[Federal Register: October 31, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 212)]
[Notices]               
[Page 64980-64981]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr31oc08-95]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[OR-050-08-1610-DP; HAG 08-0051]

 
Notice of Availability of Draft John Day Basin Resource 
Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Oregon

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, the Bureau 
of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Draft Resource Management Plan/
Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) for the John Day Basin 
planning area and by this notice is announcing the opening of the 
comment period.

DATES: To ensure that they will be considered, BLM must receive written 
comments on the Draft RMP/EIS within 90 days following the date the 
Environmental Protection Agency publishes their Notice of Availability 
in the Federal Register. The BLM will announce future meetings or 
hearings and any other public involvement activities at least 15 days 
in advance through public notices, media news releases, and/or 
mailings.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Mail: John Day Basin RMP, BLM Prineville Field Office, 
3050 NE 3rd Street, Prineville, OR 97754.
     Web Site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/prineville/plans/johndayrmp/index.php.
     E-mail: John_Day_Basin_RMP@blm.gov.
     Fax: (541) 416-6798.
Copies of the John Day Basin Draft RMP/EIS are available in the 
Prineville Field Office and on our project Web site (see addresses 
above), in addition to copies sent to individuals, organizations, and 
agencies on the John Day Basin RMP mailing list.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ayn Shlisky, John Day Basin RMP 
Project Leader, BLM Prineville Field Office, 3050 NE 3rd Street, 
Prineville, OR 97754, phone (541) 416-6700, e-mail John_Day_Basin_
RMP@blm.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The planning area is located in parts of 
Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Grant, Wheeler, Jefferson, and 
Wasco Counties in the State of Oregon, covering 456,000 acres of BLM-
managed public land. The existing RMPs for the area were completed in 
the 1980s: John Day RMP (Record of Decision signed 1985), Two Rivers 
RMP (1986), and Baker RMP (1989). The John Day RMP was amended in 1995, 
and in 2001, the John Day River Plan amended portions of all three of 
the RMPs. New information and changed circumstances are cause for the 
BLM to update these plans. Changed circumstances include, but are not 
limited to: Acquisition of 44,000 acres along North Fork John Day 
River, heightened public interest in BLM management actions, increasing 
demand for recreation activities on public lands, and expanded 
scientific knowledge and information pertaining to the conservation of 
aquatic species.
    In February 2006, the BLM published a Notice of Intent to prepare 
an EIS and initiate revision/amendment of the existing RMPs. This was 
followed in March 2006 by five public open houses across the planning 
area and in Portland, Oregon to solicit public input on the issues to 
be addressed. The BLM published results of public input and an Analysis 
of the Management Situation in December 2006, followed by four public 
open houses across the planning area to solicit input on criteria to be 
used in development of alternatives. The BLM also met regularly with 
the John Day/Snake Resource Advisory Council and with representatives 
of local, state, and other Federal government agencies, as well as 
tribal governments. Additionally, the BLM maintained a public Web site 
and mailed periodic newsletters with information on the plan's status.
    The Draft RMP/EIS analyzes five alternatives. Alternative 1 (no 
action) would continue the current management goals, objectives, and 
direction specified in the existing RMPs. Alternative 2 (BLM preferred 
alternative) would provide a mix of recreational opportunities, 
economic opportunities, and resource protection. Changes from 
Alternative 1 to 2 include: (a) Development of an interim road system 
and a process for developing a final transportation plan; (b) a 
reduction in areas ``open'' for motorized use off of roads; (c) 
synthesized management direction to achieve forest and upland health 
goals while providing for timber and forage production and wildfire 
prevention; (d) management direction for the North Fork John Day River 
lands that, in accordance with the land acquisition legislation, 
protects native fish, wildlife habitat, and public recreation; (e) 
addition of an integrated strategy to address fish, water quality, and 
water quantity together; (f) management direction for 11,929 acres 
containing wilderness characteristics not already protected by 
Wilderness or Wilderness Study Area (WSA) provisions; (g) use of 
``appropriate management response'' rather than full suppression of all 
wildfires; and (h) a process for identifying and addressing management 
concerns in grazing allotments. Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 are similar to 
Alternative 2 in most instances, but provide variation in the amount of 
roadway open for motorized travel, the number of areas open to off-road 
motorized use, the number and classifications of river segments deemed 
suitable for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System, 
and the

