[Federal Register: July 19, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 138)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management
Notice of Intent To Prepare Resource Management Plans and
Associated Environmental Impact Statements for the North Dakota and
South Dakota Field Offices, North Dakota and South Dakota
AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of intent.
SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) North Dakota Field Office
(NDFO) and South Dakota Field Office (SDFO) intend to prepare Resource
Management Plans with associated Environmental Impact Statements (RMP/
EIS) for the NDFO and SDFO planning areas. These RMPs will replace the
current North Dakota and South Dakota RMPs.
DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process. Formal scoping
will end 60 days after publication of this notice; however,
collaboration with the public will continue throughout the process.
Comments on issues and planning criteria can be submitted in writing to
the address listed below. All public meetings will be announced through
the local news media, newsletters, and the BLM Web site: (http://www.mt.blm.gov/ndfo/rmp
) at least
15 days prior to the event. 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.
ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent or faxed to: John Hartley,
BLM RMP Project Manager, BLM North Dakota Field Office, 99 23rd Avenue
West, Suite A, Dickinson, ND 58601; Fax--(701) 227-7701; or BLM South
Dakota Field Office, 310 Roundup Street, Belle Fourche, SD 57717; Fax--
(605) 892-7015. Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined at
either the NDFO or SDFO. Respondents' comments, including their names
and street addresses, will be available for public review at the NDFO
and SDFO during regular business hours from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,
Monday through Friday, except holidays, and may be published as part of
the RMP/EIS. 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. All submissions from organizations and
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be
available for public inspection in their entirety.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information and/or to have
your name added to our mailing list, contact John Hartley, North Dakota
Field Office, at (701) 227-7700.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM's North Dakota (ND) RMP/EIS
incorporates a planning area administered by the NDFO located in
Dickinson, ND. The land area to be covered under the ND RMP/EIS is
approximately 58,500 surface acres of public lands and approximately
4.1 million subsurface acres of federal minerals in North Dakota. The
bulk of this mineral acreage is federal coal reserve only. Additional
acres are federal oil and gas reserves only; and the remaining acres
are made up of all minerals, coal and oil and gas only, and other
combinations. The focus of the NDFO has been mineral management on
split estate lands (fee surface/federal minerals).
The BLM's South Dakota (SD) RMP/EIS incorporates a planning area
administered by the SDFO located in Belle Fourche, SD. The land area to
be covered under the SD RMP/EIS is approximately 278,000 subsurface
acres of BLM-administered public land located in the western part of
the state in Brule, Butte, Custer, Fall River, Haakon, Harding,
Jackson, Lawrence, Lyman, Meade, Pennington, Perkins, and Stanley
Counties. There are also approximately 1.6 million subsurface acres of
federal minerals in South Dakota.
The RMP/EIS revisions to be prepared for the public lands
administered by the NDFO and SDFO will identify goals, objectives,
standards, and guidelines for management of a variety of resources and
values. The scope of the RMP/EISs will be comprehensive. The plans will
specify actions, constraints, and general management practices
necessary to achieve desired conditions. The plans will also identify
any areas requiring special management such as Areas of Critical
Environmental Concern. Certain existing standards and guidelines and
other BLM plans/plan amendments will be incorporated into the RMP/EISs.
The plans will fulfill the needs and obligations set forth by the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act (FLPMA), the National Energy Policy Act of 2005, and all
other related acts, laws, and regulations associated with land
management planning and BLM management policies. The BLM will work
collaboratively with the public, local and State governments, and
Tribal governments to identify the management decisions that are best
suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns. The public
scoping process will identify planning issues and develop planning
criteria, including evaluation of the existing RMPs in the context of
the needs and interests of the public.
The BLM's decision to begin a new planning effort for the public
lands in the NDFO and SDFO is based on public and agency need for
revised management guidance to address changing issues. Each RMP/EIS
will describe and analyze a range of alternatives, including the No
Action alternative (continued management) and a number of action
alternatives that will describe options for addressing the major
issues. Preliminary issues and management concerns have been identified
by BLM personnel, other agencies, and individuals and user groups. The
major issues that will be addressed in the development of both RMPs/
EISs include the following:
1. Energy development--the significant amount of oil and gas and
coal leasing, exploration, and development throughout North Dakota and
increasing oil and gas leasing interest in South Dakota;
2. Wildland-Urban Interface--increase in recreational demand for
BLM public lands and increasing development adjoining BLM public lands;
3. Management of vegetation;
4. Management of wildlife;
5. Conservation and recovery of special status species;
6. Travel management and access to public lands;
7. Availability and management of public lands for commercial uses;
8. Land tenure adjustments.
After gathering public comments on what issues the plans should
address, the suggested issues will be placed in one of three
1. Issues to be resolved in the plans;
2. Issues to be resolved through policy or administrative action;
3. Issues that are beyond the scope of the plans.
Rationale will be provided for each issue placed in categories two
or three. In addition to determining these major issues, the BLM will
address a number of management questions and concerns in the plans. The
public is encouraged to help identify these questions and concerns
during the scoping phase.
