[Federal Register: November 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 221)]
[Page 67542-67544]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Intent To Revise a Resource Management Plan for the 
Buffalo Field Office, Wyoming, and Prepare an Associated Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Field Office, Buffalo, 
Wyoming, intends to revise a Resource Management Plan (RMP) and prepare 
an associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Buffalo 
Field Office and by this notice is announcing the beginning of the 
scoping process and soliciting input on the identification of issues, 
proposed planning criteria, and calling for resource information. The 
RMP will replace the existing Buffalo Resource Management Plan of 1985.

DATES: The BLM will announce public scoping meetings to identify 
relevant issues through local news media, newsletters, and the BLM Web 
site http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/Planning/rmps/buffalo.html at 
least 15 days prior to the first meeting. We will provide additional 
opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft 
RMP/EIS, including a 90-day public comment period.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on issues, planning criteria, and 
resource information 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/wy/st/en/programs/Planning/rmps/buffalo.html.
     E-mail: BRMP_Rev_WYMail@blm.gov.
     Fax: (307) 684-1122.
     Mail: Buffalo RMP Revision, Attn: Thomas Bills, RMP 
Technical Coordinator, Buffalo Field Office, 1425 Fort Street, Buffalo, 
WY 82834.
    Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined at the BLM 
Buffalo Field Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: For further information and/or to have your 
name added to our mailing list, contact Linda Slone, RMP Project 
Manager; Telephone (307) 261-7520; e-mail linda_slone@blm.gov .

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document provides notice that the BLM 
Field Office, Buffalo, Wyoming, intends to revise an RMP and prepare an 
associated EIS for the Buffalo Field

[[Page 67543]]

Office and announces the beginning of the scoping process and seeks 
public input on issues, planning criteria, and resource information. 
The planning area is located in Campbell, Johnson, and Sheridan 
counties, Wyoming and encompasses approximately 800,000 acres of public 
surface land and 4.7 million acres of Federal mineral estate. The 
purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues 
that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including 
alternatives, and guide the planning process.

1. Preliminary Issues

    Preliminary issues for the planning area have been identified by 
BLM personnel, other agencies, and in meetings with individuals and 
user groups. These issues are: Energy and mineral resource exploration 
and development; access to and transportation on BLM lands; recreation 
and off-highway vehicle management; wildlife habitat management; 
management and the cumulative effect of land uses and human activities 
on threatened, endangered, candidate, and sensitive species and their 
habitats; vegetation, including impacts of invasive non-native species; 
management of cultural and paleontological resources, including 
historic trails; landownership adjustments; fire management; livestock 
grazing; visual resource management; Areas of Critical Environmental 
Concern (ACEC), Wilderness Study Areas (WSA), Wild and Scenic Rivers 
(W&SR), or other special management areas; and air and water quality.

2. Preliminary Planning Criteria

    Proposed planning criteria are the following:
    1. The proposed RMP will be in compliance with Federal Land Policy 
and Management Act and all other applicable laws, regulations, and 
    2. Impacts from the management alternatives considered in the 
revised RMP will be analyzed in an EIS developed in accordance with 
regulations at 43 CFR 1610 and 40 CFR 1500.
    3. Lands covered in the RMP will be public surface land and Federal 
mineral estate managed by BLM. No decisions will be made relative to 
non-BLM administered lands.
    4. The planning process will follow 10 stages of an EIS-level 
planning process: conducting scoping; development of a Management 
Situation Analysis report; formulation of alternatives; analysis of the 
alternatives' effects; selection of a preferred alternative; 
publication of a Draft RMP/EIS, providing a 90-day public comment 
period; preparation and publication of a Proposed Plan/Final EIS, 
providing a 30-day public protest period; and preparation of a Record 
of Decision and Approved RMP. For specific information, please see the 
Land Use Planning Handbook, H-1601-1.
    5. For program specific guidance of land use planning level 
decisions, the process will follow the Land Use Planning Manual 1601 
and Handbook H-1601-1, Appendix C.
    6. Broad-based public participation will be an integral part of the 
planning and EIS process.
    7. Decisions in the plan will strive to be compatible with the 
existing plans and policies of adjacent local, State, Federal, and 
Tribal agencies as long as the decisions are consistent with the 
purposes, policies, and programs of Federal law, and regulations 
applicable to public lands.
    8. The RMP will recognize the State's responsibility and authority 
to manage wildlife. BLM will coordinate with the Wyoming Game and Fish 
    9. The National Sage-grouse Strategy requires that impacts to 
sagebrush habitat and sagebrush-dependent wildlife species be analyzed 
and considered in BLM land use planning efforts for public lands with 
sagebrush habitat in the planning area.
    10. The RMP will recognize valid and existing rights.
    11. The RMP/EIS will incorporate management decisions brought 
forward from existing planning documents.
    12. The planning team will work cooperatively and collaboratively 
with cooperating agencies and all other interested groups, agencies, 
and individuals.
    13. The BLM and cooperating agencies will jointly develop 
alternatives for resolution of resource management issues and 
management concerns.
    14. The planning process will incorporate the Standards for Healthy 
Rangelands and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management for Public 
Lands Administered by the Bureau of Land Management in the State of 
Wyoming as goal statements.
    15. Areas with special environmental quality will be protected and 
if necessary designated as ACECs, W&SR, or other appropriate 
    16. Any public land surface found to meet the suitability factors 
to be given further consideration for inclusion in the W&SR System will 
be addressed in the RMP revision effort in terms of developing interim 
management options in the alternatives for the EIS.
    17. WSAs will continue to be managed under the Interim Management 
Policy (IMP) for Lands under Wilderness Review until Congress either 
designates all or portions of the WSA as wilderness or releases the 
lands from further wilderness consideration. It is no longer the policy 
of the BLM to make formal determinations regarding wilderness 
character, to designate additional WSAs through the RMP process, or to 
manage any lands other than existing WSAs in accordance with the 
Wilderness IMP.
    18. Forest management strategies will be consistent with the 
Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
    19. Fire Management strategies will be consistent with the Wyoming 
Fire Management Plan (2004).
    20. GIS and metadata information will meet Federal Geographic Data 
Committee (FGDC) standards, as required by Executive Order 12906. All 
other applicable BLM data standards will also be followed.
    21. The planning process will involve American Indian Tribal 
governments and will provide strategies for the protection of 
recognized traditional uses.
    22. All proposed management actions will be based upon current 
scientific information, research and technology, as well as existing 
inventory and monitoring information.
    23. The RMP will include adaptive management criteria and protocols 
to deal with future issues.
    24. The planning process will use the Wyoming BLM Mitigation 
Guidelines to develop management options and alternatives and analyze 
their impacts, and as part of the planning criteria for developing the 
options and alternatives and for determining mitigation requirements.
    25. A reasonable foreseeable development scenario for fluid 
minerals will be developed.
    26. Planning and management direction will be focused on the 
relative values of resources and not the combination of uses that will 
give the greatest economic return or economic output.
    27. Where practicable and timely for the planning effort, current 
scientific information, research, and new technologies will be 
    28. Known areas in the Buffalo planning area with coal development 
potential are located in Campbell and Sheridan counties, Wyoming. Coal 
screening determinations were made on these areas and updated during 
planning efforts for the existing Buffalo

