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Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Document and Proposed Plan Amendment for the West Mojave (WEMO) Plan, Motorized Vehicle Access Element, Inyo, Kern and Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, CA

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American Government

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Document and Proposed Plan Amendment for the West Mojave (WEMO) Plan, Motorized Vehicle Access Element, Inyo, Kern and Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, CA

Thomas Pogacnik
Federal Register
September 13, 2011

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 177 (Tuesday, September 13, 2011)]
[Pages 56466-56468]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-23320]



Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Document and 
Proposed Plan Amendment for the West Mojave (WEMO) Plan, Motorized 
Vehicle Access Element, Inyo, Kern and Los Angeles and San Bernardino 
Counties, CA

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
California Desert District (CDD) intends to prepare an environmental 
document to amend the West Mojave (WEMO) area plan. By this Notice, the 
BLM is announcing the beginning of the scoping process to solicit 
public comments.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the 
environmental document and proposed plan amendment. Comments on issues 
may be submitted in writing until October 13, 2011. The date(s) and 
location(s) of any scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days 
in advance through the local news media, newspapers, and the BLM Web 
site at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd.html. In order to be fully 
considered in the environmental document, all scoping comments must be 
received prior to the close of the scoping period or 15 days after the 
last public meeting, whichever is later. The BLM will provide 
additional opportunities for public participation upon publication of 
the environmental document.

ADDRESSES: The public may submit comments on planning criteria and 
related issues, by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: cawemopa@blm.gov.
     Web site: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd/west_mojave_wemo.
     Fax: (951) 697-5299.
     Mail: BLM California Desert District Office, 22835 Calle 
San Juan de Los Lagos, ATTN: Alan Stein, Moreno Valley, CA 92553-9046.
    Documents relevant to this proposal may be examined at the 
California Desert District Office or Web site (address above), or the 
BLM's California State Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825.

