[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 237 (Friday, December 9, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 77008-77011]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31652]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLWO230.11100000.PH0000]


Notice of Intent To Prepare Environmental Impact Statements and 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements To Incorporate Greater 
Sage-Grouse Conservation Measures Into Land Use Plans and Land 
Management Plans

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.

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SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976, as amended (FLPMA), and the Resources Planning Act of 1974, as 
amended by the National Forest Management Act 1976 (NFMA), the Bureau 
of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) intend to prepare 
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)

[[Page 77009]]

and Supplemental EISs, and by this notice are announcing the beginning 
of the scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues. 
The BLM is the lead agency on these EISs and Supplemental EISs and the 
FS is participating as a cooperating agency.
    These EISs/Supplemental EISs will be coordinated under two regions: 
An Eastern Region and a Western Region. The Eastern Region includes BLM 
land use plans in the States of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South 
Dakota, and portions of Utah and Montana. The Western Region includes 
BLM land use plans in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and portions 
of Utah and Montana. For each of these regions, the FS will include 
those areas that were identified by the FWS as high priority areas for 
greater sage-grouse within the NFS units listed below.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the EISs/
Supplemental EISs. Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until 
February 7, 2012. The date(s) and location(s) of all scoping meetings 
will be announced at least 15 days in advance through local media, 
newspapers and the BLM Web site for the Eastern Region at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse/eastern.html, and for the 
Western Region at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse/western.html. In order to be included in the Draft EISs/Supplemental 
EISs, all scoping comments must be received prior to the close of the 
scoping period or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is 
later. Comments that are specific to a particular area or land use plan 
should be identified as such. We will provide additional opportunities 
for public participation upon publication of the Draft EISs/
Supplemental EISs.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the greater sage-grouse 
planning effort by any of the following methods:

 Eastern Region
    [cir] Web site: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse/eastern.html
    [cir] Email: sageeast@blm.gov
    [cir] Fax: (307) 775-6042
    [cir] Mail: Eastern Region Project Manager, BLM Wyoming State 
Office, 5353 Yellowstone, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009
 Western Region
    [cir] Web site: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/sagegrouse/western.html
    [cir] Email: sagewest@blm.gov
    [cir] Fax: (775) 861-6747
    [cir] Mail: Western Region Project Manager, BLM Nevada State 
Office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, Nevada 89502
Documents pertinent to the Eastern Region will be coordinated through 
the BLM Wyoming State Office. Documents pertinent to the Western Region 
will be coordinated through the BLM Nevada State Office.
    Though BLM and NFS lands in Utah are distributed between the 
Western and Eastern Regions, all such lands will be addressed in one 
EIS, or through ongoing plan revision processes. All comments 
applicable to the Utah EIS should be sent to the Western Region.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information and/or to have 
your name added to our mailing list, contact Chuck Otto, Eastern Region 
Project Manager, telephone (307) 775-6062; address 5353 Yellowstone 
Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009; email cotto@blm.gov, or: Brian Amme, 
Western Region Project Manager, telephone (775) 861-6645; address 1340 
Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada 89520; email bamme@blm.gov. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-(800) 877-8339 to contact 
the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is 
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question 
with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal 
business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In April 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) published its listing decision for the greater sage-
grouse indicating that listing was ``Warranted but Precluded'' due to 
higher listing priorities under the Endangered Species Act. The 
inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms to conserve the greater sage-grouse 
and its habitat was identified as a significant threat in the FWS 
finding on the petition to list the greater sage-grouse as a threatened 
or endangered species. The FWS has identified conservation measures to 
be included in the respective agencies' land use plans as the principal 
regulatory mechanisms to assure adequate conservation of the greater 
sage-grouse and its habitat on public lands. For the BLM, these land 
use plans are Resource Management Plans (RMP). For the FS, these are 
Land and Resource Management Plans (LMP). In view of the identified 
threats to the greater sage-grouse, and the FWS timeline for making a 
listing decision on this species, the BLM and FS propose to incorporate 
consistent objectives and conservation measures for the protection of 
greater sage-grouse and its habitat into relevant RMPs and LMPs by 
September 2014 in order to avoid a potential listing under the 
Endangered Species Act. These conservation measures would be 
incorporated into RMPs and LMPs through the plan amendment and revision 
processes of the respective agencies. The BLM and FS expect to prepare 
EISs to analyze proposed amendments to some land use plans that are not 
currently undergoing amendment or revision. For plans already 
undergoing amendment or revision, the BLM and FS will consider 
incorporating conservation measures either through the ongoing 
amendment or revision processes, or through supplemental environmental 
analyses as appropriate.
    The BLM and FS intend to evaluate the adequacy of sage-grouse 
conservation measures in RMPs and selected LMPs, and consider 
conservation measures, as appropriate, in proposed RMP and selected LMP 
amendments and/or revisions throughout the range of the greater sage-
grouse (with the exception of the bi-state population in California and 
Nevada and the Washington State distinct population segment, which will 
be addressed through other planning efforts).
    The BLM currently expects to evaluate sage-grouse conservation 
measures in 68 planning areas, and the FS expects to evaluate sage-
grouse conservation measures in 9 LMPs. The plans applicable to these 
planning areas are listed below.
    BLM Wyoming has already begun undertaking a programmatic EIS 
specific to the greater sage-grouse. This programmatic EIS will analyze 
amendments to all of the State's RMPs not currently being amended or 
revised to address needed changes to the management and conservation of 
greater sage-grouse habitats. The ongoing RMP revisions in Wyoming will 
evaluate conservation measures through existing planning processes.
    Below is a list of RMPs and LMPs that the BLM and FS intend to 
evaluate. Some RMPs/LMPs are already undergoing either revision or 
amendment. In cases in which an ongoing plan revision or amendment may 
not be completed by September 2014, the underlying completed RMP is 
also listed, as it may be amended. FS LMPs are denoted below in 
parentheses.
    Within the Eastern Region, the potentially affected BLM RMPs and FS 
LMPs include:

 Colorado
    [cir] Colorado River Valley RMP

[[Page 77010]]

revision
    [cir] Grand Junction RMP revision (and existing 1987 Grand Junction 
RMP)
    [cir] Kremmling RMP revision
    [cir] Little Snake RMP (2011)
    [cir] White River RMP Oil and Gas amendment
 Montana/Dakotas
    [cir] Billings RMP revision (and existing 1984 Billings RMP)
    [cir] Headwaters RMP (1984)
    [cir] HiLine RMP revision (and existing 1988 West HiLine RMP)
    [cir] Judith, Valley, and Phillips RMP (1992)
    [cir] Miles City RMP revision (and existing 1985 Powder River and 
1995 Big Dry RMPs)
    [cir] North Dakota RMP (1988)
    [cir] South Dakota RMP revision (and existing 1986 South Dakota 
RMP)
    [cir] Upper Missouri River Breaks NM RMP (2008)
 Utah
    [cir] Park City Management Framework Plan (MFP) (1975)
    [cir] Price RMP (2008)
    [cir] Randolph MFP (1980)
    [cir] Salt Lake District Isolated Tracts Planning Analysis (1985)
    [cir] Vernal RMP (2008)
    [cir] Uinta National Forest Revised Forest Plan (2003) (FS)
 Wyoming (please note that BLM Wyoming has already issued a 
Notice of Intent to begin an EIS that will amend all completed plans to 
address needed changes in the management and conservation of greater 
sage-grouse habitat)
    [cir] Bighorn Basin RMP revision
    [cir] Buffalo RMP revision (and existing 1985 Buffalo RMP)
    [cir] Casper RMP (2007)
    [cir] Kemmerer RMP (2010)
    [cir] Lander RMP revision
    [cir] Newcastle RMP (2000)
    [cir] Pinedale RMP (2008)
    [cir] Rawlins RMP (2008)
    [cir] Rock Springs RMP revision (and existing 1997 Green River RMP)
    [cir] Thunder Basin National Grassland LMP (not included in BLM 
Wyoming Notice of Intent above) (FS)

    Within the Western Region, the potentially affected RMPs and LMPs 
include:

