Payette and Boise National Forests; Valley County, Idaho; Stibnite Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement, 25759-25761 [2017-11483]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 106 / Monday, June 5, 2017 / Notices Responsible Officials for the MNF LRMP Amendment and the GWNF LRMP Amendment, respectively. However, since the Regional Foresters for the Eastern and Southern Region will be the Responsible Officials for the decision to authorize the construction and operation of ACP, in the interest of administrative efficiencies as well as to simplify the administrative review process for the public, the Responsible Officials for the LRMP Amendments will now be the Regional Forester Eastern Region for the MNF LRMP Amendment and the Regional Forester Southern Region for the GWNF LRMP Amendment. Dated: May 10, 2017. Robert M. Harper, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System. [FR Doc. 2017–11484 Filed 6–2–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Payette and Boise National Forests; Valley County, Idaho; Stibnite Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: The Payette National Forest (PNF) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate and disclose the potential environmental effects from: (1) Approval of the ‘‘Stibnite Gold Project Plan of Restoration and Operations’’ (Plan) submitted by Midas Gold Idaho, Inc. (Midas Gold) in September 2016, to occupy and use National Forest System (NFS) lands for operations associated with open-pit mining and ore processing; and (2) related amendments to the Payette National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Payette Forest Plan, 2003) and/or the Boise National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Boise Forest Plan, as amended in 2010). The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will cooperate on the preparation of the EIS and evaluate its content to ensure that the EIS can be adopted by the USACE to support an eventual decision to either issue, issue with conditions, or deny a Department of the Army Permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Plan. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cooperate on the preparation of the EIS and asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:31 Jun 02, 2017 Jkt 241001 evaluate its content to ensure that the EIS can be adopted in support of the decision-making process for issuance of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit under Section 402 of the CWA. DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by July 20, 2017. ADDRESSES: Webform submission of comments is encouraged. Comments can be submitted via the project Web page at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/payette/ StibniteGold by selecting the ‘‘Comment on Project’’ link on the right side of the page. Written comments may also be sent to Payette National Forest, ATTN: Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom— Stibnite Gold EIS, 500 N. Mission St., McCall, Idaho 83638. Comments may also be sent via email with a subject line reading ‘‘Stibnite Gold EIS Scoping Comment’’ to comments-intermtnpayette@fs.fed.us or via facsimile (FAX) to 1–208–634–0744. Additional information regarding submittal of comments is provided below in the Scoping Process section. Written comments may also be submitted during public scoping meetings that will be held by the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service), as follows: 1. June 27, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m., Ashley Inn, Cascade, Idaho 2. June 28, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m., Payette Forest Supervisor’s Office, McCall, Idaho 3. June 29, 2017, 1:00–3:00 and 5:00– 7:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Express and Suites (Airport), Boise, Idaho FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Harris, Public Affairs Officer, at 1–208–634–0784 or bdharris@fs.fed.us. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Stibnite Gold Project (Project) is located in both the PNF and BNF. The PNF will be the lead unit for processing and administering the Plan on NFS lands. Purpose and Need for Action The purpose of the Forest Service’s action is to provide for approval of the Plan, which would govern occupancy and use of NFS lands for operations that are reasonably incident to mining. To provide for such approval, the Responsible Official needs to determine whether reasonable changes or additions to the Plan are necessary in order to meet the requirements of regulations set forth in 36 CFR 228 Subpart A and other applicable laws, PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25759 regulations, or policies, prior to approval. Midas Gold submitted a plan of operations for mining on NFS lands, titled ‘‘Stibnite Gold Plan of Restoration and Operations’’ (Plan) to the Forest Service in September 2016, in accordance with Forest Service regulations for locatable minerals set forth at 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 228 Subpart A. In order to comply with its statutory and regulatory obligations to respond to the Plan submitted by Midas Gold Idaho, Inc. (Midas Gold), the Forest Service must: (1) Evaluate the Plan; (2) consider requirements set forth at 36 CFR 228.8, including those to minimize adverse effects to the extent feasible, comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards for environmental protection, and provide for reclamation; and (3) respond to the Plan as set forth at 36 CFR 228.5(a). The Responsible Official determined the Plan to be administratively complete in December 2016. Approval of the Plan and issuance of permits under the CWA would be major federal actions subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Accordingly, the federal land management and regulatory agencies must also prepare an EIS to consider and publicly disclose the potential environmental effects of the proposed action. Proposed Action The Responsible Official proposes to approve the Plan submitted by Midas Gold, with any modifications determined necessary through the analysis to comply with applicable laws and regulations. USACE would review the Plan and EIS for purposes of evaluating Midas Gold’s application for a Department of the Army Permit under Section 404 of the CWA. EPA would review the Plan and EIS for purposes of evaluating Midas Gold’s application for a related NPDES Permit under Section 402 of the CWA. As described in the Plan, the Project would affect federal, state, and private lands. The proposed action by the Forest Service would only authorize approval of mining-related operations on NFS lands, because the Forest Service does not have jurisdiction to regulate mining operations that occur on private or state land. However, the EIS will consider and disclose environmental effects of mining-related operations that would occur on private and state lands. Connected actions related to the Plan, including but not necessarily limited to CWA permitting by USACE and EPA and related amendments of the Payette and Boise Forest Plans, will be E:\FR\FM\05JNN1.SGM 05JNN1 25760 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 106 / Monday, June 5, 2017 / Notices considered. Impacts of past, present, ongoing, and reasonably foreseeable future actions in the Project area will be considered in combination with the impacts of the Project to estimate the potential cumulative impacts of Project implementation. Project Location The Project area is located in the upper East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (EFSFSR) drainage, approximately 44 air miles northeast of the City of Cascade and three miles east of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Valley County, Idaho. Operations would impact approximately 500 acres of patented mining claims owned or controlled by Midas Gold and approximately 1,500 acres of federal public lands comprised of adjacent NFS lands administered by the PNF and two supporting-infrastructure corridors located primarily in the BNF. Parts of the Project area, such as the Stibnite mine site, have been impacted by historic mining and ore processing operations. Some of these impacts have been remediated, but legacy mining impacts remain. asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES Project Description Midas Gold’s stated objective is to economically develop and operate a modern mine, while providing environmental restoration of impacts related to historic mining activities at the site and socioeconomic benefits in surrounding areas. Midas Gold’s Plan includes descriptions of the following operations and activities to be conducted on a mixture of NFS, State, and private lands: • Redevelopment and Construction (2 to 3 years): Developing supporting infrastructure, including upgraded and reconstructed powerline, communication sites, upgraded and/or new roads (including a long-term, temporary mine access and public bypass route), maintenance facility, and onsite housing, oxygen plant, and water management infrastructure; relocation and reuse of spent ore and construction of a lined tailings storage facility; modifying stream channel to reduce sedimentation and restore wetland function and fish passage (including temporarily rerouting the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River [EFSFSR] through a fish-passable tunnel); planting burned areas; initial mining of one open pit (which will require closure of the Stibnite road through the mine site); and constructing development rock storage and temporary ore stockpile facilities, crusher, and ore processing facilities. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:31 Jun 02, 2017 Jkt 241001 • Mining and Ore Processing (12 to 15 years): Resuming mining from two historical and one new open pit at a rate of approximately 40,000 to 100,000 tons of material per day; processing up to 25,000 tons per day of ore to recover ` gold/silver dore and antimony concentrate; historical tailings reprocessing and clean-up; placing neutralized new and reprocessed tailings in the tailings storage facility; placing development rock in four engineered facilities, backfilling Yellow Pine pit; and concurrent reconstruction of stream channels, riparian areas, wetlands, and upland habitat, including restoring the EFSFSR to its approximate original gradient across the backfilled Yellow Pine pit. • Initial Closure and Reclamation (2 to 3 years): Removing structures and facilities; decommissioning temporary roads; recontouring and drainage; additional wetland mitigations; reconstructing the Stibnite Road and various stream channels in the project area; and growth media placement and revegetation. • Post-Closure and Monitoring (5 to 7 years): Establishing a wetland on top of the tailings storage facility; reclaiming rock storage facilities; monitoring reclamation and remediation projects. The Plan includes operational standards and practices to minimize, mitigate or eliminate the potential for negative impacts and environmental monitoring to document compliance and to facilitate adaptive management through the redevelopment, mining, reclamation, and post-closure periods. An initial review of the consistency of the Plan with both the Payette and Boise Forest Plans indicates that approval of the Plan as submitted would result in conditions that are inconsistent with the forest plans. Amendments to the forest plans may be required to address inconsistencies with Forest Plan standards including standards for recreation, roadless areas, vegetation, visual quality, and wildlife. Possible Alternatives The EIS will disclose the effects of the no-action alternative, which, while not within the Responsible Official’s discretion, would provide a baseline against which action alternatives can be compared, and the proposed action, approval of Midas Gold’s Plan. Additional alternatives and Project design features may be evaluated in the EIS. Alternatives and design features determined reasonable and necessary to meet Forest Service regulations for locatable minerals set forth at 36 CFR 228 Subpart A may require changes and/or additions to the Plan. Further PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 information regarding the nature of the decision(s) to be made is presented in the following section. Lead and Cooperating Agencies The Forest Service will be the lead agency preparing the EIS. Currently, five Cooperating agencies have been identified, they are: —U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) —U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) —Idaho Department of Lands —Idaho Department of Environmental Quality —Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources Other agencies or governmental entities may join as cooperators during the process. Responsible Official The Forest Supervisor of the PNF has been delegated authority for decisions related to the Plan on the BNF and will be the Responsible Official who prepares the record of decision (ROD) necessary to approve the portions of the Plan on NFS lands. USACE and EPA will prepare final decisions for their respective permitting action(s). Nature of Decision To Be Made The Responsible Official will consider the beneficial and adverse impacts of each alternative. With respect to the portions of the Plan on NFS lands, the Forest Service Responsible Official has discretion to determine whether changes in, or additions to, the Plan will be required prior to approval. However, the Responsible Official cannot categorically prohibit operations that are reasonably incident to mining of locatable minerals on NFS lands in the area of the proposed Plan. Using the analysis in the EIS and supporting documentation, the Forest Service Responsible Official will make the following decisions regarding the Plan: 1. Decide whether to approve the Plan as submitted by Midas Gold, or to require changes or additions to the Plan to meet the requirements for environmental protection and reclamation set forth at 36 CFR 228 Subpart A before approving a final Plan. The Forest Service decision may be to approve a plan of operations composed of elements from one or more of the alternatives considered. The alternative that is selected for approval in the final Plan must minimize adverse impacts on NFS surface resources to the extent feasible. 2. Decide whether to approve amendments to the forest plans, if E:\FR\FM\05JNN1.SGM 05JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 106 / Monday, June 5, 2017 / Notices required in order to approve the final Plan. 3. Decide whether and/or how to mitigate the effects of the proposed mining operation to existing public motorized access. asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with NOTICES Final EIS and Record of Decision The Forest Service would release a draft ROD in conjunction with the final EIS. The draft ROD would address approval of the Plan, and any related project-specific Forest Plan or Travel Plan amendments that may be required. The draft decision would be subject to 36 CFR 218, ‘‘Project-Level Predecisional Administrative Review Process.’’ Depending on the nature of the forest plan amendments required, the draft decisions may also be subject to 36 CFR 219 Subpart B, ‘‘Predecisional Administrative Review Process.’’ Following resolution of objections to the draft ROD, a final ROD would be issued. As the operator, Midas Gold would have an opportunity to appeal the decision as set forth at 36 CFR 214, ‘‘Postdecisional Administrative Review Process for Occupancy and Use of National Forest System Lands and Resources.’’ Prior to approval of the Plan, Midas Gold may be required to modify the September 2016 Plan to comply with the description of the selected alternative in the final ROD. In addition, the PNF Forest Supervisor would require Midas Gold to submit a reclamation bond or provide proof of other acceptable financial assurance to ensure that NFS lands and resources involved with the mining operation are reclaimed in accordance with the approved Plan and Forest Service requirements for environmental protection (36 CFR 228.8 and 228.13). After the Forest Service has determined that the Plan conforms to the ROD as well as other regulatory requirements, including acceptance of financial assurance for reclamation, it would approve the Plan. Implementation of mining operations that affect NFS lands and resources may not commence until the reclamation bond or other financial assurance is in place and a plan of operations is approved. Preliminary Issues Issues to be analyzed in the EIS will be developed during this scoping process. Preliminary issues expected to be analyzed include potential impacts to: Access and transportation; aesthetics and visual resources; botanical resources, including wetlands and threatened, endangered, proposed, and sensitive species; climate and air VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:31 Jun 02, 2017 Jkt 241001 quality; cultural and heritage resources; environmental justice; federal land management and environmental protection; fire and fuels management; fisheries and wildlife, including threatened, endangered, proposed, and sensitive species; geochemistry; geology; hazardous materials; land use; longterm, post-closure site management; noise; public health and safety; recreation; roadless and wilderness resources; socioeconomics; soils and reclamation cover materials; timber resources; water resources (groundwater and surface water); and water rights. Permits or Licenses Required Aspects of the Plan will also require other permitting, including by the Idaho Departments of Lands, Environmental Quality, and Water Resources. those individuals will not have standing for objection. Dated: May 12, 2017. Robert M. Harper, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System. [FR Doc. 2017–11483 Filed 6–2–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Notice of Updated Information Concerning the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project and Equitrans Expansion Project and the Associated Forest Service Land and Resource Management Plan Amendments Forest Service, USDA. Notice; updating information. AGENCY: Scoping Process ACTION: This notice of intent initiates the scoping (public involvement) process, which guides the development of the EIS. Public comments may be submitted to the PNF in a variety of ways, including: via email, via the project Web site, by mail, and via FAX. In addition, the PNF will conduct scoping meetings, during which members of the public can learn about the Forest Service proposed action and the NEPA process and submit written comments. Comments sought by the PNF include comments specific to the proposed action, information that could be pertinent to analysis of environmental effects, identification of significant issues, and identification of potential alternatives. Written comments may be sent to: Payette National Forest, ATTN: Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom—Stibnite Gold EIS, 500 N. Mission St., McCall, ID 83638. Comments may also be sent via email with a Subject Line reading ‘‘Stibnite Gold EIS Scoping Comment’’ to comments-intermtnpayette@fs.fed.us, submitted via Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ payette/StibniteGold, or sent via FAX to 1–208–634–0744. It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner that they are useful to preparation of the EIS. Therefore, to be most useful, comments should be provided prior to the close of the scoping comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, without an associated name and address, receiving further correspondences concerning the proposed action will not be possible and SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25761 The USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) is participating as a cooperating agency with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the preparation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project (MVP) and Equitrans Expansion Project (EEP) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). On October 14, 2016, the Forest Service published in the Federal Register (81 FR 71041) a Notice of Availability of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the Draft of Amendments to the Jefferson National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) to allow for the MVP to cross through the Jefferson National Forest. Since that publication, the Forest Service determined there is a need to disclose the following: New information relating to the proposed LRMP amendments and the substantive provisions in the 2012 Planning Rule that are likely to be directly related to the proposed amendments. In addition, a proposed change to one of the LRMP amendments will result in a change to the administrative review procedures as outlined in the October 14, 2016 Federal Register Notice. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information about the MVP Project is available from the FERC’s Office of External Affairs at 866–208–FERC (3372), or on the FERC Web site (www.ferc.gov). On the FERC’s Web site, go to ‘‘Documents & Filings,’’ click on the ‘‘eLibrary’’ link, click on ‘‘General Search’’ and enter the docket number CP16–10. Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at E:\FR\FM\05JNN1.SGM 05JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 106 (Monday, June 5, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25759-25761]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-11483]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Payette and Boise National Forests; Valley County, Idaho; 
Stibnite Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: The Payette National Forest (PNF) is preparing an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate and disclose the 
potential environmental effects from: (1) Approval of the ``Stibnite 
Gold Project Plan of Restoration and Operations'' (Plan) submitted by 
Midas Gold Idaho, Inc. (Midas Gold) in September 2016, to occupy and 
use National Forest System (NFS) lands for operations associated with 
open-pit mining and ore processing; and (2) related amendments to the 
Payette National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Payette 
Forest Plan, 2003) and/or the Boise National Forest Land and Resource 
Management Plan (Boise Forest Plan, as amended in 2010).
    The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will cooperate on 
the preparation of the EIS and evaluate its content to ensure that the 
EIS can be adopted by the USACE to support an eventual decision to 
either issue, issue with conditions, or deny a Department of the Army 
Permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Plan. The 
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cooperate on 
the preparation of the EIS and evaluate its content to ensure that the 
EIS can be adopted in support of the decision-making process for 
issuance of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) 
Permit under Section 402 of the CWA.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by July 20, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Webform submission of comments is encouraged. Comments can 
be submitted via the project Web page at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/payette/StibniteGold by selecting the ``Comment on Project'' link on 
the right side of the page. Written comments may also be sent to 
Payette National Forest, ATTN: Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom--Stibnite 
Gold EIS, 500 N. Mission St., McCall, Idaho 83638. Comments may also be 
sent via email with a subject line reading ``Stibnite Gold EIS Scoping 
Comment'' to comments-intermtn-payette@fs.fed.us or via facsimile (FAX) 
to 1-208-634-0744. Additional information regarding submittal of 
comments is provided below in the Scoping Process section. Written 
comments may also be submitted during public scoping meetings that will 
be held by the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service), as follows:

1. June 27, 2017, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Ashley Inn, Cascade, Idaho
2. June 28, 2017, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Payette Forest Supervisor's Office, 
McCall, Idaho
3. June 29, 2017, 1:00-3:00 and 5:00-7:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Express and 
Suites (Airport), Boise, Idaho

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Harris, Public Affairs Officer, 
at 1-208-634-0784 or bdharris@fs.fed.us.
    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Stibnite Gold Project (Project) is 
located in both the PNF and BNF. The PNF will be the lead unit for 
processing and administering the Plan on NFS lands.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the Forest Service's action is to provide for 
approval of the Plan, which would govern occupancy and use of NFS lands 
for operations that are reasonably incident to mining. To provide for 
such approval, the Responsible Official needs to determine whether 
reasonable changes or additions to the Plan are necessary in order to 
meet the requirements of regulations set forth in 36 CFR 228 Subpart A 
and other applicable laws, regulations, or policies, prior to approval.
    Midas Gold submitted a plan of operations for mining on NFS lands, 
titled ``Stibnite Gold Plan of Restoration and Operations'' (Plan) to 
the Forest Service in September 2016, in accordance with Forest Service 
regulations for locatable minerals set forth at 36 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) 228 Subpart A. In order to comply with its statutory 
and regulatory obligations to respond to the Plan submitted by Midas 
Gold Idaho, Inc. (Midas Gold), the Forest Service must: (1) Evaluate 
the Plan; (2) consider requirements set forth at 36 CFR 228.8, 
including those to minimize adverse effects to the extent feasible, 
comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards for 
environmental protection, and provide for reclamation; and (3) respond 
to the Plan as set forth at 36 CFR 228.5(a). The Responsible Official 
determined the Plan to be administratively complete in December 2016. 
Approval of the Plan and issuance of permits under the CWA would be 
major federal actions subject to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). Accordingly, the federal land management and regulatory 
agencies must also prepare an EIS to consider and publicly disclose the 
potential environmental effects of the proposed action.

