Determination of Valid Existing Rights Within the Daniel Boone National Forest, KY, 70531-70535 [E6-20507]

Download as PDF ycherry on PROD1PC64 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 5, 2006 / Notices resource conditions and visitor experiences that are to be achieved and maintained in the Riverways over the next 15 to 20 years. The clarification of what must be achieved according to law and policy will be based on review of the Riverways’ purpose, significance, special mandates, and the body of laws and policies directing park management. Based on determinations of desired conditions, the GMP/WS will outline the kinds of resource management activities, visitor activities, development that would be appropriate in the future, and consider whether or not wilderness should be proposed in a portion of the Riverways. A range of reasonable management alternatives will be developed through this planning process and will include, at minimum, a no-action and a preferred alternative. To facilitate sound analysis of environmental impacts, the NPS is gathering information necessary for the preparation of an associated EIS. As part of the planing process, the NPS is also preparing a WS to evaluate the Big Spring area at the Riverways for possible designation as wilderness. The Big Spring area was one of three areas evaluated for wilderness suitability as part of the 1984 GMP. All three areas were determined not suitable at the conclusion of the suitability assessment. The Big Spring area is now considered suitable because non-conforming uses have been removed. The other two areas considered in 1984, the Upper Jacks Fork and Cardareva areas are not being considered for wilderness designation because of continuing non-conforming uses and the presence of non-Federal land ownership, respectively. Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, home phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their names and/or home addresses, etc., but if you wish us to consider withholding this information, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this information will be released. We will always make submissions from organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Dec 04, 2006 Jkt 211001 Dated: July 13, 2006. David N. Given, Acting Regional Director, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. 06–9521 Filed 12–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–AD–M DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Reclamation California Bay-Delta Public Advisory Committee Public Meeting Bureau of Reclamation, Interior. ACTION: Notice of meeting. AGENCY: SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the California Bay-Delta Public Advisory Committee (Committee) will meet on December 14, 2006. This meeting will be held jointly with the California BayDelta Authority. The agenda for the joint meeting will include discussions with State and Federal agency representatives on end of Stage 1 decisions and planning for Stage 2 actions for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program (Program); and recommendations on Year 6 Program Performance and Accomplishments, Year 7 Priorities and Program Plans, and Program Performance and Balance. The meeting will also include reports form the Lead Scientist and the Independent Science Board, along with updates on the Delta Vision, Delta Risk Management Strategy, Pelagic Organisms Decline Action Plan, and Program Performance and Tracking. DATES: The meeting will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2006, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If reasonable accommodation is needed due to a disability, please contact Colleen Kirtlan at (916) 445–5511 or TDD (800) 735– 2929 at least 1 week prior to the meeting. 70531 restoration, water quality, levee system integrity, and water supply reliability. The Program is a consortium of State and Federal agencies with the mission to develop and implement a long-term comprehensive plan that will restore ecological health and improve water management for beneficial uses of the San Francisco/Sacramento and San Joaquin Bay Delta. Committee agendas and meeting materials will be available prior to all meetings on the California Bay-Delta Program Web site at http:// calwater.ca.gov and at the meetings. These meetings are open to the public. Oral comments will be accepted from members of the public at each meeting and will be limited to 3–5 minutes. Authority: The Committee was established pursuant to the Department of the Interior’s authority to implement the Water Supply, Reliability, and Environmental Improvement Act, Pub. L. 108–361; the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.; the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; and the Reclamation Act of 1902, 43 U.S.C. 391 et seq., and the acts amendatory thereof or supplementary thereto, all collectively referred to as the Federal Reclamation laws, and in particular, the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, 34 U.S.C. 3401. Dated: November 14, 2006. Allan Oto, Special Projects Officer, Mid-Pacific Region, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. [FR Doc. 06–9513 Filed 12–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–MN–M DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Determination of Valid Existing Rights Within the Daniel Boone National Forest, KY Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), Interior. ACTION: Notice of decision. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center located at 1400 J Street, Sacramento, California. AGENCY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUMMARY: This notice announces our decision on a request for a determination of valid existing rights (VER) under section 522(e) of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). We have determined that Sturgeon Mining Company, Inc. (Sturgeon Mining or Sturgeon) possesses VER for a coal haulroad within the boundaries of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Owsley County, Kentucky. This decision will allow Sturgeon to obtain a Kentucky surface coal mining and reclamation permit for the road in question and to Diane Buzzard, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, at (916) 978–5022 or Julie Alvis, California Bay-Delta Program, at (916) 445–5551. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Committee was established to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior on implementation of the CALFED BayDelta Program. The Committee makes recommendations on annual priorities, integration of the eleven Program elements, and overall balancing of the four Program objectives of ecosystem PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\05DEN1.SGM 05DEN1 70532 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 5, 2006 / Notices use the road to access and haul coal from a surface mine located on adjacent private lands. DATES: Effective Date: December 5, 2006. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William J. Kovacic, Director, Lexington Field Office, 2675 Regency Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40503. Telephone: (859) 260–8402. Fax: (859) 260–8410. Email: bkovacic@osmre.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. What Is the Nature of the VER Determination Request? II. What Legal Requirements Apply To This Request? III. What Information Is Available Relevant to the Basis for the Request? IV. How We Processed the Request V. How We Made Our Decision VI. What Public Comments Were Received? VII. How Can I Appeal the Determination? VIII. Where Are the Records of This Determination Available? I. What Is the Nature of the VER Determination Request? On February 23, 2006, QORE Property Sciences (QORE) submitted a request for a determination of VER on behalf of Sturgeon. Sturgeon is proposing to conduct surface coal mining operations on approximately 424 acres of privately owned land near Watches Branch of Laurel Fork in the southeast corner of Owsley County, Kentucky. The property to be mined is adjacent to the Daniel Boone National Forest. QORE is seeking a determination that Sturgeon has VER under paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of VER in 30 CFR 761.5 to use an existing road across Federal lands within the Daniel Boone National Forest as an access and haul road for the proposed mine. No other surface coal mining operations would be conducted on Federal lands within the Daniel Boone National Forest as part of this mine. On June 20, 2006, we published a notice in the Federal Register (71 FR 35448) in which we provided 30 days for the public to comment on