The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the withdrawal of lands identified for solar energy development in the West from new mining claims.

The BLM published a Federal Register notice today announcing the approval of a Public Land Order that withdraws 303,900 acres of land within 17 Solar Energy Zones in six western states from the location of mining claims that could impede development of solar energy sites. The lands had already been segregated from the mining laws under temporary measures. The Public Land Order extends the withdrawal for 20 years.

The Department of the Interior established the Solar Energy Zones in October 2012 as part of a western solar plan that provides a road map for utility-scale solar energy development on lands managed by the BLM in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, the BLM is charged with managing the public lands for multiple uses. Location of new mining claims within the Solar Energy Zones could preclude opportunities for development of solar energy of these lands.