Proposed Action

    The Responsible Official proposes to approve the Plan submitted by 
Midas Gold, with any modifications determined necessary through the 
analysis to comply with applicable laws and regulations. USACE would 
review the Plan and EIS for purposes of evaluating Midas Gold's 
application for a Department of the Army Permit under Section 404 of 
the CWA. EPA would review the Plan and EIS for purposes of evaluating 
Midas Gold's application for a related NPDES Permit under Section 402 
of the CWA. As described in the Plan, the Project would affect federal, 
state, and private lands. The proposed action by the Forest Service 
would only authorize approval of mining-related operations on NFS 
lands, because the Forest Service does not have jurisdiction to 
regulate mining operations that occur on private or state land. 
However, the EIS will consider and disclose environmental effects of 
mining-related operations that would occur on private and state lands. 
Connected actions related to the Plan, including but not necessarily 
limited to CWA permitting by USACE and EPA and related amendments of 
the Payette and Boise Forest Plans, will be

[[Page 25760]]

considered. Impacts of past, present, ongoing, and reasonably 
foreseeable future actions in the Project area will be considered in 
combination with the impacts of the Project to estimate the potential 
cumulative impacts of Project implementation.

Project Location

    The Project area is located in the upper East Fork of the South 
Fork of the Salmon River (EFSFSR) drainage, approximately 44 air miles 
northeast of the City of Cascade and three miles east of the Frank 
Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Valley County, Idaho. 
Operations would impact approximately 500 acres of patented mining 
claims owned or controlled by Midas Gold and approximately 1,500 acres 
of federal public lands comprised of adjacent NFS lands administered by 
the PNF and two supporting-infrastructure corridors located primarily 
in the BNF. Parts of the Project area, such as the Stibnite mine site, 
have been impacted by historic mining and ore processing operations. 
Some of these impacts have been remediated, but legacy mining impacts 
remain.