the request for a determination of VER to use an existing Forest Service road as a coal mine access and haul road across Federal lands within the boundaries of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Owsley County, Kentucky. ycherry on PROD1PC64 with NOTICES II. What Legal Requirements Apply To This Request? Section 522(e)(2) of SMCRA, 30 U.S.C. 1272(e)(2), prohibits surface coal mining operations on Federal lands within the boundaries of any national forest, with two exceptions. The first exception pertains to surface operations and impacts incidental to an underground coal mine. The second VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Dec 04, 2006 Jkt 211001 relates to surface operations on lands within national forests west of the 100th meridian. Neither of those exceptions applies to the request now under consideration. The introductory paragraph of section 522(e) also provides two general exceptions to the prohibitions on surface coal mining operations in that section. Those exceptions apply to operations in existence on the date of enactment of the Act (August 3, 1977) and to land for which a person has VER. SMCRA does not define VER. We subsequently adopted regulations defining VER and clarifying that, for lands that come under the protection of 30 CFR 761.11 and section 522(e) after the date of enactment of SMCRA, the applicable date is the date that the lands came under protection, not August 3, 1977. On December 17, 1999 (64 FR 70766– 70838), we adopted a revised definition of VER, established a process for submission and review of requests for VER determinations, and otherwise modified the regulations implementing section 522(e). At 30 CFR 761.16(a), we published a table clarifying which agency (OSM or the State regulatory authority) is responsible for making VER determinations and which definition (State or Federal) will apply. That table specifies that OSM is responsible for VER determinations for Federal lands within national forests and that the Federal VER definition in 30 CFR 761.5 applies to those determinations. Paragraph (c) of the Federal definition of VER contains the standards applicable to VER for roads that lie within the definition of surface coal mining operations. QORE is seeking a VER determination under paragraph (c)(1), which provides that a person who claims VER to use or construct a road across the surface of lands protected by 30 CFR 761.11 or section 522(e) of SMCRA must demonstrate that the ‘‘road existed when the land upon which it is located came under the protection of § 761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the person has a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations.’’ Based on other information available to us, we also considered whether VER might exist under the standard in paragraph (c)(3), which requires a demonstration that a ‘‘valid permit for use or construction of a road in that location for surface coal mining operations existed when the land came under the protection of § 761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e).’’ PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 III. What Information Is Available Relevant to the Basis for the Request? The following information has been submitted by QORE or obtained from the United States Forest Service (USFS or Forest Service) or the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources (DNR): 1. A 4,900 foot road designated USFS road FSR 1649A exists on the land to which the VER determination request pertains. 2. The land upon which the road is located was in Federal ownership as part of the Daniel Boone National Forest on August 3, 1977, the date of enactment of SMCRA. 3. On May 18, 2006, the USFS issued a permit to Sturgeon for non-Federal commercial use of this road. The permit is contingent upon Sturgeon receiving all other necessary authorizations to operate. 4. The road in question is clearly visible on several aerial photographs taken between April 11, 1978, and February 26, 1988. 5. The road is visible as a faint feature in aerial photographs dated April 27, 1974, and May 9, 1976. 6. A DNR employee remembers using an old logging road in this area for trail biking the summer after he graduated from college in the spring of 1977. 7. The USFS issued River Mining Co., Inc. a special use permit for the construction and use of a road in this location as a coal access and haul road on September 24, 1976. 8. There is a copy of pages from the Forest Service Handbook regarding categorical exclusions. 9. There is documentation pertaining to the 1976 Special Use Permit for location of Forest Service Road 1649A. IV. How We Processed the Request We received the request on February 23, 2006, and determined that it was administratively complete on March 23, 2006. That review did not include an assessment of the technical or legal adequacy of the materials submitted with the request. As required by 30 CFR 761.16(d)(1), we published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on the merits of the request on June 20, 2006 (71 FR 35448). We also published notices on June 22 and 29, and July 6 and 13, 2006, in The Booneville Sentinel, Booneville, Kentucky, a newspaper of general circulation in Owsley County, Kentucky. After the close of the comment period on July 21, 2006, we reviewed the materials submitted with the request, all comments received in response to this E:\FR\FM\05DEN1.SGM 05DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 5, 2006 / Notices and other notices, and other relevant, reasonably available information (copies of pages from the Forest Service Handbook and Forest Service documentation pertaining to Watches Branch Road 1649A (Administrative Record Numbers KYVER–016 and 019, respectively) and determined that the record was sufficiently complete and adequate to support a decision on the merits of the request. We evaluated the record in accordance with the requirements at 30 CFR 761.16(e) as to whether the requester has demonstrated VER for the proposed access and haul road. For the reasons discussed below, we have determined that the requestor has demonstrated VER. V. How We Made Our Decision As we stated above, QORE sought a VER determination under paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5, which provides as follows: ycherry on PROD1PC64 with NOTICES (1) The road existed when the land upon which it is located came under the protection of section 761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the person has a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations. We applied this standard by examining all information submitted by QORE, the Forest Service and interested parties for evidence of a road in existence on August 3, 1977. QORE submitted a signed, notarized statement by the property owner of the currently proposed Kentucky surface coal mining permit 895–0171 (for which the applicant has requested VER to use the existing Forest Service road). That statement asserts that the road in question was originally constructed to access the property-owner’s property on Watches Fork in Owsley County, Kentucky. The land owner also stated that the road was used by pre-law permit 6264–77. That permit was issued to River Mining Company of Independence, Kentucky, by the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Division of Reclamation on September 29, 1977. Based upon the date of the permit alone, it appears that the 1977 surface coal mining permit issued to River Mining Company was issued postSMCRA (Administrative Record Number KYVER–002). The exact date of construction of the road is not known. Two scanned images of Kentucky Department of Transportation aerial photographs of the same area dated April 11, 1978, clearly show the road in question (Administrative Record Numbers KYVER–005 and KYVER–006). A May 9, 1976, scan of a Forest Service VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Dec 04, 2006 Jkt 211001 infrared aerial photograph shows the faint trace of a road at the location of the road in question, as does a Forest Service aerial photograph dated April 27, 1974 (Administrative Record Numbers KYVER–002, and KYVER–020, respectively). Although it is not certain exactly when River Mining Company constructed its access and haul road under the 1976 Special Use Permit issued by the Forest Service, it is clear that a road of unknown origin, perhaps created as a logging road, has existed on the trace of the road in question since at least 1976. Therefore, we have determined that the evidence indicates that a road existed when the land upon which the road is located came under the protection of section 761.11 of the Federal regulations and section 522(e) of SMCRA on August 3, 1977. The VER standard in the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5 also requires that the person seeking VER must have ‘‘a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations.’’ That ‘‘legal right’’ standard was added to the definition of VER on December 17, 1999 (64 FR 70766, 70832). In the preamble to that revision of the definition of VER, OSM stated that a person must demonstrate a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations. (See 64 FR 70791) That is, despite the fact that a road existed on August 3, 1977, that fact alone doesn’t give the applicant the right to use the road for commercial purposes. To comply with this requirement, Sturgeon applied for and received a Road Use Permit for the road in question (Watches Fork Road (FSR 1649A)) from the Forest Service dated May 18, 2006 (Administrative Record Number KYVER–008). That permit authorizes Sturgeon to haul ‘‘coal from private lands adjacent to National Forest System lands.’’ Paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5 merely states that the applicant for VER must have a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations. The preamble to the definition of VER published on December 17, 1999, does not provide any additional information regarding the ‘‘legal right’’ requirement. That is, there is no requirement that the legal right to use the road must exist on the date of the enactment of SMCRA. The only requirement is that the applicant has a legal right to use the road. Therefore, we conclude that the May 18, 2006, Road Use Permit from the Forest Service is sufficient to prove that Sturgeon has a legal right to use the road. The Forest Service Road Use Permit for the Watches Fork Road includes PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70533 various conditions. For example, the permittee is required to conduct work to improve the road, but only after VER is established and all State, local and Federal permits and licenses are obtained, and before hauling commences. Also, the Forest Service Road Use Permit states that Sturgeon’s use of the road is ‘‘nonexclusive.’’ That is, the Forest Service may use this road and authorize others to use the road at any and all times. Based upon the evidence discussed above, we have determined that VER for the Watches Fork Road, FSR 1649A, across a portion of the Daniel Boone National Forest exists. VI. What Public Comments Were Received? Three commenters submitted written comments opposing approval of the VER determination. Some of the comments simply oppose the proposed mining operation without providing any information relevant to the basis upon which VER is claimed or decided. Therefore, we will not address those comments. One commenter stated that this action could not proceed until after OSM, the USFS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) conducted a coordinated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of this action and the pending adjacent permit application. OSM finds that a NEPA review of this type is not required. The issuance of the USFS road use permit is already covered under the NEPA action taken by the USFS in compliance with its Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook. OSM’s decision on the request for a determination of VER is a legal opinion that is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The categorical exclusion is listed in the Departmental Manual at 516 DM 2, Appendix 1.4. Issuance of the State permit is not a Federal action and, therefore, NEPA has no applicability. Actions taken by the USACOE with respect to NEPA and any excess spoil fills on the adjacent permit are not part of this decision and, in addition, are already reviewed by the USACOE under the Nationwide 21 permit review. Two commenters stated, and we agree, that the applicant did not meet the standards of 30 CFR 761.5(b) for VER based on having made a good faith effort to obtain a permit according to final rules issued by OSM. However, this is not the standard on which VER was requested. The appropriate standard for the road for which VER was E:\FR\FM\05DEN1.SGM 05DEN1 ycherry on PROD1PC64 with NOTICES 70534 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 5, 2006 / Notices requested is the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) which applies to the use of roads across lands protected from surface coal mining and reclamation operations. Two commenters contend that the USFS did not have authority to issue the May 18, 2006, land use permit to the applicant. This comment is apparently based on the premise that the USFS permit could not be issued until OSM had determined that the applicant had shown VER to use the road. This claim is apparently further based on several conversations one of the commenters had with USFS personnel who apparently told him that a USFS land use permit would not be issued until OSM made a decision on the VER request. One commenter also expressed the opinion that OSM can not find in favor of the applicant because the USFS land use permit can not be issued without a VER determination. We are not aware of any provision of law, statute, regulation, or policy that precludes the USFS from issuing a land use permit based upon whether or not some other government agency approval has already been granted. Also, the Federal regulations at 30 CFR 760.11(c)(1) state, in part, that VER can exist if the person requesting the determination has a legal right to use the road. The term ‘‘legal right’’ is not defined. Because it is not defined, we believe that any number of circumstances would establish this right. It could mean that the person holds a permit, has a legal easement, qualifies for a permit, or any number of circumstances or conditions that would qualify as a ‘‘legal right.’’ In this instance, the USFS Road Use Permit satisfies the ‘‘legal right’’ component necessary to show that VER exist under 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1). A commenter seemed to believe that VER could not be granted to the applicant because the road in question did not meet every standard established in the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c). Those Federal regulations do not require that every standard on that section be met. Rather, the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c) states that the applicant must meet one or more, not all, of these standards to prove VER. We have found that the applicant has shown that the road did exist at the time SMCRA became effective, and that the applicant has a legal right to use the road. Thus, the standard at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) has been met, and no other proof is necessary. One commenter expressed an opinion that Sturgeon Mining did not qualify for VER because that company did not exist on August 3, 1977. It is true that VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Dec 04, 2006 Jkt 211001 Sturgeon Mining did not exist in 1977. However, the standard for the road in question is at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1), which is the only applicable standard in this case, and that standard requires only that the road must have existed at the passage of SMCRA and that the applicant has (not ‘‘had’’) a legal right to use it. Therefore, we do not agree with the commenter that Sturgeon can not apply for VER on the road in question simply because Sturgeon did not exist as an entity prior to August 3, 1977. Several facts were published in the notice that opened the public comment period. Those facts were intended to provide information and background about the road in question. A commenter pointed out what the commenter considered to be certain discrepancies in those facts. Some of the comments are not pertinent to the characteristics that make the road eligible for VER under the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) and, therefore, we will not address those comments. The commenter stated that while the road was visible in several aerial photos, ‘‘one could see that it was not used as a coal haul road.’’ The requirement for VER under the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) does not require that an existing road be used as a haulroad to qualify for VER. The requirement at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) provides that to demonstrate VER, the road must have existed at that location when the land came under the protection of section 761.11 of the Federal regulations or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the person has a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations. As we discussed above, there is ample proof that a road existed at that location when the land came under the protection of section 761.11 of the Federal regulations or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e). There is also ample proof that the road was used as a haul road, but that is not required by the standard at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1). The commenter asserts that the road in question runs through Breathitt and Perry counties. The commenter submitted aerial photos to prove this. While it is true that there are roads in this area that are in those counties and that the road in question may be part of this road system, the only part of the road to which the VER determination applies is that part that lies within the boundaries of the USFS in Owsley, County. Any other part of this road is not relevant to the request. The commenter had concerns about the public notice published by the applicant for the permit application submitted to the State of Kentucky for PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the surface coal mining and reclamation operation for which the road in question will be used for access and coal haulage, if VER is approved. That public notice was for the permit, not for the VER determination. As we noted above, separate newspaper notices were published concerning the VER determination request. Two commenters seem to question whether or not the road even existed prior to the effective date of SMCRA, and whether the road on which the VER determination is being requested is the same road used by River Mining as a coal haul road. Aerial photographs, onsite visits, and affidavits and statements made by persons familiar with the area all support the fact that the road on which the VER determination request has been made existed, that it was used for coal haulage, and that the road is the same road used by River Mining and described by those persons that submitted information about the road. Two commenters made lengthy arguments to the effect that Sturgeon Mining can not meet the criteria for VER on this road because Sturgeon is in no way related to River Mining. As we stated above, the request that OSM grant a positive VER determination is based solely upon the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1), not on whether the applicant is a successor to River Mining. All information submitted by the applicant or discussed by OSM in this action pertaining to River Mining is solely for the purpose of describing the history of this road to show that it does exist and that it existed prior to the effective date of SMCRA. A commenter stated that the public notice opening the comment period had to be re-published because the acreage for the adjacent permit was in error. The commenter stated that the notice stated that Sturgeon Mining Company, Inc. is proposing to conduct surface coal mining operations on approximately 424 acres. The commenter pointed out that the actual proposed permit acreage in 235.57 acres. While this is true, it is not reason for withdrawing and republishing the notice of receipt and opening of the public comment period. The size of the operation which this road might serve is not relevant to whether or not the criteria for approving or denying the VER determination are met. VII. How Can I Appeal the Determination? Our determination that VER exists is subject to administrative and judicial review under 30 CFR 775.11 and 775.13 of the Federal regulations. E:\FR\FM\05DEN1.SGM 05DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 5, 2006 / Notices VIII. Where Are the Records of This Determination Available? Our records on this determination are available for your inspection at the Lexington Field Office at the location listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Dated: September 22, 2006. Michael K. Robinson, Acting Regional Director, Appalachian Region. [FR Doc. E6–20507 Filed 12–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–05–P DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE [OMB Number 1103–0087] Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; Agency Information Collection Activities: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection; Comments Requested 30-Day notice of information collection under review: Tribal Resources Grant Program Equipment/ Training progress report. ycherry on PROD1PC64 with NOTICES ACTION: The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has submitted the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The revision of a currently approved information collection is published to obtain comments from the public and affected agencies. This proposed information collection was previously published in the Federal Register Volume 71, Number 196, pages 59817–59818 on October 11, 2006, allowing for a 60-day comment period. The purpose of this notice is to allow for 30 days for public comment until January 4, 2007. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10. If you have comments especially on the estimated public burden or associated response time, suggestions, or need a copy of the proposed information collection instrument with instructions or additional information, please contact Rebekah Dorr, Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 1100 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20530. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies concerning the proposed collection of information are encouraged. Your comments should address one or more of the following four points: VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:14 Dec 04, 2006 Jkt 211001 —Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; —Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; —Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and —Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Overview of This Information Collection: (1) Type of Information Collection: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Tribal Resources Grant Program Equipment/ Training Progress Report. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the Department sponsoring the collection: None. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Tribal Resources Grant Program—Equipment and Training grant recipients will report to the COPS Office on the status of grant implementation on an annual basis. Secondary: None. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond/reply: It is estimated that 275 respondents will complete the form annually within 30 minutes. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: 138 total annual burden hours. If additional information is required contact: Lynn Bryant, Department Clearance Officer, United States Department of Justice, Justice Management Division, Policy and Planning Staff, Patrick Henry Building, Suite 1600, 601 D Street NW., Washington, DC 20530. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70535 Dated: November 29, 2006. Lynn Bryant, Department Clearance Officer, PRA, Department of Justice. [FR Doc. E6–20511 Filed 12–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410–AT–P DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE [OMB Number 1105–0082] Executive Office for United States Attorneys; Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comments Requested 30-Day notice of information collection under review: Office of Legal Education Nomination/Confirmation Form. ACTION: The Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office for Unites States Attorneys, (EOUSA,) has submitted the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The proposed information collection is published to obtain comments from the public and affected agencies. This proposed information collection was previously published in the Federal Register Volume 71, Number 187, page 56551– 56552 on September 27, 2006, allowing for a 60-day comment period. The purpose of this notice is to allow for an additional 30 days for public comment until January 4, 2007. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10. Written comments and/or suggestions regarding the items contained in this notice, especially the estimated public burden and associated response time, should be directed to The Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention Department of Justice Desk Officer, Washington, DC 20503, or facsimile (202) 395–5806. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies concerning the proposed collection of information are encouraged. Your comments should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; E:\FR\FM\05DEN1.SGM 05DEN1

