U.S. Forest Service officials announced the release of the Decision Notice (DN) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) documenting the agency's consent to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue permits to Ascot USA, Inc. for limited mineral prospecting on Goat Mountain, in the upper Green River Watershed of northwest Skamania County.
In response to Ascot's prospecting permit applications the BLM prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), with the Forest Service participating as a cooperating agency. The permit areas are on lands managed by the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Ascot USA, Inc. holds title to the subsurface mineral rights within the permit areas.
The prospecting permits would allow exploratory drilling of small-diameter boreholes at 23 sites along existing roads and previous drill sites. Borehole samples would be analyzed to assess mineral content and value.
The BLM permits would include terms and conditions to ensure protection of surface resources and groundwater in the project area. The EA was completed to evaluate potential effects of the project.
The evaluation process included government-to-government consultation with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe as well as public scoping through a series of community meetings.
Deciding Official Cowlitz Valley District Ranger Gar Abbas acknowledged public interest and concern about the proposal. "I recognize there are concerns related to potential for future mining," Abbas said. "The current actions before the federal agencies are related only to prospecting [exploration] activities within the permit areas. This is not a mining development project."
Abbas indicated both the BLM and Forest Service were satisfied with measures developed to ensure resource protection and site reclamation.
Under the Ascot USA, Inc. proposal, exploratory drilling could begin the summer of 2013.
For additional information regarding this decision, contact North Zone Planning Team Leader Erica Taecker at 360-497-1136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of the Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact are available on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot.