The Bureau of Land Management proposes to approve a deviation from a pipeline corridor in Utah County so a natural gas line can be built.

Both Kern River Gas Transmission Co. and Wyoming California Pipeline Co. are considering building a pipeline from Wyoming to California, following the same route most of the way. James M. Parker, the BLM's Utah state director, said although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued certificates to both companies, it is possible that only one line will be built.The route deviates from an established utility corridor in Utah County, heading into the Kimball Creek drainage.

The BLM's avoidance criteria indicate that pipelines should not be built within 1,200 feet of riparian (streamside) or aquatic habitats.

"Portions of both pipeline routes are within 1,200 feet of aquatic habitat," in Kimball Creek, says a proposed decision document. But during a review at the scene, "it was determined that . . . the riparian corridor is narrow enough that it would not be affected by the pipeline/main-tenance road construction."

In addition, the avoidance criteria says that such features should avoid places where an above-ground feature could be an obvious intrusion. In this case, the maintenance route would be an obvious intrusion. But again, after investigating the site and reviewing possible mitigation measures, the BLM decided this criteria doesn't apply.

"After review . . . it was determined that Kim-ball Creek drainage was the preferable route from the perspective of the overall project," wrote Howard Hedrick, manager of the BLM's Pony Express Management Area, and Dean Zeller, manager of the Salt Lake District.

In order to allow that route, however, it would be necessary to amend the Pony Express Resource Management Plan, which is the action that the BLM proposes to take.

This is just one more step in a virtual flight of stairs for the pipeline. The final decision on allowing construction is expected at the end of the year.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register July 10. Only one letter was received on the idea during the comment period - from Kern River, supporting the proposal.

Parker wrote to Gov. Norm Bangerter asking that state officials comment on the plan if they should find any inconsistencies with state and local plans.

Parker told the Deseret News that in some cases, when a pipeline deviates somewhat from a utility corridor, it can be approved without changing the area management plan. But in this case, the Pony Express Resource Management Plan must be changed if the deviation is to be allowed.