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[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 233 (Tuesday, December 5, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70531-70535]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-20507]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement


Determination of Valid Existing Rights Within the Daniel Boone 
National Forest, KY

AGENCY: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), 
Interior.

ACTION: Notice of decision.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces our decision on a request for a 
determination of valid existing rights (VER) under section 522(e) of 
the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the 
Act). We have determined that Sturgeon Mining Company, Inc. (Sturgeon 
Mining or Sturgeon) possesses VER for a coal haulroad within the 
boundaries of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Owsley County, 
Kentucky. This decision will allow Sturgeon to obtain a Kentucky 
surface coal mining and reclamation permit for the road in question and 
to

[[Page 70532]]

use the road to access and haul coal from a surface mine located on 
adjacent private lands.

DATES: Effective Date: December 5, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William J. Kovacic, Director, 
Lexington Field Office, 2675 Regency Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40503. 
Telephone: (859) 260-8402. Fax: (859) 260-8410. E-mail: 
bkovacic@osmre.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
I. What Is the Nature of the VER Determination Request?
II. What Legal Requirements Apply To This Request?
III. What Information Is Available Relevant to the Basis for the 
Request?
IV. How We Processed the Request
V. How We Made Our Decision
VI. What Public Comments Were Received?
VII. How Can I Appeal the Determination?
VIII. Where Are the Records of This Determination Available?

I. What Is the Nature of the VER Determination Request?

    On February 23, 2006, QORE Property Sciences (QORE) submitted a 
request for a determination of VER on behalf of Sturgeon. Sturgeon is 
proposing to conduct surface coal mining operations on approximately 
424 acres of privately owned land near Watches Branch of Laurel Fork in 
the southeast corner of Owsley County, Kentucky. The property to be 
mined is adjacent to the Daniel Boone National Forest.
    QORE is seeking a determination that Sturgeon has VER under 
paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of VER in 30 CFR 761.5 to use an 
existing road across Federal lands within the Daniel Boone National 
Forest as an access and haul road for the proposed mine. No other 
surface coal mining operations would be conducted on Federal lands 
within the Daniel Boone National Forest as part of this mine.
    On June 20, 2006, we published a notice in the Federal Register (71 
FR 35448) in which we provided 30 days for the public to comment on the 
request for a determination of VER to use an existing Forest Service 
road as a coal mine access and haul road across Federal lands within 
the boundaries of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Owsley County, 
Kentucky.

