HELENA – The Kootenai National Forest and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality have issued a Joint Final Environmental Impact Statement (Joint Final EIS) for the Montanore Project, a proposed copper and silver underground mine located about 18 miles south of Libby near the Cabinet Mountains of northwestern Montana.
The KNF and DEQ issued a Draft EIS for the Montanore Project on February 27, 2009 for public comment. In response to public comment, the agencies revised the mine alternatives (Alternatives 3 and 4) and transmission line alignments (Alternatives C, D, and E) and issued a Supplemental Draft EIS on October 7, 2011. On April 1, 2015, the KNF issued a Final EIS and a Draft Record of Decision to provide for a pre-decisional objection process in compliance with 36 CFR 218. The Joint Final EIS includes responses to comments on the Draft EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS and incorporates changes based on those responses. The Joint Final EIS also includes revisions made as part of the Forest Service objection process.
“We’re pleased to be getting close to wrapping up an effort that involved extensive analysis and strong public interest,” said DEQ Director Tom Livers. Forest Supervisor Chris Savage said, “This is a huge milestone for both agencies.” He added: “It has taken quite some time to get to this phase, not only for the two lead agencies, but in cooperation with the Bonneville Power Administration, EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. We will continue to work with these agencies as we begin finalizing the Record of Decision.”
The agencies have identified Mine Alternative 3 and Transmission Line Alternative D-R as the preferred alternatives in the Joint Final EIS. The agencies will present the final decision and rationale in separate Records of Decision.
The Joint Final EIS can be downloaded from the Forest Service’s web page: http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/kootenai/landmanagement/projects or the DEQ’s web page: http://deq.mt.gov/public/eis The document will also be available to view at the KNF Supervisor’s office in Libby, the DEQ office in Helena, the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, and local libraries in Libby, Heron, and Thompson Falls and Sandpoint and Clark Fork, Idaho.
The KNF will issue its Record of Decision no less than 30 days from the publication of the Notice of Availability of the Joint Final EIS in the Federal Register. DEQ will issue its ROD no sooner than January 29, 2016. Notice of DEQ’s mine and transmission line decisions will be posted on DEQ’s website and included in the KNF’s notice of its decision in the Missoulian newspaper.
For more information or to request a copy of the Final EIS, please contact one of the Project Coordinators, Lynn Hagarty, KNF, 31374 US 2, Libby, MT 59923-3022406-293-6211, or Craig Jones, DEQ, 1520 East Sixth Avenue, Helena, MT 59620-0901406-444-0514.