Umatilla National Forest, Walla Walla Ranger District, Walla Walla, WA; Cobbler II Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project, 5941-5943 [2010-2505]

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srobinson on DSKHWCL6B1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 24 / Friday, February 5, 2010 / Notices Estimated Number of Respondents: 25. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 200. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 8. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 646 hours. Progress Reports are required at the midpoint of projects approved for one year and at six-month intervals for projects of longer duration. Progress Reports should (1) briefly summarize activities performed and milestones achieved for each objective or subelement of the narrative; (2) note unexpected delays or impediments as well as favorable or unusual developments; (3) outline work to be performed during the succeeding period; and (4) indicate the amount of grant and matching funds expended to date. We expect that grantees will submit a total of two Progress Reports during the grant period. Estimate of Burden: The public reporting burden for two Progress Reports is estimated to average 14 hours per response. Respondents: State departments of agriculture, State agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate State Agencies. Estimated Number of Respondents: 25. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 50. Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondent: 2. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 700 hours. Not later than 90 days following the ending date of the Grant Agreement the grantee must submit Standard Form 425, Federal Financial Report (approved under OMB #0348–0061), to document the final financial status of the grant project and to indicate that the one-toone matching requirement has been met. In the past, grantees used Standard Form 269A (or Standard Form 269 if the grant involved program income) to document the final financial activity of the grant. Standard Forms 269A and 269 were discontinued by OMB as of October 1, 2009. AMS has determined that a new form, Standard Form 425 (OMB Approval Number 0348–0061), is an acceptable replacement that will allow grantees to report the final financial activity of the grant. The public reporting burden for Standard Form 425 is estimated to average 1.5 hours per response, which is the same as the reporting burden for Standard Form 269A. The grantee must also submit a Final Report of results and accomplishments within 90 days following the grant VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:26 Feb 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 ending date. The Final Report will include: • An outline of the issue or problem. • A description of how the issue or problem was approached via the project. • A description of the contribution of public or private agency cooperators. • A description of results, conclusions and lessons learned. • A summary of current or future benefits to be derived from the project. • Additional information available (publications, Web sites). • Recommendations for future research needed, if applicable. • A description of the project beneficiaries. • The contact person for the project with telephone number and e-mail address. Estimate of Burden: The public reporting burden for completing Standard Form 425 and the Final Report is estimated to average 16.78 hours per response. Respondents: State departments of agriculture, State agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate State agencies. Estimated Number of Respondents: 25. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 50. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 2. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 838 hours. In accordance with 7 CFR 3016.42, grantees are required to maintain all financial and programmatic records, supporting documents, statistical records, and other records of grantees or sub-grantees for a period of three years from the day the grantee submits the final financial report. Estimate of Burden: The public reporting burden for maintaining required records relating to the grant is estimated to average 1 hour per response. Respondents: State departments of agriculture, State agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate State agencies. Estimated Number of Respondents: 25. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 25. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 25 hours. Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 5941 proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Janise Zygmont, FSMIP Staff Officer, USDA, AMS, 1800 M Street, NW., Room 3002– South Tower, Washington, DC 20036. All comments received will be available for public inspection during regular business hours at the same address. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of public record. Dated: February 2, 2010. Rayne Pegg, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2010–2543 Filed 2–4–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Umatilla National Forest, Walla Walla Ranger District, Walla Walla, WA; Cobbler II Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to disclose environmental effects on proposed resource management actions in Cobbler II project planning area. This project would improve the health, vigor, and resilience to fire, insects, and disease in upland forest stands that are outside their historical pre-fire conditions for species composition, structural diversity, stocking densities, and fuel loads. The project planning area is approximately 34,000 acres in size. Proposed project activities consist of commercial timber harvest, including treatment of activity and natural fuels within harvest units, temporary road construction (that will be decommissioned after project use), new road construction, danger tree removal along haul routes, non-commercial thinning, hardwood restoration, meadow restoration, and landscape prescribed burning. E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1 srobinson on DSKHWCL6B1PROD with NOTICES 5942 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 24 / Friday, February 5, 2010 / Notices DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by February 26, 2010. The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be available in April 2010 and the final environmental impact statement in July 2010. