[Federal Register: May 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 95)]
[Page 28150-28151]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 28150]]



Bureau of Land Management


Montana State Office; Notice of Intent To Prepare Two Resource 
Management Plans and Associated Environmental Impact Statement for the 
Billings Field Office and Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Located in 
South Central Montana

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 
(FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Billings Field Office intends to 
prepare two Resource Management Plans (RMPs) with a single 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for lands and resources managed by 
the Billings Field Office and for Pompeys Pillar National Monument 
(PPNM). Through this notice, public scoping is also being announced. 
The RMPs will replace the existing Billings Resource Area RMP, dated 
September 1984, as amended.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process. Comments and 
resource information should be submitted to the BLM within 90 days of 
publication of this notice in the Federal Register. However, 
collaboration with the public will continue throughout the process. The 
BLM will announce public scoping meetings to identify relevant issues 
through local news media, newsletters, and the BLM Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/billings_field_office.html at least 15 days 
prior to each meeting. The minutes and list of attendees for each 
meeting will be available to the public and open for 30 days to any 
participant who wishes to clarify the views they expressed. Formal 
opportunities for public participation will be provided upon 
publication of the draft RMPs/EIS.

ADDRESSES: Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined at the 
Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101 or 
online at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/billings_field_office.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, and/or to be 
added to the mailing list, contact Kim Prill, RMP Team Leader, Billings 
Field Office, at (406) 896-5199 or by e-mail to: Billings--

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments may be submitted by any of the 
following methods:
     Web Site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/billings_field_office.html
     E-mail: Billings_PompeysPillar_RMP@blm.gov
     Fax: (406) 896-5281.
     Mail: BLM Billings Field Office, Attention: Billings/PPNM 
RMPs, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, Montana 59101.
    Respondents' comments, including names and street addresses, will 
be available for public review at the Billings Field Office during 
regular business hours 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
holidays, and may be published as part of the RMPs/EIS. Individual 
respondents may request confidentiality. 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. If you wish to withhold your 
name from public review, please state so prominently at the beginning 
of your written comment. Formal scoping comments should be submitted 
within 90 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. 
All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives of organizations or 
businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The BLM intends to prepare two RMPs, with one associated EIS, for 
the Billings Field Office RMP and the PPNM. The RMPs/EIS will fulfill 
the needs and obligations set forth by the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act (FLPMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 
and the BLM management policies. The land-area to be covered under the 
Billings RMP/EIS is located in the south-central part of Montana in 
Carbon, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Wheatland 
and Yellowstone Counties and portions of Big Horn County. The Billings 
Field Office planning area also includes administration of 6,340 acres 
of public land inside the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Big Horn 
County, Wyoming. There are approximately 427,200 acres of public lands 
and 906,000 acres of federal mineral estate in the planning area to be 
addressed in the Billings RMP. Because the BLM Land Use Planning 
Handbook (H-1610-1) requires that all national monuments have a stand-
alone RMP/EIS level plan, the PPNM RMP will be analyzed in conjunction 
with the Billings RMP and incorporated as a stand-alone section. The 51 
acres of public land designated as the PPNM on January 17, 2001 is 
located along the southern bank of the Yellowstone River, about 30 
miles east of Billings, Montana. Nearby communities include the towns 
of Pompeys Pillar, Worden, Huntley, Shepherd, and the city of Billings 
in Yellowstone County.
    This notice also announces the public scoping for the planning 
efforts. The BLM will work collaboratively with interested parties to 
identify the management decisions that are best suited to local, 
regional, tribal and national needs and concerns. The public scoping 
process will identify planning issues and develop planning criteria, 
including an evaluation of the existing RMP, in the context of the 
needs and interests of the public. These issues also guide the planning 
process. Comments on issues and planning criteria may be submitted in 
writing to the BLM at any public scoping meeting or by using one of the 
methods listed above.
    Preliminary issues and management concerns have been identified by 
the BLM personnel, other agencies, and in meetings with individuals and 
user groups. This information represents the BLM's knowledge to date 
regarding the existing issues and concerns with current land 
management. The major issue themes that will be addressed in this 
planning effort include:
     Vegetation management.
     Wildlife and fisheries management.
     Special status species.
     Commercial uses:
    a. Energy development (oil and gas leasing, coal leasing, wind 
    b. Livestock grazing.
    c. Forest products and areas within community wildfire protection 
    d. Rights-of-way and land use authorizations.
    e. Locatable and saleable minerals.
    f. Commercial special recreation permits.
     Recreation management.
     Travel management and access.
     Special management area designations, including areas of 
critical environmental concern (ACECs).
    After public comments are gathered as to what issues the RMPs/EIS 
should address, they will be placed in one of three categories:
    1. Issues to be resolved in the RMPs/EIS;

[[Page 28151]]

