By Mary Katherine Ray
In a surprise move in May, the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project announced that it is abandoning its proposed electrical transmission line on the White Sands Missile Range and the Rio Grande crossing at Escondida just north of Socorro and Bosque del Apache that had drawn deep concerns about the harm the overhead lines posed to migratory birds, especially Sandhill cranes, raptors and other waterfowl.
Previously, SunZia proposed to bury the lines across the missile range. Conservationists note the lines could now be buried under the Rio Grande to prevent bird collisions and electrocutions. SunZia hasn’t released the new plan but said it will cross the river farther north. Regardless, crossing the river above ground is a threat to birds, as the river is a major migratory route throughout its length in south-central New Mexico. Since the land in question belongs to the BLM, a new process for permission will begin, likely this summer.
Featured image from SunZia.