Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to Conduct Public Scoping for Proposed Withdrawal of Federal Minerals in Rainy River Watershed from Exploration and Development

Release Date: Jan 13, 2017   Duluth, MN

Contact(s): Kristina Reichenbach, 218-626-4393


Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to Conduct Public Scoping for Proposed Withdrawal of Federal Minerals in Rainy River Watershed from Exploration and Development

 

DULUTH, MN. Jan. 13, 2017 – Today the U.S. Forest Service published a notice of intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to study the proposed 20-year withdrawal of federal minerals on the Superior National Forest within the Rainy River Watershed. The EIS will also support an amendment to the Superior National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. The NOI identifies the Forest Service as the lead agency for the EIS analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and initiates a 90-day scoping period to gather public input on the proposed withdrawal.

 

The proposed action for public scoping will be described in the NOI and based on the January 5, 2017 Forest Service application to the BLM. The Forest Service requested a withdrawal of 234,328 acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands on the Superior National Forest, for a 20-year term, from disposition under United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights. The Federal lands requested for withdrawal are located within the Rainy River watershed and drain into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. A copy of the NOI, application, map of the proposed withdrawal, and guidance for commenting are posted on the Superior National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/superior.

 

In addition to the option to submit written scoping comments via email or mail service, the Forest Service and BLM will hold a public meeting on March 16, 2017 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. CDT at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802. The BLM and the USFS will also hold additional meetings on the proposed withdrawal, in various regions of the state, during the 90 day period, in order to gather information on the withdrawal proposal. Dates and locations for these meetings will be posted on the Superior National Forest website.

 

Further opportunities for public participation will also occur upon publication of the Draft EIS, including a minimum 45-day public comment period. Prior to a final decision on the forest plan amendment, the decision is subject to pre-decisional objection procedures at 36 CFR 219, Subpart B.

 

Concurrent with the Forest Service NOI, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has submitted for publication in the Federal Register a notice announcing the Forest Service’s request to withdraw the lands and temporarily segregating the lands for two years, subject to valid existing rights. Publication of the BLM’s announcement in the Federal Register is expected early next week.

 

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