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Mike Rassbach, District Ranger, Walla Walla Ranger District, 1415 West Rose Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to comments-pacificnorthwest-umatillawallawalla@fs.fed.us or via facsimile to (509) 522–6000. Comments may be hand delivered to the Walla Walla Ranger District office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Betsy Kaiser, Project Team Leader, Walla Walla Ranger District, telephone (509) 522–6290 or e-mail bkaiser@fs.fed.us. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Information—An environmental assessment (EA) for Cobbler Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project was prepared by the Forest Service and issued to the public in May 2009. A decision notice and finding of no significant impact for the May 2009 EA was signed by the responsible official, Kevin Martin, Umatilla National Forest Supervisor, on May 18, 2009. This decision was appealed, and on July 29, 2009, Supervisor Martin sent a memo to the Regional Forester to withdraw his May 18th decision. After the withdrawal of the decision, the Forest Service decided to initiate the Cobbler II Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project environmental assessment (EA) and scoped with a letter dated November 20, 2009, and comment letters were received. Since that scoping letter was mailed, the Forest Service has decided to issue an environmental impact statement (EIS) for this project. The project file for the May 2009 EA and the Cobbler II EA will be incorporated in the Cobbler II EIS. Information regarding the May 2009 Cobbler EA documents and the Cobbler II EA scoping letter are available for review at the following Web site address: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/ projects/readroom/. Project Information—Cobbler II project planning area is primarily located in Wallowa County and a small VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:26 Feb 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 portion in Union County, Oregon within portions of T. 4N., R. 40E., sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15; T.5 N., R.40 E., sections 1, 12, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26, 34, 27, 33, 34, 35, and 36; T. 4N., R. 41E., sections 5, 6, 7, and 18; T. 5N., R. 41E., sections 1 to 34; T. 5N., R. 42E., sections 4, 5, 6, and 7; T. 6N., R. 41E., sections 25, 26, 27, 33, 34, 35, and 36; and T. 6N., R. 42E., sections 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34. It is in the Lower Grande Ronde subbasin, within the Grande Ronde River and Wenaha Watersheds. Cobbler II project planning area is bounded by the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness to the north and west and the Grande Ronde River to the southeast. Grande Ronde River has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1988, and the segment bordering the project planning area has been designated as wild. The town of Elgin, Oregon, is approximately 20 miles to the southwest. Troy and Eden Bench Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas are approximately 5 miles east of the project planning area, and are identified in the Wallowa County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). A portion (approximately 7,700 acres) of the Grande Ronde inventoried roadless area (IRA) is within the project planning area. Purpose and Need for Action—The purpose and need for action in this project is to improve health, vigor, and resilience to fire, insects, and disease in upland forests that are outside their historical pre-fire suppression conditions for species composition, structural diversity, stocking densities, and fuel loads. Additionally, there is a need to provide sawlogs and wood fiber products for utilization by regional and local industry. Forest stands in the project planning area have been altered from historical conditions due to fire suppression and past forest management practices. A majority of current forest stands originated as a result of fire disturbances occurring over one hundred years ago, and they have not experienced fire since then. There have been repeated insect defoliation episodes followed by salvage harvest. Lodgepole pine stands have been harvested, and the remaining mature stands in the project planning area are at the age to be highly susceptible to mountain pine beetle, which is currently experiencing an increasing population. Late seral tree species have become dominant after long periods without disturbance and generally are more susceptible to disturbance-caused mortality than early seral species. Forest stands have become overstocked and are above PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 recommended stocking levels that would maintain stand growth and vigor. Timber stands of seral tree species such as western larch and ponderosa pine are infilling with grand fir. Findings from the historical range of variability (HRV) analysis for Eastside Screens show that old forest structure is within historical range for moist forest biophysical group, but outside of historical range for dry forest biophysical group in old forest single stratum (OFSS) structural stage. Proposed Action—Following are brief descriptions of activities proposed for implementation, along with associated activities that would occur concurrently. Timber Harvest—Commercially harvest approximately 2,500 acres. In some treatment units timber harvest would include the removal of sawlogs and small diameter trees in the 3–9 inch diameter at breast height (DBH) range which would be used as a woody biomass product. In some treatment units only biomass products would be removed with incidental removal of