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Notice

Genesis, Inc. Exploration Drilling Project Kootenai National Forest, Lincoln County, MT

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Revised Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

SUMMARY:

Genesis, Inc. submitted a revised Plan of Operations for exploration drilling near Troy, Montana. This revised plan adds drilling at seven sites on National Forest System Roads to the exploratory helicopter-assisted drilling described in the July 25, 2008, Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Scoping Comment Date: Comments concerning the revised proposed action must be postmarked by December 8, 2008, to be considered in the draft EIS.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments concerning the Proposed Action to Mike Herrin, Three Rivers District Ranger, Genesis Exploration Project, Kootenai National Forest, 12858 U.S. Hwy 2, Troy, MT 59935, or e-mail your comments to: comments-northern-kootenai-three-rivers@fs.fed.us. All comments received must contain: Name of commenter, postal service mailing address, and date of comment. Comments sent as an e-mail message should be sent as an attachment to the message. A copy on computer-generated disc should accompany all comments over one page in length.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dick Harlow, Project Coordinator, Three River Ranger Station, 12858 U.S. Hwy 2, Troy, Montana 59935. Phone (406) 293-7773, or e-mail at dharlow@fs.fed.us.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Proposed Action

The Three Rivers District Ranger of the Kootenai National Forest has received a revised plan of operations proposing exploration drilling in two phases.

Phase 1 adds previously authorized (Mount Vernon Exploratory Drilling Decision Memo, February 2004), but uncompleted, exploratory drilling activities located in Section 6, T28N, R33W, P.M.M., Lincoln County, Montana. This phase consists of 12 core holes from seven drill sites on National Forest System Roads 4628 and 4628A with no additional surface disturbance. The sites are approximately 100 feet long by 20 feet wide, and the holes are estimated to average 1,200 feet in depth. A diamond drill mounted on a trailer or skid would be utilized and pulled into position with a pickup or tractor. The drill schedule would be two shifts per day, seven days per week. The new timeframe for this phase is two years.

Phase 2 includes access to three (3) helicopter supported drill sites on NFS lands in sections 7, 17, 18, T28N, R33W, MT. P.M., southwest of Bull Lake, in Lincoln and Sanders Counties. These sites are within the Scotchman Peaks #662 Inventoried Roadless Area. All three sites were previously drilled in 1999, and this additional exploration drilling is needed to further define ore reserves on the unpatented mining claims. The proposal is to drill 8 core holes from three separate locations, utilizing existing openings from previous helicopter drill sites. The holes will vary from 100′ to 1600′ in depth. The Drilling Plan for the drill sites is to use a preconstructed metal landing/drill platform (approx. 30′ long × 15′ wide). The platform will be flown to the sites in sections and assembled. The drill will be mounted on the drill platforms on the south side of Ross Creek. A helicopter staging site will be located near the junction of FR 4628 and FR 4628A. Some site maintenance will be required. This work will include removal of brush and short trees.

Design features and mitigations to maintain and protect resource values would be included.

The proposed implementation period would begin in the fall of 2009 and reclamation would be completed by December 15, 2012.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

Montana Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, have either jurisdiction or interest and will participate as cooperating agencies or government entities in the preparation of this EIS. Other governmental agencies and any public that may be interested in or affected by the proposal are invited to participate in the scoping process, which is designed to obtain input and to identify potential issues relating to the proposed project.

Responsible Official

As the District Ranger of the Three Rivers Ranger District, Kootenai National Forest, I am the Responsible Official. As the Responsible Official, I will decide if the proposed project will be implemented. I will document the decision and reasons for the decision in the Record of Decision.

Range of Alternatives

The Forest Service will consider a range of alternatives. One of these will be the “no action” alternative in which none of the proposed activities will be implemented. Additional alternatives will examine varying levels and locations for the proposed activities to Start Printed Page 66838achieve the proposal's purposes, as well as to respond to the issues and other resource values.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

The nature of the decision to be made is to select an action that meets the legal rights of the proponent, while protecting the environment in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policy. The District Ranger will use the EIS process to develop the necessary information to make an informed decision as required by 36 CFR 228 Subpart A. Based on the alternatives developed in the EIS, the following are possible decisions:

1) An approval of the Plan of Operations as submitted;

2) An approval of the Plan of Operations with changes, and the incorporation of mitigations and stipulations that meet the mandates of applicable laws, regulations, and policy;

3) Denial of the Plan of Operations if no alternative can be developed that is in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policy.

Permits or Licenses Required

Various permits and licenses are needed prior to implementation of this project. Permits or licenses required by the issuing agencies identified for this proposal are:

  • Approval of Plan of Operations from the Kootenai National Forest.
  • Exploration License from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Public Involvement and Scoping: This Revised Notice of Intent offers an additional scoping period to that given in the original Notice. Comments submitted previously do not need to be resubmitted. Comments concerning the proposed action must be postmarked by December 8, 2008, to be considered in the draft EIS. The public is encouraged to take part in the process and to visit with Forest Service officials at any time during the analysis and prior to the decision. The Forest Service will be seeking information, comments, and assistance from Federal, State, and local agencies, Tribal governments, and other individuals or organizations that may be interested in, or affected by, the proposed action. This input will be used in preparation of the draft and final EIS. The scoping process will include:

1. Identifying potential issues.

2. Identifying major issues to be analyzed in depth.

3. Identifying alternatives to the proposed action.

4. Exploring additional alternatives that will be derived from issues recognized during scoping activities.

5. Identifying potential environmental effects of this proposal (i.e., direct, indirect, and cumulative effects and connected actions).

Revised Estimated Dates for Filing: The draft EIS is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available for public review in February 2008. At that time EPA will publish a Notice of Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register. The comment period on the draft EIS will be 45 days from the date the EPA publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. It is very important that those interested in the management of this area participate at that time.

The final EIS is scheduled to be completed in May 2009. In the final EIS, the Forest Service is required to respond to comments and responses received during the comment period that pertain to the environmental consequences discussed in the draft EIS and to applicable laws, regulations, and policies considered in making a decision regarding the proposal.

Reviewer's Obligations: The Forest Service believes it is important to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public participation in the environmental review process. First, reviewers of draft environmental impact statements must structure their participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewers position and contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the draft environmental impact statement stage may be waived or dismissed by the courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d 1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 1986) and Wisconsin Heritages, Inc. v. Harris, 490 F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D. Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings, it is very important that those interested in this proposed action participate by the close of the 45-day comment period so that substantive comments and objections are made available to the Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider and respond to them in the final EIS.

To be most helpful, comments on the draft EIS should be as specific as possible and may address the adequacy of the statement or the merit of the alternatives discussed. Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.

Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal, and will be available for public inspection.

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Authority: 40 CF 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, Section 21).

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Dated: October 29, 2008.

Mike Herrin,

District Ranger, Three Rivers Ranger District, Kootenai National Forest.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E8-26677 Filed 11-10-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-11-M