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Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact

White Banks Mine Plan of Operations


Aspen-Sopris Ranger District White River National Forest Pitkin County, Colorado T9S, R88W, Section 28 This notice documents my decision based on the Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared for the White Banks Mine Plan of Operations. A proposed plan of operations for development of locatable minerals within the White Banks claims was accepted for review from Elbram Stone Company, LLC in October 2010. The White Banks claims are located in the Avalanche Creek drainage on National Forest System (NFS) lands. A previous plan of operations was approved by the Forest Service in 1995 and expired in April 2010. The new proposed plan requests a continuation of alabaster mining within the White Banks claims over the next 20 years. Other notable additions in the proposed plan include: mining marble and gypsum in addition to alabaster; year-round surface operations, including snow removal on National Forest System Road 310 up to the mine portal; drilling a well to provide 1000 gal/day of water (subject to a supplemental plan of operations); constructing a bypass road around the mine; on-site camping for mine workers; and the construction of a log office building to replace the existing mobile bath house. In April 2011, Elbram Stone Company (ESC) submitted additional modifications to the proposed plan, which included a list of ten items that would further limit the impact of winter operations.

Decision
After considering information provided in the EA, design features, public comments, consultation with Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and other agencies, review of the White River National Forest Plan, and internal Forest Service specialist input, it is my decision to select Alternative 3 with modifications. My decision to select this alternative was developed in response to the key issue raised about potential impacts to bighorn sheep during critical winter periods. Furthermore, this alternative limits surface uses to those which are considered reasonably incidental to the stage of mining operation, as per the 1955 Multiple Use Mining Act (30 U.S.C. 612) and the locatable minerals regulations (36 CFR 228.3). Under the selected Alternative 3 with modifications, mining operations would occur from May 1 to November 30, with minor restrictions. The bypass road could be constructed but no on-site employee camping or additional buildings would be approved. The existing mobile home would be removed and there would be no approval for a temporary camper trailer. All mining-related equipment shall be removed from the site at the end of each operating season (prior to November 30). Foot traffic to and from the mine portal entrance would be allowed during the winter months, excluding January 16 March 15 when there will be no surface use allowed at the mine site.

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

Truck travel and associated snow plowing to and from the mine for product removal will be allowed on a temporary basis during two weekends (Saturday and Sunday) each in December, and April, excluding the Christmas holiday. Monitoring winter truck travel and associated snow plowing is required. Truck travel and associated plowing allowances will be increased or decreased up to five trucks per day relative to information gathered by a third party monitor regarding observed sheep behavior due to plowing and truck loading activities (see Appendix 2). To receive authorization for winter hauling, the proponent must notify the Forest Service at two time intervals: First, notice must be given annually in writing or email by June 1, if winter snow plowing and hauling is requested. Second, notice must be given in writing or email a minimum one week prior to snow plowing and hauling. If initial notice for winter snow plowing and hauling is not received by June 1, then no winter snow plowing and hauling will be authorized. To concentrate activity to a time period with limited potential disturbance to sheep, winter truck travel and associated snow plowing are allowed from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. during this time, unless prior authorization is provided by the Forest Service. In addition, snow plowing will occur on the same days as hauling. Prior to approving any additional surface operations during the winter period from December 1 to April 30, ESC in cooperation with the CPW and the Forest Service, will be required to assist with a five-year baseline monitoring of the bighorn sheep population (see Appendix 2). Winter operations are contingent upon completing the monitoring plan for the Bighorn Sheep population. Expanding the timing or type of surface operations during winter would only include actions previously analyzed under Alternative 2 (see Alternatives Considered). Surface operations will be authorized only when all requirements for approval of the plan of operations for ESC have been met. The Plan of Operations could be approved for a period of up to 20 years based on the terms of conditions in this decision. The Forest Service would process a supplemental plan of operations for the secondary escape-way or water well once received. Tables 1 and 2 summarize the surface use and general timeline of operations of Alternative 3 with modifications.
Table 1. Summary of Surface Use Elements Duration of Up to 20 years Operation th Operational Period May 1 November 30 (excluding Memorial Day, July 4 , and Labor Day) Surface Hours Monday-Saturday, 7:00 am-7:00 pm Underground Hours* 7 days/week, 24 hours/day (3 shifts) # truckloads/day 10 roundtrips(RT), daylight only Support vehicles 21 RT Personnel 11 Permitted Infrastructure 1. Office cabin Existing log cabin to be used as office/storage/shop to be retained on site in present location. Modifications to meet the Built Environment Image Guide (BEIG) and accessibility by September 2013. 2. Water Storage tanks Existing 1,000 gallon above ground cylindrical metal, water storage tank to be retained in present location, existing below ground 300 gallon metal tank to be retained in present location. Bypass Road New 12 foot wide by 0.2 mile long gravel surface road to bypass NFSR 310