sawlogs. Commercial thinning is the primary silviculture prescription with some shelterwood and seed-tree prescriptions used in decadent stands where thinning would not restore growth or vigor. Harvest objectives would vary by stand condition and fuel management objectives. Treatments would tend to favor early seral tree species such as ponderosa pine and western larch. Harvest methods would include conventional ground based (approximately 380 acres) logging, using a harvester/forwarder (approximately 1,830 acres), and skyline logging (approximately 230 acres). Fuel Treatments (activity and natural)—Activity fuels and existing natural fuels would be treated in harvest units. Treatments would include mechanical mastication, grapple piling, hand piling, jackpot burning, and yarding with tops attached depending on slash loads and the amount of fire sensitive species remaining after harvest. Mastication would be used to treat both activity fuels and remaining ladder fuels when small diameter understory is removed for woody biomass products (3–9 inch DBH) and a high density of understory trees still remains. Hand piling would be used in portions of units where visual quality is a concern, mainly along Forest Road (FR) 62. Road Management—To accomplish implementation of proposed activities, approximately 50 miles of open system roads, about 40 miles of closed system roads, and 1.5 miles of seasonally open roads would be used as haul routes. Of E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1 srobinson on DSKHWCL6B1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 24 / Friday, February 5, 2010 / Notices the open system roads approximately 14 miles are outside of the project planning area and represent haul routes to county roads. Closed system roads used for project activities would not be opened to the public. All system roads would remain the same after project implementation; open roads would remain opened, closed roads would continue to be closed, and seasonally open roads would continue with that designation. Approximately 0.25 miles of new road construction would occur to access an activity unit and be used for future access for vegetation and fuels treatments. This new construction would become a closed system road after project use. Approximately 0.20 miles of temporary road construction would occur and would be decommissioned after project activity use. Normal routine road maintenance would occur. Danger Tree Removal—Danger trees would be felled and removed along all previously described haul routes used for timber sale activity. If considered economically feasible, they would be sold as part of a timber sale. Danger trees within Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas (RHCAs) would not be removed; they would be cut and left to provide additional coarse woody debris. Landscape Prescribed Fire— Landscape prescribed fire would occur across approximately 8,000 acres within the Grande Ronde River canyon. No timber harvest or mechanical fuel treatments would occur in these canyons. This treatment would reintroduce fire to a fire-dependent ecosystem blackening about 60 percent of the area to lessen the impact of a future uncharacteristic wildfire and improve forage quality for big game. In the majority of the project area, fire intensities would be kept low by keeping fire out of the overstory and burning mainly surface fuels. This activity would occur in almost all of the acres of the Grande Ronde inventoried roadless area (IRA) that are within the project planning area. Hardwood Restoration—Twenty-three hardwood sites (aspen, black cottonwood, and mountain mahogany) totaling about 115 acres are proposed for treatment that includes release from conifers and fencing of these sites. Reduction of conifer competition in some aspen stands would be achieved by girdling trees or cutting and leaving the trees on site. Most of these stands have only mature or over-mature hardwood trees with little or no regeneration, or regeneration that is being severely browsed. Fencing would occur at these 23 hardwood sites. VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:26 Feb 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 Meadow Restoration—An estimated 275 acres of dry meadows would be treated to reduce conifer encroachment. Trees less than or equal to 6 inches DBH would be cut by hand followed by a prescribed underburn through the grass. Non-commercial Thinning—This activity would cut excess trees that are less than 6 inches DBH on approximately 1,900 acres. Some units may have special conditions where trees up to 9 inches DBH would be cut. Either manual or mechanical methods would be use. Forest Plan Amendment—In order to manage aspen stands in the project planning area, the Forest Plan would be amended to reallocate acres in management area allocations of D2– Research Natural Area, E2–Timber and Big Game, and A9–Special Interest Area. Elk Flats Meadow (D2), which is currently a proposed candidate for designation as a Research Natural Area (RNA), would be reallocated to management area A9–Special Interest Area in order to allow vegetation management, including cutting of trees, to maintain or enhance existing aspen and encourage aspen regeneration. In summary, approximately 70 acres of management area D2 (Elk Flats Meadow) would become management area A9; approximately 30 acres of management area E2 would become management area A9, and approximately 10 acres of management area D2 would become management area E2. This amendment would remain in effect until the current Forest Plan is revised. Possible Alternatives—An alternative that would have fewer impacts on elk cover and/or old forest habitat was identified for this project. Commercial harvest would occur on approximately 1,300 acres using the same silviculture prescriptions and harvest methods. No timber harvest would occur in old forest stands or in areas of satisfactory cover. All other activities would remain the same but would occur on fewer acres. Another alternative identified would be to take no action at this time in the project planning area. Responsible Official Kevin Martin, Forest Supervisor, Umatilla National Forest, 2517 S.W. Hailey Avenue, Pendleton, Oregon 97801. Nature of Decision To Be Made The decision to be made is whether to approve the proposed action or any alternative way to achieve the desired outcome. A Forest Plan amendment is proposed. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 5943 Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the development of an EIS for the Cobbler II project and seeks any additional scoping comments not previously submitted. The comment period begins on the date of publication of this notice of intent and ends on February 26, 2010. It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such a manner that they are useful to the agency’s preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and comments. The submission of timely and specific comments can affect a reviewer’s ability to participate in subsequent administrative appeal or judicial review. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the respondent with standing to participate in subsequent administrative appeal or judicial review. Dated: February 1, 2010. Kevin Martin, Forest Supervisor. [FR Doc. 2010–2505 Filed 2–4–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–11–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Utah Advisory Committee Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the regulations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a meeting of the Utah Advisory Committee will convene at 5:30 p.m. and adjourn at 8 p.m. (MST) on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at the 451 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. The purpose of the meeting is for the committee to discuss recent Commission and regional activities, discuss current civil rights issues in the state and plan future activities. The Committee will also be briefed on education issues affecting minority students as it prepares to select a project topic. Members of the public are entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by March 25, 2010. The E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 24 (Friday, February 5, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5941-5943]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-2505]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Umatilla National Forest, Walla Walla Ranger District, Walla 
Walla, WA; Cobbler II Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to disclose environmental effects on proposed resource 
management actions in Cobbler II project planning area. This project 
would improve the health, vigor, and resilience to fire, insects, and 
disease in upland forest stands that are outside their historical pre-
fire conditions for species composition, structural diversity, stocking 
densities, and fuel loads. The project planning area is approximately 
34,000 acres in size. Proposed project activities consist of commercial 
timber harvest, including treatment of activity and natural fuels 
within harvest units, temporary road construction (that will be 
decommissioned after project use), new road construction, danger tree 
removal along haul routes, non-commercial thinning, hardwood 
restoration, meadow restoration, and landscape prescribed burning.

[[Page 5942]]


DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by February 26, 2010. The draft environmental impact statement is 
expected to be available in April 2010 and the final environmental 
impact statement in July 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Mike Rassbach, District Ranger, 
Walla Walla Ranger District, 1415 West Rose Street, Walla Walla, WA 
99362. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to comments-pacificnorthwest-umatilla-wallawalla@fs.fed.us or via facsimile to 
(509) 522-6000. Comments may be hand delivered to the Walla Walla 
Ranger District office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. Individuals who use 
telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 
p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Betsy Kaiser, Project Team Leader, 
Walla Walla Ranger District, telephone (509) 522-6290 or e-mail 
bkaiser@fs.fed.us.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Background Information--An environmental assessment (EA) for 
Cobbler Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project was prepared by the 
Forest Service and issued to the public in May 2009. A decision notice 
and finding of no significant impact for the May 2009 EA was signed by 
the responsible official, Kevin Martin, Umatilla National Forest 
Supervisor, on May 18, 2009. This decision was appealed, and on July 
29, 2009, Supervisor Martin sent a memo to the Regional Forester to 
withdraw his May 18th decision.
    After the withdrawal of the decision, the Forest Service decided to 
initiate the Cobbler II Timber Sale and Fuels Reduction Project 
environmental assessment (EA) and scoped with a letter dated November 
20, 2009, and comment letters were received. Since that scoping letter 
was mailed, the Forest Service has decided to issue an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) for this project. The project file for the May 
2009 EA and the Cobbler II EA will be incorporated in the Cobbler II 
EIS. Information regarding the May 2009 Cobbler EA documents and the 
Cobbler II EA scoping letter are available for review at the following 
Web site address: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/projects/readroom/.
    Project Information--Cobbler II project planning area is primarily 
located in Wallowa County and a small portion in Union County, Oregon 
within portions of T. 4N., R. 40E., sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 
14, and 15; T.5 N., R.40 E., sections 1, 12, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26, 
34, 27, 33, 34, 35, and 36; T. 4N., R. 41E., sections 5, 6, 7, and 18; 
T. 5N., R. 41E., sections 1 to 34; T. 5N., R. 42E., sections 4, 5, 6, 
and 7; T. 6N., R. 41E., sections 25, 26, 27, 33, 34, 35, and 36; and T. 
