|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
May 17, 2005
Amelia Orton-Palmer, 303-236-8179
Service Determines “Finding of No Significant Impact” on a Proposal for Oil Development on the Triangle Ranch Wildlife Management Area
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) for the final environmental assessment of Cleary Petroleum’s proposal to extract oil under the Triangle Ranch Wildlife Management Area near Nephi, Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Division) purchased the property, in part with monies from the Wildlife Restoration Act, a federal grant administered by the Service. The purpose of the acquisition, under the grant, was for preserving critical winter range for mule deer and elk. Cleary Petroleum has submitted a right-of-way application to the Division for use of the surface property to access its subsurface mineral rights. Because the proposed project constitutes a change in the original purpose of the grant to purchase the wildlife management area, the Division must seek approval from the Service in the form of an amendment to the grant before permitting the right-of-way. An approval of the amendment by the Service would be a federal action requiring compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The final environmental assessment, prepared by the Division and Service, analyzed Cleary Petroleum's proposal to improve an existing two-track road, construct a new road, install one well pad, and extract oil through directional drilling on the Triangle Ranch Wildlife Management Area. The Service determined that the project would not result in significant impacts to critical wintering range for elk and mule deer or to other wildlife resources on the Triangle Ranch Wildlife Management Area. This conclusion is based on several measures that Cleary Petroleum would implement to minimize, avoid, and mitigate for any environmental impacts; information indicating that ample suitable habitat for big game, small mammals, birds, and reptiles exist in the surrounding area as an alternative for the eight acres of habitat that would be temporarily degraded or lost; and information indicating that project noise and activities would not result in significant disturbance to wildlife.
The Service solicited public comment on the environmental assessment through a public notice placed in several Utah newspapers, and on the Services’ Region 6 website. The public notice was also distributed to potentially interested parties.
The NEPA process requires any federal funded project be reviewed for potential impacts to the human environment. The objective of NEPA is twofold. One objective is to consider every significant impact on the natural and physical environment in the decision-making process. The other objective is to assure the public plays a role in the decision-making process and the implementation of the decision.
The FONSI and the final environmental assessment are available online at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/federalassistance. Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Services’ Division of Federal Assistance at 303-236-5420.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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