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October 25, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
2800, 8100 (240) P
Information Bulletin No. 2013-015
To:                   State Directors (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah)
                        Attn:  Renewable Energy, Cultural Resources, and Tribal Liaison Leads
From:               Acting Director
Subject:           Implementation of Solar Energy Programmatic Agreement
The purpose of this Information Bulletin is to inform affected Field and State Office staff of the Solar Programmatic Agreement (Solar PA) signed on September 24, 2012, between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and the State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO) in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah governing our Solar Energy Program.  This Solar PA establishes procedures the BLM will follow to meet its Section 106 obligations under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for all future, site-specific solar energy applications where the BLM is the lead Federal agency and the application is for projects on BLM-managed public lands.
The procedures detailed within the attached Solar PA apply to all new solar applications processed under the Record of Decision for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development in six southwestern states.  As described in the final Solar PEIS, new applications are defined as any applications filed within solar energy zones after June 30, 2009, and any applications filed within variance and/or exclusion areas after publication of the Supplement to the draft Solar PEIS (October 28, 2011).
Field Offices are reminded that if, under terms of the Solar PA (Stipulation 4.B.1), the thresholds for the ACHP participation are met as expressed in the National Programmatic Agreement component 5.b., then the BLM will invite them to participate in the section 106 consultation process. If the ACHP chooses not to participate or if those thresholds are not met for a given project, then BLM Field Offices will follow the specific compliance steps laid out in the Solar PA for inventory, determinations of eligibility and effect, and treatment/mitigation.
The Solar PA commits our agency to follow certain steps in post-review discovery situations. States will also now be required to provide a summary of solar projects and section 106 compliance steps taken for those projects, whether the ACHP review thresholds were or were not met, as part of annual protocol and/or Washington Office reporting. Such documentation will be included as part of any annual reporting submitted after November 27, 2012.
In accordance with the provisions of the Solar PA, a web-based training course for managers and staff responsible for implementing the Solar PA is now under development. Details of this training will be forthcoming within the next six months.
Please forward this Solar PA to all staff affected in those Field Offices involved in authorizations of the Solar projects.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Kate Winthrop, Acting BLM Preservation Officer, WO-240, at (202) 912-7409, or kwinthrop@blm.gov.
Signed by:                                                        Authenticated by:
Mike Pool                                                          Robert M. Williams
Acting, Director                                                 Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Bureau of Land Management
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Last updated: 11-23-2012