[[Page 56467]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alan Stein, telephone (951) 697-5382; 
address Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District Office, 
22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, ATTN: Alan Stein, Moreno Valley, CA 
92553-9046; e-mail cawemopa@blm.gov. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above 
individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours 
a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above 
individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The California Desert Conservation Area 
(CDCA) Plan of 1980 addressed public-land resources and resources use 
within 25-million acres of land in southern California. The 1980 CDCA 
Plan included 12 plan elements, including a Motorized Vehicle Element. 
The Motorized Vehicle Access Element of the CDCA Plan addressed both 
access and vehicular use of public lands in southern California, and 
identified management guidelines and objectives. The CDCA Plan of 1980 
has been amended numerous times since it was adopted in 1982. The CDCA 
Plan contains language that has been judicially determined to restrict 
motorized routes to those that existed in 1980.
    In 2006, the BLM approved a comprehensive amendment to the West 
Mojave area of the CDCA Plan. In a 2006 Western Mojave Record of 
Decision (WEMO ROD) the BLM amended the CDCA Plan and modified its 
motorized vehicle management decisions, including off-highway vehicle 
(OHV) route designation, on more than 3 million acres of public land 
within the CDCA. The 2006 WEMO ROD approved the designation of 5,098 
miles of motorized vehicle routes without specifically changing the 
language of the 1980 CDCA plan.
    A lawsuit was filed challenging the WEMO ROD's route designation 
process. In January 2011, a court order remanded the 2006 WEMO ROD to 
the BLM and, in part, directed the BLM to amend the CDCA Plan and 
reconsider route designation throughout the WEMO area. By court order, 
the BLM must issue a revised decision by March 31, 2014.
    A plan amendment is necessary to update language in the Motorized 
Vehicle Access Element of the CDCA Plan. The plan amendment, and 
associated environmental documents, will address two components, among 
others: (1) Alternatives for amending the Motorized Vehicle Access 
Element of the CDCA Plan for the WEMO area; and (2) Alternative 
processes for designating travel routes within the sub-regional areas 
of the WEMO plan area.
    The main purpose of the scoping process is to solicit public 
comments on the following:
    1. Identification of those portions of the WEMO plan that should be 
revised to reflect current management policy regarding motorized 
vehicle access;
    2. Identification of the process and decision criteria that should 
be used to designate routes in the sub-regional areas of the WEMO plan 
    3. Identification of motorized vehicle use issues and concerns 
within each sub-regional area of the WEMO plan area;
    4. Identification of the best science and technology available to 
identify and establish viable route networks in the sub-regional areas 
of the WEMO plan area; and
    5. Whether the BLM should analyze an amendment to the WEMO plan as 
it relates, primarily, to motorized vehicle use separately or in 
conjunction with sub-regional route designation, and alternatives to 
route designation.
    The proposed planning effort would allow the BLM to revise portions 
of the Motorized Vehicle Element of the CDCA Plan to more clearly 
describe how motorized vehicle use will be managed in the CDCA 
according to current BLM policy. A primary objective of the proposed 
action for this plan amendment is to replace the following CDCA Plan 
language: ``at the minimum, use will be restricted to existing routes 
of travel,'' with language that reflects current BLM policy, such as 
restricting motorized vehicle use to designated routes. Other language 
from the CDCA Plan may be modified to reduce confusion and clearly 
state to the public where motorized vehicle use is appropriate and 
where it is inappropriate.
    Further, subsequently, concurrently, or in a combination of both, 
additional environmental analysis would address current route 
designation within the WEMO sub-regional areas. This analysis would 
result in new decisions for each sub-regional area within the WEMO plan 
area that would either retain or modify, in whole or in part, current 
route designations. New route designation decisions would be issued in 
accordance with the route designation criteria in 43 CFR 8342.1, and in 
consideration of other applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
    The public scoping process for this action will also determine 
relevant issues, impacts, and possible alternatives that could 
influence the scope of the environmental analysis, and guide the entire 
process from plan decision-making to route designation review in order 
to comply with the court order.
    The BLM has identified the following preliminary issues of concern: 
Special status species, vegetation communities (including unique plant 
assemblages), special area designations, air quality in previously 
designated open areas, cultural resources, soils, springs and seeps, 
fringe-toed lizard habitat, and cumulative effects.
    By this Notice, the BLM is complying with requirements in 43 CFR 
1610.2(c) to notify the public of potential amendments to land use 
plans. The BLM will integrate the land use planning process with the 
NEPA process. The scoping process will help determine whether the BLM 
prepares an environmental assessment or an environmental impact 
statement (EIS), based on the anticipated level of impacts. In the 
event the BLM elects to prepare an EIS, this notice satisfies the 
requirement in 40 CFR 1501.7 to publish a Notice of Intent to prepare 
an EIS.
    The BLM will utilize and coordinate the NEPA commenting process to 
satisfy the public involvement process for Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470(f)), as provided for in 
36 CFR 800.2(d)(3). Tribal consultations will be conducted in 
accordance with policy, and tribal concerns including impacts on Indian 
trust assets, if any, will be given due consideration. Federal, State, 
and local agencies, along with other stakeholders that may be 
interested or affected by the BLM's decision on this proposed plan 
amendment or implementation decisions, are invited to participate in 
the scoping process, and the whole of the public involvement process.
    Preliminary planning criteria include the following:
    1. The plan amendment will comply with FLPMA, NEPA, and all other 
applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
    2. For program-specific guidance for decisions at the land use 
planning level, the process will follow the BLM's policies in the Land 
Use Planning Handbook, H-1601-1 and Manual Section 1626, Travel and 
Transportation Management.
    3. Public participation and collaboration will be an integral part 
of the planning process.
    4. The BLM will strive to make decisions in the plan compatible 

[[Page 56468]]

the existing plans and policies of adjacent local, State, and Federal 
agencies and local American Indian tribes, as long as the decisions are 
consistent with the purposes, policies, and programs of Federal law and 
regulations applicable to public lands.
    5. The plan amendment will incorporate, where applicable and 
appropriate, management decisions brought forward from existing 
planning documents.
    6. The BLM will work collaboratively with cooperating agencies and 
all other interested groups, agencies, and individuals.
    7. GIS and metadata information will meet Federal Geographic Data 
Committee standards, as required by Executive Order 12906. All other 
applicable BLM data standards will also be followed.
    8. The planning process will provide for ongoing consultation with 
American Indian tribes and strategies for protecting recognized 
traditional uses, e.g., gathering of traditionally used plant 
    9. The plan amendment will focus on developing language for the 
WEMO area that conforms to the goals of the Motorized Vehicle Access 
Element of the CDCA Plan as described in the 1982 Plan Amendment 
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made available any time. While you can ask the BLM 
in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from 
public release, the BLM cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Thomas Pogacnik,
Deputy State Director, Natural Resources.
[FR Doc. 2011-23320 Filed 9-12-11; 8:45 am]

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