 24, 2003 

Resource Advisory Council Meeting (project update) 

January 12, 2004 

BLM updates IDFG on Proposed Project 

January 13, 2004 

BLM briefs C-Plan Committee on Proposed Project 

January 27, 2004 

IDL and Cassia County Commissioners invited to be cooperating agencies, 
IDFG invited to be a participating agency 

February 25, 2004 

Resource Advisory Council Meeting (project update) 

March 22, 2004 

Cassia County Commissioners Meeting (project update) 

April 26, 2004 

Cassia County Commissioners Meeting (project update) 

May 20, 2004 

Resource Advisory Council Meeting (project update) 

July 16, 2004 

BLM conducts field tour for Cassia County Public Lands Committee 

October 25, 2004 

Cassia County Commissioners Meeting (project update) 

October 26, 2004 

BLM gives a presentation to the Burley Rotary Club 

November 9, 2004 

Twin Falls District Resource Advisory Council Meeting (presentation on 
Proposed Project) 


5.1.6 Consultation with Federal Agencies 

The USFWS supplied a comment letter during the public scoping process. A scoping meeting specific 
to wildlife issues was held with the USFWS, with IDFG present, at the BLM Burley Field office on 
February 3, 2003. Representatives from the USFWS also attended an interdisciplinary resource team 
field trip to the Proposed Project area on August 20, 2003. Table 5.1-3 lists chronologically the 
consultation completed with Federal Agencies. 


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The BLM and USFWS operate under an interagency agreement in a cooperative approach to fish and 
wildlife management. The BLM enters into consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act of1973, as amended. The consultation process includes both “informar’ and 
“formal” consultation. A biological evaluation process is used by these agencies to identify which 
listed or proposed species could be affected by the proposed action, to evaluate the possible effects, 
and to determine if formal consultation is required. Because of the presence of bald eagle known to 
use the Proposed Project area, formal consultation is being conducted with the USFWS and a 
Biological Assessment is being prepared relative to the bald eagle. A Biological Opinion based on the 
findings in the Biological Assessment will be issued by the USFWS and made a party of the Record 
of Decision of this analysis. 


Table 5.1-3. Consultation with Federal Agencies. 


Date 

Type of Contact 

August 20, 2002 

URS requests project specific species list from USFWS 

September 20, 2002 

URS and Windland held meeting with USFWS Eastern Idaho Field 
Office, Chubbuck, Idaho to disclose the features of the Proposed 

Project. 

September 27, 2002 

BLM received project specific species list from USFWS 

November 11, 2002 

BLM requested revised project species list from USFWS 

December 5, 2002 

BLM received revised project specific species list from USFWS 

December 16, 2002 

BLM sends letter to USFWS to initiate consultation on the Proposed 
Project. 

January 2, 2003 

BLM receipt of letter from USFWS providing clarification on the 
necessity for a biological assessment. 

February 3, 2003 

USFWS attendance at agency scooping meeting 

May 1,2003 

USFWS participates in a field tour of the Proposed Project area with 

BLM and IDFG 

August 20, 2003 

USFWS attendance at interdisciplinary team Proposed Project area field 
trip 

November 12, 2003 

BLM and Windland consult with BPA regarding power transmission 
interconnection issues 

January 27, 2004 

USFWS and BPA invited to be cooperating agencies 

May 19, 2004 

USFWS attends coordination meeting with BLM 

July 14, 2004 

BLM gives tour of Proposed Project area to Jeff Foss, USFWS 

September 10, 2004 

USFWS participates in an interagency coordination meeting with BLM, 
IDFG and representatives of Windland and Shell WindEnergy, Inc. 

November 18, 2004 

BLM and Windland meet with Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to consult 
on possible power transmission line routing across BOR lands 


5.1.7 Interagency Wind Energy Task Team (IWETT) 

Following an interagency coordination meeting with BLM, IDFG, USFWS and representatives from 
Windland, Inc. and Shell WindEnergy, Inc., the IWETT was formed consisting of members from 
BLM, IDFG, USFWS and URS Group, Inc. The IWETT was chartered to assist in the Proposed 
Project analysis process as described below: 


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• Review baseline technical wildlife reports and data and identify additional data needs, if 
appropriate; 

• Assist and contribute to the development of mitigation measures; 

• Assist and contribute to the development of adaptive management strategies; 

• Assist with development and/or further enhancement of a range of alternatives; 

• Provide technical input for the environment consequences (impacts) section of the Draft 
EIS; and 

• Define what constitutes an adequate project-monitoring program. 

The IWETT met eight times over the course of several months to address these issues and 
assignments. Table 5.1-4 lists a chronology of IWETT coordination and consultation. 


Table 5.1-4. Interagency Wind Energy Task Team Consultation. 


Date 

Event 

October 15, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #1 

October 20, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #2 

October 28, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #3 

November 22, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #4 

December 2, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #5 

December 14, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #6 

December 21, 2004 

IWETT Meeting #7 

March 29, 2005 

IWETT Meeting #8 


5.1.8 Initial Public Scoping-Mailing List 

At the beginning of the project a mailing list was developed to send out project publications to 
individuals, organizations, and agencies. The mailing list included names and addresses from the lead 
agency, BLM existing mailing lists, potentially affected federal, state and local agencies, 
organizations, Tribes, and other interested private parties. This mailing list had approximately 115 
interested parties. During the course of the project analysis, the mailing list has grown to include 
approximately 250 interested parties and is expected to continue to expand. 