Project Description

    Midas Gold's stated objective is to economically develop and 
operate a modern mine, while providing environmental restoration of 
impacts related to historic mining activities at the site and 
socioeconomic benefits in surrounding areas. Midas Gold's Plan includes 
descriptions of the following operations and activities to be conducted 
on a mixture of NFS, State, and private lands:
     Redevelopment and Construction (2 to 3 years): Developing 
supporting infrastructure, including upgraded and reconstructed 
powerline, communication sites, upgraded and/or new roads (including a 
long-term, temporary mine access and public by-pass route), maintenance 
facility, and onsite housing, oxygen plant, and water management 
infrastructure; relocation and reuse of spent ore and construction of a 
lined tailings storage facility; modifying stream channel to reduce 
sedimentation and restore wetland function and fish passage (including 
temporarily rerouting the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon 
River [EFSFSR] through a fish-passable tunnel); planting burned areas; 
initial mining of one open pit (which will require closure of the 
Stibnite road through the mine site); and constructing development rock 
storage and temporary ore stockpile facilities, crusher, and ore 
processing facilities.
     Mining and Ore Processing (12 to 15 years): Resuming 
mining from two historical and one new open pit at a rate of 
approximately 40,000 to 100,000 tons of material per day; processing up 
to 25,000 tons per day of ore to recover gold/silver dor[egrave] and 
antimony concentrate; historical tailings reprocessing and clean-up; 
placing neutralized new and reprocessed tailings in the tailings 
storage facility; placing development rock in four engineered 
facilities, backfilling Yellow Pine pit; and concurrent reconstruction 
of stream channels, riparian areas, wetlands, and upland habitat, 
including restoring the EFSFSR to its approximate original gradient 
across the backfilled Yellow Pine pit.
     Initial Closure and Reclamation (2 to 3 years): Removing 
structures and facilities; decommissioning temporary roads; 
recontouring and drainage; additional wetland mitigations; 
reconstructing the Stibnite Road and various stream channels in the 
project area; and growth media placement and revegetation.
     Post-Closure and Monitoring (5 to 7 years): Establishing a 
wetland on top of the tailings storage facility; reclaiming rock 
storage facilities; monitoring reclamation and remediation projects.

The Plan includes operational standards and practices to minimize, 
mitigate or eliminate the potential for negative impacts and 
environmental monitoring to document compliance and to facilitate 
adaptive management through the redevelopment, mining, reclamation, and 
post-closure periods.
    An initial review of the consistency of the Plan with both the 
Payette and Boise Forest Plans indicates that approval of the Plan as 
submitted would result in conditions that are inconsistent with the 
forest plans. Amendments to the forest plans may be required to address 
inconsistencies with Forest Plan standards including standards for 
recreation, roadless areas, vegetation, visual quality, and wildlife.

Possible Alternatives

    The EIS will disclose the effects of the no-action alternative, 
which, while not within the Responsible Official's discretion, would 
provide a baseline against which action alternatives can be compared, 
and the proposed action, approval of Midas Gold's Plan. Additional 
alternatives and Project design features may be evaluated in the EIS. 
Alternatives and design features determined reasonable and necessary to 
meet Forest Service regulations for locatable minerals set forth at 36 
CFR 228 Subpart A may require changes and/or additions to the Plan. 
Further information regarding the nature of the decision(s) to be made 
is presented in the following section.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The Forest Service will be the lead agency preparing the EIS. 
Currently, five Cooperating agencies have been identified, they are:

--U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
--U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
--Idaho Department of Lands
--Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
--Governor's Office of Energy and Mineral Resources

Other agencies or governmental entities may join as cooperators during 
the process.

Responsible Official

    The Forest Supervisor of the PNF has been delegated authority for 
decisions related to the Plan on the BNF and will be the Responsible 
Official who prepares the record of decision (ROD) necessary to approve 
the portions of the Plan on NFS lands. USACE and EPA will prepare final 
decisions for their respective permitting action(s).

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Responsible Official will consider the beneficial and adverse 
impacts of each alternative. With respect to the portions of the Plan 
on NFS lands, the Forest Service Responsible Official has discretion to 
determine whether changes in, or additions to, the Plan will be 
required prior to approval. However, the Responsible Official cannot 
categorically prohibit operations that are reasonably incident to 
mining of locatable minerals on NFS lands in the area of the proposed 
Plan.
    Using the analysis in the EIS and supporting documentation, the 
Forest Service Responsible Official will make the following decisions 
regarding the Plan:
    1. Decide whether to approve the Plan as submitted by Midas Gold, 
or to require changes or additions to the Plan to meet the requirements 
for environmental protection and reclamation set forth at 36 CFR 228 
Subpart A before approving a final Plan. The Forest Service decision 
may be to approve a plan of operations composed of elements from one or 
more of the alternatives considered. The alternative that is selected 
for approval in the final Plan must minimize adverse impacts on NFS 
surface resources to the extent feasible.
    2. Decide whether to approve amendments to the forest plans, if

[[Page 25761]]

required in order to approve the final Plan.
    3. Decide whether and/or how to mitigate the effects of the 
proposed mining operation to existing public motorized access.

