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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
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Land Use Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce impacts to land use from solar energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce land use impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Land use impacts are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance, habitat destruction, erosion, changes in runoff patterns, and hydrological alterations), project emissions (e.g., fugitive dust, sediment runoff, air releases, water releases), noise levels, and resource use (e.g., water extraction). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Contact local stakeholders early in the process to identify sensitive land uses, issues, and local plans and ordinances.
  • Provide adequate public notice of planned activities.
  • Evaluate current transportation systems and access routes.
  • Minimize the amount of land disturbance and develop and implement stringent erosion and dust control practices. Site the project on previously disturbed or altered landscapes whenever possible.
  • Consolidate infrastructure requirements for efficient use of land.
  • Minimize gravel placement.
  • Establish a reclamation plan that addresses both interim and final reclamation requirements and ensures all impact areas are restored.
  • Install site fencing to prevent public access and access by livestock. Also, coordinate with appropriate natural resource agencies to either allow or prevent site access by certain wildlife species such as the kit fox or desert tortoise.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a solar energy project include:

  • Implement a reclamation plan.
  • Depending on the individual site, consider steps to minimize the amount of vehicular traffic and human activity.
  • Keep gates and fences closed and in good repair to contain livestock.
  • Compensate farmers or ranchers for crop or forage losses.
  • Compensate property owners for relocation of their homes, in the event that relocation is unavoidable.
  • Restore lost agricultural lands at the end of the project.
  • Restore culturally valuable native plants on tribal lands.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of a solar energy project include:

Decommissioning/Site Reclamation

Implement the reclamation plan developed for the project. Items to consider include:

  • Remove all aboveground structures from the project area.
  • Reestablish the original grade and drainage pattern to the extent practicable.
  • Restore the vegetation cover, composition, and diversity commensurate with the ecological setting.
  • Review reclamation efforts and weed control periodically until the site is determined to have been successfully reclaimed.