[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 138 (Thursday, July 18, 2013)]
[Pages 42970-42972]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-17224]



Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Resource Management Plan for the 
Bering Sea-Western Interior Planning Area, Alaska and Associated 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
Anchorage Field Office, Anchorage, Alaska, intends to prepare a 
Resource Management Plan (RMP) with an associated Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for the RMP for the Bering Sea-Western Interior (BSWI) 
Planning Area and by this notice announces the beginning of the scoping 
process to solicit public comments and identify issues. The RMP will 
replace the existing 1981 Southwest Planning Area Management Framework 
Plan and portions of the 1986 Central Yukon RMP Record of Decision.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the RMP and 
associated EIS. Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until 
December 16, 2013.
    The date(s) and location(s) of any scoping meetings will be 
announced at least 15 days in advance through local media, newspapers 
and the BLM Web site at: www.blm.gov/ak. All comments must be received 
prior to the close of the 150-day scoping period or 15 days after the 
last public meeting, whichever is later. Additional opportunities for 
public participation will be announced upon publication of the Draft 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on issues and planning criteria 
related to the Bering Sea-Western Interior RMP/EIS by any of the 
following methods:
     In person at public scoping meetings in communities within 
the planning area. The BLM will announce the meeting dates, times and 
specific locations through news releases and on the BLM Web site at 
     Web site: www.blm.gov/ak
     email: [email protected]
     fax: 907-267-1267
     mail: BLM Anchorage Field Office, Attention--BSWI RMP, 
4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, AK 99507
    Documents pertinent to this planning effort may be examined at the 
BLM Anchorage Field Office, 4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, AK 99507, and on 
the BLM Alaska Web site: www.blm.gov/ak.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information and/or to have 
your name added to our mailing list, contact RMP Team Lead, Anchorage 
Field Office, telephone: 907-267-1246; address: BLM Anchorage Field 
Office, 4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, AK 99507; email: [email protected]. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-
800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business 
hours. FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a 
question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during 
normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document provides notice that the BLM 
Anchorage Field Office, Anchorage, Alaska, intends to prepare an RMP 
with an associated EIS for the Bering Sea-Western Interior Planning 
Area, announces the beginning of the public scoping process, and seeks 
public input on issues and planning criteria. The

[[Page 42971]]

