September 26, 2013
Forest Supervisor Anne Carey of the Wayne National Forest, issued a decision to consent to U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leasing seven parcels (433 acres) of federally-owned coal. The coal is located beneath the Wayne National Forest in Perry and Morgan counties, east of the town of Corning.
The Forest Service Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project concludes there would be no surface occupancy on the Wayne National Forest. The report adds that no significant resources would be impacted if the coal were leased and mined by underground methods. After a Forest Service appeal period, the BLM may issue its own decision on whether or not the coal will be included in a future competitive lease sale.
The EA considered potential impacts to surface resources including water, air, wildlife, plants, heritage resources and recreational opportunities.
The purpose of this project was to respond to a request to lease the parcels made to the BLM by a private company. Various federal laws and policies direct the BLM to offer federal minerals for lease when the Surface Managing Agency, in this case the Forest Service, gives consent.
If the coal were leased by the BLM, it could be mined in the future using a room and pillar method, whereby pillars of coal remain after mining is completed to prevent mine collapse.
The EA and Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact are available for review on the project webpage and in print format upon request. The project is titled “BLM Federal Coal Lease Project (OHES 57390)”.
This project is now subject to a 45-day appeal period. Appeals may be filed by those that submitted timely comments during the comment period, which ran May 5 through June 4. The beginning of the appeal period is marked by a legal notice in the Athens Messenger, with the day following the notice publication being day one. If the 45th day falls on a federal holiday or weekend, the next federal working day marks the closing of the appeal period.
More information on how to file an appeal can be found on the project webpage at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/wayne/landmanagement/projects (see the decision legal notice document) or by contacting the Wayne National Forest at 740-753-0101.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Follow the Wayne National Forest on Twitter @WayneNationalFS
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