Rock Springs Field Office

Jack Morrow Hills CAP/Green River RMP Amendment
Q&As for the Supplemental Draft EIS

What is the purpose of an environmental impact statement (EIS) and why do land management agencies use them? Land management agencies develop environmental impact statements to disclose to the public the estimated environmental, economic, and social impacts on existing resources of implementing various management alternatives.  This information assists the decision maker in making an informed decision that provides a balance in multiple use. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires this disclosure.

What is this Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) and why did BLM prepare it? A supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) is an addition to an original draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).  A draft EIS for Jack Morrow Hills was prepared in June 2000.  Later that year former Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, directed BLM to prepare a supplemental draft environmental impact statement.  While the current administration agreed with the supplemental approach, we expanded the SDEIS to include a full range of alternatives.

What is the total acreage involved in the JMH DEIS? The planning area in southwestern Wyoming comprises about 622,000 acres with about 574,800 acres of Federal land and Federal mineral estate.  For more information there is a link available at the BLM website: www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rock_Springs/jmhcap.html .

How does this document relate to the Green River RMP?  It will determine the appropriate levels and timing of leasing and development of energy resources, while sustaining the other important land and resource uses in the area.  These deferred Green River RMP decisions will result in amending the Green River RMP. 

What is Adaptive Management and what is the purpose for using it? Adaptive Management is designed to implement decisions, the result of management practices, by monitoring policies or practices and modifying actions when warranted.  For the JMH CAP, Adaptive Management will allow adjustments in the boundaries after two years of monitoring if the information collected during that time indicates a change is warranted.

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). The existing section 603 Wilderness Study Areas remain unchanged in this document.  Wilderness Study Areas determined to be suitable for wilderness will remain protected unless Congress acts or releases them for other uses.  Other areas proposed for wilderness consideration through earlier public comments are considered in two of the alternatives.

What happened to the Citizens Red Desert Conservation Alternative? BLM reviewed the information submitted in the Citizens Red Desert Conservation Alternative and portions of the proposal were considered in developing the range of alternatives for the plan. Some of the proposals, such as designating the JMH CAP area as a National Conservation Area, are beyond the scope and authority of the BLM in this planning effort. Other proposals, such as designating certain areas as Wilderness Study Areas, were considered and evaluated using the Bureau's Wilderness Inventory and Study Procedures screening process. One area that has wilderness characteristics is being analyzed as a Wilderness Study Area in two alternatives of the plan.

Will the Supplemental DEIS affect Forest Service lands? There are no Forest Service lands involved in the planning area.

What is the Preferred Alternative, and how does it differ from other draft alternatives? The Preferred Alternative is developed after the estimated environmental, economic, and social impacts of the other draft alternatives are known.  Knowledge of those impacts, plus public comments, professional judgment, and legal constraints, are combined to select components from other draft alternatives and "build" the Preferred Alternative.  The Preferred Alternative is the alternative that the BLM and cooperators believe best meets the needs of users and the resources.

Why is this document so large? Addressing all the issues raised and taking into consideration all the public comments received, providing and analyzing a full range of alternative, and meeting the direction provided by the BLM Director, as well as documenting this information, contributed to the length of the document.

What is a Coordinated Activity Plan? A Coordinated Activity Plan provides a comprehensive framework for managing BLM-administered public lands and resources in a specific area.  "Coordinated" simply means the plan is comprehensive in accounting for multiple use management coordinated among all land and resource uses in the planning area.  When completed, it will be an integrated, multiple use, activity plan that balances resource use with protection of sensitive and important resource values.

Has the Bureau of Land Management always used a Coordinated Activity Plan in making their land use management decisions? Coordinated activity plans are not always needed to make land use planning decisions, but the BLM has always had the opportunity to develop coordinated activity plans.  For example, a coordinated activity plan was developed for the Big Piney/LaBarge area in 1990.

What is a cooperating agency?  How is a cooperating agency selected?  Did you work with other entities in the development of this document?  If yes, what were their roles? A Cooperating Agency is an official designation provided for in the Council of Environmental Quality regulations.  In part, a Cooperating Agency has special expertise, provides staff support, or has legal jurisdiction for resources or lands in the project area.  Cooperating Agencies assist in the preparation of the EIS by providing special expertise, information, and/or data. The BLM Wyoming State Director granted Cooperating Agency Status to the State of Wyoming, Fremont County, and Sweetwater County.  Sublette County and the three local conservation districts participated under the State of Wyoming Cooperating Agency umbrella. As a result of their Cooperating Agency status, the State of Wyoming, and the counties, will have the opportunity to advise and help us make decisions about this planning effort.