Planning Area is located in western Alaska and encompasses 
approximately 62 million acres of land, including 10.6 million acres 
managed by the BLM. The planning area includes all lands south of the 
Central Yukon watershed to the southern boundary of the Kuskokwim River 
watershed, and all lands west of Denali National Park and Preserve to 
the Bering Sea, including Saint Lawrence, Saint Matthew and Nunivak 
islands. The purpose of the public scoping process is to identify 
issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, 
including alternatives, and guide the planning process. Preliminary 
issues for the planning area have been identified by the BLM; Federal, 
state, and local agencies; and other stakeholders. The issues include: 
Subsistence resource uses, special recreation permitting, mineral 
development, the Iditarod National Historic Trail and Unalakleet Wild 
River National Landscape Conservation System units, air, soil and 
water, vegetation, special status species, fish and wildlife, cultural 
resources, paleontology, traditional cultural properties, visual 
resources, wildland fire management, lands with wilderness 
characteristics, forestry, livestock grazing, recreation and visitor 
service, trails and travel management, lands and realty, social and 
economic conditions, renewable energy, hazardous materials and sites, 
and climate change.
    The preliminary planning criteria include:
    1. Opportunities for public comment and participation in the 
formulation of the plan will be encouraged throughout the RMP/EIS 
    2. Valid existing rights will be recognized and protected;
    3. The BLM will consider subsistence uses and minimize adverse 
impacts in accordance with Section 810 of the ANILCA;
    4. In accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(F), 
salmon will be accorded recognition as an international subsistence 
resource pursuant to the provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty of 
1985 and those of the Yukon River Salmon Act of 2000, Public Law 106-
450, 16 U.S.C. 5727 et seq., November 7, 2000;
    5. The BLM will work cooperatively with State and Federal agencies, 
federally recognized tribes, and municipal governments. Agencies 
(including federally recognized tribal governments) with jurisdiction 
by law or special expertise will be consulted to determine if 
cooperating agency status is appropriate and desired;
    6. Department of the Interior guidance, Alaska Department of Fish 
and Game objectives, and Federal Subsistence Board requirements and 
mandates will be considered in decisions related to wildlife 
    7. The RMP will be consistent with the Bureau's H-1601-1 Land Use 
Planning Handbook, Appendix C; Program-Specific and Resource-Specific 
Decision Guidance and supplemental program guidance manuals and 
    8. The plan will be consistent with the standards and guidance set 
forth in FLPMA, NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
regulations, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Wild 
and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Trails System Act, the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act, ANILCA, the Surface Mine Reclamation and Enforcement 
Act of 1977, and other pertinent Federal laws, regulations, and 
    9. The plan will be consistent with the BLM-Alaska Land Health 
    10. Designations for Off-Highway Vehicles for all public lands 
within the Planning Area will be completed according to the regulations 
found in 43 CFR Subpart 8342;
    11. Multiple-Use classifications will be consistent with the 
provisions of 43 CFR Parts 2400, 2410, 2420, 2430, 2440, 2450, 2460 and 
    12. Current and potentially new special management areas, such as 
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs), will be considered 
using the criteria found in 43 CFR 1610.7-2;
    13. Lands addressed in the RMP will be BLM-administered surface 
lands and subsurface estate. No decisions will be made for lands not 
managed by the BLM;
    14. Review and classification of waterways as eligible for 
inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System will be 
consistent with the Bureau's Manual 6400--Wild and Scenic Rivers--
Policy and Program Direction for Identification, Evaluation, Planning, 
and Management;
    15. The BLM will incorporate Environmental Justice considerations 
in the planning alternatives to respond to Environmental Justice issues 
facing minority populations, low income communities, and tribes living 
near public lands and using public land resources;
    16. Social scientific data and methods will be integrated into the 
entire planning process, from preparing the pre-plan to implementation 
and monitoring;
    17. Impacts from the alternatives considered in the RMP will be 
analyzed in an EIS developed in accordance with regulations at 43 CFR 
Subpart 1610 and 40 CFR Part 1502;
    18. Decisions in the plan will be compatible with existing plans 
and policies of adjacent local, state, and Federal agencies to the 
maximum extent possible while remaining consistent with the purposes, 
policies, and programs of Federal law, and regulations applicable to 
public lands;
    19. The plan will assess all BLM-managed lands in the planning area 
for wilderness characteristics using criteria established by BLM Manual 
6310. The RMP will examine options for managing lands with wilderness 
characteristics and determine the most appropriate land use allocations 
for these lands. Considering wilderness characteristics in the land use 
planning process may result in several outcomes, including, but not 
limited to: (1) Emphasizing other multiple uses as a priority over 
protecting wilderness characteristics; (2) emphasizing other multiple 
uses while applying management restrictions (conditions of use, 
mitigation measures) to reduce impacts to wilderness characteristics; 
and, (3) the protection of wilderness characteristics as a priority 
over other uses.
    You may submit comments on issues and planning criteria in writing 
to the BLM at any public scoping meeting, or you may submit them to the 
BLM using one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section above. All 
comments must be received prior to the close of the 150-day scoping 
period or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is later. 
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other 
personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware 
that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    The BLM will evaluate identified issues and will place them into 
one of three categories:
    1. Issues to be resolved in the plan;
    2. Issues to be resolved through policy or administrative action; 
    3. Issues beyond the scope of this plan.
    The BLM will provide an explanation in the Draft RMP/Draft EIS as 
to why an issue was placed in category two or three. The public is also 
encouraged to help identify any management questions and concerns that 
should be addressed in the plan. The BLM will work collaboratively with 
interested parties to identify the management decisions that

[[Page 42972]]

are best suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns.
    The BLM will use NEPA public participation requirements to assist 
the agency in satisfying the public involvement requirements under 
Section 106 of the NHPA (16 U.S.C. 470(f)) pursuant to 36 CFR 
800.2(d)(3). The information about historic and cultural resources 
within the area potentially affected by the proposed action will assist 
the BLM in identifying and evaluating impacts to such resources in the 
context of both NEPA and Section 106 of the NHPA.
    The BLM will consult with Indian tribes on a government-to-
government basis in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other 
policies. Pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) 
of 1971, as well as Executive Order 13175, the BLM will also consult 
with Alaska Native corporations. Tribal concerns, including impacts on 
Indian trust assets and potential impacts to cultural resources, will 
be given due consideration. Federal, State, and local agencies, along 
with tribes and other stakeholders that may be interested in or 
affected by the proposed action that the BLM is evaluating, are invited 
to participate in the scoping process and, if eligible, may request or 
be requested by the BLM to participate in the development of the 
environmental analysis for the RMP as a cooperating agency.
    The BLM will use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the plan 
in order to consider the variety of resource issues and concerns 
identified. Specialists with expertise in the following disciplines 
will be involved in the planning process: Lands and realty, wildlife, 
fisheries, subsistence, vegetation, outdoor recreation, fire 
management, forestry, minerals and geology, air quality, paleontology, 
hydrology, soils, socioeconomics and visual resource management.

    Authority:  40 CFR 1501.7, 43 CFR 1610.2.

Bud C. Cribley,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-17224 Filed 7-17-13; 8:45 am]