Corresponding page numbers to the DEIS:
Summary of Impacts: pp. 452-511; Environmental Consequences: pp. 479-511
The proposed action would adversely impact visual resources. The proposed action would include strong contrasts and adverse impacts from the highly visible pit face and diversion channel, along with permanent and major impacts, including the irreversible loss of scenic views, from highly visible piles and power lines visible in Box Canyon, along the ridgeline, and at Lopez/Gunsight Pass for the life of the project.
Under the proposed action, the plant facility would be visible for up to 7 years. There would be impacts to 13,742 acres within the Santa Rita Ecosystem Management Area with very high and high scenic integrity characteristics. There would be 40 miles of project area visibility along forest roads and trails with concern levels 1 and 2, as defined under the Scenery Management System, and 3.4 miles of scenic quality impacts along State Route 83. There would be 187,893 acres within the analysis area with project visibility.
Mitigation measures to reduce the impact to visual resources would occur during mine operations, closure, and postclosure. Concurrent reclamation will occur during operations that would have minor beneficial impacts to scenic quality. Sediment and dust controls would reduce but not eliminate visual impacts from fugitive dust. During operations, the colors of buildings would be painted or stained in earth tones to reduce color contrasts with the surrounding landscape. During closure, facilities and foundations would be removed, access roads would be reclaimed, and final reclamation would be conducted on the waste rock and tailings piles. During closure, the applicability of measures to darken the exposed rock faces of the mine pit to reduce color contrasts would also be determined. Postclosure reclamation would include monitoring revegetation success on the waste rock and tailings slopes.
Additional mitigation measures may be considered. The Forest Service is investigating the feasibility of geomorphic design (sometimes called landforming) to create more stable, natural functioning, and natural looking topography related to the waste rock and tailings piles. With respect to the facility footprint, grading to restore a natural appearing topography would reduce impacts and encourage more natural revegetation in this area. Breaking up the horizontal benches in the visible portions of the upper pit may also be pursued. There are several ways to accomplish this, including double benching, postmine bench blasting, and randomized benching.