[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 236 (Thursday, December 8, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 76689-76690]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31563]


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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

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Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 236 / Thursday, December 8, 2011 / 
Notices

[[Page 76689]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor Ranger District, NM, Mount 
Taylor Combined Exploratory Drilling

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The proposed action is to approve two Plans of Operations for 
exploratory uranium drilling on the Cibola National Forest, Mount 
Taylor Ranger District. There are two areas identified for exploration; 
the Bajillos project area is approximately 2,894 acres and is located 
in T. 12 N, R. 8 W, Sections 6, 7, & 8 and T. 12 N, R. 9 W, Sections 1, 
12, & . The Endy project area is approximately 3,740 acres and is 
located in T. 13 N, R. 7 W, Sections 7 &8, T. 13 N, R. 8 W, Secions 2, 
3, 4, 5, 11, & 12 and T. 14 N, R. 8 W, Sections 31 & 32. Both project 
areas are located north-northeast of Grants in the vicinity of the town 
of San Mateo. In total, there are up to 279 drill holes that would be 
drilled over a period not to exceed 6 years from initiation of the 
project. A total of 21 drill holes are proposed within the Bajillos 
project area. A total of up to 258 holes are proposed for drilling 
within the Endy project area. The exploratory drilling in this area 
would be phased over the course of six years; 51 holes would be drilled 
during the first phase of exploration. Secondary- and later phase- 
drilling would consist of in-fill drilling and moving outward into 
newer areas.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 45 days after the publication of the NOI. The draft environmental 
impact statement is expected September 2012 and the final environmental 
impact statement is expected January 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Diane Tafoya, Combined Uranium 
Exploratory Drilling Team Lead, Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna 
Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113. Comments can also be submitted online 
at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=33948.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, mail 
correspondence to Diane Tafoya, Combined Uranium Exploratory Drilling 
Team Lead, Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna Road NE., Albuquerque, NM 
87113 or call (505) 346-3900.
    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-(800) 877-
8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Purpose and Need for Action

    This action is needed to allow the Applicants to exercise their 
rights under U.S. mining laws. The Applicants have a right to explore 
their claims as set forth by the General Mining Law of 1872 as amended. 
These laws provide that the public has a statutory right to conduct 
prospecting, exploration, and development activities (1872 Mining Law 
and 1897 Organic Act), provided they are reasonably incident (1955 
Multiple Use Mining Act and case law) to mining and comply with other 
Federal laws.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to approve two Plans of Operation for 
uranium exploration drilling on the Mount Taylor Ranger District of the 
Cibola National Forest. There are two areas identified for exploration; 
the Bajillos project area and the Endy project area. A total of 21 
drill holes are proposed within the Bajillos project area. The drill 
pads would be 30 by 100 feet in size (average 0.07 acres each) and 
drilling depths would reach down to 1200 feet. The mud pits constructed 
within the footprints of the drill pad would measure 4 by 20 feet and 
be approximately 5 feet deep. An estimated 1.45 acres of ground 
disturbance would be associated with all drilling activities. Access to 
all of the drill sites would be along existing roads. Less than 0.1 
miles of routine road maintenance would be required in order for the 
drilling equipment to reach the sites. All of the drilling would occur 
over the course of 2 months.
    Up to 258 holes are proposed for drilling within the Endy project 
area. The exploratory drilling would be phased over the course of six 
years; 51 holes would be drilled during the first phase of exploration. 
Secondary drilling would occur if, or when, further investigation is 
indicated by the data recovered from earlier drilling. It is possible 
that not all drill holes which are proposed and analyzed for this 
project area would be drilled. The drill pads would be 60 by 120 feet 
(average of 0.17 acres each) and drilling depths would reach down to 
3200 feet. The mud pits constructed within the footprint of the drill 
pad would measure 8 by 10 feet and be approximately 6 feet deep. An 
estimated 42.64 acres of ground disturbance would be associated with 
the 258 drill hole locations.
    The drill locations will be accessed using existing roads, cross 
country travel (where feasible) and temporary roads constructed to 
access drill sites on steep slopes. All temporary roads would be 
obliterated after use.
    Information about the proposal will be posted on the project Web 
site at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=33948.

Possible Alternatives

    1. No Action. 2. Approve the two plans of operations with 
appropriate mitigation measures, if needed.

Responsible Official

    Nancy Rose, Forest Supervisor, Cibola National Forest. 2113 Osuna 
Road NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor will use the EIS process to develop the 
necessary information to make an informed decision on whether or not to 
approve the proposed plans as submitted, or to decide what mitigation 
and monitoring requirements are needed to protect resources.

Preliminary Issues

    One preliminary issue has been identified: Exploration may affect 
the characteristics of the Mount Taylor Traditional Cultural Property 
eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. 
Other issues that may arise include legacy health issues, reclamation 
concerns, and

[[Page 76690]]

contamination of ground and surface water.

Permits or Licenses Required

    The approved Plans of Operations authorizes exploration. Operations 
must be consistent with Forest Service Conditions of Approval, and 
other applicable laws and regulations, including New Mexico state 
permits for exploratory drilling.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Comments are 
solicited and are welcome for the 45-day comment period initiating on 
the publication date of this notice.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of 
the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be 
provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly 
articulate the reviewer's concerns and contentions.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered, however.

    Dated: December 2, 2011.
Nancy Rose,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2011-31563 Filed 12-7-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P