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

Table 2. Estimated Timeline for Planned Activities and Description Planned Activities Description Phase 1 Year 1 Exploration Exploration for black marble in order to complete the mineral classification and update the existing mineral classification of the Alabaster by September 2012. Year 1 Reclamation Removal of mobile bathhouse by September 2012. Year 2 2002 Forest Plan Modification of existing cabin to meet BEIG and accessibility by Requirement September 2013. Years 1-4 Construct underground structural reinforcements Development Implement other site improvements (landscaping, fencing, gates) Years 1-5 Monitoring Baseline monitoring of the bighorn sheep population prior to Requirement approving additional winter use for mining activities. Phase 2 Year 5 Production Construct bypass road Year 10 2002 Forest Plan Remove power pole and bury overhead power lines by Requirement September 2022. Years 5-20 Full production for locatable minerals which may include Production alabaster, black marble, and gypsum

The above operations will be included in a revised Plan of Operations (POO) to be prepared by ESC for my approval. The revised POO will incorporate the design features and monitoring plan requirements included in Appendices 1 and 2. In addition, the revised POO must include a Reclamation Plan that addresses the following: 1. Removal and off-site disposal of all hazardous materials stored on site 2. Demolition, removal and disposal of uncontaminated structures, equipment, and materials 3. Demolition, removal, and off-site disposal of existing structures and existing fencing 4. Reclamation of bypass road, parking areas and hardened travelways 5. Reclamation of all mine waste generated from operation 6. Environmental and health and safety mitigations 7. Long term operation, maintenance, and monitoring 8. Overall site restoration including earthwork and revegetation As a condition of approval of the revised Plan of Operations, and in compliance with 36 CFR 228.8(g), ESC shall be required to furnish a bond to insure performance of reclamation and mitigation measures on NFS lands, based on the approved Reclamation Plan. The Forest Service has authority to impose the above restrictions on NFS lands only; control over uses and activity on private land is outside the Federal governments jurisdiction. Elbram Stone Company will also need to obtain necessary permits and clearance from the State of Colorado and Pitkin County before resuming operations. The state and county may impose additional requirements or restrictions. As part of the permitting process, a reclamation bond will be put in place to the satisfaction of both the State of Colorado and Forest Service. Other activities not specifically included in this decision may require a supplemental plan of operations and are subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act. This

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

requirement applies to both the secondary escape-way and water well that were included in the plan we reviewed.

Rationale
My decision recognizes ESCs statutory right to enter public lands to extract valuable minerals, as provided by the 1872 Mining Law and is accord with agency policy to encourage mineral development on public lands legally open for mineral entry. The surface use elements would be conducted in a manner that minimizes adverse environmental impacts on National Forest surface resources (36 CFR 228.8). Furthermore, my decision limits surface uses to only those which are considered reasonably incidental to the stage of mining operation, as per the 1955 Multiple Use Mining Act and agency locatable minerals regulations (36 CFR 228 Subpart A). My rationale for selecting Alternative 3 with modifications is in response to issue raised about impacts to bighorn sheep during critical winter periods, operator past performance, and current market demand for the minerals being sought. The 1995 Decision Memo for the White Banks Mine allowed the Elbram Stone Company to quarry and remove alabaster. Since 2003, no production has been recorded from this mine operation. As stated in the proposed plan, the operation is an Underground Lode in Development stage and building stone has a very small, if any, market at the current time. Past performance and market conditions indicates that the operation is still in an early development phase. My decision allows for a phased approach to continue mining in the development stage while establishing a viable market prior to initiating a larger scale production phase of operations.

