OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT<BR><BR>USDA-FOREST SERVICE, SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST, COOK, KOOCHICHING, ST. LOUIS AND LAKE COUNTIES, MINNESOTA; FEDERAL HARDROCK MINERAL PROSPECTING PERMITS PROJECT. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Federal Hardrock Mineral Prospecting Permits Project has been prepared and is available upon request (hard copy or on a compact disc) at the Forest Supervisor's Office, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808. It is also available on the Superior National Forest (SNF) website: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/projects, then scroll down to "Federal Hardrock Mineral Prospecting Permit EIS". Additional information regarding this project can be obtained from Loretta Cartner, Forest Geologist, at telephone 218-626-4382. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received 33 federal hardrock mineral prospecting permit applications and 21 operating plan proposals to conduct hardrock mineral exploration activities including drilling and geophysical surveys on federally owned minerals on the SNF. Hardrock minerals include copper, nickel, platinum, and others. The BLM is the federal agency that manages federal hardrock minerals on the SNF. The Forest Service is the surface management agency and therefore the lead agency for the environmental analysis. The SNF must decide whether to provide consent to the BLM to authorize the prospecting permits and operating plans; and if the agency consents, the operating stipulations under which those permits and plans may operate. The DEIS for the Project analyzes the potential effects of applications currently under consideration and the potential effects of future mineral prospecting activity anticipated forest-wide over the next twenty years. This project only includes mineral exploration on federal lands over federally owned mineral rights within the boundary of the SNF excluding areas not open for mineral prospecting. This action is needed, because Federal law and mineral regulations state that when the BLM receives applications to explore for minerals on National Forest lands, they must coordinate with the Forest Service to complete the required environmental documentation prior to permit and operating plan approval. Pursuant to 36 CFR 215.6(1) comments must be filed within 45 calendar days following the date of publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. This is estimated to be on April 1, 2011. If the comment period ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, comments will be accepted until the end of the next federal working day. No comments will be accepted after the 45-day comment period ends. Comments should be submitted to James W. Sanders, Forest Supervisor, by one of the following methods: 1.) mail: 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808 Attn: Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits EIS, 2.) telephone: Loretta Cartner at 218-626-4382, 3.) FAX (218) 626-4398, or 4.) email: comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us. Please put "Federal Hardrock Minerals Prospecting Permits Draft EIS" in the subject line of all correspondence. Office hours, for those who wish to hand deliver their comments or provide them orally, are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday (except federal holidays). Oral comments must be provided at the Responsible Official's office or by telephone during those hours. Acceptable formats for electronic comments are text or html email, Adobe portable document format, and formats viewable in Microsoft Office applications. Only those who provide timely comments, through one of the methods described above, will have standing to appeal, as specified in 36 CFR 215.13. In order to have standing to appeal, each individual or representative of a group or organization that submits comments must sign or provide for verification of identity according to the requirements of 36 CFR 215.6(a)(3)(iv) and (v). The final decision on this project will be subject to appeal pursuant to 36 CFR 215.Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record and will be available for public inspection. The USDA Forest Service is an Equal Opportunity Organization. The Forest Service is hosting three public open houses for this project at the following locations on the following dates: April 12, 3:30 to 7:00 pm at Superior National Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Ave Place, Duluth, MN; April 13, 3:30 to 7:00 pm at the Norse Conference Room - Mesabi Range Community & Technical College, 1001 Chestnut St. West, Virginia, MN; April 14, 3:30 to 7:00 pm, at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, 2520 Dale St, Roseville, MN.<BR><BR>Ely Echo 3/26/2011<BR><BR>