Wind Energy Development Map: Definitions

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BLM National Landscape Conservation System

The NLCS includes the BLM-administered National Monuments, National Conservation Areas and similar designations (such as the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area), Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Historic Trails and National Scenic Trails. All have been established either by an act of Congress or, for many National Monuments, by Presidential Proclamation. The Oregon/Washington BLM manages 127 NLCS units totaling 3.4 million acres. In eastern Oregon, Congress has designated 5 Wilderness Areas, 16 Wild and Scenic River segments, one National Historic Trail, and the Steens Mountain CMPA. Areas identified by the BLM as WSAs also fall within the NLCS and the OR/WA BLM manages 82 WSAs totaling over 2.6 million acres in eastern Oregon.

National Monuments and National Conservation Areas: The OR/WA BLM manages one National Monument, established through Presidential Proclamation, and two Congressionally-designated areas that fall under the "National Conservation Areas (NCAs) and Similar Designations" category. Any restrictions on energy development are prescribed in their enabling legislation or proclamation and in the land use plans developed to protect their objects of historic or scientific interest (in the case of National Monuments) or to conserve, protect, enhance, and manage public lands for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations (NCAs). The one unit in eastern Oregon, Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area, is withdrawn from all forms of entry, appropriation or disposal, including granting of Rights-of-Way.

Wilderness Areas: The BLM manages nine Wilderness Areas in Oregon and Washington. Wilderness Areas are designated by Congress. The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness as "an area... which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature...; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land...; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value." Wilderness areas prohibit new energy development.

Wilderness Study Areas: The BLM manages 86 WSAs in Oregon and Washington (close to 2.7 million acres). Congress, through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), extended wilderness inventory, study and management authority to the BLM in 1976. In Section 603, Congress mandated that the BLM conduct wilderness inventories of its lands. Those lands found to possess wilderness values (WSAs) are to be managed to protect those values until such time as Congress either designates them as wilderness or releases them from further wilderness consideration. The BLM applies the Interim Management Policy and Guidelines for Lands under Wilderness Review (IMP, updated 1995). New rights-of-way are prohibited in WSAs.

To meet our FLPMA, section 201, "current inventory" obligations, the OR/WA BLM is conducting wilderness inventory updates across 8.5 million acres to determine if changes have occurred on lands outside of existing WSAs that would cause an area to now qualify as having wilderness characteristics. Such areas have high public sensitivity, and the BLM planning efforts will determine whether to protect such values over the long term.

Wild & Scenic Rivers: The BLM manages 25 Congressionally-designated Wild & Scenic River segments (over 800 miles) in Oregon. These rivers have been designated under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve their outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection. The Act purposefully strives to balance dam and other construction at appropriate sections of rivers with permanent protection for some of the country's most outstanding free-flowing rivers. To accomplish this, it prohibits federal support for actions such as the construction of dams or other instream activities that would harm the river's free-flowing condition, water quality, or outstanding resource values. Each river in the National System is administered with the overall goal of protecting and enhancing the values that caused it to be designated. Energy development proposals within a designated river corridor must conform to the applicable River Management Plan and must be found to protect and enhance outstandingly remarkable values identified for each river.

National Historic & Scenic Trails: The OR/WA BLM manages portions of two National Historic Trails (The Oregon Trail - 22 miles, and the California Trail - 2 miles) and two National Scenic Trails (Pacific Crest Trail - 42 miles, and the new Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail - 9 miles). Energy development proposals within a designated trail corridor must not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the National Trail and must conform to the applicable Management Plan for that trail.

Administratively-Designated Special Emphasis Areas

The following allocations are established through the BLM's land use planning process, conducted in accordance with the BLM's planning regulations at 43 CFR Part 1600.

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: ACECs are areas where special management attention is required to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important historic, cultural or scenic values, fish and wildlife resources, or other natural systems or processes, or to protect humans from natural hazards. The ACEC concept derives from the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). Section 202(c)(3) requires the Secretary of Interior to "give priority to the designation and protection of areas of critical environmental concern" in "the development and revision of land use plans." In order to be considered for designation as an area of critical environmental concern, an area must meet relevance and importance criteria and require special management attention. The BLM identifies ACECs through its land use planning process, which prescribes specific management direction. In the land use plan, the BLM also identifies whether lands within the ACECs are ROW Exclusion or Avoidance areas. Therefore, the OR/WA BLM evaluates proposals for projects within ACECs on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the proposed action would be compatible with the applicable Resource Management Plan direction for the ACEC at issue.

The BLM IM 2009-043 established a policy that all new, revised or amended land use planning efforts will address and analyze ACEC land use restrictions individually, including restrictions to wind energy development. ACECs will not be universally excluded from wind energy site testing, monitoring or development, but will be managed consistent with the management prescriptions for the individual ACEC. In new, revised or amended land use planning efforts, ACECs will be examined on a case-by-case basis considering the purpose and specific environmental sensitivities for which the area was designated.

VRM Classes I and II: The visual resource inventory provides the BLM managers with a means for determining visual values on the landscape. The inventory consists of a scenic quality evaluation, sensitivity level analysis, and a delineation of distance zones. Based on these three factors, the BLM-administered lands are placed into one of four Visual Resource Inventory (VRI) classes. These inventory classes represent the current relative value of the visual resources, with Classes I and II being the most valued. Resource Management Plans determine final Visual Resource Management (VRM) Classes based on the levels of protection or allowable use envisioned for a particular area. Energy development must conform to the objectives of the final VRM Classes, with Classes I and II being the most restrictive. The VRM Contrast Rating tool is used to determine whether project proposals meet, or can be mitigated to meet, the assigned VRM Class objectives.

ROW Avoidance and Exclusion Areas: Land use plans may designate ROW Avoidance and Exclusion areas in their own right, to protect specific resources or values. ROW Avoidance areas are areas to be avoided, but may be available for location of rights-of-way with special stipulations to protect the specific values identified in the designation. ROW Exclusion Areas are not available for location of rights-of-way under any conditions.