[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 166 (Friday, August 26, 2011)]
[Pages 53484-53485]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-21715]



Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Availability of the Draft Resource Management Plan/
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Sonoran and Sonoran 
Desert National Monument, AZ

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


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 Lower Sonoran (LS) and Sonoran Desert National 
Monument (SDNM) Planning Area, and by this notice, is announcing the 
opening of a 90-day 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 their 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 

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments related to the LS-SDNM Draft 
RMP/EIS by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: blm_az_ls_sdnm_plan@blm.gov.
     Fax: 623-580-5580.
     Mail or in person: BLM Phoenix District Office, Attention: 
LS-SDNM Draft RMP/EIS, 21605 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85027.

telephone: 623-580-5526; BLM Phoenix District, 21605 North 7th Avenue, 
Phoenix, Arizona 85027; e-mail: blm_az_ls_sdnm_plan@blm.gov.

available in the BLM Phoenix District Office, at the above address, and 
at the following other locations:
     BLM Arizona State Office, One North Central Avenue, Suite 
800, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-4427.
     Apache Junction Public Library, 1177 N. Idaho Road, Apache 
Junction, Arizona 85219.
     Buckeye Public Library, 310 North 6th Street, Buckeye, 
Arizona 85326.
     Casa Grande Public Library, 449 North Dry Lake, Casa 
Grande, Arizona 85222.
     Gila Bend Public Library, 202 North Euclid Avenue, Gila 
Bend, Arizona 85337.
     Salazar-Ajo Branch Library, 33 Plaza, Ajo, Arizona 85321.
    The LS-SDNM Planning Area includes approximately 8.9 million acres 
of public and private lands, containing about 1.4 million surface 
acres, and 3.9 million subsurface/mineral-split estate acres 
administered by the BLM. These include about 930,200 surface acres in 
the Lower Sonoran Field Office, referred to as the LS Decision Area, 
and 486,400 surface acres within the Sonoran Desert National Monument, 
referred to as the SDNM Decision Area.
    Public scoping took place in 2002 and 2003, when two separate 
Notices of Intent for the LS and SDNM planning efforts were published, 
and 11 public scoping meetings were held. The planning efforts also 
included cooperation and collaboration with Federal, State, county, and 
local agencies, as well as 13 Tribes. The plan will consolidate or 
replace management guidance from the Lower Gila North Management 
Framework Plan of 1983, the Lower Gila South Resource Management Plan 
of 1988, the Phoenix Resource Area Resource Management Plan of 1989, 
and five plan amendments implemented between 1983 and 2005. A new RMP 
for the SDNM will fulfill Presidential Proclamation 7397 requirements 
to protect the special qualities and objects for which the Monument was 
designated. Scoping issues identified include wilderness 
characteristics, livestock grazing, recreational target and sports 
shooting, travel management, and energy development.
    Five alternatives are analyzed in the Draft RMP/EIS. The ``no 
action'' alternative, Alternative A, represents the current management 
situation for both the LS and the SDNM Decision Areas and serves as a 
baseline for most resource and land-use allocations.
    Alternative B identifies the greatest amount of public lands 
suitable for appropriate multiple uses, emphasizing opportunities for 
motorized and developed recreational uses while reducing opportunities 
for experiencing remote settings and non-motorized recreation.

[[Page 53485]]

    Alternative C attempts to balance resource protection with human 
use and influence providing for a variety of uses that emphasize 
resource protection and conservation and propose a mix of natural 
processes and techniques for resource stabilization and restoration.
    Alternative D places the greatest emphasis on minimizing human uses 
and maintaining primitive landscapes by focusing on natural processes 
and other unobtrusive methods for resource stabilization and 
    Alternative E, the Preferred Alternative, attempts to balance human 
use and influence with resource protection by incorporating elements 
from each of the other action alternatives. It provides long-term 
protection and conservation of resources. Pursuant to 43 CFR 1610.7-
2(b), this notice announces a concurrent public comment period on 
proposed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs). Under the 
Preferred Alternative, the BLM proposes four ACECs in the LS Decision 
Area and none in the SDNM Decision Area. The ACECs are: Coffeepot-
Batamote (61,300 acres); Cuerda de Lena (58,500 acres); Gila River 
Terraces and Lower Gila Historic Trails (82,500 acres); and the Saddle 
Mountain Outstanding Natural Area (48,500 acres). Proposed resource use 
limitations common to all ACECs are:
     Public lands are maintained in public ownership;
     ACECs are exclusion areas for utility-scale renewable 
energy land use authorizations and new multiuse utility corridors; and,
     ACECs are closed to mineral material disposals with the 
exception of existing free-use permit sites.
    Additional proposed resource use limitations within the Coffeepot-
Batamote ACEC are:
     Motorized vehicle use is restricted from February 1 to 
July 31, in washes that are known or found to contain occupied Cactus 
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl habitat.
    Additional proposed resource use limitations within the Cuerda de 
Lena ACEC are:
     Recreational public access is closed during the Sonoran 
pronghorn fawning season (March 15 to July 15, or as determined by the 
Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Team). Minor land-use authorizations are 
also prohibited unless deemed necessary by the authorized officer. 
Federal, State and local government employees and permit holders 
operating within the scope of their authorizations are exempt from the 
     Developed recreational sites are prohibited except for 
small, non-intrusive informational and interpretive facilities; and
     New travel routes in washes are prohibited. New routes may 
only be considered if deemed necessary for emergency use or other 
authorized administrative uses.
    Additional proposed resource use limitations within the Gila River 
Terraces and Lower Gila Trails ACEC are:
     ACEC is open to non-renewable leasable minerals actions, 
but leases will contain No Surface Occupancy stipulations;
     Selected public land parcels along the Gila River, within 
the Gila River Terraces section of the ACEC, are closed to geophysical 
exploration and mineral materials disposals (see DRMP for legal 
descriptions); and
     Selected public land parcels along the Butterfield 
Overland Stage Route, within the Lower Gila Trails section of the ACEC, 
are closed to locatable mineral entry and exploration activities.
    No additional resource use limitations are proposed for the Saddle 
Mountain Outstanding Natural Area ACEC.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted 
including names, street addresses, and e-mail addresses of persons who 
submit comments will be available for public review and disclosure at 
the above BLM address during regular business hours (7:30 a.m. to 4:15 
p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, 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, 43 CFR 

James G. Kenna,
Arizona State Director.
[FR Doc. 2011-21715 Filed 8-25-11; 8:45 am]