With just two days left in the comment period, the Bureau of Land Management has received no public input on plans to fast-track solar energy development on more than 25,000 acres in Lincoln County.
BLM officials said it’s unusual for any project to receive no response from the public, and they may extend the 30-day comment period for the so-called Dry Lake Valley Solar Energy Zone, about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
As of now, the agency is slated to stop accepting input Friday on its Draft Regional Mitigation Strategy for Dry Lake Valley North.
Kena Gloeckner, whose family has ranched in Lincoln County for five generations, said the lack of comments could reflect a lack of controversy over the plan or because she and other rural residents are tired of seeing their input ignored by federal land managers, she said.
Gloeckner had plenty to say about an earlier proposal for the solar energy zone, which she said was much larger and would have cut the heart out of the federal grazing allotment her family needs for winter feed. That idea would have put their ranch out of business, she said.
The current version of Dry Lake Valley North still ranks as the largest of five Nevada solar energy zones established as a way to speed up the review process for renewable power projects on public land.
Such environmental reviews once took one to two years, but now can be finished in as little as six months by pre-screening tracts of federal land deemed suitable for development and designating those areas as solar energy zones.
The federal government has designated 17 solar energy zones covering almost 300,000 acres in six western states that could produce as much as 23,700 megawatts of renewable power if fully developed, according to the BLM.
The Dry Lake Valley North zone alone has the potential to produce up to 4,000 megawatts of solar energy, bureau officials said.
The draft mitigation strategy for the energy zone may be found on the project website: http://on.doi.gov/1frnwSM.
Written comments may be mailed to program manager Dan Netcher at the BLM Ely District Office, HC 33 Box 33500, Ely, NV, 89301, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.