[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 41 (Monday, March 3, 1997)]
[Page 9445]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-5086]


Bureau of Land Management

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of the Decision Record and Finding 
of No Significant Impact for the management of Big Cedar Ridge Fossil 
Plant Area in Washakie County, Wyoming.


SUMMARY: The decision record for the Big Cedar Ridge Fossil Plant Area 
outlines management for 1,550 acres in the Bighorn Basin Resource Area 
of the Worland District, amends the 1988 Resource Management Plan (RMP) 
for the former Washakie Resource Area, and designates an Area of 
Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) on 260 acres, where fossil plants 
are concentrated.
    The general management objective and emphasis within the Big Cedar 
Ridge Fossil Plant Area will be for scientific research, public 
education, recreation, and protection of the fossil resources.
    The BLM will also pursue withdrawal of the public lands from entry 
under the mining laws to prohibit the staking of mining claims on 260 
acres of BLM-administered public lands where fossils are concentrated. 
This action constitutes an amendment to the Washakie RMP.
    In addition, an ACEC is designated on the same 260 acres. This ACEC 
designation constitutes an amendment to the Washakie RMP and will take 
effect at the end of a 60-day public comment period.

EFFECTIVE DATES: Comments on the Big Cedar Ridge Fossil Plant proposed 
ACEC should be sent to the BLM's Worland District Office at P.O. Box 
119, Worland, Wyoming 82401, within 60 days of the publication date of 
this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Margy Tidemann, Editorial Assistant, 
Bureau of Land Management, at the address cited above or at 307-347-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fossil concentration areas at Big Cedar 
Ridge, discovered in 1990 by Dr. Scott Wing of the Smithsonian 
Institution, meet the relevance and importance criteria for ACEC 
designation. The plants form a complete late Cretaceous-age vegetative 
community that was buried in-place by volcanic ash about 72 million 
years ago. The flora, consisting of flowering plants, ferns, palms, and 
conifer trees, preserves a true instant in time, highlighting 
relationships between the ancient landscape and its vegetation. 
Paleobotanists have already been able to establish plant, soil, and 
topographic associations. This is possibly the oldest site in the world 
where such associations are seen. Excavations in 1992 resulted in the 
identification of over 100 new plant species. Scientists have also been 
able to distinguish at least five different types of insect predation 
which took place on the flora of Big Cedar Ridge.
    As described in the decision record for the area, a detailed 
activity or implementation plan will be developed for the 260-acre 
fossil concentration areas. These areas will be routinely monitored and 
any needed management changes will be made to insure that resource 
damage does not occur.
    The 260-acre fossil concentration areas will be managed primarily 
for research, public education, and fossil interpretation, as well as 
hobby (noncommercial) collection of fossils.
    Surface-disturbing activities that are not related to research, 
public education, interpretation, or hobby collection of fossils will 
be prohibited in the 260-acre fossil concentration areas.
    As required, further environmental analyses will be conducted on 
any future site-specific activity or implementation planning to be done 
in the Big Cedar Ridge area. This would include opportunities for 
public comment.
    Any detailed activity planning that may be conducted in the Big 
Cedar Ridge area will consider needs for site-specific mitigation of 
surface-disturbing activities for things like locating trails, roads, 
exhibits, and facilities to enhance public education.

    Dated: February 19, 1997.
Alan R. Pierson,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 97-5086 Filed 2-28-97; 8:45 am]