Final EIS and Record of Decision

    The Forest Service would release a draft ROD in conjunction with 
the final EIS. The draft ROD would address approval of the Plan, and 
any related project-specific Forest Plan or Travel Plan amendments that 
may be required. The draft decision would be subject to 36 CFR 218, 
``Project-Level Pre-decisional Administrative Review Process.'' 
Depending on the nature of the forest plan amendments required, the 
draft decisions may also be subject to 36 CFR 219 Subpart B, ``Pre-
decisional Administrative Review Process.''
    Following resolution of objections to the draft ROD, a final ROD 
would be issued. As the operator, Midas Gold would have an opportunity 
to appeal the decision as set forth at 36 CFR 214, ``Postdecisional 
Administrative Review Process for Occupancy and Use of National Forest 
System Lands and Resources.''
    Prior to approval of the Plan, Midas Gold may be required to modify 
the September 2016 Plan to comply with the description of the selected 
alternative in the final ROD. In addition, the PNF Forest Supervisor 
would require Midas Gold to submit a reclamation bond or provide proof 
of other acceptable financial assurance to ensure that NFS lands and 
resources involved with the mining operation are reclaimed in 
accordance with the approved Plan and Forest Service requirements for 
environmental protection (36 CFR 228.8 and 228.13). After the Forest 
Service has determined that the Plan conforms to the ROD as well as 
other regulatory requirements, including acceptance of financial 
assurance for reclamation, it would approve the Plan. Implementation of 
mining operations that affect NFS lands and resources may not commence 
until the reclamation bond or other financial assurance is in place and 
a plan of operations is approved.

Preliminary Issues

    Issues to be analyzed in the EIS will be developed during this 
scoping process. Preliminary issues expected to be analyzed include 
potential impacts to: Access and transportation; aesthetics and visual 
resources; botanical resources, including wetlands and threatened, 
endangered, proposed, and sensitive species; climate and air quality; 
cultural and heritage resources; environmental justice; federal land 
management and environmental protection; fire and fuels management; 
fisheries and wildlife, including threatened, endangered, proposed, and 
sensitive species; geochemistry; geology; hazardous materials; land 
use; long-term, post-closure site management; noise; public health and 
safety; recreation; roadless and wilderness resources; socioeconomics; 
soils and reclamation cover materials; timber resources; water 
resources (groundwater and surface water); and water rights.

Permits or Licenses Required

    Aspects of the Plan will also require other permitting, including 
by the Idaho Departments of Lands, Environmental Quality, and Water 
Resources.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping (public involvement) 
process, which guides the development of the EIS. Public comments may 
be submitted to the PNF in a variety of ways, including: via email, via 
the project Web site, by mail, and via FAX. In addition, the PNF will 
conduct scoping meetings, during which members of the public can learn 
about the Forest Service proposed action and the NEPA process and 
submit written comments. Comments sought by the PNF include comments 
specific to the proposed action, information that could be pertinent to 
analysis of environmental effects, identification of significant 
issues, and identification of potential alternatives.
    Written comments may be sent to: Payette National Forest, ATTN: 
Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom--Stibnite Gold EIS, 500 N. Mission St., 
McCall, ID 83638. Comments may also be sent via email with a Subject 
Line reading ``Stibnite Gold EIS Scoping Comment'' to comments-intermtn-payette@fs.fed.us, submitted via Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/payette/StibniteGold, or sent via FAX to 1-208-
634-0744.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such manner that they are useful to preparation of the EIS. 
Therefore, to be most useful, comments should be provided prior to the 
close of the scoping comment period and should clearly articulate the 
reviewer's concerns and contentions.
    Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; 
however, without an associated name and address, receiving further 
correspondences concerning the proposed action will not be possible and 
those individuals will not have standing for objection.

    Dated: May 12, 2017.
Robert M. Harper,
Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2017-11483 Filed 6-2-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P