The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has issued the final Supplemental Decision Notice (DN) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) regarding the CuMo Exploration Project which allows CuMoCo to proceed with late-stage exploration and development work of the CuMo Project. The Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) informing this decision includes analysis to address the 2012 Memorandum Decision and Order from the US District Court for the District of Idaho concerning groundwater analysis.
Regarding concerns about potential impacts to water quality in general and to groundwater specifically, the SEA (Section 2.3.2, p. 36) states, “This level of monitoring and mitigation is sufficient to minimize potential impacts to groundwater quality or identify impacts to groundwater.”
The SEA analysis was also updated to address new information acquired subsequent to the February 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA) and related DN/FONSI, and clarified other points in the analysis per public comments. Under the new permit, construction of up-to-10.2 miles of temporary roads and up-to-137 drill pads and 259 drill holes will be allowed over a period of four years.
Cecilia R. Seesholtz, Forest Supervisor and Responsible Official, said the SEA was updated, in part, in response to concerns raised during a 30-day public comment period in August 2013:
- To further clarify concerns about groundwater;
- To address fuel haul and the potential for spills;
- To update mitigation and concerns for Sacajawea bitterroot;
- To update effects to resources affected by the 2014 wildfire that occurred within the project area.
“Following completion of the SEA, it was confirmed that an EIS was not warranted,” said Seeholtz. “The rationale supporting this conclusion is documented in the final supplemental DN/FONSI.”
The permitting process for the CuMo Project, and others like it, is guided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Implementation of NEPA requires Federal agencies, such as the United States Forest Service, to study the environmental impacts of a Federal action, and to consider mitigation measures. This process helps identify and incorporate the relevant programs and enforceable substantive regulations that allow projects to safely and sustainably operate on public lands.
“The U.S. Forest Service has done an excellent job and is holding the CuMo Project to the highest standards under NEPA, said Shaun Dykes, President and CEO of American CuMo Mining Corporation. “All aspects of the environment in the exploration area have been researched by experts, independently studied and determined not to be adversely affected by the CuMo Project.”
The final Supplemental DN/FONSI and associated documents for the CuMo Exploration Project are available at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=21302.