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Oregon / Washington

Goat Mountain Project

Road Reclamation

In 2011, Ascot Resources USA, Inc., (Ascot) submitted two applications for hardrock "prospecting permits" encompassing approximately 900 acres of Mineral Survey lands (often referred to as the "Mt. Margaret Deposit") in the vicinity of Goat Mountain in northern Skamania County, Washington, within the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens Mining District.

The BLM worked in close coordination with the U.S. Forest Service's Gifford-Pinchot National Forest to process Ascot's permit applications. Following public scoping in February/March of 2012, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared that addressed the proposed exploration plan for completion of 63 small diameter directional core holes as well as reasonable alternatives. The EA was originally completed in June 2012, and released for an extended 45-day public comment period that ended on August 15, 2012. Based on comments received and analyses needed to support the Agency's decision process, the EA was modified and accepted as a formal BLM administrative document on November 28, 2012 (DOI-BLM-OR-934-2012-0001-EA).

Modifications focused on cultural information identified during government-to-government consultation with the Cowlitz Tribe; refinement of administrative Alternative 3 regarding scheduling of exploration activities to minimize impacts to wildlife and recreation concerns; balancing water use between on- and off-site sources; emphasizing re-circulation and
re-use of drilling fluids to the extent practicable; monitoring the quality of existing water sources during drilling; complete abandonment of all drill holes; and enhancing figures in the EA to more clearly show proposed permit and existing administrative boundaries. None of these modifications changed the purpose or scope of the EA.

On December 4, 2012, the USFS issued their consent Decision Notice and associated stipulations, and a Finding of No Significant Impact. Based on the EA and USFS' consent, the BLM completed and issued its Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact on December 20, 2012. The Gifford Pinchot Task Force subsequently appealed the decisions and the EA culminating with a filing for summary judgment before the U.S. District Court of Oregon to vacate same. In July 2014, the Court vacated the Agencies' decisions, but not the EA (Civil Case 3:13-cv-00810-HZ). During 2015, the Agencies adjusted the EA consistent with Court's ruling to:

  • Make an express determination that the proposed action is not inconsistent with outdoor recreation which is a primary purpose for the acquisition of lands in MS-1329 and-1330 utilizing Land Water Conservation Funds.
  • Address each alternative's consistency with the Gifford Pinchot Nation Forest Plan and Aquatic Conservation Strategy Standards and Guidelines.
  • Include a Project Area specific hydrogeologic assessment that provided a "hard look" at baseline groundwater information.
  • Address the effectiveness of mitigation measures that would be implemented to avoid or minimize impacts of the Project.
  • Include an alternative eliminating proposed drilling at sites in riparian reserve.
  • Indicate that the USFS consent decision is part of the permitting process as a prerequisite to the BLM's legal authority to issue the permits.

Clarification was also added regarding:

  • Mandatory disclosures required by USFS regulations for prime farmlands, range lands and forest lands; floodplains, wetlands, energy, consumers, civil rights, minority groups, environmental justice.
  • The BLM's utilization of the EA as a basis for its administrative action on the proposed exploration and operating plan (43 CFR 3505.40 and .45 – What is an Exploration Plan, and 3592.1 – Operating Plans).
  • Assurance that all issues raised during scoping were addressed.
  • Inclusion of recent revision of the Designated Critical Habitat for Northern Spotted Owls and rationale for not conducting Project Area owl surveys.
  • Discussion of the analysis for lichen, bryophyte, and invasive plant species.
  • Acknowledgement that the Green River as an eligible for consideration as a Wild and Scenic River.
  • Addition of two Traditional Cultural Properties recently identified by the Cowlitz Tribe.
  • Consistency of each alternative with the Aquatic Conservation Strategy Objectives.
  • Plans and policies for other jurisdictions such as environmental justice, treaty resources and reserved Indian rights, wetlands and floodplains, unique characteristics of the area, etc.

In the process, many of the 2012 EA sections were edited to improve readability. However, none of the modifications, edits, or appended supplemental reports changed the original purpose, scope, or findings of the EA.

Availability of Environmental Assessment and Associated Documents

Please go to the Documents page to view the "Goat Mountain Hardrock Prospecting Permit Applications Environmental Assessment" and associated information. Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined during business hours at:

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Oregon/Washington State Office
1220 SW 3rd Avenue
Public Room, Suite 1100
Portland, Oregon 97208-2965

A 30-day public comment period will begin when the 2015 "Goat Mountain Hardrock Prospecting Permit Applications Environmental Assessment" is posted to the Documents page.

How to Comment and Timeframe: Written and email comments concerning this action will be accepted for 30 calendar days following publication of a notice in The Chronicle (Centralia, WA) and The Columbian (Vancouver, WA). The publication date in the newspapers of record is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period for this proposal. Those wishing to comment should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. Regulations prohibit extending the length of the comment period.

Explanation: Written comments can be submitted to either address below. Receipt of faxed comments cannot be assured. Only commenters who provide a valid name and address or who previously provided timely written input during the 2012 scoping and/or formal EA comment periods will be eligible to object during the Forest Service (FS) pre-decisional administrative review (36 CFR Part 218), or to appeal the BLM's decision regarding issuance of the permits (43 CFR Part 4). Comments received during this public review of the EA will be considered, and a revised (if necessary) EA and draft FS Decision Notice will be subsequently released for a 45-day review and objection period.

BLM_OR_Prospecting_EA@blm.gov (Note: an underscore ( _ ) must be placed in each blank space.)

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Oregon/Washington State Office
Attn: Goat Mountain (OR-936.2)
PO Box 2965
Portland, Oregon 97208-2965

Before including address, phone number, email-address, or any other personal identifying information in your comments, please be advised that your entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. If you wish the BLM to withhold your personal information you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. While individuals may request the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public view, the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so. The Bureau will make all submissions from organizations or businesses available for public disclosure in their entirety.