6N., R. 42E., sections 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34. It is in the Lower 
Grande Ronde subbasin, within the Grande Ronde River and Wenaha 
Watersheds.
    Cobbler II project planning area is bounded by the Wenaha-Tucannon 
Wilderness to the north and west and the Grande Ronde River to the 
southeast. Grande Ronde River has been designated as a Wild and Scenic 
River by the Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1988, and the 
segment bordering the project planning area has been designated as 
wild. The town of Elgin, Oregon, is approximately 20 miles to the 
southwest. Troy and Eden Bench Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas are 
approximately 5 miles east of the project planning area, and are 
identified in the Wallowa County Community Wildfire Protection Plan 
(CWPP). A portion (approximately 7,700 acres) of the Grande Ronde 
inventoried roadless area (IRA) is within the project planning area.
    Purpose and Need for Action--The purpose and need for action in 
this project is to improve health, vigor, and resilience to fire, 
insects, and disease in upland forests that are outside their 
historical pre-fire suppression conditions for species composition, 
structural diversity, stocking densities, and fuel loads. Additionally, 
there is a need to provide sawlogs and wood fiber products for 
utilization by regional and local industry.
    Forest stands in the project planning area have been altered from 
historical conditions due to fire suppression and past forest 
management practices. A majority of current forest stands originated as 
a result of fire disturbances occurring over one hundred years ago, and 
they have not experienced fire since then. There have been repeated 
insect defoliation episodes followed by salvage harvest. Lodgepole pine 
stands have been harvested, and the remaining mature stands in the 
project planning area are at the age to be highly susceptible to 
mountain pine beetle, which is currently experiencing an increasing 
population. Late seral tree species have become dominant after long 
periods without disturbance and generally are more susceptible to 
disturbance-caused mortality than early seral species. Forest stands 
have become overstocked and are above recommended stocking levels that 
would maintain stand growth and vigor. Timber stands of seral tree 
species such as western larch and ponderosa pine are infilling with 
grand fir.
    Findings from the historical range of variability (HRV) analysis 
for Eastside Screens show that old forest structure is within 
historical range for moist forest biophysical group, but outside of 
historical range for dry forest biophysical group in old forest single 
stratum (OFSS) structural stage.
    Proposed Action--Following are brief descriptions of activities 
proposed for implementation, along with associated activities that 
would occur concurrently.
    Timber Harvest--Commercially harvest approximately 2,500 acres. In 
some treatment units timber harvest would include the removal of 
sawlogs and small diameter trees in the 3-9 inch diameter at breast 
height (DBH) range which would be used as a woody biomass product. In 
some treatment units only biomass products would be removed with 
incidental removal of sawlogs. Commercial thinning is the primary 
silviculture prescription with some shelterwood and seed-tree 
prescriptions used in decadent stands where thinning would not restore 
growth or vigor. Harvest objectives would vary by stand condition and 
fuel management objectives. Treatments would tend to favor early seral 
tree species such as ponderosa pine and western larch. Harvest methods 
would include conventional ground based (approximately 380 acres) 
logging, using a harvester/forwarder (approximately 1,830 acres), and 
skyline logging (approximately 230 acres).
    Fuel Treatments (activity and natural)--Activity fuels and existing 
natural fuels would be treated in harvest units. Treatments would 
include mechanical mastication, grapple piling, hand piling, jackpot 
burning, and yarding with tops attached depending on slash loads and 
the amount of fire sensitive species remaining after harvest. 
Mastication would be used to treat both activity fuels and remaining 
ladder fuels when small diameter understory is removed for woody 
biomass products (3-9 inch DBH) and a high density of understory trees 
still remains. Hand piling would be used in portions of units where 
visual quality is a concern, mainly along Forest Road (FR) 62.
    Road Management--To accomplish implementation of proposed 
activities, approximately 50 miles of open system roads, about 40 miles 
of closed system roads, and 1.5 miles of seasonally open roads would be 
used as haul routes. Of

[[Page 5943]]

the open system roads approximately 14 miles are outside of the project 
planning area and represent haul routes to county roads. Closed system 
roads used for project activities would not be opened to the public. 
All system roads would remain the same after project implementation; 
open roads would remain opened, closed roads would continue to be 
closed, and seasonally open roads would continue with that designation. 
