Minnkota hired Barr to assist with route planning and permitting for a substation and a 9.4-mile, 115 kV high-voltage transmission line in Clearwater and Hubbard counties.
We provided GIS analysis and input on sensitive resources to be protected, such as aquatic management areas, trout streams, state lands, and sites with biodiversity significance. Using the Viewshed tool in Esri ArcGIS, we analyzed areas from which the proposed structures would be visible, and using the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ lidar data, we modeled the existing land surface and vegetation. In addition, to help stakeholders gauge visual impacts on the landscape, we created figures showing vantages from which the proposed transmission-line and substation structures would be visible.
Barr helped Minnkota navigate the Minnesota route permitting process and secure a permit for the transmission line. We also helped obtain DNR licenses to cross state lands and public waters; carried out a Section 106 consultation with the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office on behalf of the Rural Utilities Service; and conducted cultural-resources surveys. During protected-species surveys, we discovered numerous stands of the pink-and-white lady’s slipper—the state flower and a protected species—and flagged them to help construction crews avoid and preserve them.
Because the project was federally funded and had to comply with NEPA requirements, we prepared a report for the Rural Utilities Service that detailed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed transmission line.