[[Page 67544]]

RMP and the Thunder Basin National Grasslands Land and Resource 
Management Plan. No additional coal screening determinations with 
associated coal planning decisions are planned for the Buffalo RMP, 
unless public submissions of coal resource information or surface 
resource issues indicate a need to update these determinations.
    29. The RMP/EIS will address the Pennaco Court Decision (Docket No. 
02-CV-116-CAB) requiring analysis of coalbed natural gas development 
for fluid mineral leasing decisions in the Powder River Basin.

3. Public Participation

    You may submit comments on issues, planning criteria, and resource 
information in writing to the BLM at any public scoping meeting, or you 
may submit them to the BLM using one of the methods listed in the 
ADDRESSES section above. To be most helpful, you should submit comments 
within 30 days after the last public meeting. 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. The minutes and list of 
attendees for each scoping meeting will be available to the public and 
open for 30 days after the meeting to any participant who wishes to 
clarify the views he or she expressed.

4. Categorization of Issues

    The BLM will evaluate identified issues to be addressed in the 
plan, and will place them into one of three categories:
    1. Issues to be resolved in the plan;
    2. Issues to be resolved through policy or administrative action; 
    3. Issues beyond the scope of this plan.
    The BLM will provide an explanation in the plan as to why we placed 
an issue in category two or three. The public is also encouraged to 
help identify any management questions and concerns that should be 
addressed in the plan. The BLM will work collaboratively with 
interested parties to identify the management decisions that are best 
suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns.

5. Call for Coal and Other Resource Information

    Parties interested in leasing and development of Federal coal in 
the planning area should provide coal resource data for their area(s) 
of interest. Specifically, information is requested on the location, 
quality, and quantity of Federal coal with development potential, and 
on surface resource values related to the 20 coal unsuitability 
criteria described in 43 CFR 3461. This information will be used for 
any necessary updating of coal screening determination (43 CFR 3420.1-
4) in the area and in the environmental analysis.
    In addition to coal resource data, the BLM seeks resource 
information and data for other public land values (e.g., air quality, 
cultural and historic resources, fire/fuels, fisheries, forestry, lands 
and realty, non-energy minerals and geology, oil and gas (including 
coalbed natural gas), paleontology, rangeland management, recreation, 
soil, water, and wildlife) in the planning area. The purpose of this 
request is to assure that the planning effort has sufficient 
information and data to consider a reasonable range of resource uses, 
management options, and alternatives for management of the public 
    Proprietary data marked as confidential may be submitted in 
response to this call for coal and other resource information. Please 
submit all proprietary information submissions to the Buffalo Field 
Manager at the address listed above. The BLM will treat submissions 
marked as ``Confidential'' in accordance with the laws and regulations 
governing the confidentiality of such information.

6. Interdisciplinary Team Approach

    The BLM will use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the plan 
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: Air quality, archaeology, 
fire/fuels, fisheries and wildlife, forestry and other vegetative 
communities, hydrology, hazardous materials, lands and realty, minerals 
and geology, paleontology, rangeland management, recreation, soils, 
sociology, and economics.

    Authority: 43 CFR 1610.2(c) and 3420.1-2.

Donald A. Simpson,
Acting State Director.
 [FR Doc. E8-27029 Filed 11-13-08; 8:45 am]