The signed Record of Decision adopts the California Public Utilities Commission/Bureau of Land Management Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
“Throughout the deliberative process, the Forest Service sought to balance California’s renewable energy needs with minimizing impacts to the environment to the greatest extent possible,” said Will Metz, Forest Supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest. “The Forest Service’s decision to authorize the project provides future access to renewable energy, improves energy system reliability, and will reduce transmission congestion in the greater San Diego area. The citizens of Southern California will benefit from implementation of Sunrise Powerlink and it is in the national interest to allow Forest lands to be utilized for this project.”
The decision adopts the comprehensive mitigation measures detailed in the Final EIR/EIS and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion. Fire mitigation will include the construction and maintenance of defensible space on Forest land adjacent to communities at risk along the route of the transmission line, and the funding to plan, design and construct fire suppression facilities and improvements. The decision also provides for additional mitigation measures on Forest lands to further minimize the impacts of the project on the environment.
The decision amends the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan (LMP) to provide a project-specific exception to the Forest LMP requirements regarding scenic integrity along the transmission line route, riparian conditions and biological resource condition goals in Riparian Conservation Areas, and for the construction of the transmission line in a Back-Country Non-motorized area.
“We carefully considered the public comments, and reviewed the information contained in the Supplemental Information Report in determining that further environmental analysis is not needed,” added Metz. “A Special Use Permit will be issued to SDG&E contingent on resolution of any potential appeals to my decision, and project certification under the Clean Water Act by the State of California Water Resources Control Board.”
Publication of the legal notice concerning this decision in the Union Tribune establishes the 45-day Administrative Review Period (appeal period) for the decision. Appeals must be filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer, Randy Moore, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592, Attn: APPEALS