[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 96 (Friday, May 17, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29153-29155]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11776]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLCON06000 L16100000.DP0000]


Notice of Availability of the Draft Resource Management Plan and 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Dominguez-Escalante National 
Conservation Area in Colorado

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 Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area 
(D-E NCA) and by this notice is announcing the opening of the public 
comment period. Congress designated the D-E NCA, as well as the 
Dominguez Canyon Wilderness (Wilderness), through the Omnibus Public 
Lands Management Act of 2009 (Omnibus Act). The Omnibus Act also 
established the purpose of the D-E NCA to ``conserve and protect for 
the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations--the unique 
and important resources and values of the land and the water resources 
of area streams.''

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 the notice 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 D-E NCA Draft RMP/
Draft EIS by any of the following methods:
     via the RMP Web site: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/denca/denca_rmp.html.
     email: dencarmp@blm.gov.
     fax: 970-244-3083.
     mail: BLM--D-E NCA RMP, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, 
Colorado 81506.
    Copies of the D-E NCA Draft RMP/Draft EIS are available in the 
BLM's Grand Junction Field Office at 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 
81506; the BLM's Uncompahgre Field Office at 2465 South Townsend Ave., 
Montrose, CO 81401; or on the Web site: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/denca/denca_rmp.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Blom, Planning Team Lead; 
telephone: 970-244-3188; Grand Junction Field Office: see address 
above; email: bblom@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 BLM prepared the D-E NCA Draft RMP/Draft 
EIS to evaluate and revise the current management decisions for public 
lands and resources within the D-E NCA planning area. A National 
Conservation Area, such as the D-E NCA, is an area designated by 
Congress, generally, to conserve, protect, enhance, and properly manage 
the resources and values for which it was designated for the benefit 
and enjoyment of present and future generations. The D-E NCA was 
established by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The D-E 
NCA is currently managed under the 1987 Grand Junction Record of 
Decision and Approved RMP, as amended; the 1989 Uncompahgre Basin 
Record of Decision and Approved RMP, as amended; and the BLM's 2010 
Interim Management Policy for the D-E NCA and Dominguez Canyon 
Wilderness. Decisions made through this planning process must also stay 
within the framework outlined in the enabling legislation which created 
this NCA.
    The D-E NCA planning area includes approximately 218,000 acres of 
State, private and BLM-managed public lands located in Delta, Mesa, and 
Montrose counties in western Colorado. Within the D-E NCA planning 
area, the BLM administers approximately 210,000 acres of federal 
surface and subsurface estate. Management decisions made as a result of 
the RMP will apply only to the BLM-administered public lands in the D-E 
NCA planning area.
    The formal public scoping process for the RMP/EIS began on August 
3, 2010, with the publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal 
Register, and ended on October 1, 2010. The Secretary of the Interior 
established an advisory council composed of ten residents representing 
various communities and interests throughout the surrounding three-
county area to assist the BLM in developing and implementing this RMP/
EIS. The council met 24 times in 2011 and 2012, with all meetings open 
to the public.
    The BLM held two public workshops for travel management data 
collection in fall 2010 to give the public an opportunity to review the 
route inventory for completeness and accuracy, as well as offer 
suggestions for changes to current routes or the addition of new routes 
that would complement the existing system. The BLM held two additional 
workshops regarding socioeconomics in fall 2011.
    Over the course of the planning process, the BLM maintained a Plan 
Web site, produced a series of monthly newsletters, distributed press 
releases, and conducted radio interviews. All materials will be 
available on the D-E

[[Page 29154]]