II. What Legal Requirements Apply To This Request?

    Section 522(e)(2) of SMCRA, 30 U.S.C. 1272(e)(2), prohibits surface 
coal mining operations on Federal lands within the boundaries of any 
national forest, with two exceptions. The first exception pertains to 
surface operations and impacts incidental to an underground coal mine. 
The second relates to surface operations on lands within national 
forests west of the 100th meridian. Neither of those exceptions applies 
to the request now under consideration.
    The introductory paragraph of section 522(e) also provides two 
general exceptions to the prohibitions on surface coal mining 
operations in that section. Those exceptions apply to operations in 
existence on the date of enactment of the Act (August 3, 1977) and to 
land for which a person has VER. SMCRA does not define VER. We 
subsequently adopted regulations defining VER and clarifying that, for 
lands that come under the protection of 30 CFR 761.11 and section 
522(e) after the date of enactment of SMCRA, the applicable date is the 
date that the lands came under protection, not August 3, 1977.
    On December 17, 1999 (64 FR 70766-70838), we adopted a revised 
definition of VER, established a process for submission and review of 
requests for VER determinations, and otherwise modified the regulations 
implementing section 522(e). At 30 CFR 761.16(a), we published a table 
clarifying which agency (OSM or the State regulatory authority) is 
responsible for making VER determinations and which definition (State 
or Federal) will apply. That table specifies that OSM is responsible 
for VER determinations for Federal lands within national forests and 
that the Federal VER definition in 30 CFR 761.5 applies to those 
determinations.
    Paragraph (c) of the Federal definition of VER contains the 
standards applicable to VER for roads that lie within the definition of 
surface coal mining operations. QORE is seeking a VER determination 
under paragraph (c)(1), which provides that a person who claims VER to 
use or construct a road across the surface of lands protected by 30 CFR 
761.11 or section 522(e) of SMCRA must demonstrate that the ``road 
existed when the land upon which it is located came under the 
protection of Sec.  761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the person has a 
legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations.''
    Based on other information available to us, we also considered 
whether VER might exist under the standard in paragraph (c)(3), which 
requires a demonstration that a ``valid permit for use or construction 
of a road in that location for surface coal mining operations existed 
when the land came under the protection of Sec.  761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 
1272(e).''

III. What Information Is Available Relevant to the Basis for the 
Request?

    The following information has been submitted by QORE or obtained 
from the United States Forest Service (USFS or Forest Service) or the 
Kentucky Department for Natural Resources (DNR):
    1. A 4,900 foot road designated USFS road FSR 1649A exists on the 
land to which the VER determination request pertains.
    2. The land upon which the road is located was in Federal ownership 
as part of the Daniel Boone National Forest on August 3, 1977, the date 
of enactment of SMCRA.
    3. On May 18, 2006, the USFS issued a permit to Sturgeon for non-
Federal commercial use of this road. The permit is contingent upon 
Sturgeon receiving all other necessary authorizations to operate.
    4. The road in question is clearly visible on several aerial 
photographs taken between April 11, 1978, and February 26, 1988.
    5. The road is visible as a faint feature in aerial photographs 
dated April 27, 1974, and May 9, 1976.
    6. A DNR employee remembers using an old logging road in this area 
for trail biking the summer after he graduated from college in the 
spring of 1977.
    7. The USFS issued River Mining Co., Inc. a special use permit for 
the construction and use of a road in this location as a coal access 
and haul road on September 24, 1976.
    8. There is a copy of pages from the Forest Service Handbook 
regarding categorical exclusions.
    9. There is documentation pertaining to the 1976 Special Use Permit 
for location of Forest Service Road 1649A.

IV. How We Processed the Request

    We received the request on February 23, 2006, and determined that 
it was administratively complete on March 23, 2006. That review did not 
include an assessment of the technical or legal adequacy of the 
materials submitted with the request.
    As required by 30 CFR 761.16(d)(1), we published a notice in the 
Federal Register seeking public comment on the merits of the request on 
June 20, 2006 (71 FR 35448). We also published notices on June 22 and 
29, and July 6 and 13, 2006, in The Booneville Sentinel, Booneville, 
Kentucky, a newspaper of general circulation in Owsley County, 
Kentucky.
    After the close of the comment period on July 21, 2006, we reviewed 
the materials submitted with the request, all comments received in 
response to this

[[Page 70533]]

and other notices, and other relevant, reasonably available information 
(copies of pages from the Forest Service Handbook and Forest Service 
documentation pertaining to Watches Branch Road 1649A (Administrative 
Record Numbers KYVER-016 and 019, respectively) and determined that the 
record was sufficiently complete and adequate to support a decision on 
the merits of the request.
    We evaluated the record in accordance with the requirements at 30 
CFR 761.16(e) as to whether the requester has demonstrated VER for the 
proposed access and haul road. For the reasons discussed below, we have 
determined that the requestor has demonstrated VER.

V. How We Made Our Decision

    As we stated above, QORE sought a VER determination under paragraph 
(c)(1) of the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5, which provides as 
follows:

(1) The road existed when the land upon which it is located came 
under the protection of section 761.11 or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the 
person has a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining 
operations.

