[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 71 (Friday, April 12, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21965-21968]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08534]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLNML00000 L16100000.DP000/LXSS024G0000]


Notice of Availability of the Draft Tri-County Resource 
Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Las 
Cruces District Office, New Mexico

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, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976, as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a 
Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for the Tri-County planning area in the Las Cruces 
District Office and by this notice is announcing the opening of the 
public comment period.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive 
written comments on the Draft RMP/Draft EIS within 90 days following 
the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes its notice of 
the filing of the Draft RMP/Draft 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 Tri-County Draft RMP/
Draft EIS by any of the following methods:
     Web site: www.blm.gov/nm/tricountyrmp
     Email: BLM_NM_LCDO_comments@blm.gov
     Fax: 575-525-4412, Attention: Tri-County Comments
     Mail: BLM Las Cruces District Office, 1800 Marquess 
Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005-3371, Attention: Tri-County 
Comments
    Copies of the Tri-County Draft RMP/Draft EIS are available at the 
Las Cruces District Office, at the above address; the New Mexico State 
BLM Office at 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, NM; the Albuquerque 
District BLM Office at 435 Montano Rd. NE., Albuquerque, NM; the 
Socorro BLM Field Office at 901 South Highway 85, Socorro, NM; the 
Carlsbad BLM Field Office at 620 East Greene St., Carlsbad, NM; and the 
Pecos District Office at 2909 West Second St., Roswell, NM.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Montoya, Planning and 
Environmental Coordinator; telephone 575-525-4316; address 1800 
Marquess Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005-3371; email 
jamontoy@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 service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave 
a message or question with the above individual.

[[Page 21966]]

