Dairy Syncline Project Environmental Impact Statement
The United States Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management, Pocatello Field Office (BLM) and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FS), Caribou-Targhee National Forest (the Agencies) are jointly preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a mine and reclamation plan proposed by J.R. Simplot Company (Simplot) for development of the Dairy Syncline Phosphate Leases I-28115 and I-0258 (Project). Simplot has notified the Agencies of their intent to exercise their mining and development rights that are granted to them in the leases. The BLM is serving as the lead agency. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Office of Energy and Mineral Resources, Idaho Department of Lands, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers are cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS. Through the EIS process, the agencies will evaluate the environmental impacts of the Proposed Action and alternatives.
The J.R. Simplot Company proposes to disturb approximately 2,830 acres of surface through the creation of five open-pits, external overburden disposal areas, access roads, a transmission line, an ore slurry pipeline, an industrial water well, a mill and tailings pond, and other ancillary facilities. To maximize recovery of phosphate from the leases, they propose to enlarge the existing leases by 722 acres through lease modifications. USFS Special Use Authorizations (SUA) are needed for ancillary facilities located off-lease on NFS lands. The tailings pond would be located on lands acquired from the BLM and the USFS. They propose a 1,142 acre BLM direct land sale for the BLM portion of the tailings pond and adjacent facilities. Simplot would purchase the land for full market value, and donate a 440 acre parcel to BLM to minimize potential impacts to the public and tribal treaty rights stemming from the loss of federal land. An amendment to the Pocatello approved Resource Management Plan is required to complete the sale. In addition, a USFS land exchange is proposed for Simplot to acquire the USFS portion of the tailings pond. The M&RP proposes an exchange of 632 acres of NFS lands for a 640 acre parcel of Simplot property. The USFS Land Use Plan would also be amended.
Decisions to be made
BLM will make decisions related to: 1) Approval of the Mine Plan and/or alternatives; 2) enlargement (modification) of the existing leases; 3) Approval of the land sale as proposed or modified; 4) issuance of right of ways for infrastructure if the land sale is not approved; 5) Approval of the ARMP amendment for the land sale; and 6) acceptance of the 440-acre parcel donated by Simplot.
The USFS will provide a recommendation to BLM regarding surface management and the selected alternative on leased NFS lands, and make decisions related to the USFS land exchange; acceptance of the donation parcel; Roadless Area boundary changes; SUAs for off-lease activities; amendments to the Forest Travel Management Plan; amendments to their LUP to add management prescriptions and designate power corridors.
Additional permits will be required by other agencies.