Alternatives Considered
Three alternatives were considered in detail in the EA: No Action, Plan of Operations with Modifications, and No Winter Operations Camping or Additional Structures. A summary comparison of the three alternatives can be found in the EA, pages 17-19 (Table 6). Under No Action (Alternative 1), the White Banks Plan of Operations would not be approved and ESC would not be authorized use of or access across NFS lands to remove locatable minerals from their mining claims. Selecting this alternative would violate the operators statutory rights under the 1872 Mining Law. The No Action alternative was used as a baseline to compare the effects of the other action alternatives. The Plan of Operations with Modifications (Alternative 2) represents the Plan of Operations as submitted to the Forest Service in October 2010, plus modifications submitted in April 2011. Notable elements in this alternative include: year-round mining operations; construction of a bypass road; on-site camping for mine workers; construction of a log office building and use of other temporary structures. Modifications submitted in April 2011 would have further restricted operations during the winter season and include: installing an electronically-controlled gate; no winter camping; limiting surface operations to between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. five days/week and limiting large truck shipments to five round trips/day, five days/week in the winter. Approval was requested for a period of up to 20 years. No Winter Operations Camping or Additional Structures (Alternative 3) was developed in response to the key issue raised about impacts to bighorn sheep during critical winter periods. Under this alternative, no winter mining operations would be allowed between December 1 and April 30 annually. Furthermore, this alternative limited surface uses to those which were considered reasonably incidental to the stage of mining operation, as per the 1955 Multiple Use

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

Mining Act and the locatable minerals regulations at 36 CFR 228.3. A bypass road would still be constructed but no on-site employee camping or additional buildings would be approved. All mining-related equipment including a portable toilet would be removed at the end of each operating season. Finally, the plan of operations would only be approved for a period of up to five years.

Public Involvement
The Plan of Operations (as submitted to the Forest Service in October 2010) was provided to the public, county, and other agencies for scoping in February 2011. Approximately 100 letters were mailed and the plan of operations was posted on the Internet for review. To encourage additional public involvement, I offered a field trip to the mine on February 24 with members of the interdisciplinary team and an ESC representative available to answer questions. I also attended meetings at the request of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (February 21 in Carbondale) and the Crystal Valley Caucus (March 10 in Redstone) and met on-site with representatives from Pitkin County. In addition, ESC hosted an information session on March 11 in Carbondale. In response to scoping, we received 45 comment letters. I addressed key concerns and issues raised during scoping by developing Alternative 3 and requiring several design features to reduce or eliminate adverse environmental impacts. The EA was prepared and made available in September 2011 and a legal notice of opportunity to comment was published on September 12, 2011. Additionally, I offered another field trip and question/answer session at the mine yard on September 21, with approximately 20 people attending. Forty-six comments were received during the 30-day EA notice and comment period, which ended October 12, 2011.

Finding of No Significant Impact


After considering the context and intensity of environmental impacts described in the EA, I have determined that this decision will not have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. Therefore, an environmental impact statement will not be prepared. My determination is based on the following criteria outlined in the implementing regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1508.27). Context This project is a site-specific action that by itself does not have statewide, regional, or national significance. As disclosed in the EA, up to three acres of NFS lands could be affected; this acreage represents less than 1/1000th of the entire White River National Forest. Environmental impacts will be limited to a 20-year timeframe and would have little influence upon regional or state resources. Within the local area, approximately 50 homes are within visual and auditory range of the project area. The anticipated level of activity at the mine is not expected to cause any disproportionate adverse human health or environmental effects within this localized area. Intensity 1) Both beneficial and adverse effects have been considered. Any impacts perceived as beneficial did not influence or outweigh my understanding or consideration of negative impacts. 2) Regarding public health and safety, fugitive dust and diesel emissions from equipment are considered minor and would not exceed air quality standards. Noise emanating from the mine is not expected to be sustained for long periods of time or exceed OSHA Daily Permissible Noise

