Protect Our Migratory Birds: Demand SunZia Bury Rio Grande Transmission Lines

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New Mexico's Rio Grande Corridor is one of the most important and fragile migratory bird corridors in North America. Over 350 species of birds traveling from eleven states are funneled down New Mexico’s middle Rio Grande corridor during their annual migrations. For decades, hundreds of conservation groups have worked together to protect this precarious and threatened ecosystem. Now, SunZia's transmission lines pose a major threat to this landscape scale conservation effort now and in the future.

SunZia’s Energy Transmission Project is proposing to construct two 500-kilovolt transmission lines that cross our Rio Grande. The 160-foot-tall transmission lines will span across the Rio Grande near Escondida Lake in Socorro, bisecting two historic crane roosts, the wetland complex of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to the south, and the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Management Area, Sevilleta NWR, and the Valle de Oro NWR to the north. High voltage transmission lines crossing a major bird flyway will fragment the migratory corridor and will kill birds. 

New Mexico is ranked as the fifth most visited state for birding, bringing in $660 million in bird tourism income (Headwaters Economics, 2010). In 2014, Bosque del Apache NWR alone brought in $14 million to the local economy. Since then, attendance has doubled with over 200,000 visitors. Birding and tourism are important drivers in New Mexico's local economy, especially Socorro where 12.8% of jobs are related to birding tourism. The SunZia transmission lines pose a direct threat to this sector.

Protect our migratory birds by demanding SunZia bury the proposed transmission lines under the Rio Grande! Burying transmission lines is a common practice. In fact, SunZia agreed to bury 5 miles of the line on White Sands Missile Range. Burying lines under the Rio Grande will save Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds that depend on the Rio Grande flyway in their annual migrations. Intelligent undergrounding can cost less overall when considering the hidden costs of overhead transmission.

Renewable energy promises a better future for all of us. Together we can ensure it is implemented in a conscientious manner with respect and regard for our fragile and threatened ecosystems. Conservation groups like the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, Save Our Bosque Task Force, Rio Grande Return, Friends of Bosque del Apache, Socorro County, and concerned citizens are calling for SunZia to bury the lines under the river and protect our fragile ecosystem.

Join us in protecting our Rio Grande and the people and wildlife it supports! Sign on to this petition to demand that SunZia bury these transmission lines under the Rio Grande. Contact Senator Martin Heinrich and Senator Tom Udall directly to voice your concerns. Senator Heinrich serves on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Demand that he serve as a champion for migratory birds by setting a precedent for protecting their future.