BLM to Prepare Supplement to the TriCounty Draft RMP/EIS
The BLM Las Cruces District Office intends to prepare a Supplement to the TriCounty Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Based on internal BLM recommendations and comments from the public, significant new circumstances and information relevant to environmental concerns have triggered the need for supplementation of the Draft RMP/EIS. The scope of the Supplemental Draft RMP/EIS is limited to 1) oil and gas development and 2) lands with wilderness characteristics.
The Supplemental Draft RMP/EIS will make allocations for fluid minerals as either open to oil and gas leasing, closed to leasing, or open to leasing with major or moderate constraints, as required by BLM land use planning policy. It will also develop objectives, stipulations, and best management practices in areas open to leasing. The Supplemental Draft RMP/EIS will also determine the potential for fluid mineral leasing in the Planning Area, and will analyze likely development scenarios and varying mitigation methods and levels for areas with moderate or high potential for fluid minerals. The TriCounty Supplemental Draft RMP/EIS will consider a reasonable range of alternatives in fluid mineral leasing. It will also consider re-evaluations of lands with wilderness characteristics inventory and management decisions.
A Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on December 19, 2013, which begins the scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues specific to oil and gas development and lands with wilderness characteristics. The public scoping period is open and will remain open until two weeks after the last public meeting, which is expected to occur in the spring.
At the public meetings, the BLM will provide an overview of the document, respond to questions, and take comments. The BLM will host 3 public meetings in the spring of 2014 in Las Cruces, Truth or Consequences, and Alamogordo, New Mexico. The dates of these meetings will be announced at a later date in local media, on the website at www.blm.gov/nm/tricountyrmp, or by public mailings at least 15 days in advance.
The Scoping Period will close on May 15, 2014
The public is invited to provide comments during the scoping period. Scoping comments may be submitted electronically at: BLM_NM_LCDO_Comments@blm.gov
or by mail at: BLM Las Cruces District Office, Attention: TriCounty Comments, 1800 Marquess Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005-3371.
For questions about the planning process, please contact Jennifer Montoya, TriCounty RMP Team Lead, at (575) 525-4316.
The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives, and guide the planning process. Preliminary issues for the Supplemental Draft RMP/EIS have been identified by BLM personnel; Federal, State, and local agencies, and other stakeholders. The issues include: oil and gas development within the TriCounty Planning Area; directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing applications; air quality impacts; impacts to water quality and quantity; and habitat fragmentation. We have also identified as an issue how lands with wilderness characteristics will be managed.
The TriCounty Planning Area consists of about 9.3 million acres of land within Sierra, Otero, and Doña Ana Counties in southern New Mexico. This includes a Decision Area of about 2.8 million acres of public land and 3.9 million acres of Federal subsurface minerals managed by the Las Cruces District Office.