News Release

Fish & Wildlife Service Releases Supplemental Information on Access Through Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge for Ruby Pipeline

June 18, 2010


Contacts

Paul Steblein, 541-947-3315


Public comments accepted through July 1, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is issuing supplemental information in response to a request from Ruby Pipeline, LLC, to use certain roads within Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. If the Service agrees to allow Ruby to use Sheldon Refuge roads, the Service would issue a Special Use Permit.

The supplemental information, consisting of the draft Sheldon Transportation Plan, a proposed Land Exchange and a draft Compatibility Determination, can be found on the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex website at http://www.fws.gov/sheldonhartmtn/index.html

This supplemental information pertains to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process conducted for the Ruby Pipeline Project. In January 2010, the Ruby Pipeline Project Final Environmental Impact Statement was released, including an assessment of impacts related to access roads to and from the proposed pipeline route. Some of those access roads are located on the Sheldon Refuge. In requesting the use of certain roads within the refuge, Ruby Pipeline, LLC, worked closely with refuge staff to develop a transportation plan. On April 5, 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its finding and ordered the issuance of a certificate for the proposed pipeline route.

A preliminary version of Ruby’s Draft Transportation Plan for Use of Access Roads within Sheldon NWR was provided in Appendix X of the Project’s final EIS. Since release of the finale EIS, Ruby and Sheldon Refuge have continued to refine the Sheldon Transportation Plan.

One component of the plan includes a proposed land exchange between Ruby and the refuge that is considered a connected action to the Sheldon Transportation Plan and Ruby Pipeline Project. A separate document, Ruby Pipeline Project Land Exchange on Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, includes a description of the lands being considered for exchange and an analysis of the impacts associated with the proposed exchange. Much of the information in the Land Exchange document refers to analyses that have been refined in the Sheldon Transportation Plan.

In addition to analyzing potential impacts associated with the Sheldon Transportation Plan and proposed Land Exchange, federal law requires the Service to review a proposed use within a national wildlife refuge to determine whether it is compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established. A draft Compatibility Determination has been prepared as part of the process for determining whether Ruby’s proposed use of refuge roads is compatible.

The Service is making the Sheldon Transportation Plan, the proposed Land Exchange and draft Compatibility Determination available for public comment for 15 days. Comments must be submitted by July 1, 2010, and may be submitted in writing to Paul Steblein, Project Leader Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 111, Lakeview, OR 97630, or by email to sheldon-hart@fws.gov


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