The initial mailing list was used to include interested parties during the course of the project through 
newsletters. A Public Scoping Notice Newsletter was prepared and mailed on December 19, 2002. 
The Notice invited the public to participate in the scoping process and to comment on the planning 
criteria. A BLM mailing address and email address were provided in the scoping newsletter with a 
pre-addressed comment form, for the public to send into the BLM with comments on the Proposed 
Project. This first Newsletter served to inform the recipients of the public scoping process for the 
preparation of the Draft EIS and Land Use Plan Amendment and the scheduled scoping meetings for 
the Proposed Project. It also included background information on the Proposed Project, the purpose 
and need for the proposed action, and preliminary resource issues. 

A second newsletter was published and mailed in July of 2003. This newsletter provided an update on 
the progress of the EIS process, studies that had been completed, and an updated schedule. 


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5.1.9 Public Scoping Meetings 

Public scoping meetings were held in Albion, Idaho on January 7, in Burley, Idaho on January 8, and 
in Boise, Idaho on January 9, of 2003. A total of 135 individuals attended the three meetings. 

The scoping meetings were held in an “Open House” format and featured informal, one-on-one 
question and answer interactions by BLM and URS interdisciplinary resource team members. 
Representatives of Windland were also on hand to answer technical questions about the Proposed 
Project. Attendees signed a registration sheet as they entered the room. The interdisciplinary resource 
team members then escorted attendees to stations set up around the room. At each station were 
display boards with information about the Proposed Project. Information presented on the display 
boards included; resource issues; planning criteria; Proposed Project design; visual simulations; 
equipment diagrams; and an initial proposed schedule for completing the planning process. Attendees 
were encouraged to provide written comments and questions on the Proposed Project on provided 
forms and leave them at the meeting or mail them to the BLM. Table 5.1-5 lists the agencies, groups 
and individuals who responded during the scoping process. 


Table 5.1-5. Agencies, Groups and Individuals Who Responded During the Scoping Process. 


Agencies 

Federal 

State of Idaho 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Idaho Department of Lands 


Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife 

Citizens Groups 

Advocates for the West 

Idaho Conservation League 

Renewable Northwest Project 

Western Watersheds Project 

NW Energy Coalition 

Prairie Falcon Audubon Society 

Land and Water Fund of the Rockies 

Sierra Club, Sawtooth Group 

Individuals 

Bennie Smyer 

Kent Klosterman 

Bill Eastlake 

Kevin A. Larson 

Bob Bean 

Len F. Marrs 

Bob Bronson 

Leo Bell 

C.H. Nellis 

LeRoy Jarolimek 

Candiodo Pena 

Mark Grigg 

Charles R. Ward 

Mark Iverson 

Curtis E. Canned 

Mark Ohrenschall 

Curtis Richins 

Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Bristol 

David Westfall 

Nick Rokich 

Dean Richins 

Norman Anderson 

Dean Sullivan 

Norman Dayley 

Donald Dean 

Philip Wheeler 

Fran Allans 

Robert Blurton 


May 2005 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


5.0 Consultation and Coordination 


Table 5.1-5. Agencies, Groups and Individuals Who Responded During the Scoping Process. 


Gale R. Ward 

Ryan Hawther 

Harry R. Badger 

Tammy Lien 

Jack Enterkine 

The Chatbum Family 

Janet Powers 

Thomas Bacon 

Jay L. Black 

Thomas C. Ward 

Jim Powers 

Tom Geary 

Jon Fillmore 

Victoria Francis 

Jon P. Fillmore 


Julie Kreiensiecu 


Karl Simonson 


Keith Amende 


Kelly Adams 



5.2 LIST OF PREPARERS 

Personnel contacted or consulted during preparation of this Draft EIS are listed in Table 5.2-1. The 
list of preparers and participants is given in Table 5.2-2. 


Table 5.2-1. Personnel Contacted or Consulted for the Cotterel Wind Power Project. 


Agency or Organization 

Name 

Position 

Bureau of Land Management 

Burley Field Office 

Wendy Reynolds 

Burley Field Office Manager 
(July, 2003 -Present) 


Bemie Jansen 

Acting Burley Field Office 
Manager 

(March 2003-July 2003) 


Theresa Hanley 

Burley Field Office Manager 
(Nov 1999-March 2003) 


Scott D. Barker 

Project Manager 


Kenneth Knowles 

Environmental Protection 
Specialist 


Peggy Bartels 

Wildlife Biologist 


John C. Lytle 

Archeologist 


Felicia Burkhardt 

GIS Coordinator 


Elena Shaw 

Rangeland Management 
Specialist/Lead 


Nancy Ady 

Rangeland Management 
Specialist 


Dennis Thompson 

Outdoor Recreation Planner 


Jim Tharp 

Natural Resource Specialist 


Bill Rice 

Civil Engineer 


Steve Davis 

Hydrologist 


Forrest Griggs 

Geologist 


May 2005 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


5.0 Consultation and Coordination 


Table 5.2-1. Personnel Contacted or Consulted for the Cotterel Wind Power Project. 