How many public comments were received on the original draft EIS and how did the BLM respond to the comments on the original draft EIS? All the comments on the original draft EIS were reviewed along with the scoping comments received during the scoping period (December 6, 2001- January 11, 2002).  Comments provided information on plan criteria, issues, resource information, and alternative formulation, and were incorporated into various parts of the SDEIS.  Over 12,000 comments were received on the original draft, and another 325 were received during scoping.  See the scoping report on the BLM website www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rock_Springs/jmhcap.html .

You received over 5,000 comment cards before the public comment period for the SDEIS began.  How will they be used? The comment cards received prior to the 90-day comment period will be reviewed and considered.  However, it will be noted that these comments were received prior to the official comment period and may not be included in the final summary of comments received during the 90-day review period.

Will there be coal-bed natural gas development in the JMH area? Coal-bed natural gas development is part of the oil and gas development being considered in this SDEIS.

What is the geologic potential for oil and gas development in the JMH area? 24% of the area has moderate potential for oil and gas development.

As a result of the proposed Adaptive Environmental Management, can leases be developed? Yes, with appropriate mitigation, most of the area is available for development. Tighter mitigation, with monitoring, will be necessary within certain portions of the JMH containing significant habitat and watershed.  The goal of development is to meet the JMH CAP objectives. This area involves key habitat and watersheds. Lessees will still have the choice to continue a suspended lease.

When will the Record of Decision be issued? The Record of Decision for the JMH CAP will be issued after the 30-day protest period provided for the final EIS, and resolution of any protests.

How can I participate in this decision making process? Comments will be accepted for 90 days from the date the EPA files the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on February 21, 2003. You may also participate by attending one of the open houses or hearings. Additionally, you may provide comments through your elected officials, your County Commissioners, and Conservation District Supervisors. The BLM is looking for substantive comments relative to the resources and planning efforts.  The more specific the input, the better BLM can incorporate and respond to those ideas.

How long is the public comment period open? And who can participate? The comment period is open for 90 days, from February 22 through May 23, 2003. Anyone may submit comments during the 90-day comment period.

Where will open houses and hearings be held?

Open Houses:

March 12, 2003

Rock Springs BLM Office, Rock Springs, WY

4-8 p.m.

March 13, 2003

Best Western Inn at Lander, Lander, WY

4-8 p.m.

Hearings:

April 9, 2003

Western Wyoming Community College
Room 1302, Rock Springs, WY

7 p.m.

April 10, 2003

Best Western Inn at Lander, Lander, WY

7 p.m.

What is the difference between a Public Hearing and an Open House? An open house is an informal public forum in which BLM shares information and listens to the publics input. The public can engage in dialogue with BLM staff (and possibly State and local government cooperators), ask questions about various aspects of the SDEIS and discuss concerns with the proposed alternatives and impact analyses.  A public hearing is a very formal activity in which the public may give formal testimony within a specific time limit. The testimony is officially recorded; there is no sharing of information or dialogue at a public hearing.

If I cannot attend the open houses or public hearings, how can I comment on the issues?  Comments can be submitted in a number of ways.  The public is not required to attend or participate in open houses or hearings.  Comments can be sent to the address listed below until the end of the comment period, May 23, 2003.  Comments can also be submitted electronically through the website www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rock_Springs/jmhcap.html .  If website access is not available, comments can be sent to Renee Dana, team Leader, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901 or email to Wymail_jmhcap@blm.gov.

What happens to my comments once you receive them? Each comment is reviewed and considered. A proposed coordinated activity plan will be developed after considering all comments received.  Comments and BLM's responses will be included in the final EIS.

When the public comment period closes, what happens next? All comments will be reviewed.  Information from those comments will be used to modify the SDEIS alternatives and information for the final EIS where appropriate. If appropriate, responses to comments will be prepared for inclusion in the final EIS. Once all comments and any new information are reviewed and any appropriate modifications are made to the SDEIS alternatives, a proposed coordinated activity plan and final EIS will be developed.  The Final EIS will be available for 30-day protest period.  Any protests received will be resolved by the BLM, Washington, D.C. office. A Record of Decision (ROD) and final Jack Morrow Hills Coordinated Activity Plan will then be issued, and BLM will begin implementing the new plan.

What happens after the ROD is issued? The approved JMH CAP will be in effect, and BLM will begin implementing the new plan.

How can I obtain a copy of the SDEIS? The SDEIS is available on the BLM website at www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rock_Springs/jmhcap.html .  Limited copies will be available at the open houses and hearings. To request a compact disk contact:

BLM Rock Springs Field Office
280 Highway 191 North
Rock Springs, Wyoming   82901
307-352-0256