RECORD OF DECISION
U.S.D.A. FOREST SERVICE
By: Michael J. Rogers, Forest Supervisor
FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT GILLIBRAND SOLEDAD CANYON MINING OPERATIONS ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST
LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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This Record of Decision (ROD) documents my selection of Alternative l, the proposed action, for the Gillibrand Soledad Canyon Mining Operations on the Angeles National Forest as described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The Alternatives considered and my rationale for selecting Alternative 1 are described. The Environmentally preferred alternative is identified.
During the past two years, the Forest Service has completed its environmental review process for the Gillibrand Soledad Canyon Mining project that will result in the development and production phase of the project. This EIS displays and analyzes the environmental impacts and mitigation measures with respect to the following issues and concerns: air, soils, water, biological resources, cultural and paleontological resources, land use, noise, property values, recreation, transportation, public health and safety, visual resources, and cumulative impacts.
I. THE DECISION
My decision is to select Alternative 1. The revised plan of operation and reclamation plan is found in Appendix C. This revised plan of operation incorporates the requirements of the selected alternative and will be signed by the Forest Service responsible official and the required reclamation bond posted prior to beginning operations.
In making my decision I have reviewed the environmental consequences of the Project, proposed mitigation measures, and the alternatives which are disclosed in the Final EIS. A major component of the Final EIS and my decision are implementation of the mitigation measures, found at the end of each resource area discussion. 1 gave particular attention to public and agency comments on the Draft EIS, for which detailed responses were given and which are contained Chapter 8.0 of the Final EIS. All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been adopted with the selection of Alternative 1.
Alternative 4, No Action, is the environmentally preferred alternative.
The EIS was developed in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations, Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1500-1508 (40 CFR 1500-1508). In addition, the EIS also complies with the Forest Service's Revised Implementing Procedures for NEPA. Federal Register, Vol. 50, No. 121, Monday, June 24, 1985, pgs. 26078-26104.
II. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
The Forest Service conducted an active public involvement program. The Forest Service determined that an EIS would be required for the proposed Project. The Forest Service became the Lead Agency under NEPA and subsequently prepared a
Notice of Intent (NOI) which was published in the Federal Register on October 13, 1989, in accordance with NEPA. The Forest Service held a public scoping meeting on November 13, 1989.
The Forest Service issued the draft EIS on January 7, 1991 and published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. Public notice of the availability of the Draft EIS was given at the same time by notifying all organizations and individuals who had previously requested such notice. The 60-day public review period ended on March 12, 1991. Copies of the Draft EIS were made available to public libraries in the general area. In addition, the Draft EIS was made available at no cost to all interested individuals, community groups and local agencies. A Public meeting was held in Canyon Country on February 22, 1991, during which comments on the Draft EIS were received. Additional written comments from interested public agencies and individuals were received throughout the public review period. The Forest Service evaluated all oral and written comments received during the noticed comment period and prepared written responses. The responses are contained in Chapter 8.0 of the Final EIS.
The public participation process was very helpful in making my decision. It identified areas of confusion. The comments suggested corrections that could be made to the document, concerns that needed better explanation, and issues to be further addressed. Some issues were repeatedly raised, but the most important one was air quality. As a result, the air quality section has been rewritten, and the project revised to assure that the project would stay within the limits of the existing permits issued to the proponent by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
A. Selected Alternative: Alternative 1 will be authorized by the approval of the plan of operation, as revised in Appendix C, for the conduct of mining operations in the Soledad Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest and to haul the ore by road to the adjacent plant site near Lang Station, California. The proponent plans to mine ilmenite, the titanium feedstock; apatite, a phosphate mineral; zircon, an industrial sand; magnetite, an iron -bearing mineral; and miscellaneous construction aggregate materials including sand and gravel. The claim area covers about 13,500 acres of National Forest land; however, project activities will be confined to three claim groups, (each bounded by a project boundary) and the access roads leading to these claim groups. The project boundaries surrounding the three claim groups and the access roads encompass 810 acres. Planned activities consist of (l) road building; (2) open-pit mining, stockpiling, and waste disposal; and (3) reclamation. The activity areas in total occupy less than 300 acres of forest environment.
IV. MITIGATION AND MONITORING
The mitigation measures and related monitoring and enforcement activities that ere developed through the environmental process are fully described in Chapter 3 of the Final EIS. They are grouped by resource subject and issue area. Those mitigation measures and related monitoring activities which the Forest Service listed are incorporated into this Record of Decision by reference. Inclusion of these mitigation measures will provide for all feasible means to avoid or substantially reduce environmental harm from the Project.
V. REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The following are reasons for my choice of the selected alternative.
(1) The proponent has a statutory right under the General Mining Laws of 1872 to claim and develop the mineral resources on public land.
(2) This development of mineral resources contributes to the national mission of the Forest Service for exploration and viable development of minerals within the National Forest consistent with the use and protection of other resource values, and to provide for the reclamation of those lands.
(3) This operation, by the approval of the revised plan of operation, conforms to the regulations found in 36 CFR 228 which requires minimizing the impacts of surface disturbance on the land.
(4) This operation complies with the Angeles National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, Pg. 3-20, and Pg. 4-40.
(5) After reviewing the Environmental Impact Statement, I find that no significant impacts were identified on any of the resources for the proposed action. Mitigation measures were incorporated into the final plan of operation that is found in Appendix C. That plan of operation is made part of this decision.
(6) I found that the project did not affect any unique characteristics of the geographic area, as defined in 40 CFR 1508.27.
(7) After reviewing the public concerns, I found that the mitigation measures that are made part of the decision will adequately reduce the impacts associated with the concerns brought forward by the public.
Based on the information contained in the Final EIS, I have determined that the project will not have a significant impact on the environment.
Michael J. Rogers
November 12, 1991