Agency or Organization 

Name 

Position 

Upper Snake River District (now 
known as the Idaho Falls District) 

Joe Kraayenbrink 

Upper Snake River District 
Manager 


David Howell 

Public Affairs Specialist 


Kathe Rhodes 

Environmental Coordinator 

Twin Falls District 

Howard Hedrick 

Twin Falls District Manager 


Paul Oakes 

Planning and Environmental 
Coordinator 


Sky Buffat 

Public Affairs 

Idaho State Office 

Kurt Kotter 

Associate State Director 


Susan Giannettino 

Deputy State Director 

Resource Services Division 


John Augsburger 

Wildlife Biologist 


Signe Sather-Blair 

Wildlife Biologist 


John Martin 

Economist 


Jack Peterson 

Resource Management 

Specialist 


Gary Wyke 

Planning Coordinator 

Washington Office 350 

Tom Hurshman 

National Project Manager 


Ray Brady 

National Program Lead 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Sandi Arena 

Wildlife Biologist 


Deb Mignogno 

Supervisor 

Eastern Idaho Field Office 


Mark Robertson 

Boise Office 


Jeff Foss 

Boise Office 


Dr. Benjamin Tuggle 

Washington Office 


Steve Bouffard 

Refuge Manager 

Minidoka Refuge 

Idaho Department of Fish and Game 

Mike McDonald 

Environmental Staff Biologist 
Magic Valley Region 


David Parrish 

Magic Valley Regional 
Supervisor 


Bruce Haak 

Non-Game Biologist 

Southwest Region 


Randy Smith 

Biologist Magic Valley 

Region 


Greg Servheen 

Biologist Boise Office 


Tracy Trent 

Supervisor Boise Office 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


5.0 Consultation and Coordination 


Table 5.2-2. List of Preparers and Participants for the Cotterel Wind Power Project. 


Name 

Education/Experience 

Draft EIS Responsibility 

BLM Interdisciplinary Team 

Scott D. Barker 

BS Forest Management 

30 Years Experience 

Project Management 

Team Leader 

Visual Resources 

Wendy Reynolds 

15 Years Experience 

Burley Field Office Manager 
(July, 2003 -Present) 

Theresa Hanley 

BA/MA Anthropology 

15 Years Experience 

Burley Office Field Manager 
(Nov 1999-March 2003) 

Bemie Jansen 

BS Range Science, Jun 1967 

30+ Years Experience 

Acting Burley Field Office 
Manager 

(March 2003 - July 2003) 

Paul Oakes 

BA Biology 

33 Years Experience 

Planning/NEPA Coordination 

Kathe Rhodes 


NEPA Coordination 

Peggy Bartels 

BS/MS Wildlife Biology 

9 Years Experience 

Wildlife Biology 

John C. Lytle 

BA/MA Anthropology 

28 Years Experience 

Cultural Resources 

Kenneth Knowles 

BS Conservation/Biology 

MS Range Management 

30 Years Experience 

Hazardous Materials and 
Noxious Weeds 

Felicia Burkhardt 


GIS 

Elena Shaw 

BS Range Science 

22 Years Experience 

Rangeland Resources 

Nancy Ady 

BS Range & Animal Science 

BS Horticulture 

10 Years Experience 

Rangeland Resources 

Dennis Thompson 


Recreation, Visual Resources 

John Augsburger 

BS Wildlife Management 

MS Wildlife Science 

31 Years Experience 

Wildlife Biology 

Bill Rice 


Engineering 

Steve Davis 

BS Zoology (Fisheries & 
Wildlife) 20 Years Exper. 

Hydrology 

Forrest Griggs 

BS Geology 

3 Years Experience 

Geology 

John Martin 

MS Agricultural and Natural 
Resources Economics 

30 Years Experience 

Socio-Economics 

Jim Tharp 

BS Wildlife Management 

17 Years Experience 

Natural Resource Specialist/ 
Ecologist 

David Howell 


Public Affairs 

Sky Buffat 


Public Affairs 

URS Corporation 

Aaron English 

BS Wildlife Biology 

13 Years Experience 

Project Manager 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


5-10 





































Cotferel Wind Power Project 


5.0 Consultation and Coordination 


Table 5.2-2. List of Preparers and Participants for the Cotterel Wind Power Project. 


Name 

Education/Experience 

Draft EIS Responsibility 

Suzy Cavanagh 

MS Geology 

6 Years Experience 

Geology, Soils, Hydrology 

Brandt Elwell 

MS Forestry/BS Geography 

11 Years Experience 

GIS Analyst, Vegetation, 

Visual Resources 

Dautis Pearson 

BA General Biology 

22 Years Experience. 

Land Use, Recreation, 

Visual Resources, 

Mike Kelly 

BA/MA Anthropology 

24 Years Experience 

Cultural Resources 

Sarah McDaniels 

BA International Studies 

MA Anthropology 

5 Years Experience 

Cultural Resources 

Bridget Canty 

BS Biology 

9 Years Experience 

Avian Resources 

Katie Carroz 

MA Economics 

6 Years Experience 

Socioeconomics 

Lisa Kuchera 

BS Geographic Information 
Management 

8 Years Experience 

Hazardous Materials 

Kavi Koleini 

BS Environmental Science 

6 Years Experience 

Visual Resources 

Fire Management 

Sandra Steele 

BBA Management 

17 Years Experience 

Document Production, 
Coordination, 

Quality Assurance 

Dave Schwarz 

PhD. Geology 

14 Years Experience 

Quality Assurance, 

Technical Editing, Visual 
Resources 

Charles Baun 

MS Natural Resource 
Management 

BS Biology/Chemistry 

6 Years Experience 

Avian database management, 
vegetation, wildlife resources 

T.R.E.C Inc. 

