17.24.304    BASELINE INFORMATION. ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES

(1) The following environmental resources information must also be included as part of an application for a strip or underground mining permit:

(a) the size, sequence, and timing of the subareas of the mine plan area for which it is anticipated that individual permits for mining will be requested over the estimated total life of the proposed mining activities;

(b) a listing, location and description of all archaeological, historical, ethnological and cultural resources and values of the proposed mine plan and adjacent area. Such resources and values must be located and identified on accompanying maps. Sites listed on, eligible for, or potentially eligible for the national register of historic places must be so identified. Published research or other information must be referenced and copies of referenced reports must be made available to the department upon request. The department may require the applicant to identify and evaluate important historic and archeological resources that may be eligible for listing on the national register of historic places through collection of additional information, conduct field investigations, or other appropriate analyses;

(c) a comprehensive listing, location and description of significant or unique scenic and/or geological formations or sites;

(d) a narrative explanation or other data showing whether the permit area possesses special, exceptional, critical, or unique characteristics as defined in 82-4-227, MCA, and whether surrounding land possesses special, exceptional, critical or unique characteristics that would be adversely affected by mining;

(e) all hydrologic and geologic data necessary to evaluate baseline conditions, to evaluate the probable hydrologic consequences and cumulative hydrologic impacts of mining, pursuant to ARM 17.24.314(3) and (5) and 82-4-222, MCA, and to develop a plan to monitor water quality and quantity to address the requirements of ARM 17.24.314;

(f) hydrologic and geologic descriptions pursuant to (1)(e) including:

(i) a narrative and graphic account of ground water hydrology including, but not limited to:

(A) the lithology, thickness, structural controls, hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, recharge, storage and discharge characteristics, extent of aquifer, production data, water quality analyses and other relevant aquifer characteristics for each aquifer within the mine plan area and adjacent areas;

(B) the results of a minimum of one year of quarterly monitoring of ground water for total dissolved solids, specific conductance corrected to 25oC, pH, major dissolved cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K), major dissolved anions (SO4, HCO3, CO3, Cl, NO3), concentrations of dissolved metals as prescribed by the department, and water levels. These data must be generated in accordance with the standards contained in ARM 17.24.645(2), (3), and (6); and

(C) a listing of all known or readily discoverable wells and springs and their uses located within three miles downgradient from the proposed permit area and within one mile in all other directions unless hydrologic conditions justify different distances;

(ii) a narrative and graphic account of surface water hydrology within the mine plan area and adjacent areas including, but not limited to:

(A) the name, location, use, and description of all surface water bodies such as streams, lakes, ponds, springs, and impoundments; and

(B) descriptions of surface drainage systems sufficient to identify, in detail, the seasonal variations in water quantity and quality including, but not limited to:

(I) minimum, maximum, and average discharge conditions which identify critical low flow and peak discharge rates of streams and springs; and

(II) water quality data to identify the characteristics of surface waters discharging into or receiving flows from the proposed mine plan area, including total suspended solids, total dissolved solids, specific conductance corrected to 25oC, pH, major dissolved cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K), major dissolved anions (SO4, CO3, HCO3, NO3, Cl), and concentrations of metals as prescribed by the department. Such data must be generated in accordance with the standards contained in ARM 17.24.646(1), (1)(a), (3), (5), and (6);

(iii) a description of alternative water supplies, not to be disturbed by mining, that could be developed to replace water supplies diminished or otherwise adversely impacted in quality or quantity by mining activities so as not to be suitable for the approved postmining land uses; and

(iv) such other information that the department determines is relevant;

(g) a detailed description of all overburden and mineral materials (all materials other than soil) that will be handled during mining or backfilling operations. The description must include:

(i) those materials down to and including the deeper of either the stratum immediately below the lowest seam to be mined or any aquifer below the lowest seam to be mined that may be adversely impacted by mining;

(ii) all physical, chemical, water infiltration, artificial weathering, and plant growth data necessary to identify those materials that are potentially acid, acid-forming, sodic, saline, toxic, toxic-forming, unstable, erodible or otherwise undesirable with respect to use as plant rooting media, landscape stability, aquifer reestablishment, postmining ground and surface water quantity and quality both on and off site, and postmining land use;

(iii) lithologic and geophysical logs showing the lithologic characteristics including physical properties and thickness of each stratum and location of ground water where occurring. The requirement for geophysical logs may be waived if the applicant demonstrates, and the department finds in writing, that other equivalent information is available in an acceptable form and has been provided by the applicant;

(iv) a narrative addressing the suitability or unsuitability of the materials to be handled for reclamation purposes. This narrative must address or reference the data, characteristics of materials, and aspects of reclamation described in (1)(f), (1)(g)(ii) and (iii), and ARM 17.24.322(2)(a)(iii); and

(v) additional studies or information determined by the department to be useful or necessary to evaluate the application. All laboratory work conducted under (g) must be conducted in accordance with ARM 17.24.302(3);