You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the Tri-County Draft RMP/Draft EIS, the 
BLM analyzes the environmental consequences of four land use plan 
alternatives under consideration for managing approximately 2.8 million 
acres of surface estate and 4.0 million acres of subsurface mineral 
estate. These lands, administered by the BLM Las Cruces District 
Office, are located within Sierra, Otero, and Do[ntilde]a Ana counties 
in southern New Mexico.
    This land use plan would replace the White Sands RMP (1986) and 
amend the portion of the Mimbres RMP (1993) that addresses Do[ntilde]a 
Ana County. The RMP revision is needed to provide updated management 
decisions for a variety of uses and resources, including renewable 
energy siting, outdoor recreation management, special status species 
habitat, proposals for special designations, land tenure adjustments, 
and other issues. The approved Tri-County RMP will apply only to the 
BLM-administered public land and Federal mineral estate.
    The four alternatives analyzed in detail in the Draft RMP/Draft EIS 
are as follows:
     Alternative A, No Action, or a continuation of existing 
management;
     Alternative B, which would emphasize resource conservation 
and protection;
     Alternative C, the BLM's Preferred Alternative, which 
would provide for a balance of resources uses with protections; and
     Alternative D, which would allow for a greater opportunity 
for resource use and development.
    Among the special designations under consideration within the range 
of alternatives, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) are 
proposed to protect certain resource values. Pertinent information 
regarding these ACECs, including proposed designation acreages and 
resource-use limitations, is summarized below. Each alternative 
considers a combination of resource-use limitations for each ACEC. A 
more detailed summary of the proposed ACECs by alternative is available 
at the project Web site: www.blm.gov/nm/tricountyrmp.
     Aden Lava Flow ACEC (Currently 3,746 acres; Alternative B 
would maintain this acreage; Alternatives C and D would remove the ACEC 
designation and the area would be managed as part of the Aden Lava Flow 
WSA.) This ACEC would be managed for biological, scenic, geological, 
and research resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion from new rights-of-way; closure to fluid mineral 
leasing and mineral material sales; using chemical brush control to 
meet plant community objectives; management as Visual Resource 
Management (VRM) Class II; designation of a parking area and trail; 
allowing the research and interpretation of geological objectives; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated roads and trails, or closing to 
vehicle use.
     Alamo Mountain ACEC (Currently 2,528 acres; Alternatives B 
and C would incorporate the existing ACEC into the Otero Mesa Grassland 
Wildlife ACEC; Alternative D would maintain the ACEC designation at the 
current acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for scenic, cultural, and 
ecological resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: 
Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-of-way; closure to fluid mineral 
leasing and mineral material sales; closure to vegetation sales; 
management as VRM Class I or II; limitation of vehicle use to 
designated routes; and closing to vehicle use.
     Alkali Lakes ACEC (Currently 6,348 acres; Alternatives B, 
C, and D would maintain this acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for 
special status plant species resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-of-way; 
closure to fluid mineral leasing and mineral material sales; closure to 
vegetation sales; management as VRM Class III or IV; and limitation of 
vehicle use to designated routes.
     Broad Canyon ACEC (Not currently designated as an ACEC; 
Alternative B would designate 4,721 acres as an ACEC; the area would 
not be managed as an ACEC under Alternatives C and D.) The ACEC would 
be managed for scenic, biological, and cultural resource values. 
Proposed resource-use limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-
way; closure to mineral material disposal and geothermal leasing; 
management as VRM Class II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated 
routes.
     Brokeoff Mountains ACEC (Not currently designated as an 
ACEC; Alternative B would designate 61,224 acres as an ACEC; 
Alternative C would designate 3,971 acres as an ACEC; and Alternative D 
would not manage the area as an ACEC.) The ACEC would be managed for 
ecological and cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to mineral 
material sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class II; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Caballo Mountains ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternative 
B would designate 17,268 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be 
managed as an ACEC under Alternatives C and D.) The ACEC would be 
managed for scenic resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to mineral material 
sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class I except for the 
existing communications site; and limitation of vehicle use to 
designated routes.
     Cornucopia ACEC (Formerly Southern Sacramento Mountains; 
not currently an ACEC; Alternative B would designate 16,037 acres as an 
ACEC; the area would not be managed as an ACEC under Alternatives C and 
D.) The ACEC would be managed for cultural resource values. Proposed 
resource-use limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; 
closure to mineral material sales and geothermal leasing; management as 
VRM Class II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Cornudas Mountains ACEC (Currently 852 acres; Alternatives 
B and C would manage this area as part of the Otero Mesa Grassland 
Wildlife ACEC; Alternative D would maintain the existing ACEC 
designation with the current acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for 
scenic and cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Avoidance or exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to fluid 
mineral leasing and mineral material sales; management as VRM Class I 
or II; and limitation of vehicle travel to designated routes.
     Do[ntilde]a Ana Mountains ACEC (Currently 1,427 acres; 
Alternatives B and C would expand the ACEC to 3,181 acres; Alternative 
D would maintain the current acreage.) The ACEC would be managed for 
biological, scenic, and cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion from new rights-of-way; closure to fluid 
mineral leasing and mineral material sales; management as VRM Class I; 
and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     East Potrillo Mountains ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; 
Alternative B would manage 11,460 acres as an ACEC; the area would not 
be managed as an ACEC under Alternatives C and D.) The ACEC would be 
managed for scenic resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to mineral material 
sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class I; and limitation 
of vehicle use to designated routes.

[[Page 21967]]