NCA RMP Web site, and the public will have the opportunity to comment 
online. Paper copies and CDs of the Draft RMP will be available at BLM 
Field Offices in Montrose and Grand Junction, Colorado. Major issues 
considered in the Draft RMP/Draft EIS include geological and 
paleontological resources; vegetation and soils; wildlife and 
terrestrial habitat; aquatic, wetlands and riparian areas; water 
resources; cultural resources; wilderness; lands with wilderness 
characteristics; visual resources; recreation; science and education; 
livestock grazing; transportation and travel management; lands and 
realty; and special designations.
    The Draft RMP/Draft EIS evaluates, in detail, five alternatives, 
including the No Action Alternative (Alternative A) and four action 
alternatives (Alternatives B, C, D, and E). The BLM has identified 
Alternative E as the preferred alternative. Identification of this 
alternative, however, does not represent final agency direction, and 
the Proposed RMP may reflect changes or adjustments based on 
information received from public comment, from new information, or from 
changes in BLM policies or priorities. The Proposed RMP may include 
objectives and actions described in the other analyzed alternatives. 
Alternative A would retain the current management goals, objectives and 
direction specified in the 1987 Grand Junction RMP and 1989 Uncompahgre 
Basin RMP, where the management is consistent with the Omnibus Act. 
Alternative B focuses on allowing natural processes to influence the 
condition of resources, which would involve placing additional 
restrictions on allowable uses to manage the D-E NCA. Recreation would 
be managed largely through Extensive Recreation Management Areas, where 
the BLM would commit to providing activity opportunities but not 
specific recreation outcomes or settings. Alternative C emphasizes 
active management for biological restoration and cultural resource 
protection. The BLM would set objectives that provide a high level of 
resource protection and restoration. Only two areas would be managed as 
Special Recreation Management Areas, with the rest of the D-E NCA not 
managed as recreation areas. Alternative D would also emphasize an 
active management approach for biological restoration and cultural 
resource protection, but with objectives that provide a lower level of 
restoration and protection for those resources as compared to 
Alternative C. Resource uses, particularly trail-based recreation and 
livestock grazing, would be emphasized. The enabling legislation for 
the D-E NCA identified livestock grazing as a use of the D-E NCA that 
shall be managed similarly to how it is managed on other lands under 
the BLM's jurisdiction.
    The BLM's identified preferred alternative is Alternative E, which 
is a mix of the other four alternatives that is based on the draft 
impact assessment. Under this alternative, the BLM would set measurable 
goals for biological restoration and cultural resource protection. 
Objectives for resource protection and restoration would be less 
ambitious than in Alternative C but more ambitious than in Alternative 
D. Recreation would be managed by using a mix of Extensive Recreation 
Management Areas (3) and Special Recreation Management Areas (4).
    Pursuant to 43 CFR 1610.7-2(b), this notice announces a concurrent 
public comment period on proposed Areas of Critical Environmental 
Concern (ACEC). There are currently two ACECs within the D-E NCA. These 
are the Gunnison Gravels ACEC (5 acres) and the Escalante Canyon ACEC 
(1.895 acres). Under Alternative E (the BLM preferred alternative), the 
BLM would retain the Escalante Canyon ACEC and propose one new ACEC, 
the River Rims ACEC. Proposed ACECs and the resource use limitations 
that would occur if formally designated are as follows:
     Big Dominguez Canyon ACEC--5,626 acres, Alternative C: 
manage livestock grazing and trailing to protect unique and sensitive 
rare plants and vegetative communities; minimize impacts to rare plants 
and vegetative communities from recreation use through route 
designation and group size limitations.
     Escalante Canyon ACEC--1,895 acres in Alternative A, 2,281 
acres in Alternative C and E, and 11,202 acres in Alternative D: 
continue livestock grazing at current levels, unless studies determine 
that threatened and endangered plant species and unique plant 
associations or their potential habitats are being degraded 
(Alternative A); manage livestock grazing and trailing in the Escalante 
Canyon ACEC to protect unique and sensitive plant resources 
(Alternatives C, D, and E); provide informational signs to identify 
potential recreational hazards (Alternatives A, C, D, and E); prohibit 
woodland harvests, so as to prevent accidental destruction of listed 
species and unique plant associations (Alternatives A, C, D, and E); 
prohibit surface occupancy (Alternative A); prohibit surface-disturbing 
activities (Alternative C); apply site-specific relocation restrictions 
(Alternatives D and E); close the area to development of major 
utilities to prevent accidental destruction of listed species and 
unique plant associations and maintain scenic qualities (Alternative 
A); provide the public with outdoor classroom opportunities related to 
the area's unique and sensitive plants, wildlife, fish, geological and 
cultural resources (Alternatives D and E); reduce, as much as 
practicable, barriers to fish and wildlife movement through Escalante 
Canyon (Alternatives D and E).
     Gibbler Mountain ACEC--1,310 acres, Alternative D: 
prohibit surface-disturbing activities within 100 meters of known, 
significant paleontological sites and within 200 meters of BLM 
sensitive plant occurrences; reduce, as much as practicable, route 
density within 200 meters of BLM sensitive plant occurrences.
     Gunnison Gravels ACEC--5 acres in Alternative A, 15 acres 
in Alternative D: prohibit surface occupancy (Alternative A); prohibit 
surface-disturbing activities (Alternative D); close the area to 
mineral materials sales or free use permits (Alternative A); prohibit 
the collection of rocks and minerals (Alternative D); manage as 
unsuitable for public utilities (Alternative A).
     Gunnison River ACEC--17,316 acres, Alternative D: prohibit 
surface-disturbing activities; manage livestock grazing and trailing to 
protect unique and sensitive plant and wildlife resources; manage the 
hydrological and riparian resources of the Gunnison River to promote 
delisting of federally listed fish species; reduce, as much as 
practicable, route density within 200 meters of Colorado hookless 
cactus.
     River Rims ACEC--4,916 acres in Alternative C; 5,405 acres 
in Alternative E: prohibit surface-disturbing activities (Alternatives 
C and E); manage livestock grazing and trailing to protect unique and 
sensitive plant resources (Alternatives C and E); prohibit commercial, 
organized group, and competitive special recreation permits 
(Alternative C); prohibit competitive special recreation permits but 
allow low-impact commercial and organized group special recreation 
permits (Alternative D); close all BLM routes to the public within 200 
meters of Colorado hookless cactus (Alternatives C and E).
    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

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(8:00 a.m. to 4:00 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.

Helen M. Hankins,
BLM Colorado State Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-11776 Filed 5-16-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-JB-P