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

Level Exposures. Blasting will be conducted underground and thus highly unlikely to be heard or cause damage to property outside the mine. The operator is required to comply with all county ordinances, permits, and other requirements to reduce noise impacts (see Appendix 1 Design Features). These impacts are considered to be short-term in nature, would not impair long-term productivity and as thus, are not considered to be of significant intensity. In regards to traffic safety on State Highway 133, the Colorado Department of Transportation indicated that the projected increase in traffic may require: a traffic impact study, a new access permit, and the addition of auxiliary lane(s) to comply with state law. The operator is required to obtain a Forest Service Road Use Permit for Avalanche Creek Road. 3) The mine is located beyond the -mile protection corridor of the Crystal River, an eligible recreation river under the National Wild and Scenic River System. Recreation rivers are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past. The outstandingly remarkable values (ORV) identified for this segment of river are scenery, historic, and recreation. The limited increase in traffic across the existing bridge will not significantly change the ORVs for the Crystal. Other activities associated with the mine operation would not affect the rivers free flowing values, water quality or recreational characteristics, nor affect the rivers eligibility, classification, or potential suitability. Noise and incidental dust generated by the operation would not be detectable in the nearby Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area. Impacts on nearby county-owned lands (open space parcels) would be indirect and minor. There will be no impacts on inventoried roadless, research natural areas or prime farmlands since these do not exist within the affected area. 4) The environmental effects analysis (EA, Chapter 3) demonstrates that impacts are not uncertain and do not involve unique or unknown risk. 5) This site-specific action does not establish a precedent for future actions, which may have significant effects; nor does it represent a decision in principle about a future action. 6) Past, present and reasonable foreseeable future actions have been considered and analyzed in conjunction with the proposed activities and there were no cumulative effects determined to be significant. Cumulative effects are disclosed in the EA (Chapter 3). 7) In compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, a cultural resource inventory was conducted in November 2010 and none were found. The potential to discover historic properties is limited due to the frequent occurrence of mud and debris flows through Avalanche and Bulldog creeks. Undisturbed areas within the mining claims consist of very steep slopes (36-50%) with low potential for historic or prehistoric finds. Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer concurs with our determination of no historic properties affected. Native American Tribes were consulted and no concerns were raised. 8) In compliance with the Endangered Species Act, three separate biological assessments (BA) were prepared to address plant, aquatic and terrestrial species. The BA for aquatic species determined that the mining operation would have no effect to federally listed fish since there is no additional water depletion beyond what was consulted on in 1995 and there is no expected change to water quality reaching occupied or critical habitat. There would be no effect to Canada lynx and no impact to listed plants. No other federally endangered or threatened species are known or have potential to occur in the area.

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

9) This action does not violate other Federal, State, or local laws or requirements designed for the protection of the environment. Other applicable laws and regulations were reviewed and considered in the EA and are summarized hereafter.

Findings Required by Other Laws


Mining Law of 1872, as amended: This law confers a statutory right upon individuals to enter into public lands to search for minerals. Forest Service policy (36 CFR 228, Subpart A) is to encourage mineral development on public lands that are legally open for mineral entry. It is the national and Forest Service policy that surface use elements in this decision would be conducted so as, where feasible, to minimize adverse environmental impacts on National Forest surface resources. Multiple-Use Act of 1955, as amended: The activities included in my decision limit surface uses to those which are considered reasonably incidental to the stage of mining operation. National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976, as amended: The selected alternative complies with White River National Forest Plan standards and guidelines and management area direction applicable to the project area. Clean Water Act of 1972, as amended: Use of sediment basins and armored trenches would encourage infiltration and mitigate runoff and sediment from entering the Crystal River. Waste disposal, hazardous materials storage, and toilet requirements (Appendix 1,Design Features) would further protect surface and ground water quality. Clean Air Act of 1970, as amended: Fugitive dust and diesel emissions from equipment would be minor and not exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Executive Order 12898 (environmental justice): No low-income or minority populations would be adversely or disproportionately affected by the project.