Approximately 0.25 miles of new road construction would occur to access 
an activity unit and be used for future access for vegetation and fuels 
treatments. This new construction would become a closed system road 
after project use. Approximately 0.20 miles of temporary road 
construction would occur and would be decommissioned after project 
activity use. Normal routine road maintenance would occur.
    Danger Tree Removal--Danger trees would be felled and removed along 
all previously described haul routes used for timber sale activity. If 
considered economically feasible, they would be sold as part of a 
timber sale. Danger trees within Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas 
(RHCAs) would not be removed; they would be cut and left to provide 
additional coarse woody debris.
    Landscape Prescribed Fire--Landscape prescribed fire would occur 
across approximately 8,000 acres within the Grande Ronde River canyon. 
No timber harvest or mechanical fuel treatments would occur in these 
canyons. This treatment would reintroduce fire to a fire-dependent 
ecosystem blackening about 60 percent of the area to lessen the impact 
of a future uncharacteristic wildfire and improve forage quality for 
big game. In the majority of the project area, fire intensities would 
be kept low by keeping fire out of the overstory and burning mainly 
surface fuels. This activity would occur in almost all of the acres of 
the Grande Ronde inventoried roadless area (IRA) that are within the 
project planning area.
    Hardwood Restoration--Twenty-three hardwood sites (aspen, black 
cottonwood, and mountain mahogany) totaling about 115 acres are 
proposed for treatment that includes release from conifers and fencing 
of these sites. Reduction of conifer competition in some aspen stands 
would be achieved by girdling trees or cutting and leaving the trees on 
site. Most of these stands have only mature or over-mature hardwood 
trees with little or no regeneration, or regeneration that is being 
severely browsed. Fencing would occur at these 23 hardwood sites.
    Meadow Restoration--An estimated 275 acres of dry meadows would be 
treated to reduce conifer encroachment. Trees less than or equal to 6 
inches DBH would be cut by hand followed by a prescribed underburn 
through the grass.
    Non-commercial Thinning--This activity would cut excess trees that 
are less than 6 inches DBH on approximately 1,900 acres. Some units may 
have special conditions where trees up to 9 inches DBH would be cut. 
Either manual or mechanical methods would be use.
    Forest Plan Amendment--In order to manage aspen stands in the 
project planning area, the Forest Plan would be amended to reallocate 
acres in management area allocations of D2-Research Natural Area, E2-
Timber and Big Game, and A9-Special Interest Area. Elk Flats Meadow 
(D2), which is currently a proposed candidate for designation as a 
Research Natural Area (RNA), would be reallocated to management area 
A9-Special Interest Area in order to allow vegetation management, 
including cutting of trees, to maintain or enhance existing aspen and 
encourage aspen regeneration. In summary, approximately 70 acres of 
management area D2 (Elk Flats Meadow) would become management area A9; 
approximately 30 acres of management area E2 would become management 
area A9, and approximately 10 acres of management area D2 would become 
management area E2. This amendment would remain in effect until the 
current Forest Plan is revised.
    Possible Alternatives--An alternative that would have fewer impacts 
on elk cover and/or old forest habitat was identified for this project. 
Commercial harvest would occur on approximately 1,300 acres using the 
same silviculture prescriptions and harvest methods. No timber harvest 
would occur in old forest stands or in areas of satisfactory cover. All 
other activities would remain the same but would occur on fewer acres. 
Another alternative identified would be to take no action at this time 
in the project planning area.

Responsible Official

    Kevin Martin, Forest Supervisor, Umatilla National Forest, 2517 
S.W. Hailey Avenue, Pendleton, Oregon 97801.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The decision to be made is whether to approve the proposed action 
or any alternative way to achieve the desired outcome. A Forest Plan 
amendment is proposed.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the development of an EIS for the 
Cobbler II project and seeks any additional scoping comments not 
previously submitted. The comment period begins on the date of 
publication of this notice of intent and ends on February 26, 2010. It 
is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in 
such a manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of the 
environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided 
prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate 
the reviewer's concerns and comments. The submission of timely and 
specific comments can affect a reviewer's ability to participate in 
subsequent administrative appeal or judicial review.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide 
the respondent with standing to participate in subsequent 
administrative appeal or judicial review.

    Dated: February 1, 2010.
Kevin Martin,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2010-2505 Filed 2-4-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P