San Pedro Valley should be protected from transmission development

A recent map shows the proposed routes for the SunZia transmission line. The BLM preferred route cuts through sensitive areas that led to an official "protest" by The Wilderness Society.

Arizona’s San Pedro Valley and Aravaipa Canyon area are sensitive wildlands being threatened by a proposal to build new power lines across the southwest.

These regions stand to be greatly impacted by the proposed SunZia transmission project and have been the focus of concern for us since the final plan was announced.

The plan proposed by the BLM would approve a route that does not do enough to protect wilderness quality lands as well as migratory birds and other native wildlife. Our protest recommends that the BLM should not approve the BLM-preferred route through the San Pedro Valley nor the alternative through the Aravaipa Canyon area, and that the agency should either find a different, appropriate route or deny the project application.

The protest also recommends specific ways the BLM should change the project routes in New Mexico to limit impacts to wilderness-quality lands, as well as “mitigation measures” the BLM should require in both Arizona and New Mexico to off-set impacts such as the crossing of the Rio Grande River, an important flyway for migrating birds.

Broader, west-wide efforts to improve up-front transmission planning could prevent some of the problems like those posed in SunZia plan. Limiting impacts from projects through smart planning will continue to be a priority for The Wilderness Society as we work to find solutions for responsible renewable energy and transmission development. The proposed SunZia project is one example of why we cannot afford to delay efforts to better site projects in the future.