[Federal Register: November 12, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 219)]
[Notices]               
[Page 66837-66838]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12no08-35]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

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

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Revised Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact 
statement.

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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.

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.

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 x 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

[[Page 66838]]

achieve 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.


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

    Dated: October 29, 2008.
Mike Herrin,
District Ranger, Three Rivers Ranger District, Kootenai National 
Forest.
 [FR Doc. E8-26677 Filed 11-10-08; 8:45 am]

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