Administrative Review or Appeal Opportunities


Individuals or organizations who submitted comments during the comment period specified at 215.6 may appeal this decision. The notice of appeal must meet the appeal content requirements at 36 CFR 215.14. The appeal must be filed (regular mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, or express delivery) with the Appeal Deciding Officer at: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 740 Simms, Golden, CO 80401; FAX: (303) 275-5154. The office business hours for submitting hand-delivered appeals are: Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding holidays. Electronic appeals must be submitted in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word (.doc) to: appeals-rockymountain-regional-office@fs.fed.us. The appeal must have an identifiable name attached or verification of identity will be required. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic appeals. Appeals, including attachments, must be filed within 45 days from the publication date of a legal notice of decision in the Aspen Times, the newspaper of record. Attachments received after the 45-day appeal period will not be considered. For this decision, the publication date in the Aspen Times is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an appeal. Those wishing to appeal this decision should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source.

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

Appendix 1: Design Features


In order to minimize environmental impacts, the operator will be required to follow the requirements listed below during operations.
Number White Banks Plan of Operations Design Features and Requirements Non-Locatable Minerals Some waste rock/material (excess quarry material) may be considered non-locatable and property of the US Government. Removal of any waste material off forest requires a mineral materials permit in advance. To avoid added noise and air quality impacts, processing of any waste material will be conducted off forest. Surface and Ground Water #1 Hazardous material must be stored in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. New road construction and expansion of the storage/parking areas will incorporate best management practices to disperse runoff and sediments and avoid rilling and gullying during runoff events. 29 CFR 1910.106 FS Handbook (FSH) 2509.25, Management Measure #10, #11 FSH 2509.25, Management Measure (MM) #10 FSH 2509.25 MM #10, #11 Source

#1

36 CFR 228 Subpart C, Disposal of Mineral Materials

#2

#3

Where vehicle traffic is expected, surfaces will be hardened to avoid muddy, rutted conditions following snowmelt and rainfall events. Drainage from hardened surfaces such as the storage yard, parking area and new buildings will incorporate control designs that facilitate soil infiltration and mitigate erosion from the site. Hazardous material will be stored upslope of the alluvial fan area and in the amounts and container types identified in the proposed Plan of Operations. All hazardous material will be stored in such a way that leakages and spills will be contained and not enter the soil surface. Contour berms, trenches and liners will be used as needed to meet these criteria. All onsite fueling and lubrication activities will occur within a designated impervious containment area designed to protect soil and water resources from spills. ESC will be required to have a Forest Service-approved Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plan for any aboveground fuel storage tanks equivalent to 1,320 gallons or greater. In case of a spill, the Sopris District Ranger will be notified as soon as possible and appropriate actions per the Plan will be followed.