     Jarilla Mountains ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternative 
B would designate 6,219 acres as an ACEC; Alternatives C and D would 
not manage this area as an ACEC.) The ACEC would be managed for special 
status plant species and ecological resource values. Proposed resource-
use limitations include: Avoidance of new rights-of-way; closure to 
mineral material sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class 
III; and maintaining vehicle closure on 700 acres while limiting 
vehicle use to designated routes in the remainder of the ACEC.
     Los Tules ACEC (Currently 23 acres; Alternatives B, C, and 
D would maintain this acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for cultural 
resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: Exclusion 
from new rights-of-way; closure to mineral material sales; allowing 
fluid mineral leasing with a No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulation; 
management as VRM Class II or III; closure to vehicle use; and 
consideration of conveyance to New Mexico Parks Division under the 
Recreation and Public Purposes Act.
     Mud Mountain ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternatives B 
and C would designate 2,579 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be 
managed as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
special status plant species and ecological resource values. Proposed 
resource-use limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; 
closure to mineral material sales and geothermal leasing; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Nutt Mountain ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternative C 
would designate 756 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be managed as 
an ACEC under Alternatives B and D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
ecological and scenic resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to mineral 
material sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class I; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Organ/Franklin Mountains ACEC (Currently 58,417 acres; 
Alternatives B, C, and D would maintain this acreage; 19,667 acres are 
within Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs).) This ACEC would be managed for 
biological, scenic, cultural, riparian, and special status species 
(plant and animal) resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion from new rights-of-way except within existing 
utility corridors; closure to fluid mineral leasing and mineral 
material sales; management as VRM Class I, III, and IV; closure to all 
but authorized vehicle use; and closure of vehicle routes in WSAs.
     Otero Mesa Grassland ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; 
Alternative B C would designate 271,262 acres as an ACEC; Alternative C 
would designate 198,511 acres as an ACEC. The area would not be managed 
as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
ecological and wildlife habitat resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion and avoidance of new rights-of-way; 
closure to mineral material sales and geothermal leasing; closure to 
vegetation sales; management as VRM Class I and II; and limitation of 
vehicle use to designated routes.
     Percha Creek ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternatives B 
and C would designate 870 acres as an ACEC; Alternative D would not 
manage this area as an ACEC.) The ACEC would be managed for riparian, 
ecological, and special status species resource values. Proposed 
resource-use limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; 
closure to mineral material sales and geothermal leasing; closure to 
livestock grazing; and close to vehicle use.
     Picacho Peak ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternatives B 
and C would designate 950 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be 
managed as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
scenic and cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion from new rights-of-way; closure to mineral material 
sales and geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class I; and limitation 
of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Pup Canyon ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternatives B and 
C would designate 3,677 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be managed 
as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be managed for special 
status plant species and ecological resource values. Proposed resource-
use limitations include: Incorporation into and management as part of 
the Brokeoff Mountains ACEC; exclusion of new rights-of-way; management 
as VRM Class II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Rincon ACEC (Currently 856 acres; Alternatives B, C, and D 
would maintain the current acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for 
cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: 
Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-of-way; exclusion of solar energy 
projects; exclusion of wind and geothermal energy projects from 
aplomado falcon habitat and avoidance of wind and geothermal 
development in the remainder of the ACEC; allowing fluid mineral 
leasing with NSO; closure to new mineral material sales; management as 
VRM Class II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Robledo Mountains ACEC (Currently 7,077 acres; Alternative 
B would increase to 19,000 acres, Alternatives C and D would maintain 
the 7,077 acreage.) This ACEC would be managed for biological, scenic, 
and cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-of-way; closure to fluid 
mineral leasing and mineral material sales; management as VRM Class I 
or II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Sacramento Escarpment ACEC (Currently 4,474 acres; 
Alternatives B and C would maintain this acreage; Alternative D would 
reduce the ACEC to 3,374 acres.) This ACEC would be managed for scenic 
resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: Exclusion 
of new rights-of-way; closure to fluid mineral leasing and mineral 
material sales; management as VRM Class I and II; and limitation of 
vehicle use to designated routes.
     Sacramento Mountains (North and South) ACEC (Not currently 
an ACEC; Alternatives B and C would designate 2,381 acres as an ACEC; 
the area would not be managed as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC 
would be managed for special status plant species and ecological 
resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: Exclusion 
or avoidance of new rights-of-way; closure to mineral material sales 
and geothermal leasing; manage as VRM Class II; limitation of vehicle 
use to designated routes; and closure to vehicle use.
     San Diego Mountain ACEC (Currently 623 acres; Alternatives 
B, C, and D would maintain this acreage.) This ACEC would be managed 
for cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-of-way; closure to fluid 
minerals and mineral material sales; management as VRM Class II; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Six Shooter Canyon ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; 
Alternatives B and C would designate 1,060 acres as an ACEC; the area 
would not be managed as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be 
managed for special status plant species and ecological resource 
values. Proposed resource-use limitations include: Exclusion of new 
rights-of-ways; closure to mineral material sales and geothermal 
leasing; management as VRM Class II; and closure to vehicle use.