 California
    [cir] Alturas RMP (2008)
    [cir] Eagle Lake RMP (2008)
    [cir] Surprise RMP (2008)
 Idaho
    [cir] Birds of Prey NCA RMP (2008)
    [cir] Bruneau RMP revision (and existing 1983 Bruneau RMP)
    [cir] Challis RMP (1999)
    [cir] Craters of the Moon NM RMP (2006)
    [cir] Four Rivers RMP revision (and existing 1988 Cascade and 1983 
Kuna RMPs)
    [cir] Jarbidge RMP revision
    [cir] Lemhi RMP (1987)
    [cir] Owyhee RMP (1999)
    [cir] Pocatello RMP revision
    [cir] Shoshone-Burley RMP revision (and existing 1980 Bennett 
Hills/Timmerman Hills, 1985 Cassia, 1975 Magic, 1985 Monument, 1981 Sun 
Valley, and 1982 Twin Falls MFPs/RMPs)
    [cir] Upper Snake RMP revision (and existing 1983 Big Lost, 1985 
Medicine Lodge, 1981 Big Desert, and 1981 Little Lost-Birch Creek MFPs/
RMPs)
    [cir] Curlew National Grassland Management Plan (2002) (FS)
    [cir] Caribou National Forest Revised Forest Plan (2003) (FS)
    [cir] Sawtooth National Forest Revised Forest Plan (2003) (FS)
 Montana
    [cir] Butte RMP (2009)
    [cir] Dillon RMP (2006)
 Nevada
    [cir] Battle Mountain RMP revision (and existing 1997 Tonopah and 
1986 Shoshone-Eureka RMPs)
    [cir] Black Rock Desert NCA RMP (2004)
    [cir] Carson City RMP revision (and existing 2001 Carson City RMP)
    [cir] Elko RMP (1987)
    [cir] Ely RMP (2008)
    [cir] Wells RMP (1985)
    [cir] Winnemucca RMP revision
    [cir] Humboldt National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(1986) (FS)
    [cir] Toiyabe National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(1986) (FS)
 Oregon
    [cir] Andrews RMP (2005)
    [cir] Baker RMP revision (and existing 1989 Baker RMP)
    [cir] Brothers-Lapine RMP (1989)
    [cir] John Day RMP revision
    [cir] Lakeview RMP amendment (and existing 2003 Lakeview RMP)
    [cir] Southeastern Oregon RMP amendment (and existing 2003 
Southeastern Oregon RMP)

    [cir] Steens RMP (2005)
    [cir] Three Rivers RMP (1992)
    [cir] Two Rivers RMP (1989)
    [cir] Upper Deschutes RMP (2005)
 Utah
    [cir] Box Elder RMP (1986)
    [cir] Cedar City RMP revision (and existing 1983 Pinyon and 1986 
Cedar-Beaver-Garfield-Antimony RMPs)

    [cir] Grand Staircase-Escalante NM RMP (1999)
    [cir] House Range RMP (1987)
    [cir] Kanab RMP (2008)
    [cir] Pony Express RMP (1990)
    [cir] Richfield RMP (2008)
    [cir] Warm Springs RMP (1986)
    [cir] Dixie National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(1986) (FS)
    [cir] Fishlake National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(1986) (FS)

The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant 
issues relating to the conservation of the greater sage-grouse and its 
habitat that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, 
including alternatives, and guide the process for developing the EISs/
Supplemental EISs.
    At present, the BLM has identified the following preliminary 
issues:

 Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Management
 Fluid Minerals
 Coal Mining
 Hard Rock Mining
 Mineral Materials
 Rights-of-Way (including transmission)
 Renewable Energy Development
 Fire
 Invasive Species
 Grazing
 Off Highway Vehicle Management and Recreation

    Preliminary planning criteria include:

     The BLM and FS will utilize the Western Association of 
Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Conservation Assessment of Greater 
Sage-grouse and Sagebrush Habitats (Connelly, et al. 2004), and any 
other appropriate resources, to identify greater sage-grouse habitat 
requirements and best management practices.
     The approved RMP amendments/revisions will be consistent 
with the BLM's National Sage-grouse Conservation Strategy.
     The approved RMP amendments/revisions will comply with 
FLPMA, NEPA, and Council on Environmental Quality regulations at 40 CFR 
parts 1500-1508 and Department of the Interior regulations at 43 CFR 
part 46 and 43 CFR part 1600; the BLM H-1601-1 Land Use Planning 
Handbook, ``Appendix C: Program-Specific and Resource-Specific Decision 
Guidance Requirements'' for affected resource programs; the 2008 BLM 
NEPA Handbook (H-1790-1), and all other applicable BLM policies and 
guidance.
     The approved LMP amendments/revisions will comply with 
NFMA, NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality regulations at 40 CFR 
parts 1500-1508, Regulations of the Secretary

