[Federal Register: August 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 159)]
[Page 47966-47967]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Land Management

[ID-410-1990-EX-069D-241A, DEG080007]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Buffalo Gulch Mining Project, Cottonwood Field Office, Idaho 
County, ID

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact 


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management Cottonwood Field Office will 
prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) consistent with the 
regulations pertaining to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
Under the provisions of Section 102(2)(c) of the NEPA, the BLM 
announces its intentions to prepare an EIS and solicit public comments 
regarding issues and resource information for this project.
    The BLM will analyze a proposal from Elk City Mining, LLC (ECM) to 
advance the Buffalo Gulch Mining Project to full scale production near 
Elk City, Idaho County, Idaho. This project was originally permitted in 
1990 but never went into production. ECM's Plan of Operations includes 
an open pit mining operation and a cyanide heap leach facility to 
recover gold from the mined ore on their unpatented mining claims.

DATES: The public scoping period for the Buffalo Gulch Mining Project 
will begin with publication of this NOI and end 30 days later. The 
purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues 
that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis and EIS 
alternatives. BLM will ensure the public is notified of all 
opportunities for involvement related to this proposal at least 15 days 
prior to the event. A public meeting in Elk City, Idaho, and possible 
field trip to the project site, is scheduled for August 28, 2008. 
Additional information about this or additional meetings will be 
announced through local news media outlets, individual mailings, and 
the following BLM Web site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/cottonwood.html.
    The draft EIS is expected to be distributed for public review and 
comment in the fall of 2009. The final EIS is expected to be completed 
four to six months later.

ADDRESSES: More detailed information about this project is available at 
the Cottonwood Field Office, 1 Butte Drive, Cottonwood, Idaho, 83522. 

[[Page 47967]]

submit written comments to the Cottonwood Field Office, Attn: Stephanie 
Connolly, at the above address. Fax comments to (208) 962-3275. (Please 
indicate Buffalo Gulch Mining Project Comments on the fax cover sheet.) 
Electronic comments can be submitted to: Buffalo_Gulch_Mine_

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Sanner, Project Leader, at (208) 
769-5032 or e-mail: scott_sanner@blm.gov; or Stephanie Connolly, 
Cottonwood Field Office Manager, at (208) 962-3256 or e-mail: 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A Plan of Operations for the Project was 
submitted to the BLM by the former mine proponent, the Idaho Gold 
Corporation, in December, 1989. The BLM prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) and permitted the Project in 1990 but the mine never 
went into production. In December, 2007, ECM informed the BLM they had 
gained control of the Project and intended to advance the Buffalo Gulch 
Mining Project to full scale production under the 1989 Plan of 
Operations. Since the original environmental analysis was completed 
over 17 years ago, there are likely new or different issues relevant 
today that were not previously addressed.
    As proposed, the total surface area disturbed during the life of 
the project is anticipated to be approximately 200 acres. This estimate 
includes the open pit, heap leach pad, waste rock dumps, solution 
ponds, and other ancillary mine facilities (e.g., shop, mine office, 
roads, power line, etc.). Under this Plan, mining would occur for about 
five years with simultaneous reclamation activities. Final reclamation 
would be completed within six months to one year after completion of 
mining and leaching operations.
    The Buffalo Gulch Mine--Plan of Operations (as submitted in 1989) 
and the Environmental Assessment for the original Plan of Operations 
(completed in 1990) are posted on the Internet at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/cottonwood.html.
    On March 28 and May 16, 2008, scoping letters for the Buffalo Gulch 
Mining Project were mailed to known interested groups and individuals. 
Two public meetings were held on April 9, in Elk City, and on April 10, 
2008, in Grangeville, Idaho. Based on the interdisciplinary team's 
knowledge of the issues, comments that have been received and other 
projects in this area, it has been determined that further analysis is 
warranted and an EIS will be prepared.
    The Cottonwood Field Office is seeking information, comments, and 
assistance from other agencies, organizations, Tribes, and individuals 
who may be interested in or affected by the Proposed Action. The 
Cottonwood Field Office will issue local press releases notifying the 
public of additional opportunities to meet with staff and to discuss 
the project in more detail. Issues previously identified during public 
scoping for this project as well as comments received as a result of 
this Notice will be used to prepare the EIS.
    Issues identified to date include the following:
     Surface and ground water contamination.
     Transportation of hazardous materials, traffic levels and 
     Economic and social values.
     Air quality and noise.
     Fisheries and wildlife habitat.
     Cumulative impacts of past and likely future activities in 
the Elk City area.
    If you have specific issues or other concerns that BLM should 
consider in the NEPA process, please identify them in writing. You may 
send comments to the BLM by mail, facsimile, or electronic mail. 
Comments may also be hand-delivered to the Cottonwood Field Office. 
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other 
personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware 
that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: August 11, 2008.
Gary D. Cooper,
District Manager.
[FR Doc. E8-18906 Filed 8-14-08; 8:45 am]