solar panels in the desert (BLM)

BLM eyes GIS for estimating development mitigation costs

To more accurately and easily assess the cost of restoring land in the Mojave Desert disturbed by solar projects, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is looking for contractors who can create GIS map layers that will help it determine compensatory mitigation costs of proposed development, according to an Aug. 26 request for information.

For each acre or pixel, BLM wants a single ecological value index assigned that would combine conservation targets, such as species of concern, special soil types and location of previous restoration efforts. It is also looking for a web-based GIS viewer that would allow users to access the BLM website, either upload shapefiles or digitally outline the boundaries of proposed action and then estimate the compensatory mitigation fee, the RFI said.

While it wants the map layers primarily for the Southern Nevada District, BLM is also interested in a prototype web-based GIS viewer that would allow users and BLM staff to see estimated restoration costs for any land in a given area, after the user has input he necessary information.

BLM also issued a similar RFI for GIS map layers to help it prioritize decisions on restoring habitat for threatened and endangered species. While the parameters are largely the same, contractors are asked to provide a restoration map that factors in environmental attributes like current vegetation cover and elevation – and combines the same conservation targets as the solar siting opportunity.

Proposals should be submitted with a timeline and explanation of expected risks. The deadline for the habitat restoration prioritization map is Sept. 9, and the solar siting opportunities map is due by Sept. 13.

About the Author

Shourjya Mookerjee is an associate editor for GCN and FCW. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and has written for Vox Media, Fandom and a number of capital-area news outlets. He can be reached at [email protected] – or you can find him ranting about sports, cinematography and the importance of local journalism on Twitter @byShourjya.

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