    2. Issues to be resolved through policy or administrative action; 
    3. Issues beyond the scope of the RMPs/EIS.
    Rationale will be provided in the RMPs/EIS for each issue placed in 
category two or three. In addition to these major issues, a number of 
management questions and concerns will be addressed in the RMPs/EIS. 
The public is encouraged to help identify these questions and concerns 
during the scoping phase.
    The BLM will use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the RMPs/
EIS in order to consider the variety of resource issues and concerns 
identified. Specialists with expertise in the following disciplines 
will be involved in the planning process, including but not limited to: 
Rangeland management, minerals and geology, wildland fire and fuels 
management, outdoor recreation, archaeology, paleontology, wildlife and 
fisheries, lands and realty, soil, water and air, global climate 
change, wild horses, environmental justice, sociology and economics.
    The following planning criteria have been proposed to guide 
development of the RMPs/EIS, avoid unnecessary data collection and 
analyses, and to ensure the RMPs/EIS are tailored to the issues. Other 
criteria may be identified during the public scoping process. After 
gathering comments on planning criteria, the BLM will finalize the 
criteria and provide feedback to the public on the criteria to be used 
throughout the planning process. Some of the planning criteria that are 
under consideration include:
     The planning process for the Billings and PPNM RMPs will 
include a single EIS and culminate with the issuance of two Records of 
Decision (RODs).
     The RMPs/EIS will be completed in compliance with FLPMA, 
NEPA, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and all other applicable laws, 
regulations and BLM policies.
     The RMPs/EIS will establish new guidance and identify 
existing guidance upon which the BLM will rely in managing public lands 
within the Billings Field Office and the PPNM.
     The RMPs/EIS will incorporate by reference the Standards 
for Rangeland Health and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management 
(August 1997); Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) Amendment 
(August 1998); the Off-Highway Vehicle EIS and Plan Amendment for 
Montana, North Dakota, and Portions of South Dakota (June 2003); the 
1992 Oil & Gas EIS/Amendment of the Powder River, Billings, & South 
Dakota RMPs; the Montana Final Statewide Oil and Gas EIS and Proposed 
Amendment of the Powder River and Billings RMP (January 2003); the 
Montana/Dakotas Statewide Fire/Fuels Management Plan (September 2003); 
Final Programmatic EIS on Wind Energy Development (June 2005); Best 
Management Practices for Forestry in Montana; the Montana Streamside 
Management Zone Law and Rule; and, when finalized, the Supplemental EIS 
to the Montana Statewide Oil and Gas Amendment; and the Vegetation 
Treatments Using Herbicides EIS.
     The RMPs/EIS will incorporate, by reference, all prior 
wilderness study area (WSA) findings that affect public lands in the 
planning area.
     The planning team will use a collaborative and multi-
jurisdictional approach, where applicable, throughout the planning 
     The planning process will include early consultation 
meetings with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 
during the development of the RMPs/EIS.
     The RMPs/EIS will result in determinations as required by 
special program and resource specific guidance detailed in Appendix C 
of the BLM's Planning Handbook (H-1610-1).
     The Billings RMP will incorporate the requirements of the 
BLM Handbook H-1624-1, Planning for Fluid Minerals.
     The RMPs/EIS will incorporate the requirements of the 
interagency reference guide entitled Reasonably Foreseeable Development 
Scenarios and Cumulative Effects Analysis developed by the Rocky 
Mountain Federal Leadership Forum on NEPA, Oil and Gas, and Air 
     The RMPs/EIS will recognize the State of Montana's 
responsibility to manage wildlife populations, including uses such as 
hunting and fishing, within the planning area.
     To the extent possible, goals and objectives in the RMPs/
EIS for plants and wildlife (including special status species) will 
incorporate or respond to goals and objectives from established 
recovery plans, conservation strategies, strategic plans, etc.
     Decisions in the RMPs/EIS will strive to be compatible 
with the existing plans and policies of adjacent local, state, tribal, 
and federal agencies to the extent they are in conformance with legal 
mandates on management of public lands.
     The scope of analysis will be consistent with the level of 
analysis in approved plans and in accordance with Bureau-wide standards 
and program guidance.
     Geospatial data will be automated within a geographic 
information system (GIS) to facilitate discussions of the affected 
environment, alternative formulation, analysis of environmental 
consequences, and display of the results.
     Resource allocations must be reasonable and achievable 
within available technological and budgetary constraints.
     Best management practices (BMPs) for oil and gas, road 
drainage, grazing, wind energy, and water quality BMPs for Montana 
forests, fire rehab, power lines, etc. will be added.
     The planning process will involve Native American Tribal 
governments and will provide strategies for ensuring the Tribes' needs 
are considered, analyzed and that the BLM fulfills its trust 
     The lifestyles and concerns of area residents will be 
recognized in the RMPs/EIS.
     The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will be 
consulted on any potential effect of the RMPs/EIS on cultural resources 
under provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 470f) and under the National Programmatic Agreement.

    Dated: May 8, 2008.
Howard A. Lemm,
Acting State Director.
[FR Doc. E8-10849 Filed 5-14-08; 8:45 am]