Friday, May 31, 2013

Broken Wing Ranch land exchange process continues

A potential land exchange between Thompson Creek Mining Company (TCMC) and the BLM reached another milestone this spring with official publication of a "Notice of Exchange Proposal."

The 775-acre Broken Wing Ranch alongside The Salmon River between Deadman Hole and The East Fork comprises the bulk of the 900-acre land exchange proposal.  TCMC began discussions with the BLM regarding a potential land exchange proposal in May 2006, related to a proposed modified mining plan of operations (MMPO).

TCMC proposed in February 2009 to exchange approximately 5,000 acres of public land for approximately 900 acres of private land controlled by TCMC in the Challis and Pocatello areas that possesses resource qualities considered to be of substantial value to the public. Acquisition of the private land would also consolidate blocks of public land in both the Challis and Pocatello localities.

The Thompson Creek Mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) evaluates two proposals submitted by the Thompson Creek Mining Company:  a mine expansion and a land exchange.  The public was notified of the proposal in 2010 by a Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register and various local newspapers.  The BLM received public comments on the proposed mine expansion and the land exchange.  The BLM regulations, 43CFR 2201.2, require a Notice of Exchange Proposal (NOEP) be published in local newspapers with a 45 day comment period.  The NOEP was published on April 18, 2013, with the comment period ending on June 2, 2013.  The next step in the process will be to review the comments received and address the comments in the DEIS.

The BLM anticipates the DEIS will be released in August 2013.  The final EIS and the records of decision from the BLM, Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be released approximately 1 year later.  For tracking the release of the DEIS:

Kenneth S. Gardner is the Project Lead for the BLM's Challis Field Office. "The final EIS will discuss various options for future management of the Broken Wing Ranch," a BLM spokesperson said.  "If the BLM acquires the ranch, in the future, there will be site specific planning efforts for the future management of the ranch," they added.

Here is a link to the full "Notice of Exchange Proposal" as it was published in "The Challis Messenger" this month:

(Editor's Note: We asked Gardner for some graphics to help readers better understand the location and extent of the Broken Wing Ranch property parcels.  He provided the JPG below and a Google Earth file that we used to create additional graphics.  We have also assembled additional links and illustrations to help readers learn about and track the land exchange proposal. Captions are below each graphic.  You may click on any graphic or illustration to see a larger version.)

Above is the graphic showing the various property parcels as described in metes and bounds 
by the NOEP legal notice.
Above is how the Broken Wing Ranch is located in perspective with other area landmarks.  
The yellow lines denote the various property parcels comprising the 775-acre Broken Wing Ranch.
Above is another view of the Broken Wing Ranch looking in a westerly perspective.
Here is the complete JPG graphic sent by Gardner, including Scale & a Legend.
Click on this graphic for a much larger, more readable version.

Above is a 5-minute BLM video describing the Broken Wing Ranch and the land exchange proposal.
If the video above will not load, here is the direct YouTube link:

The BLM video above describes the Thompson Creek Mining operation.
If the video won't load, here is the direct link:

The Thompson Creek molybdenum mine, owned and operated by the Thompson Creek Mining Company (TCMC), is 20 miles southwest of Challis, Idaho. The mine is the fourth largest primary molybdenum mine in the world, producing approximately 5 percent (up to 15 percent in the past) of the world molybdenum supply. TCMC is the largest employer in Custer County, with approximately 375 employees. Typically, the mine accounts for one out of every five jobs in Custer County, 45 percent of wages and salaries in Custer County, and $114 million of Idaho's total personal income. Most of the molybdenum produced from the mine is used as an alloy to make high-strength and corrosion-resistant steel.

The mine has been in operation since 1981 and is permitted for approximately 3,400 acres of surface disturbance, of which approximately 2,300 acres are on private land and approximately 1,100 acres are on BLM administered and National Forest System lands

Here is the link to the BLM's webpage on the land exchange proposal:

And, finally, here's a screen shot of the project's NEPA #, description, etc.:
Click on the graphic for a larger, somewhat more readable version.
The original is located on the webpage linked above.

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