Tim Reynolds 

Ph.D. Zoology 

30 Year Experience 

Avian Surveys 

Kent Fothergill 

BS Biology 

20 Years Experience 

Avian Surveys 

Visual Genesis 

Jason Pfaff 

BS Landscape Architecture 

11 Years Experience 

Visual Resources 

Ted Bierman 

BS Cartography 

4 Years Experience 

Visual Resources 

ABR Inc 

Brian Cooper 

MS Biology 

20 Years Experience 

Radar Surveys 

Maul Foster Alongi 

Lynn Sharp 

BA Biology 

MS Zoology 

30 Years Experience 

Avian and Wildlife Resources 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


5.0 Consultation and Coordination 


THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK 


May 2005 


Draft Environmental Impact Statement 


5-12 




CHAPTER 6 


REFERENCES 

























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4 - . ' 1 : ■ . • ?y. •• 

• : ' ... 


■t ■ ' - 







‘ fl 


6.0 REFERENCES 


6.1 REFERENCES 

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Cotterel Wind Power Project 


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May 2005 


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IDEQ (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality). 2003. Streams for Idaho (303(d) Impaired - 
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_. 2001. 1998 Air Quality Monitoring Report. State Air Quality Program Office, Air 

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IDFG (Idaho Department of Fish and Game). 2003a. Idaho state bat species list. Available at 

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_. 2003b. State-wide harvest statistics for big game in Idaho. Available at 

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_. 2003c. Greater Sage Grouse Lek Database. Boise, Idaho. 

_. 2002. An inventory of southeast Idaho bat sites: hibemacula, maternity, and transient use 

of nature and anthropogenic roosts. Idaho Department of Fish and Game, non-game grants 
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_. 1998. Sage-Grouse, A Part of Idaho’s High Desert Heritage. Idaho Department of Fish 

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__. 2003b. Idaho Dept of Labor, Labor Market Information, Annual Average 2000 

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May 2005 


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6-8 

















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APPENDIX A 



NOI PUBLISHED IN FEDERAL REGISTER 






Federal Register/ Vol. 67, No. 244/Thursday, December 19, 2002/Notices 


77801 


COMMENT DUE DATE: Your comments are 
best assured of having their full effect if 
received on or before February 18, 2003. 

Dated: December 12, 2002. 

Charles W. Grim, 

Assistant Surgeon General, Interim Director. 
[FR Doc. 02-31912 Filed 12-18-02; 8:45 am] 
BILLING CODE 4160-1S-M 


DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND 
URBAN DEVELOPMENT 

[Docket No. FR-4739-N-49] 

Notice of Proposed Information 
Collection: Comment Request; 
Applications for Housing Assistance 
Payments 

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant 
Secretary for Housing—Federal Housing 
Commissioner, HUD. 
action: Notice. 

SUMMARY: The proposed information 
collection requirement described below 
will be submitted to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for 
review, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. The Department is 
soliciting public comments on the 
subject proposal. 

DATES: Comments Due Date: February 
18, 2003. 

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are 
invited to submit comments regarding 
this proposal. Comments should refer to 
the proposal by name and/or OMB 
Control Number and should be sent to: 
Wayne Eddins, Reports Management 
Officer, Department of Housing and 
Urban Development, 451 7th Street, 
SW„ L’Enfant Plaza Building, Room 
8003, Washington, DC 20410. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
Willie Spearmon, Director, Office of 
Housing Assistance and Grant 
Administration, Department of Housing 
and Urban Development, 451 7th Street 
SW., Washington, DC 20410, telephone 
(202) 708-3000 (tins is not a tollfree 
number) for copies of the proposed 
forms and other available information. 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The 
Department is submitting the proposed 
information collection to OMB for 
review, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35, as amended). 

This Notice is soliciting comments 
from members of the public and affected 
agencies concerning the proposed 
collection of information to: (1) Evaluate 
whether the proposed collection is 
necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including 
whether the information will have 


practical utility; (2) Evaluate the 
accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the 
burden of the proposed collection of 
information; (3) Enhance the quality, 
utility, and clarity of the information to 
be collected; and (4) Minimize the 
burden of the collection of information 
on those who are to respond; including 
the use of appropriate automated 
collection techniques of other forms of 
information technology, e.g., permitting 
electronic submission of responses. 

This Notice also lists the following 
information: 

Title of Proposal: Applications for 
Housing Assistance Payments. 

OMB Control Number, if applicable: 
2502-0182. 

Description of the need for the 
information and proposed use: 

Vouchers are submitted by owners/ 
agents to HUD or their Contract 
Administrators (CA)/Performance Based 
Contract Administrators (PBCA) each 
month to receive assistance payments 
for the difference between the gross rent 
and the total tenant payment for all 
assisted tenants. In the instance of 
special claims, vouchers are submitted 
hy owners/agents to HUD or their CA/ 
PBCA to receive an amount of offset 
unpaid rents, tenant damages, 
vacancies, and/or debt service losses. 

Agency form numbers, if applicable: 
HUD-52670; HUD-52670A, Part 1; 
HUD—52670A, Part 2; HUD-52671A/B/ 
C/D. 

Estimation of the total numbers of 
hours needed to prepare the information 
collection including number of 
respondents, frequency of response, and 
hours of response: The estimated total 
number of horns needed to prepare the 
information collection is 178,585; the 
number of respondents is 43,064 
generating approximately 394,821 
annual responses; the frequency of 
response is on occasion and monthly; 
and the estimated time needed to 
prepare the response varies from 20 to 
30 minutes. 

Status of the proposed information 
collection: Revision of a currently 
approved collection. 

Authority: The Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended. 

r 

Dated: November 22, 2002 
John C. Weicher, 

Assistant Secretary for Housing—Federal 
Housing Commissioner. 

