EIS Support for a Proposed Moratorium on Mining Claims

We overcame significant challenges to complete this EIS — a large and hydrologically complex proposed withdrawal area, an expedited timeline and evolving scope of work, multiple cooperating agencies, and a programmatic rather than site-specific focus. To complete the draft EIS in less than 1 year, many tasks were conducted concurrently.

Overview

M&A was part of an expedited effort to evaluate environmental impacts related to a proposed withdrawal of BLM and Forest Service lands from new mining claims. This proposal was a response to an increased interest in high-grade uranium deposits near the Grand Canyon and concerns over potential impacts to the Canyon’s watershed. Based on input from BLM, the 15 cooperating agencies, and more than 80,000 public comments received during the scoping process, water resources issues were identified as the highest overall concern for the EIS. M&A was hired to assess impacts to the water and soil resources under four proposed alternatives.

Services

  • Characterized hydrogeologic conditions within the various watersheds and groundwater basins using available reports and data
  • Compiled and/or developed regional datasets and databases for wells, water quality, springs, surface water features, breccia pipes, geology, hydrology, and soils
  • Determined baseline hydrogeologic conditions
  • Identified potential environmental impacts — direct, indirect, and cumulative — to water and soil resources from reasonably foreseeable mining development for the proposed withdrawal period
  • Developed new methods of projecting impacts where necessary
  • Helped develop “partial-withdrawal” alternatives, providing the conceptual basis for the partial withdrawals and their potential impacts to water resources
  • Projected the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts to water and soil resources for the 20-year period of the proposed withdrawal
  • Prepared several drafts of the EIS sections, responded to comments from the cooperating agencies, and defended our interpretations and conclusions
  • Attended meetings of the cooperating agencies and presented preliminary and interim results of our investigations
  • Attended public meetings to address questions and comments on water and soil resources during the scoping process and draft EIS review
  • Prepared responses to public comments on the draft EIS
  • Prepared sections of the final EIS, including additional work required in response to public comments