Informative posters give information at the first January public meeting hosted by BLM at the
Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel Event Center.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Bureau of Land Management Pocatello Field Office hosted two public meetings this week to gain community input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to address the Proposed Blackrock Land Exchange. The first meeting took place in Fort Hall at the Fort Hall Hotel & Event Center on Tuesday, January 7.
With the proposed land exchange there are four alternatives to the proposed action to the original proposal that Simplot submitted to BLM, which included J.R. Simplot Company’s request to exchange 719 acres of federal land adjacent to Simplot’s Don Plant, for 677 acres of non-federal land near the Chinese Peak-Blackrock Canyon area.
There are a few additional alternatives to consider. Alternative A includes the same land exchange footprint as the proposed action, however Simplot has proposed some mitigation, which one is an additional 160 acres they would convey to the BLM if the land exchange was approved. They have also proposed to offer to give to the Tribes abut 950 acres of private land within the reservation or they would convey it to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Another alternative BLM is evaluating is Alternative B, which is a reconfiguration of the federal land acreage, it avoids an area called West Canyon that is along the reservation and BLM Boundary. Then there is the no action alternative.
Tribal member attendees sit down to write comments at the meeting.
Tribal members were encouraged to attend and provide their comments to BLM. Anderson said the draft EIS is available for public review and for the public to look at the alternatives the BLM has developed through the EIS process and weigh in on their comments. Besides submitting comments at the meetings, it’s also available online and comments can be taken electronically via the ePlanning site at https://go.usa.gov/xEUuc or mail them to BLM Pocatello Field Office at 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, ID 83204 with attention to Blackrock Land Exchange.
Comments opened on December 20, 2019 and will go until February 4, 2020 for consideration in the final EIS.
According to the press release the BLMs role as lead federal agency it to evaluate the land exchange proposal. If approved the proposed land exchange would result in improved resource management in an area containing crucial mule deer winter range and would secure permanent public access within a popular, high use recreation area.
Key resource issues identified during scoping include air quality, cultural resources, fish and wildlife, hazardous and solid wastes, lands and realty, recreation, socioeconomics and environmental justice, tribal treaty rights, visual resources and water resources.