News Release

For Release:  February 11, 2009      
Contact:  David Christy (916) 985-4474
CA-CC-09-32

BLM Seeks Public Input on Proposed Bodie Hills Mineral Exploration

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has initiated a 30-day public scoping period and will hold a public meeting on February 25 in Bridgeport to seek public comments on specific and relevant issues for an environmental assessment (EA) being prepared on a proposed mineral exploration drilling project in the Bodie Hills.

Cougar Gold LLC, Denver, has submitted a proposal to conduct mineral exploration drilling activities in the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA) and adjacent private lands.  In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, BLM will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the environmental impacts of the company's proposed plan of operations.

"The purpose of the meeting will be to answer questions about the proposal, to take written public comments about specific resource values that may be affected, and to seek input that can help reduce potential impacts to wilderness and other resource values," said Paul Bannister, acting manager for the BLM Bishop Field Office.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Bridgeport Community Center.  Copies of the plan of operations submitted are available from BLM or the company.  Scoping comments should be submitted by March 13 to BLM, either by mail to the Bishop Field Office, 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop, CA 93514, attn: Cheryl Seath, or by email cseath@blm.gov

Bannister said BLM will use the scoping comments along with existing resource data and other information to prepare the EA which is expected to be completed by April and released to the public for a 30-day public review period.

"We recognize mining exploration activities proposed within a WSA  raises public concerns, but we encourage the public to review BLM's legal requirements set by Congress regarding 'grandfathered uses' such as those Cougar maintains," he said.  Details regarding those legal requirements can be found in the BLM's Notice of Proposed Action available at www.blm.gov/ca/bishop. Official legal and policy documents are also available on the BLM's WSA website at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/wilderness/wsa/regs.html

For further information, please contact Cheryl Seath, BLM geologist, at (760) 872-5024 or Diana Pietrasanta, BLM wilderness specialist, at (760) 872-5028.

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