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Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits Project

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April 7, 2011 - Duluth, MN - The Forest Service has completed the draft environmental impact statement Supderior National Forest(EIS) for the Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits Project on the Superior National Forest and is inviting the public to review, comment, and attend public open houses on the draft EIS.  

This project involves exploration on federal lands within the Superior National Forest for federally-owned hardrock minerals such as copper, nickel, platinum, and others.  Proposed mineral exploration activities include drilling, geophysical surveying, and support activities using motorized vehicles. Rock samples obtained from exploration drilling allow for mineral content in geological formations to be determined. The draft EIS for the Project analyzes the potential effects of prospecting permit applications and operating plans currently under consideration and the potential effects of future mineral prospecting activity anticipated forest-wide over the next twenty years.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received 33 federal hardrock mineral prospecting permit applications and 21 operating plan proposals to conduct hardrock mineral exploration activities on the Superior National Forest. The BLM is the federal agency that manages federal hardrock minerals on the Forest.  According to federal law and mineral policy, when the BLM receives applications to explore for minerals on national forest system lands, they must evaluate the applications in conjunction with the Forest Service and coordinate the required environmental documentation prior to permit approval.  As the lead agency, the Forest Service must complete an environmental analysis to decide whether to consent to issuing prospecting permits and operating plans; and if the agency consents, the stipulations under which those permits and plans may operate.

Interested and affected parties are invited to review and comment on the draft EIS.  Pursuant to 36 CFR 215.6(1) comments must be filed within 45 calendar days following the date of publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, which was April 1.  Comments may be submitted to James W. Sanders, Forest Supervisor, by one of the following methods:  1.) mail: 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN  55808 Attn: Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits EIS, 2.) telephone: Loretta Cartner at 218-626-4382, 3.) FAX (218) 626-4398, or 4.) email: comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us. Please put “Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits Draft EIS” in the subject line of all correspondence.

Public open houses:  To build understanding and to answer questions about the proposed project, the Forest Service is holding three public open houses during the project comment period at the following locations on the following dates:  

April 12        3:30 to 7:00 pm at Superior National Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Ave Place, Duluth, MN;  

April 13         3:30 to 7:00 pm at the Norse Conference Room - Mesabi Range Community & Technical College, 1001 Chestnut St. West, Virginia,  MN;

April 14        3:30 to 7:00 pm, at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, 2520 Dale St, Roseville, MN.

A copy of the draft EIS is available on the SNF website: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/projects; scroll down to “Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits EIS”.  Copies of the draft EIS are also available upon request (hard copy or on a compact disc) at the Forest Supervisor’s Office, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808 and by calling Loretta Cartner at 218-626-4382.  

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