Montana/Dakotas

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United States Department of the Interior
 
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669
http://www.blm.gov/mt

March 29, 2007

 
In Reply To: 
1600 (923) P
 
 
EMAIL TRANSMISSION – 3/30/07
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2007-045
Expires: 9/30/08
 
To:             Field Managers
 
From:         State Director
 
Subject:      Montana/Dakotas NEPA Status Reports (NEPA Log) Format        DD: 04/15/2007
 
Program Area:  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance 
 
Purpose:  This IM has two functions:  1) to provide further clarification for maintaining and submitting NEPA logs; and 2) to ensure that field offices are using the most up-to-date NEPA documents and procedures available.
 
Policy/Action:
NEPA Logs
  • One of the purposes of the NEPA log is to serve as a public involvement/notification tool. All field offices must actively maintain NEPA logs to effectively serve as a notification tool. The NEPA logs should be updated to record any project or change in status of a project that requires NEPA documentation, or not any less frequently than every 2 weeks.  
  • Some projects are removed from the NEPA log when the project and/or environmental analysis have been completed. All completed projects should stay on the NEPA log, it also serves as a public record for the environmental analyses that have been or in the process of being completed within each field office.    
  • The date in the Decision Date column in the NEPA log must specify whether it is an estimated or actual date.  The Decision Date column of the NEPA log is inconsistent across field offices; the column is often blank, not estimating a decision date for ongoing projects and not differentiating between estimated and actual decision dates. The estimated decision date function is especially important to NEPA documents with no formal public comment period as it gives interested publics a chance to submit timely comments. An italicized font should be used to indicate the estimated decision date and to distinguish between the estimate and actual decision date. The decision date should be updated when a decision is made. 
  • Occasionally columns in the NEPA log are left blank, usually in the comment period, decision date, and cooperators columns. ALL columns must be completed. 
  • In the project location column, entries occasionally exclude the name of the county where the action is taking place. Project locations must be as complete as possible, including the county, township, and range. 
  • The cooperators column was designed for formal designated cooperating agencies as defined under NEPA and the Cooperating Agency Handbook. Based on the proportion of Yes answers on the NEPA logs, we believe that these are not formal cooperators. If the project does not involve a formal cooperating agency, the answer in this column is NO. 
  • Each field office is requested to designate a point of contact that will be responsible for updating their field office’s NEPA log and providing the information to Mary Apple to update the MSO internet site. Email Mary Apple and provide a copy to Jim Beaver. This should be accomplished by April 15, 2007.
 
Departmental Manual
·        During a recent review of NEPA documents, the State Office noticed that field offices may be using outdated CX forms. These forms became outdated when the DM was updated in May 2004. The DM can be found at http://elips.doi.gov/app_dm/index.cfm?fuseaction=home (scroll to Chapter 516). These updates include:
 
·        The procedures expand and amend key words, replacing “exceptions to Categorical Exclusions” with “Extraordinary Circumstances.” Additionally, the 516 DM reworked chapters 1-7 and added chapters 8-15 to specifically address agencies within the DOI.
 
·        The Extraordinary Circumstances (516 DM 2, Appendix 2) contain 12 individual actions, compared with the previous 10 “exceptions to categorical exclusions.” “Significant adverse effects” have been replaced with “significant impacts.”
 
·        The State Office suggests that field offices refer to the electronic CX template provided by the State Office and the electronic DM to ensure accuracy. The template can be found on the Montana/Dakota Planning and NEPA intranet site. This site can be located at web.mt.blm.gov/staff/Websters/nepa/nepa.htm.
 
Timeframe:  Effective immediately.
 
Budget Impact:  None.
 
Background:  IM Nos. MT-2004-084 and MT-2005-054 were implemented to ensure consistency when completing NEPA logs. The State Office has noticed field offices are inconsistent when completing NEPA logs.
 
The DM was updated in May 2004. The State Office has noticed some NEPA analyses and field office templates do not reflect changes to DM 516.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None.
 
Coordination:  This update was coordinated with the Division of Resources, Planning and Biological Resources, and External Affairs.
 
Contact:  For any questions pertaining to the format of NEPA logs, please contact Jim Beaver at (406) 896-5023 or Mary Apple at (406) 896-5258 with questions pertaining to posting the logs on the State Office website.
 
 
Signed by: Gene R. Terland
 
Authenticated by: Janie Fox (MT920)
 
 
1 Attachment
 
Distribution: w/attm.
Assistant Field Manager, Havre FS – 1
Assistant Field Manager, Glasgow FS – 1
SOMT - 1