[FR Doc. 02-31908 Filed 12-18-02; 8:45 am] 

BILLING CODE 4210-27-M 


DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

Bureau of Land Management 
[ID-077-03-1430-ER-D025; IDI-33676] 

Notice of Intent To Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement/Land 
Use Plan Amendment 

AGENCY: Burley Field Office, Upper 
Snake River District, Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM), Cassia County, 
Idaho. 

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
and to Amend the Cassia Resource 
Management Plan (RMP). 

SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that 
the BLM is proposing to prepare a land 
use plan amendment and environmental 
impact statement (EIS) to consider the 
proposed Cotterel Mountain Wind 
Energy Project (Project), located 
southeast of the town of Albion in 
Cassia County, Idaho. Windland, Inc. 
(Windland) of Boise, Idaho proposes to 
construct and operate the 200-megawatt 
(MW) wind-driven power generation 
facility. The EIS will analyze the 
potential environmental impacts of the 
construction and operation of the wind 
project itself, as well as related 
transmission facilities and roads. This 
planning activity would amend the 
Cassia RMP and deals with the 40,967 
acres of public land in the Cotterel 
Mountain Management Area of the RMP 
and more specifically with 
approximately 4,600 acres running 
north and south along the ridge line of 
the mountain that would be directly 
affected by the proposed project. The 
planning process will comply with the 
Federal Land Policy and Management 
Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA). The BLM will work closely 
with interested parties to identify the 
management decisions that are best 
suited to the needs of the public. This 
collaborative process will take into 
account local, regional, and national 
needs and concerns. This notice 
initiates the public scoping process to 
identify specific issues and develop 
planning criteria. The scoping process 
will include an evaluation of the needs 
and interests of the public. 

DATES: The scoping comment period 
will commence with the publication of 
this notice. Formal scoping will end 60 
days after publication of this notice. 
Comments regarding issues and 
planning criteria should be received on 
or before the end of the scoping period 
at the address listed below. Public 
meetings or open houses will be held. 

In order to ensure local community 








77802 


Federal Register/ Vol. 67, No. 244/Thursday, December 19, 2002/Notices 


participation and input, public meetings 
will most likely be held in Albion, 

Burley and Boise, Idaho. Specific dates 
and locations for public participation 
will be published in local newspapers 
and broadcast on local community 
calendars. Meetings and open houses 
will provide opportunity for the public 
to work collaboratively with the BLM to 
identify issues to be addressed in the 
planning process. 

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the 
proposed development of a wind-driven 
power generation facility should be sent 
to: Project Manager, Cotterel Mountain 
Wind Project, Bureau of Land 
Management, Burley Field Office, 15 
East 200 South, Burley, Idaho 83318. 
Comments, including names and street 
addresses of respondents, will be 
available for public review at the above 
address during regular business hours, 
7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays, and may be 
published as part of the EIS. Individual 
respondents may request 
confidentiality. If you wish to withhold 
your name or street address from public 
review or from disclosure under the 
Freedom of Information Act, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning 
of your written comment. Such requests 
will be honored to the extent allowed by 
law. All submissions from organizations 
or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of 
organizations or businesses, will be 
made available for public inspection in 
their entirety. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Windland, 
Inc., a Boise based company, is 
proposing to install approximately 130 
wind turbines, each having a generating 
capacity between 1.3 and 1.8 megawatts, 
on a site covering approximately 7 
square miles on the Cotterel Mountains 
southeast of Burley, Idaho. The 
proposed project area is within the 
Burley Field Office, Upper Snake River 
District of the BLM. The 130 turbines 
situated on towers approximately 250 
feet in height would produce a 
maximum of 200 megawatts of power, 
enough to provide electricity for 40,000 
homes. Power from the project would be 
collected by an underground cable 
system and then fed into one of two 
proposed substations to be located on 
the project site. The fenced substation 
sites would occupy approximately two 
to four acres each. From the substation 
sites, power from the project would then 
be transported to one of two existing 
138-kilovolt (kV) power transmission 
lines that Eire in the vicinity of the 
proposed project area, via new overhead 
transmission facilities. Other facilities 


required as part of the proposed project 
are small pad mounted transformers 
located at the base of each wind turbine 
tower, access roads and one operation 
and maintenance building. The area 
permanently occupied by the project 
after final reclamation of disturbed areas 
would total approximately 68 acres. The 
project is scheduled to begin 
construction as early as June 2004, 
followed by commercial operation as 
early as November 2005 and would 
operate year-round for at least 30 years. 

The purpose and need for the 
proposed project are to (1) provide 
wind-generated electricity from a site in 
Idaho to meet existing and future 
demands for electricity; and (2) to 
develop energy generation facilities that 
are consistent with the President’s 
National Energy Policy which 
encourages the development of 
renewable energy resources, including 
wind energy, as part of an overall 
strategy to develop a diverse portfolio of 
domestic energy supplies for the 
nation’s future. 