    We applied this standard by examining all information submitted by 
QORE, the Forest Service and interested parties for evidence of a road 
in existence on August 3, 1977. QORE submitted a signed, notarized 
statement by the property owner of the currently proposed Kentucky 
surface coal mining permit 895-0171 (for which the applicant has 
requested VER to use the existing Forest Service road). That statement 
asserts that the road in question was originally constructed to access 
the property-owner's property on Watches Fork in Owsley County, 
Kentucky. The land owner also stated that the road was used by pre-law 
permit 6264-77. That permit was issued to River Mining Company of 
Independence, Kentucky, by the Commonwealth of Kentucky's Department of 
Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Division of Reclamation 
on September 29, 1977.
    Based upon the date of the permit alone, it appears that the 1977 
surface coal mining permit issued to River Mining Company was issued 
post-SMCRA (Administrative Record Number KYVER-002). The exact date of 
construction of the road is not known. Two scanned images of Kentucky 
Department of Transportation aerial photographs of the same area dated 
April 11, 1978, clearly show the road in question (Administrative 
Record Numbers KYVER-005 and KYVER-006). A May 9, 1976, scan of a 
Forest Service infrared aerial photograph shows the faint trace of a 
road at the location of the road in question, as does a Forest Service 
aerial photograph dated April 27, 1974 (Administrative Record Numbers 
KYVER-002, and KYVER-020, respectively).
    Although it is not certain exactly when River Mining Company 
constructed its access and haul road under the 1976 Special Use Permit 
issued by the Forest Service, it is clear that a road of unknown 
origin, perhaps created as a logging road, has existed on the trace of 
the road in question since at least 1976. Therefore, we have determined 
that the evidence indicates that a road existed when the land upon 
which the road is located came under the protection of section 761.11 
of the Federal regulations and section 522(e) of SMCRA on August 3, 
1977.
    The VER standard in the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5 also 
requires that the person seeking VER must have ``a legal right to use 
the road for surface coal mining operations.'' That ``legal right'' 
standard was added to the definition of VER on December 17, 1999 (64 FR 
70766, 70832). In the preamble to that revision of the definition of 
VER, OSM stated that a person must demonstrate a legal right to use the 
road for surface coal mining operations. (See 64 FR 70791) That is, 
despite the fact that a road existed on August 3, 1977, that fact alone 
doesn't give the applicant the right to use the road for commercial 
purposes. To comply with this requirement, Sturgeon applied for and 
received a Road Use Permit for the road in question (Watches Fork Road 
(FSR 1649A)) from the Forest Service dated May 18, 2006 (Administrative 
Record Number KYVER-008). That permit authorizes Sturgeon to haul 
``coal from private lands adjacent to National Forest System lands.''
    Paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5 merely 
states that the applicant for VER must have a legal right to use the 
road for surface coal mining operations. The preamble to the definition 
of VER published on December 17, 1999, does not provide any additional 
information regarding the ``legal right'' requirement. That is, there 
is no requirement that the legal right to use the road must exist on 
the date of the enactment of SMCRA. The only requirement is that the 
applicant has a legal right to use the road. Therefore, we conclude 
that the May 18, 2006, Road Use Permit from the Forest Service is 
sufficient to prove that Sturgeon has a legal right to use the road.
    The Forest Service Road Use Permit for the Watches Fork Road 
includes various conditions. For example, the permittee is required to 
conduct work to improve the road, but only after VER is established and 
all State, local and Federal permits and licenses are obtained, and 
before hauling commences. Also, the Forest Service Road Use Permit 
states that Sturgeon's use of the road is ``nonexclusive.'' That is, 
the Forest Service may use this road and authorize others to use the 
road at any and all times.
    Based upon the evidence discussed above, we have determined that 
VER for the Watches Fork Road, FSR 1649A, across a portion of the 
Daniel Boone National Forest exists.

VI. What Public Comments Were Received?

    Three commenters submitted written comments opposing approval of 
the VER determination. Some of the comments simply oppose the proposed 
mining operation without providing any information relevant to the 
basis upon which VER is claimed or decided. Therefore, we will not 
address those comments.
    One commenter stated that this action could not proceed until after 
OSM, the USFS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) conducted 
a coordinated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of this 
action and the pending adjacent permit application. OSM finds that a 
NEPA review of this type is not required. The issuance of the USFS road 
use permit is already covered under the NEPA action taken by the USFS 
in compliance with its Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook. 
OSM's decision on the request for a determination of VER is a legal 
opinion that is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare 
an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The 
categorical exclusion is listed in the Departmental Manual at 516 DM 2, 
Appendix 1.4. Issuance of the State permit is not a Federal action and, 
therefore, NEPA has no applicability. Actions taken by the USACOE with 
respect to NEPA and any excess spoil fills on the adjacent permit are 
not part of this decision and, in addition, are already reviewed by the 
USACOE under the Nationwide 21 permit review.
    Two commenters stated, and we agree, that the applicant did not 
meet the standards of 30 CFR 761.5(b) for VER based on having made a 
good faith effort to obtain a permit according to final rules issued by 
OSM. However, this is not the standard on which VER was requested. The 
appropriate standard for the road for which VER was

