Pursuant to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has determined that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is necessary to assess the potential impacts of the proposed Wilton Rancheria Project.
The EIS is being prepared in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing NEPA (40 CFR Sections 1500 – 1508); and the BIA’s NEPA Guidebook (59 IAM 3-H); and other relevant statutes, regulations, and DOI and BIA requirements.
The NEPA process is intended to ensure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and actions are taken. The purpose of the EIS is to document the environmental, social and economic consequences of constructing and operating the proposed project. The EIS will:
- Provide site-specific environmental analysis for proposed project alternatives;
- Describe, analyze and disclose the various biological, physical, social and economic impacts that proposed project alternatives would generate;
- Identify, where possible, the long-term impacts and secondary effects of the proposed project alternatives;
- Indicate possible mitigating measures which may be used to avoid or reduce impacts; and
- Provide a comprehensive, reliable document for review and evaluation by interested public agencies, groups and individuals and for use as a basis for decision-making.
The EIS will identify and objectively evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives, including a no action alternative. The range of alternatives to be analyzed will be based upon public and agency scoping. A preferred alternative will not be documented by BIA (as lead agency) until completion of the environmental analysis.
The first step in the EIS process is scoping. Scoping is the process to determine the scope of the environmental analysis to be conducted. It is used early in the NEPA process to identify: (1) issues to be addressed; (2) the depth of analysis; (3) alternatives to the proposed action; and (4) potential positive and negative impacts of the proposed action.
The Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2013. This initiated a 30-day scoping period. A Scoping Report has been prepared that identifies alternatives and includes all scoping comments.
A Draft EIS has been prepared that evaluates all identified alternatives. A 62-day public comment period on the Draft EIS was initiated with publication of a Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register. The comment period for the Draft EIS ended on February 29, 2016. A public hearing on the Draft EIS was held on January 29, 2016.
A Final EIS has been be prepared to address the issues raised in comments on the Draft EIS. A Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Final EIS was issued on December 9, 2016.
Following a 30-day waiting period after the publication of the Final EIS, the Record of Decision was signed on January 19, 2017.