Public Participation: Potential issues 
that have been identified to date 
include, but are not limited to the 
following general categories: Wildlife 
(including birds); vegetation (including 
weeds and invasive plant species); 
threatened, endangered and sensitive 
species; public access; visual concerns; 
cultural resources; Tribal concerns; 
rangeland resources; geology and soils; 
hydrology; recreation resources; 
hazardous materials; air quality; noise; 
and socio-economics. The BLM has 
established a 60-day scoping period 
during which, affected tribes, 
landowners, concerned citizens, special 
interest groups, local governments, and 
any other interested parties are invited 
to comment on the scope of the EIS. 
Scoping will help the BLM identify the 
full range of issues that should be 
addressed in the EIS. The Draft EIS/ 
Draft plan amendment, which is 
scheduled for completion in the fall of 
2003, will be circulated for public 
review and comment. The BLM will 
consider and respond in the Final EIS/ 
proposed planned amendment to 
comments received on the draft. The 
Final EIS and proposed plan 
amendment are expected to be 
published early in 2004. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
Scott Barker, Project Manager, Burley 
Field Office, 15 East 200 South, Burley, 
Idaho 83318, telephone (208) 677-6678. 

Dated: October 28, 2002. 

Theresa Hanley, 

Burley Field Office Manager. 

[FR Doc. 02-32060 Filed 12-18-02; 8:45 am] 
BILUNG CODE 4310-GG-P 


DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

Bureau of Reclamation 

Agency Information Collection 
Activities Under OMB Review 

AGENCY: Bureau of Reclamation, 

Interior. 

ACTION: Notice of data collection 
submission. 

SUMMARY: In accordance with the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. § 3501 et seq.), the Bureau of 
Reclamation (we, our, or us) has 
forwarded a request for renewal (with 
revisions) of an existing approved 
information collection to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB): Crop 
Acreage and Yields and Water 
Distribution (Water User Crop Census 
Report [Form 7-332], and Crop and 
Water Data [Form 7—2045]), OMB 
Control Number: 1006-0001. We request 
your comments on the revised Crop 
Acreage and Yields and Water 
Distribution Forms and specific aspects 
of the information collection. 

DATES: Your written comments must be 
received on or before January 21, 2003. 
ADDRESSES: Send comments regarding 
the information collection to the Office 
of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 
Office of Management and Budget, 
Attention: Desk Officer for the 
Department of the Interior, 725 17th 
Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503. A 
copy of your comments should also be 
sent to Ms. Diana Trujillo, Bureau of 
Reclamation, Water Resources Office, 

D—5300, PO Box 25007, Denver, CO 
80225. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For 
further information or for a copy of the 
forms contact Diana Trujillo, Bureau of 
Reclamation, (303) 445-2914. 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is 
notice that a request for review, 
comment, and approval of a revised 
currently approved collection has been 
forwarded to OMB. A Federal Register 
Notice with a 60-day comment period 
soliciting comments on this collection 
of information was published on July 
17, 2002 (67 FR 46998). No public 
comments were received by 
Reclamation. 

We have revised the currently 
approved collection to reflect industry 
standards concerning units used to 
measure yields for certain crops (i.e., 
using pounds instead of bales for cotton 
lint and using pounds instead of tons for 
hops). Other changes include: 

• In Section B-e on both forms, 
“Acres irrigated by”, we are adding the 
option to choose “Flood” along with the 






APPENDIX B 



INSTRUCTION MEMORANDUM 2003-20 FROM THE INTERIM WIND 

ENERGY DEVELOPMENT POLICY 






UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT 
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240 


October 16, 2002 


In Reply Refer To: 
2800 (WO 350) P 
Ref. IB No. 2001-138, 
IM No. 2002-011, IM No. 2002-189 
and IM No. 2002-196 


EMS TRANSMISSION 10/17/2002 
Instruction Memorandum No. 2003-020 
Expires: 09/30/2004 

To: All Field Officials 

From: Director 

Subject: Interim Wind Energy Development Policy 

Program Area: Right-of-Way Management, Wind Energy 

Issue: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides interim guidance on processing right-of-way 
applications for wind energy site testing and monitoring facilities, as well as applications for 
wind energy development projects on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM). 

Background: The President’s National Energy Policy encourages the development of renewable 
energy resources, including wind energy, as part of an overall strategy to develop a diverse 
portfolio of domestic energy supplies for our future. The BLM prepared a National Energy 
Policy Implementation Plan that included a variety of tasks related to the development of energy 
resources on the public lands, including renewable energy resources. The Implementation Plan 
and specific tasks were previously distributed by Information Bulletin No. 2001-138, dated 
August 15, 2001, and IM No. 2002-011, dated October 12, 2001. While the current contribution 
of renewable energy resources to our energy supply is relatively small, wind energy and other 
renewable energy generating sectors of our economy are the fastest growing in the United States. 
Continued growth in wind energy development will be extremely important in delivering larger 
supplies of clean, domestic power for America’s growing economy. 

The United States has significant potential for wind energy development, especially on Federal 
lands in the west. The recent extension of the Federal wind energy production tax credit and a 
variety of State-level tax credits and other incentives, including renewable energy portfolio 
standards in several States, has generated a renewed interest in commercial wind energy projects 


on Federal lands. The BLM currently administers some 25 wind energy right-of-way 
authorizations on public lands in California and Wyoming that encompass a total of 
approximately 5,000 acres and generate a total of about 500 megawatts of electrical power. The 
interest in wind energy development has recently increased and new project proposals on public 
land have been identified in several States. These existing project proposals and future proposals 
will create a significant workload that will demand a commitment of resources and a priority to 
the timely and consistent processing of right-of-way applications for the use of public lands for 
wind energy site testing and monitoring activities and for commercial wind energy development. 