[[Page 64981]]

number of acres where livestock grazing is permitted.
    The BLM preferred alternative (Alternative 2) and Alternatives 3, 
4, and 5 (the action alternatives) propose immediate designation of 
five new Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), totaling 
61,254 acres. This total does not include expansion of the existing 
Horn Butte ACEC from 5,999 to 7,152 acres, nor the 6,639-acre Black 
Canyon Research Natural Area (RNA)/ACEC, which overlaps a portion of 
the John Day Paleontological ACEC. The largest of the newly proposed 
ACECs is the 38,168-acre John Day Paleontological ACEC that would 
complement the adjacent John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and 
partially overlap with the existing Sutton Mountain WSA. Resource use 
limitations associated with designation of this ACEC where it overlaps 
the WSA would include closure to salable, locatable and leaseable 
minerals, a No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulation for energy and 
communication site development, exclusion from rights-of-way, 
management to Visual Resource Management Class II (VRM II) standards, 
and limiting vehicle use to designated roads and trails (OHV Limited). 
Use limitations associated with this ACEC where it does not overlap 
with the Sutton Mountain WSA would be similar except for a No Surface 
Occupancy (NSO) stipulation for mineral leasing, and avoidance of 
developments for energy, communication sites, and rights-of-way. Other 
proposed ACECs include the 6,639-acre Black Canyon RNA/ACEC, which 
would protect several sensitive plants and unique plant communities; 
use limitations include exclusion of livestock grazing, closure to off-
highway motorized and non-motorized vehicle use (OHV Closed), an NSO 
stipulation for mineral leasing, closure to salable mineral, energy and 
communication site development, and exclusion of rights-of-way. The 
action alternatives also propose to add 1,152 acres to the existing 
5,999-acre Horn Butte ACEC to protect Washington ground squirrel 
habitat. Use limitations for the expanded Horn Butte ACEC also include 
management to VRM II standards, prohibition of mechanical noxious weed 
control in Fourmile Canyon, NSO stipulation for mineral leasing, 
closure to salable minerals and energy and communication site 
development, and exclusion of rights-of-way. Also proposed is the 
addition of the North Fork John Day River (16,837 acres), Armstrong 
Canyon (3,885 acres) and Ferry Canyon (2,364 acres) ACECs to protect 
visual resource values; use limitations include management to VRM II 
standards, NSO stipulation for mineral leasing, closure to 
communication site development, and exclusion of rights-of-way. The 
action alternatives also eliminate the existing Spanish Gulch ACEC (333 
acres). In the event that Congress releases any of the three WSAs along 
the lower John Day River (Lower John Day, North Pole Ridge, and 
Thirtymile) from WSA status, the released lands would be designated as 
ACECs to preserve scenic and other values. Use limitations would 
include management to VRM II standards, NSO stipulation for mineral 
leasing and closure to salable minerals, closure to energy and 
communication site development, and exclusion of rights-of-way (except 
for the existing PGE pipeline right-of-way). For more detailed 
information on each ACEC proposal, see the Special Designations section 
in the Draft RMP/EIS.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted 
including names, street addresses, and e-mail addresses of respondents 
will be available for public review and disclosure at the above address 
during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Monday through 
Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your written comments, you 
should be aware that your entire letter, including your personal 
identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask us in your letter to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 43 CFR 1610.2.

Edward W. Shepard,
State Director, Oregon/Washington.
[FR Doc. E8-25926 Filed 10-29-08; 8:45 am]

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