Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to send officials to Idaho to explain how it made the decision to throw out consensus routes for the proposed Gateway West high power transmission line.
Otter wrote Salazar Oct. 10 asking him to send Bureau of Land Management acting director Mike Pool, BLM National Landscape Conservation Director Carl Rountree and other relevant officials to Boise “as soon as possible but no later than mid November.”
The preferred alternative tossed out routes through the Morley Nelson Birds of Prey Conservation Area south of Kuna, for routes north and south across private land. Kuna and Ada County already rejected the northern route. Owyhee County rejected the southern route before the consensus was reached that moved the route through the Birds of Prey area.
BLM officials said the decision was made because the law establishing the Birds of Prey area requires any major action to enhance raptor habitat. BLM officials said they could not support that.
What really rankles Otter is that the BLM initially released the Gateway West environmental impact statement without a preferred alternative over Idaho’s objection.
“Ultimately, BLM headquarters choose to disregard these collaborative efforts and selected preferred alternative routes that do not have the support of the state, local communities, or state and local staff,” Otter wrote. “In so doing, BLM headquarters ignored two years of collaborative effort and its own justification for not including a designated preferred alternative in the draft EIS.”
After these tough words Otter, who has developed a good personal relationship with Salazar, added a handwritten note and a ticket to the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise.
“Hope you get a chance to use it,” Otter wrote.