Policy/Action: 

Inventory and Planning: It is BLM’s general policy to encourage the development of 
wind energy in acceptable areas. Wind energy site testing and monitoring activities are usually in 
conformance with and can be accommodated by existing land use plans without a need for a land 
use plan amendment. These existing land use plans identify wilderness and wilderness study 
areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), visual resource management areas, 
national scenic or historic trails, National Landscape Conservation System units, critical habitat 
areas, and other special management areas where land use restrictions apply to a variety of uses, 
including wind energy site testing and monitoring. However, commercial wind energy 
development activities in some cases may not be in conformance with existing land use plans and 
it may be appropriate to amend the land use plan as a concurrent action with the same analysis 
for the wind energy development proposal. In both cases, however, right-of-way applications for 
wind energy site testing and monitoring or wind energy development projects will be processed 
in a timely manner. 

Wind energy development provides many environmental advantages over other types of energy 
resource development, however, wind energy development also results in some adverse impacts, 
including visual resource impacts and wildlife and wildlife habitat disturbance. Wind energy 
projects also require some infrastructure such as access roads, transmission lines, and other 
support facilities. Although land use plans combined with appropriate levels of environmental 
analysis will be used to assess individual wind energy project proposals, the BLM’s overall wind 
energy policy is to minimize negative impacts to the natural, cultural, and visual resources on the 
public lands. Negative impacts can be minimized by avoiding special management areas with 
land use restrictions, avoiding major avian (bird) migration routes and areas of critical habitat for 
species of concern, establishing siting criteria to minimize soil disturbance and erosion on steep 
slopes, utilizing visual resource management guidelines to assist in proper siting of facilities, 
avoiding significant historic and cultural resource sites, and mitigating conflicts with other uses 
of the public lands. 

In areas where land use plans are being revised there may be benefits to specifically address wind 
resource potential, public concerns, and opportunities for wind energy development within the 
land use planning area. Supplemental planning guidance regarding wind energy and rights-of- 
way is provided by IM No. 2002-196, dated June 25, 2002. Field Offices are encouraged to 


2 


incorporate wind energy resource development potential in these planning efforts to facilitate the 
processing of future wind energy applications. The land use plan revision process would address 
the environmental and local community issues associated with commercial wind energy. 

This would provide an opportunity to potentially reduce the amount of additional environmental 
review and documentation required to process a specific application in the future. A 
programmatic amendment to one or more land use plans could also potentially be used to address 
wind energy resources on a larger scale. 

The BLM and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have 
established a partnership to conduct an assessment of wind energy and other renewable energy 
resources on public lands in the western U.S. The objective of this collaborative effort is to 
assist in the inventory of high-potential wind energy resources to support BLM land use planning 
efforts. This GIS-based assessment and analysis information is available through the BLM 
National Science and Technology Center (NSTC) or available from the Department of Energy 
internet site ( www.eren.doe.gov/windpoweringamerica/where is wind.html). Information on 
renewable energy resources, including wind energy, is also available at www.energyatlas.org. 
Field Offices are encouraged to use this information as the inventory base for addressing wind 
energy resource development opportunities and to assess the affects of other resource uses on 
wind energy resources. The National Wind Coordinating Committee also has information 
available on an internet site (www.nationalwind.org/pubs/permit/permitting20Q2 ) that can assist 
in the permitting and environmental review process associated with wind energy right-of-way 
applications on the public lands. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently developing guidelines to assist the wind industry 
in avoiding or minimizing impacts on wildlife by wind energy development. These guidelines 
contain a procedure for pre-development evaluation of potential wind resource areas based on 
their impact on wildlife, and recommendations for siting, designing, constructing, and operating 
wind turbines within areas with wind energy resource potential. A draft of the guidelines will be 
available in the fall of 2002. The pre-development evaluation procedure was developed by a 
team of Federal, state, university and industry biologists to rank potential wind development sites 
in Montana, and is already in use in that area. That process is being modified for use nationwide 
by the Fish and Wildlife Service. BLM Field Offices will be provided a copy of the guidelines 
and are encouraged to use this tool when it becomes available for evaluating areas for potential 
wind energy development. 

Applications: All wind energy and wind energy related facilities will be applied for 
under Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and Title 43, Section 
2802 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Wind energy site testing and monitoring will 
not be authorized by a land use permit under the 43 CFR 2920 regulations. Existing 2920 
permits that may have previously been issued will, however, be recognized for the term of the 
existing permit. 


3 





Applications for a right-of-way grant may be submitted for one of the following three (3) types of 
wind energy projects: 

1) a site-specific wind energy site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant for individual 
meteorological towers and instrumentation facilities with a term that is limited to 3 years; 

2) a wind energy site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant for a larger site testing 
and monitoring project area, with a term of 3 years that may be renewed consistent with 43 CFR 
2803.6-5 and the provisions of this IM beyond the initial 3-year term; and 

3) a long-term commercial wind energy development right-of-way grant with a term that 
is not limited by the regulations, but usually in the range of 30 to 35 years. 

Applications for any of the above projects will be submitted using Form SF-299, Application for 
Transportation and Utility Systems and Facilities on Federal Land, consistent with the 
requirements of 43 CFR 2802.3. The BLM authorized officer should encourage wind energy 
applicants to schedule preapplication meetings (43 CFR 2802.1) with BLM to assist in the 
preparation and processing of applications, identify potential issues and conflict areas, identify 
any environmental or cultural resource studies that may be needed, assess public interest and 
concerns, identify other authorized uses, identify other general recreation and public uses in the 
area, discuss potential alternative site locations, and discuss potential financial obligations that 
the applicant must be willing to assume. Early public notification and involvement of local 
communities and other interests is also important in increasing public acceptance and avoiding 
potential conflicts, especially in areas where other uses exist on the public lands. 