The BLM will use an interdisciplinary approach to consider the
variety of resource issues and concerns identified. Disciplines
involved in the planning process will include specialists with
expertise in minerals and geology, forestry, range, fire and fuels,
outdoor recreation, archaeology, paleontology, wildlife and fisheries,
lands and realty, hydrology, soils, sociology, environmental justice,
The following planning criteria have been proposed to guide
development of the plans, avoid unnecessary data collection and
analyses, and to ensure the plan is 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.
The RMPs/EISs will recognize valid existing rights.
Planning decisions will only apply to surface lands and
subsurface lands managed by the BLM.
The ND RMP/EIS will incorporate by reference the EIS Coal
Lease ND RMP/Amendment (October 1990); Big Horn Sheep ND RMP
Environmental Assessment (EA)/Amendment (July 1991); Standards for
Rangeland Health and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management for
Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota (August 1997); Off-Highway
Vehicle EIS and Plan Amendment for Montana and the Dakotas (June 2003);
and the Fire/Fuels Management Plan EA/Plan Amendment for Montana and
the Dakotas (September 2003).
The SD RMP/EIS will incorporate by reference the Oil and
Gas RMP/EIS Amendment Miles City District Final EIS (February 1994);
Standards for Rangeland Health and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing
Management for Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota (August 1997);
Off-Highway Vehicle EIS and Plan Amendment for Montana and the Dakotas
(June 2003); and the Fire/Fuels Management Plan EA/Plan Amendment for
Montana and the Dakotas (September 2003).
Decisions in the plans will strive to be compatible with
the existing plans and policies of affected local, state, and federal
agencies as long as the decisions are consistent with the purposes,
policies, and programs of federal law, and with regulations applicable
to public lands.
The RMPs/EISs will recognize states' responsibilities and
authorities to manage wildlife. The BLM will consult with the ND Game
and Fish Department and the SD Department of Game, Fish and Parks, as
The BLM and cooperating agencies/governments will jointly
develop alternatives for resolution of resource management issues.
The State Historic Preservation Offices will be consulted
and involved throughout the RMP/EIS process.
Each RMP/EIS will emphasize the protection and enhancement
of the planning areas' biodiversity while, at the same time, provide
the public with opportunities for compatible activities on public
Lands acquired by the BLM will be managed in the manner
the RMPs/EISs prescribe for adjacent public land, subject to any
constraints associated with the acquisition.
The RMPs/EISs will provide management direction for lands
returned to BLM management through revocation of withdrawals. The plans
will also address lands acquired through other means.
Lands already identified for disposal will be reviewed to
ensure disposal is in the best interest of the public.
The National Sage Grouse Strategy requires that impacts to
sagebrush habitat and sagebrush-dependent wildlife species (including
sage grouse) be analyzed and considered in these RMPs/EISs due to the
presence of sage grouse/sagebrush habitats in the planning area.
Forest management strategies will be consistent with the
Healthy Forests Restoration Act and the Tribal Forest Protection Act,
Fire management strategies will be consistent with the:
2001 Federal Wildland Fire Policy, National Fire Plan; Fire/Fuels
Management Plan for Montana and Dakotas; Prescribed Fire Planning and
Implementation Procedures Reference Guide, and other relevant policies.
Geographic Information System (GIS) and metadata
information will meet Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
standards, as required by E.O. 12906 of April 11, 1994.
All proposed management actions will be based upon best
available scientific information, research and technology, as well as
existing inventory and monitoring information.
The RMPs/EISs will include adaptive management criteria
and protocol to deal with future issues.
The RMPs/EISs will incorporate Best Management Practices
for surface disturbing activities associated with BLM-authorized
activities on federal oil and gas leases.
Gene R. Terland,
State Director, Montana State Office.
[FR Doc. E7-13993 Filed 7-18-07; 8:45 am]