#4

#5

FSH 2509.25 MM #15

#6

FSH 2509.25 MM #16

#7

40 CFR 112, SPCC Rule

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Number

White Banks Plan of Operations Design Features and Requirements To reduce any risk of stream contamination the dumpster and toilet facility will be located as far up the slope from the surface of the alluvial fan as possible. The toilet will meet Forest Service specifications to protect surface and groundwater quality. Air Quality Dust suppression methods will be employed during road and building construction; along NFSR 310 between Avalanche Creek bridge and the mine; and as needed within the project area including the mine portal, parking area and storage areas. Magnesium chloride (MgCl) is an acceptable dust suppressant; specific locations, application rates, and timing of MgCl shall be approved by the Forest Service in advance. Application shall not occur within 25 feet of any water bodies or when rainfall is forecast. Engine idling shall be minimized to what is necessary with a goal of a maximum of five minutes within an hours period. Vegetation ESC will be responsible for noxious weed control within the permit boundaries. Prior to any pesticide application, ESC will need to submit a pesticide use proposal to the forest weed program coordinator. Surveys for special status plant species are required prior to construction of the secondary escape-way and access route. If any threatened, endangered, proposed, sensitive or other rare plant species are discovered, affected sites will be avoided. Interim reclamation will be implemented immediately (within 24 hours) after surface disturbing activities have ended to stabilize, protect, and preserve soils. Upon completion of the earthwork, regrade cut and fill slopes to 3:1 to facilitate re-vegetation and seed with native species during optimal growing times (i.e. fall and early spring). A sterile cover crop (e.g. Regreen and Triticale) may be used for soil stabilization while native species become established. Terrestrial Wildlife

Source

#8

FSH 2509.25 MM #15

#1

Plan of Operations; Heffner 1997

#2

Interdisciplinary Team (IDT)

#1

IDT

#2

Forest Plan Plants Standard #1; Proposed, Threatened, Endangered Sensitive Species Standard #3

#3

Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW); 1995 DN/FONSI: IDT

#1

No dogs are permitted on site.

CDOW; Plan of Operations CDOW; Plan of Operations

#2

Bear proof dumpsters are required for trash storage.

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Number

White Banks Plan of Operations Design Features and Requirements Fencing around the mine should use a wildlife-friendly design approved by a qualified wildlife biologist. Fencing on the south side of the mine yard is to be laid down on the ground November 15 to April 30, annually to facilitate wildlife migration. Traffic and Road Maintenance

Source

#3

Forest Plan Wildlife Guideline #1; CDOW

#1

Posted speed limit on NFSR 310 and bypass route will be 15 mph. The operator and Forest Service will share road maintenance up to the mine, commensurate with use; the operator is responsible for all road maintenance within the mine surface operations area. Maintenance may include but is not limited to: replacing aggregate surface; blading; ditch cleaning; dust abatement; removing earth slides, fallen timber or boulders; cleanout of debris flow; maintenance on or near the bridge; maintenance of gates and signs at entry points. Noise Hours of surface operations will be limited between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. No surface operations would occur on Sundays and all federally recognized holidays. All blasting operations must have required State, County, and Federal permits; can only take place between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm; and 24 hour prior notification must be given to CDPW, Pitkin County Environmental Health, adjacent property owners, and the Swiss Village Homeowners Association. Scenery and Lighting

FSH 7709.56, Ch. 4

#2

FSH 7709.59, Ch. 6

#1

Pitkin County Noise Abatement Code Sec. 6.36.030(B)(5)

#2

Pitkin County Resolution No. 0032004

#1

As per the Forest Plan, all existing overhead power lines (33kV or less) must be buried. Trees will be planted on the south side of the new bypass road for long term visual screening. An adequate buffer will be left between the permit boundary and bypass road to accommodate trees. All above ground structures must meet the Built Environment Image Guide (BEIG), accessibility standards, and follow the White River National Forest Design Review Guidelines. Tanks will be buried when possible. Newly disturbed rock surfaces will be treated with rock stain such as Eonite or Permeon to minimize the visual impact of freshly exposed rock. This includes any portal faces or vertical surfaces.

Forest Plan Utility Standard #6 CDOW; Plan of Operations; IDT

#2

#3

BEIG 2001; Americans with Disabilities Act

IDT

#4

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Number

White Banks Plan of Operations Design Features and Requirements Outdoor lighting will be minimized and operate on motion sensors. All outdoor lighting must adhere to Pitkin County Lighting Code requirements. Heritage and Paleontological Resources If new archaeological sites are discovered during project implementation, the activity shall cease within the affected area until a qualified archaeologist can evaluate the site and determine the appropriate mitigation. Any new ground-disturbing activities proposed in areas not previously surveyed will need to be evaluated by a qualified archeologist and paleontologist. For example, once the location of the secondary escape-way and access route is determined, a cultural resource inventory and paleontological survey will be required prior to construction.