[[Page 70534]]

requested is the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) which applies 
to the use of roads across lands protected from surface coal mining and 
reclamation operations.
    Two commenters contend that the USFS did not have authority to 
issue the May 18, 2006, land use permit to the applicant. This comment 
is apparently based on the premise that the USFS permit could not be 
issued until OSM had determined that the applicant had shown VER to use 
the road. This claim is apparently further based on several 
conversations one of the commenters had with USFS personnel who 
apparently told him that a USFS land use permit would not be issued 
until OSM made a decision on the VER request. One commenter also 
expressed the opinion that OSM can not find in favor of the applicant 
because the USFS land use permit can not be issued without a VER 
determination. We are not aware of any provision of law, statute, 
regulation, or policy that precludes the USFS from issuing a land use 
permit based upon whether or not some other government agency approval 
has already been granted. Also, the Federal regulations at 30 CFR 
760.11(c)(1) state, in part, that VER can exist if the person 
requesting the determination has a legal right to use the road. The 
term ``legal right'' is not defined. Because it is not defined, we 
believe that any number of circumstances would establish this right. It 
could mean that the person holds a permit, has a legal easement, 
qualifies for a permit, or any number of circumstances or conditions 
that would qualify as a ``legal right.'' In this instance, the USFS 
Road Use Permit satisfies the ``legal right'' component necessary to 
show that VER exist under 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1).
    A commenter seemed to believe that VER could not be granted to the 
applicant because the road in question did not meet every standard 
established in the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c). Those Federal 
regulations do not require that every standard on that section be met. 
Rather, the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c) states that the 
applicant must meet one or more, not all, of these standards to prove 
VER. We have found that the applicant has shown that the road did exist 
at the time SMCRA became effective, and that the applicant has a legal 
right to use the road. Thus, the standard at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) has 
been met, and no other proof is necessary.
    One commenter expressed an opinion that Sturgeon Mining did not 
qualify for VER because that company did not exist on August 3, 1977. 
It is true that Sturgeon Mining did not exist in 1977. However, the 
standard for the road in question is at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1), which is 
the only applicable standard in this case, and that standard requires 
only that the road must have existed at the passage of SMCRA and that 
the applicant has (not ``had'') a legal right to use it. Therefore, we 
do not agree with the commenter that Sturgeon can not apply for VER on 
the road in question simply because Sturgeon did not exist as an entity 
prior to August 3, 1977.
    Several facts were published in the notice that opened the public 
comment period. Those facts were intended to provide information and 
background about the road in question. A commenter pointed out what the 
commenter considered to be certain discrepancies in those facts. Some 
of the comments are not pertinent to the characteristics that make the 
road eligible for VER under the definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) 
and, therefore, we will not address those comments.
    The commenter stated that while the road was visible in several 
aerial photos, ``one could see that it was not used as a coal haul 
road.'' The requirement for VER under the definition of VER at 30 CFR 
761.5(c)(1) does not require that an existing road be used as a 
haulroad to qualify for VER. The requirement at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1) 
provides that to demonstrate VER, the road must have existed at that 
location when the land came under the protection of section 761.11 of 
the Federal regulations or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e), and the person has a 
legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations. As we 
discussed above, there is ample proof that a road existed at that 
location when the land came under the protection of section 761.11 of 
the Federal regulations or 30 U.S.C. 1272(e). There is also ample proof 
that the road was used as a haul road, but that is not required by the 
standard at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1).
    The commenter asserts that the road in question runs through 
Breathitt and Perry counties. The commenter submitted aerial photos to 
prove this. While it is true that there are roads in this area that are 
in those counties and that the road in question may be part of this 
road system, the only part of the road to which the VER determination 
applies is that part that lies within the boundaries of the USFS in 
Owsley, County. Any other part of this road is not relevant to the 
request.
    The commenter had concerns about the public notice published by the 
applicant for the permit application submitted to the State of Kentucky 
for the surface coal mining and reclamation operation for which the 
road in question will be used for access and coal haulage, if VER is 
approved. That public notice was for the permit, not for the VER 
determination. As we noted above, separate newspaper notices were 
published concerning the VER determination request.
    Two commenters seem to question whether or not the road even 
existed prior to the effective date of SMCRA, and whether the road on 
which the VER determination is being requested is the same road used by 
River Mining as a coal haul road. Aerial photographs, on-site visits, 
and affidavits and statements made by persons familiar with the area 
all support the fact that the road on which the VER determination 
request has been made existed, that it was used for coal haulage, and 
that the road is the same road used by River Mining and described by 
those persons that submitted information about the road.
    Two commenters made lengthy arguments to the effect that Sturgeon 
Mining can not meet the criteria for VER on this road because Sturgeon 
is in no way related to River Mining. As we stated above, the request 
that OSM grant a positive VER determination is based solely upon the 
definition of VER at 30 CFR 761.5(c)(1), not on whether the applicant 
is a successor to River Mining. All information submitted by the 
applicant or discussed by OSM in this action pertaining to River Mining 
is solely for the purpose of describing the history of this road to 
show that it does exist and that it existed prior to the effective date 
of SMCRA.
    A commenter stated that the public notice opening the comment 
period had to be re-published because the acreage for the adjacent 
permit was in error. The commenter stated that the notice stated that 
Sturgeon Mining Company, Inc. is proposing to conduct surface coal 
mining operations on approximately 424 acres. The commenter pointed out 
that the actual proposed permit acreage in 235.57 acres. While this is 
true, it is not reason for withdrawing and re-publishing the notice of 
receipt and opening of the public comment period. The size of the 
operation which this road might serve is not relevant to whether or not 
the criteria for approving or denying the VER determination are met.

VII. How Can I Appeal the Determination?

    Our determination that VER exists is subject to administrative and 
judicial review under 30 CFR 775.11 and 775.13 of the Federal 
regulations.

[[Page 70535]]

VIII. Where Are the Records of This Determination Available?

    Our records on this determination are available for your inspection 
at the Lexington Field Office at the location listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Dated: September 22, 2006.
Michael K. Robinson,
Acting Regional Director, Appalachian Region.
 [FR Doc. E6-20507 Filed 12-4-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-05-P