[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 133 (Tuesday, July 13, 2004)]
[Pages 42065-42066]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 04-15821]



Bureau of Indian Affairs

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Proposed Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians' Proposed 79 
Acre Fee-to-Trust Transfer and Casino Project in Emmett Township, 
Calhoun County, MI

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs (BIA) as lead agency, with the National Indian Gaming 
Commission (NIGC) as cooperating agency, intends to gather the 
information necessary for preparing an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) for a proposed 79 acre fee-to-trust land transfer and casino 
project in Calhoun County, Michigan. The purpose of the proposed action 
is to help meet the economic development needs of the Tribe. This 
notice also announces a public scoping meeting to identify potential 
issues and alternatives for analysis in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments on the scope and implementation of this 
proposal must arrive by August 12, 2004. The public scoping meeting 
will be held July 28, 2004, starting at 7 p.m. We estimate that the EIS 
will be ready for a Record of Decision by June 2005. This estimate 
includes public comment periods of 30 days for this notice, 45 days for 
the Draft EIS and 30 days for the Final EIS, plus time for scoping, 
notice issuance, a public hearing, response to comments, document 
revision and legal review.

ADDRESSES: You may mail or hand carry written comments to Mr. Terrance 
L. Virden, Director, Midwest Region, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bishop 
Henry Whipple Federal Building, One Federal Drive, Room 550, Ft. 
Snelling, Minnesota 55111. The public scoping meeting, to be hosted by 
the BIA, will be held at the McCamly Plaza Hotel, 50 Capitol Avenue, 
SW., Battle Creek, Michigan 49017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Herb Nelson (612) 713-4400, ext. 1143.

[[Page 42066]]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BIA proposes to take 79 acres of land 
into trust on behalf of the Tribe, on which the Tribe proposes to build 
a casino. The property is located along the south side of Interstate 94 
(I-94) in Emmett Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, at the Eleven Mile 
Road exit. The project design includes a 170,000 to 210,000 square foot 
casino, support area, restaurants, gift shop and parking for 3400 
patrons and employees and 20 busses, to be located on the 79-acre 
parcel. Possible alternatives to the proposed action include no action, 
alternative locations for the fee-to-trust transfer, and modifications 
to the project design.
    This project was originally addressed in an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) prepared under the direction of the BIA and the Tribe 
by EDAW, Inc., with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). As a 
result of a legal challenge, based on the EA and FONSI, to the decision 
by the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to take the land into trust 
for the Tribe, the BIA has withdrawn the EA and FONSI and now intends 
to prepare an EIS for the proposed project. The following provides a 
brief background to this decision.
    On January 27, 2000, after the Tribe submitted its application to 
have the land in question taken into trust, Calhoun County and Emmett 
Charter Township sponsored a community public forum/hearing to receive 
comments on the Tribe's application. The record of this meeting was 
submitted as part of the comments on the Tribe's application and on the 
EA. On July 18, 2001, the BIA issued a draft of the EA for public 
review and comment. It received over a thousand pages of comments from 
local governments, citizen organizations and individuals. The BIA 
reviewed and responded to each of these comments accordingly. In 
February 2002, the BIA completed the final EA, which included the 
comments and responses to those comments as an appendix. The FONSI was 
issued on July 31, 2002.
    On August 9, 2002, the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs 
published his decision to accept the 79 acres into trust for the Tribe 
in the Federal Register (67 FR 51867), to be effective thirty days 
after this date of publication. The legal challenge to the decision led 
to an April 23, 2004 order in CETAC v. Norton, Civ. Action No. 02-1754 
(TPJ), remanding the EA to the Department of Interior for revision or 
for the preparation of an EIS. The BIA subsequently concluded that the 
potential environmental impact of the proposed action was significant 
enough to warrant an EIS.
    Issues identified to date to be addressed in the EIS include the 
     Traffic (how the traffic generated by the casino 
development may effect the existing transportation system);
     Socio-economics (how the project may affect employment and 
income, housing, schools, and infrastructure);
     Cumulative effects (environmental impacts which result 
from the incremental impact of the project when added to other past, 
present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what 
agency, Federal or other, or person undertakes such other actions);
     Indirect effects (environmental impacts of the project 
which are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed 
in distance from the direct effects, but are still reasonably 
foreseeable, including growth inducing effects and other effects 
related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population 
density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other 
natural systems, including ecosystems); and
     Impacts including geology, soils, hydrology, water 
quality, and noise (analysis would include direct, indirect and 
cumulative impacts).
    The issues listed above are based on the previous EA and comments 
received on that EA. The issues and the alternatives to be addressed in 
the EIS remain open to expansion based on comments submitted in 
response to this notice and at the public scoping meeting.

Public Comment Availability

    Comments, including names and addresses of respondents, will be 
available for public review at the mailing address shown in the 
ADDRESSES section, during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except holidays. Individual respondents may 
request confidentiality. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or 
address from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of 
Information Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of 
your written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent 
allowed by law. We will not, however, consider anonymous comments. All 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their 


    This notice is published in accordance with section 1503.1 of the 
Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 
1508) implementing the procedural requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
and the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 1-6), and is in the 
exercise of authority delegated to the Principal Deputy Assistant 
Secretary--Indian Affairs by 209 DM 8.

    Dated: July 1, 2004.
Aurene M. Martin,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 04-15821 Filed 7-12-04; 8:45 am]