[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 84 (Wednesday, May 2, 2007)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 07-2153]
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management
Gunnison Basin Federal Lands Travel Management Plan
AGENCIES: Forest Service, USDA, Bureau of Land Management, USDI.
ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
DATES: Comments concerning the scope of analysis must be received on or
before August 31, 2007. The draft environmental impact statement is
expected to be released in February 2008 and the final environmental
impact statement is expected in August 2008.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Gunnison Travel Management, GMUG
National Forests, 2250 Highway 50, Delta, CO 81416.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Janik, Public Involvement
Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 874-6637 or Gary Shellhorn, Team
Leader at email@example.com, (970) 874-6666.
SUMMARY: The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are
to designate which roads or trails on federal lands administered by the
BLM and the Forest Service within the Gunnison Field Office area and
the Gunnison National Forest are open to motorized and/or mechanized
travel. In so doing, both agencies will meet commitments set forth in
the 2001 Gunnison Interim Travel Management Plan to further evaluate
and analyze motorized travel needs on a route-by-route basis and comply
with requirements of the Forest Service 2005 Travel Management Rule (36
CFR part 212) as well as policies for Public Lands found in the BLM
Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1). As a result of these travel
management decisions, the Forest Service will produce a Motorized
Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting those routes on the Gunnison National
Forest and the Gunnison Field Office Public lands that will remain open
to motorized and/or mechanized travel. The MVUM will be the primary
tool used to determine compliance and enforcement with motorized and
mechanized vehicle use designations on the ground. Those existing
routes and other user-created routes not designated open on the MVUM
will be legally closed to motorized and mechanized travel. The
decisions on motorized and
mechanized travel do not include over-snow travel or existing winter-
Background Information: The Gunnison Interim Travel Management Plan
(2001), as an interim plan, was intended to be replaced by a more
definitive and comprehensive designated system of routes to be
maintained and remain open for motorized travel. The Gunnison Interim
Travel Plan did not address whether specific routes were needed or were
not needed to provide a manageable and sustainable transportation
system on the Gunnison National Forest and Gunnison Field Office Public
Lands. Nor did it fully evaluate the desired use by vehicle type or
season of use on a route-by-route basis. The 2001 travel plan was
implemented as an interim measure intended to halt the proliferation of
user-created routes and attempt to restrict motorized travel to the
then existing roads and trails. The 2001 travel plan needs to be
amended, changed or superseded.
In addition to the 2001 commitment by both agencies to complete
further travel management planning, the Forest Service 2005 Travel
Management Rule (36 CFR 212) requires each National Forest unit to
complete travel management planning that will include the designation
of routes open to motorized travel culminating with the completion and
publication of a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). The Chief of the Forest
Service has set a 4-year target to complete these initial motorized use
designations that will define the MVUM.
It is understood that the BLM will also include their route-by-
route designations for motorized and mechanized travel on roads and
trails traversing public lands in the Gunnison Field Office area on the
Forest Service MVUM.
National Forest System (NFS) lands are lands managed by the Forest
Service. Public lands are lands managed by BLM. Both National Forest
System lands and public lands in the Gunnison Basin will be addressed
in this effort.
Proposed Action: The proposed action is to designate selected roads
and trails open to motorized and/or mechanized travel (wheeled vehicles
only) on the Gunnison National Forest (NFS lands) and Gunnison Area
public lands (BLM). Where it is appropriate and necessary, the
designations will also set specific seasons (i.e., yearlong, summer,
fall-summer-spring) of use and type of use (e.g., full-sized vehicles,
ATV's, motorcycles, or mountain bikes) for those routes. The Forest
Service will produce a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) depicting those
routes which are open to the general public for motorized and/or
Possible Alternatives: Alternatives to the proposed action will be
considered and evaluated. The No Action alternative would be to adopt
the September 1, 2000 map of existing roads and trails as those routes
open to motorized and mechanized travel. Alternatives to the Proposed
Action and No Action will depict differing combinations of routes to
remain open to motorized and/or mechanized travel. The Proposed Action
and the alternative actions will provide a system of routes that differ
from existing conditions and the No Action alternative.
