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Transmission Planning and the National Conservation Easement Database

Don’t Want Transmission Towers on Your Easements? Tell the Planners Where They Are!

Our work to ensure that new transmission lines avoid and mitigate for impacts to privately conserved land is paying off!  We’ve won a seat at the table, but now transmission planners need good data on lands they should avoid – quickly!  They’ll be pulling data from the Protected Areas Database (PAD-US) and the new National Conservation Easement Database (NCED).  If your easement data is not yet included in the NCED, please make every effort to get in touch with the project team by the end of November.

Your Data is Key to Safeguarding Conserved Lands from Transmission Lines

In an alarming trend over the last few years, large swaths of farms, forests and wildlands permanently protected for the benefit of the public have been targeted for the siting of energy infrastructure projects.  The Land Trust Alliance needs your help to ensure that the push for rapid development of low carbon energy and new transmission lines does not, as an unintended consequence, undo years of public and private investment in conservation.

To learn more about these imminent threats, please read “Higher Power,” an article from the Fall 2009 issue of Saving Land or visit our transmission webpage.

What is the National Conservation Easement Database?

Developed in collaboration with land trusts and public agencies, the NCED is designed to create a single, up-to date, sustainable nationwide system for managing and accessing data about conservation easements.

The NCED will be the first national database of conservation easement information, compiling records from land trusts and public agencies throughout the United States.

Voluntary and secure, the NCED respects landowner privacy and will not collect landowner names or sensitive information. This public-private partnership brings together national conservation groups, local and regional land trusts, and state and federal agencies around a common objective. The NCED will provide a comprehensive picture of the estimated 16 million acres of privately owned conservation easement lands, recognizing their contribution to America’s natural heritage, a vibrant economy, and healthy communities.

Many Land Trusts have contributed data and the NCED team is still working with many.  If you have heard from NCED and not yet participated please accept this encouragement to do so by the end of November.  NCED has already amassed nearly 36,000 digitized easements covering 8.6 million acres in 37 states. The NCED team has located but not yet fully acquired another 54,000 digitized easements.

For more information on the NCED initiative, visit their website or see their latest fact sheet.

How a Robust NCED Will Be Used to Help Protect Your Conserved Lands: An Imminent Example

The Land Trust Alliance is actively participating in current eastern and western interconnection-wide transmission planning processes to assure conserved lands are considered early in planning rather than waiting to the line siting stage.

Interconnection Map

Eastern Interconnection

Working on behalf of the land trust community, the Land Trust Alliance secured a seat on the Stakeholder Steering Committee of the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative and several land trusts are part of the “NGO caucus.”

As part of that process, the States have been tasked with identifying generation zones to site renewable and new generation.  To help inform the generation zone identification process and assure appropriate avoidance and consideration of conserved lands in the siting of both generation and transmission, the land conservation community obtained funds to compile State-level maps of protected, ecologically important and sensitive habitats, and historical, scenic and cultural landscapes.  The NCED will be included as one of the data layers in those maps.

For more information on the eastern interconnection planning process go to: www.eipconline.com

Western Interconnection

The western transmission planning process has established an Environmental Data Task Force and retained technical assistance to collect and analyze important lands data, map important areas and, as a first step, apply the collected data to see how it would impact a case study transmission project.  It is important that privately conserved lands are included in the NCED and brought in early to the western planning process, as these lands have not been given high priority for avoidance in the past.

For more information on the western interconnection planning process go to: www.wecc.biz/Planning/TransmissionExpansion/RTEP

How You Can Help: We Invite Your Participation

Check to see whether your conserved lands and easements are currently included in the Protected Area Database (PAD-US) or the NCED.  If not, a knowledgeable representative from the NCED project team stands ready to work with you to assure your conserved lands are included in the NCED.  They will assist with assessing your easement data, and how it can be formatted for the database. If your data is not digitized yet, please let them know and they will help.

Click here to check whether your conserved lands are currently included in the PAD-US and find your state’s NCED contact on the map below.

Map of NCED Contacts

Time is Short

In order for your conserved lands to be included in the mapping project for the eastern transmission planning project, the NCED Team needs your data by mid December.  For the rest of the US, the first phase of the NCED project ends in March.  This is just one of many reasons to make sure your data is included!

We realize this is a brand new issue for most of you, but your data will be critical to our success, which help to safeguard your conservation work.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email Andy Oliver (202-518-1146, andyoliver01@yahoo.com).

Thanks for helping!

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