[[Page 21968]]

     Southern Caballo Mountains ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; 
Alternative B would designate 24,117 acres as an ACEC; the area would 
not be managed as an ACEC under Alternatives C and D.) The ACEC would 
be managed for cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to 
geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class II; and limitation of 
vehicle use to designated routes.
     Three Rivers Petroglyph Site ACEC (Currently 1,043 acres; 
Alternatives B, C, and D would maintain this acreage.) This ACEC would 
be managed for cultural resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Closure to fluid mineral leasing and mineral 
material sales; closure to vegetation sales; management as VRM Class 
II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Tortugas Mountain ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternative 
B would designate 1,936 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be managed 
as an ACEC under Alternatives C and D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
soils and geomorphology resource values. Proposed resource-use 
limitations include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closure to 
geothermal leasing; management as VRM Class III; allowing traditional 
uses, religious and other, of the mountain; and limitation of vehicle 
use to designated routes.
     Tularosa Creek ACEC (Not currently an ACEC; Alternatives B 
and C would designate 236 acres as an ACEC; the area would not be 
managed as an ACEC under Alternative D.) The ACEC would be managed for 
riparian and aquatic resource values. Proposed resource-use limitations 
include: Exclusion of new rights-of-way; closing to mineral material 
sales and geothermal leasing; closure to livestock grazing; management 
as VRM Class II; and limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
     Wind Mountain ACEC (Currently 2,300 acres; Alternatives B 
and C would manage the area as part of the Otero Mesa Grassland 
Wildlife ACEC; Alternative D would maintain the current acreage.) This 
ACEC would be managed for cultural and scenic resource values. Proposed 
resource-use limitations include: Exclusion or avoidance of new rights-
of-way; closure to fluid mineral leasing and mineral material sales; 
closure to vegetation sales; management as VRM Class I or II; and 
limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.
    The land-use planning process was initiated on January 28, 2005, 
through a Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register (70 FR 
4146), notifying the public of a formal scoping period and soliciting 
public participation. Four public scoping meetings were held in March 
2005 in Alamogordo, Anthony, Las Cruces, and Truth or Consequences, NM. 
In April 2005, the Economic Profile System workshops were held in 
Alamogordo and Truth or Consequences to help the BLM and potential 
cooperating agencies gain insight on the economic makeup of the 
Planning Area. Three open-house scoping meetings were held in December 
2006 in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, and Truth or Consequences, NM. Four 
meetings with grazing allottees were held in January 2007 to discuss 
the RMP process and potential impacts of ACEC management on grazing 
operations. Between 2005 and 2010, four Planning Bulletins were 
published to update the community on the RMP progress. Meetings and 
outreach to cooperating agencies were held throughout the planning 
process, as were meetings with various stakeholder groups. At the 
November 2011 meeting of the Las Cruces District Resource Advisory 
Council, the Tri-County RMP status was discussed.
    Las Cruces District Office managers and staff had discussions about 
the Tri-County Draft RMP/Draft EIS with 11 Native American tribal 
groups, including the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Fort Sill Apache 
Tribe, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, the 
Isleta Pueblo, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, the Kiowa Tribe, the 
Comanche Indian Tribe, Tesuque Pueblo, and the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Indian 
Tribe. During the scoping period ending on March 28, 2005, the public 
provided the Las Cruces District Office with input on relevant issues 
to consider in the planning process. Based on these issues, conflicts, 
information, and the BLM's goals and objectives, the Las Cruces 
District Office Interdisciplinary RMP Team and managers formulated four 
alternatives for consideration and analysis in the Draft RMP/Draft EIS.
    Following the close of the public review and comment period, any 
substantive public comments will be used to revise the Draft RMP/Draft 
EIS in preparation for its release to the public as the Proposed 
Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement 
(Proposed RMP/Final EIS). The BLM will respond to each substantive 
comment received during the public review and comment period by making 
appropriate revisions to the document, or explaining why the comment 
did not warrant a change. Notice of the availability of the Proposed 
RMP/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 BLM Las Cruces District Office, 1800 Marquess St., Las Cruces, New 
Mexico during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Monday 
through Friday (except holidays).
    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 1506.6; 40 CFR 1506.10; 43 CFR 1610.2.

Jesse J. Juen,
New Mexico State Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-08534 Filed 4-11-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-VC-P