Source

#5

CDOW; Pitkin County Lighting Code Sec. 712-140; www.darksky.org

#1

National Historic Preservation Act 106; 36 CFR 800

36 CFR 800

#2

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Appendix 2: Bighorn Sheep Monitoring Plan for S-25 Herd


This bighorn sheep monitoring plan is integral to the decision to allow winter operations due to the location of the White Banks mine in historic and active winter range. Further, the native sheep population has suffered dramatic declines in the recent past to the point that all actions and activities having the potential to contribute to the continued decline should be closely monitored. The purpose of monitoring is to establish a period needed to collect baseline information on the population and disturbance levels associated with mine operations, and detect an upward population trend. There are two objectives under the monitoring plan: monitor herd viability and monitor elements of the selected alternative that may cause disturbance and displacement of sheep from critical winter range. The operator (proponent) has agreed to financially participate in this monitoring, with Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) taking the lead role on population aspects and WRNF providing oversight on monitoring disturbance levels associated with mine operations such as winter truck travel and associated snow plowing. Population Trend 1) The proponent will contribute financial support to CPW or the Forest Service, in a sum not-toexceed $52,500 annually for purposes of monitoring the S-25 bighorn sheep herd. 2) In monitoring year 1, the ESC will fund on-site monitoring. During monitoring years 2-5, ESC will fund 15 collared sheep and on-site monitoring. 3) GPS collars, visual surveys, and ground tracking are methods used to collect information on herd viability. Proponent funds will be used for on the ground expenses or expenses used to purchase equipment, supplies, or services specific to the tasks of conducting animal capture, collecting body condition samples, collecting information on animal movements and activity, Winter Truck Travel, Associated Snow Plowing and Noise Monitoring 1) The proponent will finance third party monitoring to collect information on noise (decibel) levels during unique elements of these activities as well as at a similar period when these activities are not occurring. Elements to include (at a minimum): snow plowing vehicle travel from the gate to the mine backing of motorized equipment use of rock hauling equipment truck idling human activity associated with foot entry to the mine surface noise of activities occurring underground

2) The noise monitoring will be conducted by a qualified third party entity mutually agreed upon by the proponent and Forest Service.

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3) Noise levels will be collected at points surrounding the mine along FSR 310, at Hwy 133, and north of FSR310 in mapped sheep range. DPW will provide information on monitoring points in mapped sheep range. Data will be collected prior to and during these operations. 4) The results of the noise monitoring shall indicate the levels of noise associated with each type of activity, and be recorded for monitoring points surrounding the mine. Results shall compare the noise levels to the ambient sound levels at each point. 5) If observers see sheep disturbed by activities associated with the first loading in December and April, these activities shall stop. Activities may be resumed no sooner than 2 weeks and only if sheep are not present. 6) Observations of bighorn sheep and noise levels shall be collected during these operations, during the 8-week closure period, and before and after the 8-week closure period (January 16 March 15 annually). 7) A noise monitoring report with GIS analysis documenting results shall be provided to the Forest Service in a written and electronic format with maps, tables, and charts. Bighorn Sheep Presence or Absence within Audible Disturbance Zone and Areas Treated With Prescribed Fire/ Vegetation Cutting During 2011-2013 1) A third party will observe the area looking for bighorn sheep and collect observations on reactions to mine operations and associated activities. The observations will include a time, location, and distance component to relate mine activity to sheep reactions. 2) Operations are to include (at minimum): snow plowing vehicle travel from the gate to the mine backing of motorized equipment use of rock hauling equipment truck idling human activity associated with foot entry to the mine surface noise of activities occurring underground