(h) climatological information, including:

(i) the average seasonal precipitation;

(ii) the average direction and velocity of prevailing winds;

(iii) seasonal temperature ranges; and

(iv) such additional data as the department deems necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of this subchapter;

(i) vegetation surveys as described in 82-4-222(2), MCA, of the Act, which must include:

(i) a vegetation map at a scale of 1" = 400' or as otherwise approved by the department, which delineates community types based on dominant species which by their structure, density, or coverage, have the greatest functional influence on the type. Other methods for delineating community types may be used with prior approval by the department; and

(ii) a narrative describing the community types within the proposed permit area and within any proposed reference areas, and listing associated species and discussing environmental factors controlling or limiting the distribution of species;

(j) a narrative of the results of a wildlife survey. The operator shall contact the department at least three months before planning the wildlife survey to allow the department to consult state and federal agencies with fish and wildlife responsibilities to determine the scope and level of detail of information required in the survey to help design a wildlife protection and enhancement plan. At a minimum, the wildlife survey must include:

(i) a listing of all fish and wildlife species;

(ii) population density estimates of each species insofar as practicable;

(iii) a description of season or seasons of use and habitat use by each species along with a description of habitats of unusually high value for fish and wildlife such as important streams, wetlands, riparian areas, cliffs supporting raptors, areas offering special shelter or protection, migration routes, reproduction and wintering areas, and other habitats identified through agency consultation as requiring special protection under state or federal law;

(iv) a wildlife habitat map for the entire wildlife survey area including habitat types that are discussed in (c), and ARM 17.24.751(2)(f) and (g); and

(v) coverage of the proposed permit area plus an area around it. The extent of the total area to be surveyed must be determined through consultation with the department and must be large enough to include those species whose home ranges extend beyond the permit boundary;

(k) a soil survey according to standards of the national cooperative soil survey and the department describing all soils on the proposed permit area and their suitability for reclamation purposes. The soil survey must include the following information:

(i) description, sampling, and analysis of soils in sufficient detail to identify the soil series, phases, and mapping units present including:

(A) series and phase descriptions;

(B) mapping unit (complex and consociation) descriptions;

(C) descriptions of representative soil pedons; and

(D) results of chemical and physical analyses of soil horizon samples. Each horizon sample must be analyzed in accordance with ARM 17.24.302(3) for pH, particle size distribution (texture), and other parameters that must be determined in consultation with the department;

(ii) a soils map acceptable to the department. The scale must be 1" = 400' unless otherwise altered or approved by the department. Enlarged aerial photographs may be used as a map base. The map or photograph must include:

(A) the soil mapping units, their boundaries, a legend of the soil mapping units and the estimated salvage depths of soils within each mapping unit, consistent with the information submitted under ARM 17.24.313(1)(f);

(B) soil sampling locations; and

(iii) further soil studies or information determined by the department to be useful or necessary to evaluate the application;

(l) the condition, capability, productivity, and history of use of the land and vegetation within the proposed permit area, including:

(i) a map and supporting narrative of the uses of the land existing at the time of the filing of the application. If the premining use of the land was changed within five years before the anticipated date of beginning the proposed operations, the historic use of the land must also be described;

(ii) a narrative of land capability and productivity that analyzes the land-use description under (a) in conjunction with other environmental resources information required under this subsection. The narrative must provide analyses of:

(A) the capability of the land before any mining to support a variety of uses, giving consideration to soil and foundation characteristics, topography, vegetative cover and the hydrology of the proposed permit area;

(B) the productivity of the proposed permit area before mining, expressed as average yield of food, fiber, forage, or wood products from such lands obtained under high levels of management. The productivity must be determined by yield data or estimates for similar sites based on current data from the U.S. department of agriculture, state agricultural universities, or appropriate state natural resources or agricultural agencies;

(C) a statement of whether the proposed permit area has been previously mined, and, if so, the following information, if available:

(I) the type of mining method used;

(II) the coal seams or other mineral strata mined;

(III) the extent of coal or other minerals removed;

(IV) the approximate dates of past mining; and

(V) the uses of the land;

(D) the existing land uses and land use classifications under local law, if any, of the proposed mine plan and adjacent areas.

History: 82-4-204, MCA; IMP, 82-4-222, MCA; NEW, 1980 MAR p. 725, Eff. 4/1/80; AMD, 1989 MAR p. 30, Eff. 1/13/89; AMD, 1990 MAR p. 936, Eff. 5/18/90; AMD, 1994 MAR p. 2957, Eff. 11/11/94; TRANS, from DSL, 1996 MAR p. 2852; AMD, 1999 MAR p. 811, Eff. 4/23/99; AMD, 1999 MAR p. 2768, Eff. 12/3/99; AMD, 2004 MAR p. 2548, Eff. 10/22/04; AMD, 2012 MAR p. 737, Eff. 4/13/12.