KCEC Taos Broadband Project

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) hired Tierra to conduct extensive cultural resource and biological surveys and environmental permitting for the Taos Broadband Project, which entailed the installation of a fiber-optic network that will parallel the existing KCEC electrical distribution system within Colfax, Rio Arriba, and Taos Counties in New Mexico. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Initiative Program and was located on lands under the jurisdiction of multiple State and Federal agencies, including the New Mexico State Land Office, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, New Mexico Department of Transportation, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Taos and Picuris Pueblos.

Carson National Forest Environmental Compliance
The buried portion of the KCEC network crossing U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands totaled approximately 8.4 miles distributed over 148 scattered and noncontiguous utility easements. For this portion of the project, Tierra completed Biological Assessment and Evaluation and Biological Reports, which were reviewed and approved by the USFS following a 45-day public notice period. The project has been permitted to proceed on USFS lands.

BLM Environmental Compliance
Tierra completed a biological survey and a subsequent Biological Survey Report for the portions of the Taos Broadband Project occurring on BLM Taos Field Office–managed lands. A large portion of the surveyed area was located on the Taos Plateau, which is now part of the newly established Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The Biological Survey Report was reviewed and accepted by the BLM. Tierra is currently working with the BLM to develop an Environmental Assessment for the portions of the Taos Broadband Project on BLM lands.