3) The monitoring will be conducted by a qualified third party entity mutually agreed upon by the proponent and Forest Service. 4) The results of the monitoring should indicate which activities disturb sheep, what distance from the mine sheep are disturbed, what the response is, and how long it is before sheep are no longer disturbed once the activity is stopped. 5) Observations of bighorn sheep should be collected during winter operations, during the 8-week closure period, and before and after the 8-week closure period (January 16 - March 15 annually). Data should be collected during operation hours and outside operations for comparison of responses. 6) A bighorn sheep monitoring report with GIS analysis documenting results shall be provided to the Forest Service in a written and electronic format with maps, tables, and charts.
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Monitoring for Population trend

Location S-25 Bighorn Sheep Herd Area

Method GPS Collars (>15) Visual Survey/ Ground Tracking

Frequency Years 1-5 Continuous

Desired Condition >125 individuals

Noise decibel readings at various distances/ locations produced by different sources (alarms, engines, underground blasts) Bighorn sheep presence or absence within audible disturbance zone Bighorn sheep presence or absence within audible disturbance zone Bighorn sheep presence or absence within audible disturbance zone Sheep use of areas recently treated with prescribed fire/ vegetation cutting Sheep use of areas recently treated with prescribed fire/ vegetation cutting Winter truck travel and associated snow plowing Winter truck travel and associated snow plowing

Areas within audible distance to surface operations / mine yard Surface operations/ mine yard Surface operations/ mine yard Surface operations/ mine yard Wildlife Habitat Treatment Area Wildlife Habitat Treatment Area Surface operations/ mine yard Surface operations/ mine yard

Noise survey (3rd party / contract)

Years 1-2 (Mar 16-Jan 14)

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 (Jan 1 Mar 30)

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 (Jan 1 Mar 30)

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 (Jan 1 Mar 30)

-Establish baseline for ambient/noise sources -Determine the audible disturbance zone around surface operations/ mine yard Sheep unaffected by audible or visual stimuli generated by surface operations Sheep unaffected by audible or visual stimuli generated by surface operations Timing of Jan 15-Mar 15 winter closure period is appropriate Increased wildlife use in treated area

Triggers If the following are sustained over a 5-year average: >65 individuals >90% adult cohort survival >50% lamb survival/ recruitment into 2-year age class*, then Year round surface operations necessary to complete the survey

Management Response May expand the timing and types of winter surface operations. Continue monitoring for sustained results or positive trend.

None. Information will be used to inform the next 3 monitoring line items below.

If >1 sheep observed during operations and winter closure, then If 0 sheep observed during operations and winter closure, then If 0 sheep observed during operations and >1 sheep observed during winter closure, then If >1 sheep observed utilizing treated area, then

May expand the timing and types of winter surface operations** Continue monitoring for sustained results or change. Maintain winter closure and continue monitoring.

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 Nov 15 May 1

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 Nov 15 May 1

Increased wildlife use in treated area

If 0 sheep observed utilizing treated area, then

May expand 8 week winter closure period or modify timing of winter closure period. Continue monitoring. Expand winter use and/or expand habitat treatment areas** Continue monitoring for sustained results or change. Maintain winter closure and continue monitoring.

Visual Survey

Visual Survey

Years 1-5 2 weekends in December and 2 weekends in April Years 1-5 2 weekends in December and 2 weekends in April

No displacement of sheep from noise or activity

If 0 sheep observed during operations and winter closure, then If >1 sheep observed utilizing treated area, then

Maintain winter closure and continue monitoring.

No displacement of sheep from noise or activity

these activities shall stop. Activities may be resumed no sooner than 2 weeks and only if sheep are not present.

* May be revised by CPW based on site specific herd management plans ** Expansion of operations is contingent on the results of baseline monitoring that demonstrates an increasing trend in population viability (population number increasing and cohort survival and lamb recruitment acceptable). Expanding the timing or type of use during winter would only include actions analyzed under Alternative 2 (Modified Plan of Operations).

Decision Notice and FONSI for White Banks Mine

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