All wind energy right-of-way applications and authorizations are subject to appropriate cost 
recovery and rental fees as required by 43 CFR 2808.1 and 43 CFR 2803.1-2. The policy 
guidance on rental fees contained in this IM is based on comparable payment practices for 
existing wind energy right-of-way authorizations on Federal and non-Federal lands and was 
developed in consultation with BLM staff and others with appraisal expertise. 

Right-of-way applications for wind energy site testing and monitoring or for wind energy 
development projects will be identified as a high priority Field Office workload and will be 
processed in a timely manner. This priority is consistent with the President’s National Energy 
Policy and adequate resources should be provided to review and process the application. The 
processing time frames for right-of-way applications as required by BLM Manual 2801.35 will 
be followed for all wind energy applications. Site testing and monitoring right-of-way 
applications will usually be minor cost recovery category actions and should be processed within 
a 30-day time frame, consistent with the requirements of the Manual. The Manual requires that 
the authorized officer notify the right-of-way applicant in writing if processing will take longer, 
the reasons for the delay, and an estimate of the time frame for processing the application. The 
BLM Washington Office (WO-350) will also assign a right-of-way Project Manager, if requested 
by the State Director, to coordinate the processing of any major wind energy development right- 
of-way application. 


4 


Authorizations: 

1) Right-of-Way Grants for Site Specific Wind Energy Testing and Monitoring 
Facilities: A site-specific right-of-way grant (Form 2800-14) will be used to authorize small 
individual site-specific meteorological towers and instrumentation facilities. The term of a site- 
specific right-of-way grant will be limited to 3 years and will not be extended or renewed. 
Numerous site-specific right-of-way grants for wind energy site testing and monitoring may be 
issued to various right-of-way holders in the same area and do not establish any exclusive or 
preferential rights regarding future wind energy development. In addition, the BLM retains the 
right to authorize other compatible uses of the public lands in the area (43 CFR 2801.1-1 (a)(2)). 

Rental: The annual rental fee for a site-specific right-of-way grant for wind energy site 
testing and monitoring will be a minimum of $50 per year for each meteorological tower or 
instrumentation facility location and include no additional rental fee for the acreage of each site 
location. The area authorized for these facilities shall be the minimum necessary for construction 
and maintenance of the temporary facility. Some BLM Field Offices have existing site-location 
rental fees for temporary facilities on the public lands that can be used for wind energy site 
testing and monitoring facilities. In some cases these fees will exceed the minimum $50 per year 
fee. The rental fee for a site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant is paid annually, in 
advance, on a calendar year basis consistent with the regulations (43 CFR 2803.1-2(a)). 

2) Right-of-Way Grants for Wind Energy Site Testing and Monitoring Facilities 
that Encompass a Site Testing and Monitoring Project Area: A right-of-way grant (Form 
2800-14) that includes provisions for renewal beyond the 3-year term (43 CFR 2803.6-5) will be 
used to authorize wind energy site testing and monitoring facilities that encompass a site testing 
and monitoring project area. The holder of the site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant 
retains an interest in the site testing and monitoring project area, but will be required to submit an 
amended right-of-way application (43 CFR 2803.6-1) and Plan of Development (POD) to BLM 
for review, analysis, and separate approval for any future wind energy development. The interest 
retained by the holder of the grant is only an interest to preclude other wind energy right-of-way 
applications during the 3-year term of the grant. The lands within the grant area will not be 
available for other wind energy right-of-way applications. The holder of the site testing and 
monitoring right-of-way grant has established no right to development and is required to submit a 
separate application to BLM for analysis, review, and decision. The BLM retains the right to 
authorize other compatible uses of the public lands. The lands involved in the site testing and 
monitoring right-of-way grant will be defined by aliquot land descriptions and be configured to 
involve a reasonable amount of land that may support a possible right-of-way application for a 
wind energy development project in the future. 

The site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant for the site testing and monitoring project area 
will be issued for an initial term of 3 years. This term will be extended or renewed (43 CFR 
2803.6-5) only if an amended right-of-way application and POD is submitted for a wind energy 
development project prior to the end of the 3-year term of the initial grant. The requirement for 


5 



submittal of a POD with the amended right-of-way application is consistent with the provisions 
of 43 CFR 2802.4(h). The holder of the site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant is required 
to submit, prior to the end of the 3-year term of the grant, an amended right-of-way application 
for development to retain the interest in the site testing and monitoring project area. (See the 
Due Diligence section of this IM regarding additional provisions for a site testing and monitoring 
right-of-way grant.) 

Rental : The annual rental fee for a site testing and monitoring right-of-way grant for a site 
testing and monitoring project area will be based on the total public land acreage of the project 
area included in the right-of-way grant. The rental fee for the total public land acreage of the 
grant will be $ 1,000 per year or $ 1 per acre per year, whichever is the greater. There is no 
additional fee for the installation of each meteorological tower or instrumentation facility located 
within the site testing and monitoring project area. This rental fee is based on the value for the 
use of the area for site testing and monitoring and the value of the option held by the holder that 
precludes other wind energy right-of-way applications during the 3-year term of the grant, 
comparable to similar option payments on private lands. The rental fee for a site testing and 
monitoring right-of-way grant is paid annually, in advance, on a calendar year basis consistent 
with the regulations (43 CFR 2803.1-2(a)). 

Each type of site testing and monitoring authorization will contain appropriate stipulations, 
including but not limited to road construction and maintenance, vegetation removal, and number 
and location of wind monitoring sites. Biological and cultu