RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announces the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Reconfiguration of the VA Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS). The Draft EIS analyzes the potential impacts of six alternatives for changes to VA’s facilities in Hot Springs and Rapid City, South Dakota, to support proposed services reconfiguration.

The VA BHHCS Reconfiguration Draft EIS is available for viewing on the VA BHHCS website www.blackhills.va.gov/vablackhillsfuture/ and at the Hot Springs, Rapid City Downtown, Sturgis, Chadron, Alliance, Lied Scottsbluff, and Pierre (Rawlins Municipal) public libraries; as well as in Pine Ridge at the Oglala Lakota College Pine Ridge Center library on the high school campus. Information related to the EIS process is also available for viewing on the VA BHHCS website.

Written comments on the VA BHHCS Reconfiguration Draft EIS can be submitted through Jan. 5, 2016, online through www.blackhillseis.com, by email to vablackhillsfuture@va.gov, or by regular mail to Staff Assistant to the Director, VA Black Hills Health Care System, 113 Comanche Road, Fort Meade, SD 57741. Refer to ‘‘BHHCS Reconfiguration Draft EIS’’ in any correspondence.

Environmental topics that are addressed in the Draft EIS include aesthetics, air quality, cultural resources and historic properties, geology and soils, hydrology and water quality, wildlife and habitat, noise, land use, floodplains and wetlands, socioeconomics, community services, solid waste and hazardous materials, transportation and parking, utilities, and environmental justice. Best management practices and mitigation measures that could alleviate environmental effects have been considered and are included where relevant within the Draft EIS.

Interested parties are invited to participate in any of six public meetings summarizing the results of the Draft EIS. These meetings will be in Rapid City, Hot Springs, Pine Ridge, Chadron, Alliance, and Scottsbluff. The dates, times, and locations for these meetings will be published online at www.blackhills.va.gov/vablackhillsfuture/. At the public meetings, interested parties will also have the opportunity to comment regarding the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process, which has been integrated into this NEPA process. Copies of the public meeting handouts will be available by the date of the first meeting at the VA BHHCS website.

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