[[Page 77011]]

of Agriculture at 36 CFR part 219 and FSM 1920 and FSH 1909.12.
     The RMP and LMP amendments/revisions will be limited to 
making land use planning decisions specific to the conservation of 
greater sage-grouse habitats.
     The BLM and FS will consider allocative and/or 
prescriptive standards to conserve greater sage-grouse habitat, as well 
as objectives and management actions to restore, enhance, and improve 
greater sage-grouse habitat.
     The RMP and LMP amendments/revisions will recognize valid 
existing rights.
     Lands addressed in the RMP and LMP amendments/revisions 
will be public lands (including surface-estate split estate lands) 
managed by the BLM, and National Forest System lands, respectively, in 
greater sage-grouse habitats. Any decisions in the RMP and LMP 
amendments/revisions will apply only to Federal lands administered by 
either the BLM or the FS.
     The BLM and FS will use a collaborative and multi-
jurisdictional approach, where appropriate, to determinethe desired 
future condition of public lands and National Forest System lands for 
the conservation of greater sage-grouse and their habitats.
     As described by law and policy, the BLM and FS will strive 
to ensure that conservation measures are as consistent as possible with 
other planning jurisdictions within the planning area boundaries.
     The BLM and FS will consider a range of reasonable 
alternatives, including appropriate management prescriptions that focus 
on the relative values of resources while contributing to the 
conservation of the greater sage-grouse and sage-grouse habitat.
     The BLM and FS will address socioeconomic impacts of the 
alternatives. Socio-economic analysis will use an accepted input-output 
quantitative model such as IMPLAN or RIMSII, and/or JEDI for renewable 
energy analysis.
     The BLM and FS will endeavor to use current scientific 
information, research, technologies, and results of inventory, 
monitoring, and coordination to determine appropriate local and 
regional management strategies that will enhance or restore greater 
sage-grouse habitats.
     Management of greater sage-grouse habitat that intersects 
with Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) on Public lands administered by the 
BLM will be guided by the Interim Management Policy for Lands Under 
Wilderness Review (IMP). Land use allocations made for WSAs must be 
consistent with the IMP and with other laws, regulations, and policies 
related to WSA management.
     For BLM-administered lands, all activities and uses within 
greater sage-grouse habitats will follow existing land health 
standards. Standards and guidelines (S&G) for livestock grazing and 
other programs that have developed S&Gs will be applicable to all 
alternatives for BLM lands.
     The BLM and FS will consult with Indian tribes to identify 
sites, areas, and objects important to their cultural and religious 
heritage within greater sage-grouse habitats.
     The BLM and FS will coordinate and communicate with State, 
local, and tribal governments to ensure that the BLM and FS consider 
provisions of pertinent plans, seek to resolve inconsistencies between 
State, local, and tribal plans, and provide ample opportunities for 
state, local, and tribal governments to comment on the development of 
amendments or revisions.
     The BLM and FS will develop vegetation management 
objectives, including objectives for managing noxious weeds and 
invasive species (including identification of desired future condition 
for specific areas), within greater sage-grouse habitat.
     The RMP and LMP amendments/revisions will be based on the 
principles of Adaptive Management.
     Reasonable Foreseeable Development Scenarios and planning 
for Fluid Minerals will follow the BLM Handbook H-1624-1 and current 
fluid minerals manual guidance for fluid mineral (oil and gas, coal-bed 
methane, oil shale) and geothermal resources. For NFS lands, the FS 
will use applicable and relevant policy and procedures.
     The RMP and LMP amendments/revisions will be developed 
using an interdisciplinary approach to prepare reasonable foreseeable 
development scenarios, identify alternatives, and analyze resource 
impacts, including cumulative impacts to natural and cultural resources 
and the social and economic environment.
     The most current approved BLM and FS corporate spatial 
data will be supported by current metadata and will be used to 
ascertain greater sage-grouse habitat extent and quality. Data will be 
consistent with the principles of the Information Quality Act of 2000.
     State Game and Fish agencies' greater sage-grouse data and 
expertise will be utilized to the fullest extent practicable in making 
management determinations on Federal lands.
    The BLM and FS will utilize and coordinate the NEPA commenting 
process to help fulfill the public involvement process under Section 
106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f), if 
applicable, as provided for in 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3). Native American 
tribal consultations will be conducted in accordance with policy, and 
tribal concerns will be given due consideration, including impacts on 
Indian trust assets. Federal, State, and local agencies, along with 
other stakeholders that may be interested or affected by the BLM's or 
FS's decision on this proposal are invited to participate in the 
scoping process and, if eligible, may request or be requested by the 
BLM to participate as a cooperating agency. The public is also invited 
to nominate or recommend areas on public lands for greater sage-grouse 
and their habitat to be considered as Areas of Critical Environmental 
Concern as a part of this planning process (BLM Manual 1613.3.31). 
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 part 3461. This information will be used 
for any necessary updating of coal screening determinations (43 CFR 
3420.1-4) in the Decision Area and in the environmental analysis.
    Before including your address, phone number, email 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.

    Authority:  40 CFR 1501.7, 43 CFR 1610.2.

Edwin Roberson,
Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning.
[FR Doc. 2011-31652 Filed 12-8-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-84-P