[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 56 (Friday, March 22, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17714-17716]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06503]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLMTM00000 L16100000.DP0000 LXSS048E0000]


Notice of Availability of the HiLine District Draft Resource 
Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, MT

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, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 
prepared a Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) for the HiLine District in Montana and by this 
notice is announcing the opening of the comment period.

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

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the HiLine District draft 
RMP/EIS by any of the following methods:
     Email: MT_HiLine_RMP@blm.gov.
     Fax: 406-262-2856.
     Mail: District Manager, BLM, 3990 Hwy 2 West, Havre, MT 
59501
    Copies of the HiLine District draft RMP/EIS are available in the 
Havre Field Office at the above address or on the following Web site: 
http://www.blm.gov/8qkd.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Hockett, Planning & 
Environmental Coordinator, telephone: 406-262-2837; address: 3990 Hwy 2 
West, Havre, MT 59501; email: MT_HiLine_RMP@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: The HiLine District draft RMP/EIS was 
developed through a collaborative planning process. The HiLine District 
RMP decision area encompasses approximately 2.4 million acres of public 
land and 3.8 million acres of Federal mineral estate administered by 
the BLM HiLine District, which are located in northern Montana in 
Glacier, Toole, Liberty, Chouteau, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, and Valley 
counties. These lands and minerals are managed by the Havre, Malta, 
Glasgow and Great Falls Field Offices. The HiLine RMP decision area 
does not include private lands, State lands, tribal reservations, 
Federal lands not administered by BLM, or lands addressed in the Upper 
Missouri River Breaks National Monument RMP (January 2008).
    Current guidance is provided by the West HiLine (1988) and Sweet 
Grass Hills Amendment (1996) and Judith-Valley-Phillips Resource 
Management Plans (1994) and land use plan amendments (1996). Oil and 
gas leasing in Phillips and Valley counties is currently managed under 
four Management Framework Plans (MFP): Phillips MFP, Valley MFP, Little 
Rocky Mountains MFP, and the UL Bend/Zortman MFP.
    The key issues raised during the planning process include renewable 
and traditional energy development, management of solid minerals, soil 
and vegetation management, land tenure, public land access, off-highway 
vehicles, lands with wilderness characteristics, wildlife habitat and 
special status species, cultural and paleontological resources, special 
designations and management areas, wildfire and prescribed fire 
management, and social and economic conditions across the HiLine 
District. Five alternatives, including a no-action alternative, were 
developed in response to these key issues. The no action alternative, 
Alternative A, represents the current management of public lands within 
the HiLine District. The four action alternatives, Alternatives B 
through E, present a reasonable set of objectives and actions to guide 
future management of the planning area. Comments collected during the 
scoping process in 2006, during which 18 public open houses were held, 
were instrumental in determining the issues to be addressed. Through 
the draft RMP/EIS, the BLM is seeking public input on the alternatives 
developed to address these issues. The HiLine District's identified 
preferred alternative is Alternative E, which focuses on a balance 
between managing public lands for economic and recreational growth 
while protecting valuable resources.

[[Page 17715]]

    Among the special designations under consideration within the range 
of alternatives, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) are 
proposed to protect certain resource values. There are seven existing 
ACECs: Azure Cave, Big Bend of the Milk River, Bitter Creek, Kevin Rim, 
Mountain Plover, Prairie Dog Towns within the 7km Complex, and Sweet 
Grass Hills; these ACEC designations would be carried forward in some 
alternatives, sometimes with changes in acreage depending on the 
alternative.
    Pertinent information regarding all proposed ACECs in the preferred 
alternative, including values, resource use limitations, if formally 
designated, and acreages, is summarized below. Further information is 
available at the following Web site: http://www.blm.gov/8qkd.

Azure Cave ACEC (141 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Wildlife habitat, natural 
hazards.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Solid mineral leasing, 
mineral material sales, commercial wind energy development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way.

Big Bend of the Milk River ACEC (1,972 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Cultural, historic.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
mineral material sales, commercial wind energy development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way.

Bitter Creek ACEC (60,701 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Historic, cultural, scenic, 
wildlife habitat, natural processes.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
commercial wind energy development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way, 
managed as Visual Resource Management (VRM) Classes I and II.

Kevin Rim ACEC (4,557 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Cultural, wildlife habitat.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way.

Mountain Plover ACEC (24,762 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Wildlife habitat.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way.

Sweet Grass Hills ACEC (7,419 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Historic, cultural.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way, 
managed as VRM Class II.

Frenchman ACEC (42,020 Acres, or 63,482 Acres in Alternative D)

     Relevant and Important Values: Scenic, wildlife habitat, 
natural processes.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way, 
managed as VRM Class II.

Malta Geological ACEC (6,153 Acres)

     Relevant and Important Values: Geologic, paleontological, 
natural processes.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way; 
personal collection of common fossils would not be allowed.

Woody Island ACEC (32,869 Acres, or 22,411 Acres in Alternatives C & D)

     Relevant and Important Values: Scenic, wildlife habitat.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Oil and gas leasing, 
solid mineral leasing, mineral material sales, commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way, 
managed as VRM Class II.

Zortman/Landusky Mine Reclamation ACEC (2,682 Acres, or 3,609 Acres in 
Alternatives B & C)

     Relevant and Important Values: Natural hazards, public 
safety.
     Limitations on the Following Uses: Commercial wind energy 
development.
     Other Restrictions: Avoidance area for rights-of-way, 
closed to all unauthorized vehicle use during reclamation activities.
    Some of the ACECs in the preferred alternative may also appear in 
other alternatives with different acreages and management 
prescriptions. Also, some ACECs that appear in other alternatives may 
not be included in the preferred alternative. For example, the Little 
Rocky Mountains ACEC is analyzed in Alternative D for relevant and 
important historic and cultural values; and the Greater Sage-Grouse 
Protection Priority Area and Grassland Bird/Greater Sage-Grouse 
Priority Areas are proposed ACECs in Alternative B to protect relevant 
and important Greater Sage-Grouse and grassland bird habitat.
    The preferred alternative identifies 930,265 acres as a Greater 
Sage-Grouse Protection Priority Area and 298,772 acres as Grassland 
Bird/Greater Sage-Grouse Priority Areas with special management 
prescriptions on these BLM-administered lands to provide high-quality 
habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse and other sagebrush-dependent species. 
These priority habitat areas would be closed to solid mineral leasing, 
and oil and gas leasing would be subject to a no surface occupancy and 
use stipulation. Both areas would be designated as exclusion areas for 
wind energy rights-of-way, and avoidance areas for all other rights-of-
way.
    Two areas are being considered for designation as off-highway 
vehicle (OHV) use areas. In the preferred alternative, 40 acres in the 
Glasgow OHV area would remain open until an alternate site is located, 
and in the Fresno OHV area 125 acres would be designated as open to OHV 
use.
    Following the close of the public review and comment period on this 
draft RMP/EIS, public comments will be used to prepare the BLM HiLine 
District Proposed RMP and Final EIS. The BLM will respond to each 
substantive comment received during the draft RMP/DEIS review period by 
making appropriate revisions to the document, or by explaining why a 
comment did not warrant a change. After comments have been considered 
and the draft RMP/EIS has incorporated all potential revisions to 
develop the Proposed RMP and Final EIS, a notice of the availability 
for the Proposed RMP and Final EIS will be posted in the Federal 
Register.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted 
including names, street addresses, and email addresses of persons who 
submit comments 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, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your

[[Page 17716]]

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 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10, 43 CFR 1610.2.

Jamie E. Connell,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-06503 Filed 3-21-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-DN-P