Less restrictive alternatives would generally entail designating a
greater number of miles of road or trail to be open for motorized and
mechanized travel than the Proposed Action. Alternatives considered to
be less restrictive could also include fewer constraints on season of
use or vehicle types allowed on designated routes. The less restrictive
alternative would generally provide for more motorized and mechanized
recreational use opportunities.
More restrictive alternatives would generally entail designating
fewer miles of road or trail to be open for motorized and mechanized
travel than the Proposed Action or have more constraints on season of
use and vehicle types using designated routes. The more restrictive
alternative(s) would provide motorized and mechanized recreational
opportunities yet there may be a greater emphasis on non-motorized
A consequence of designating routes open for motorized and/or
mechanized travel is that those existing routes not designated as open
would be identified as closed to motorized and/or mechanized travel.
Road closure procedures that involve ground disturbing activities would
not be a part of the Proposed Action or alternatives and would
generally require separate and distinct site-specific NEPA decisions
regarding the implementation aspects of road closures. The
environmental consequences of having routes closed to motorized and/or
mechanized travel will be evaluated in this environmental assessment.
Identification of new routes that would meet the goals and
objectives for a motorized and/or mechanized transportation system on
both Public lands and NFS lands will be, as appropriate, a part of this
travel management planning, but would require separate, site-specific
NEPA decisions to implement ground disturbing activities associated
with new route construction.
Lead Agencies: The Forest Service and the BLM are joint lead
agencies (CEQ Sec. 1506.2). USDA, Forest Service, Grand Mesa,
Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest. USDI, Bureau of Land
Management, Gunnison Field Office.
Responsible Officials: The Responsible Official for the Grand Mesa,
Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest is Charles Richmond, Forest
Supervisor, GMUG National Forest, 2250 Highway 50, Delta, CO 81401.
The Responsible Official for the BLM Gunnison Field Office is Kenny
McDaniel, Manager, Gunnison Field Office, 216 North Colorado, Gunnison,
Nature of Decisions To Be Made: Based on the purpose and need for
the proposed action, the Forest Supervisor and the Field Office Manager
will evaluate the Proposed Action and other alternatives in order to
make the following decisions for the specific federal lands they have
Those roads or trails that will be designated as open to
the public for motorized and/or mechanized travel; and,
The allowed season and/or type of use for those routes
open to motorized and/or mechanized travel.
Federal land managers are directed (Executive Order 11644, 36 CFR
212, and 43 CFR 8342.1) to ensure that the use of motorized vehicles
and off-road vehicles will be controlled and directed so as to protect
the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of users, minimize
conflicts among the various uses of the federal lands, and to provide
for public use of roads and trails designated as open.
Permits or Licenses Required: No other permits or licenses are
required to be obtained by either the Forest Service or the BLM to make
decisions regarding motorized and/or mechanized travel on federal lands
managed by the two agencies.
Scoping Process: Preliminary public involvement was initiated in
the summer 2006 in an effort to educate the public and stakeholders on
the objectives of travel management. The public was also asked to
provide input to the Forest Service and BLM on routes they wanted to
remain open and/or those routes that may be in conflict with other
desired conditions sought by the public on Forest and BLM lands. This
initial comment period ended in October 2006 with the agencies
receiving numerous comments on individual routes, a few general
comments and some area-wide
comments on travel. There were over 800 route specific comments, many
of which addressed the same route(s).
This initial public input will help the Forest Service and BLM to
develop a preliminary route-by-route proposed action that will be
utilized in a more formal scoping process. The Forest Service and the
BLM will jointly conduct the following public meetings to solicit for
comments and concerns from the public and interested parties on
motorized and/or mechanized travel on National Forest System (NFS)
lands and Public Lands:
(1) Paonia--May 23 (Wednesday), 5:30-8 p.m.
Paonia Town Hall, 214 Grand Avenue.
(2) Gunnison--May 30 (Wednesday), 5:30-8 p.m.
Gunnison County Fairgrounds (Multi-purpose room). (Fred R. Field
Western Heritage Center), 275 S. Spruce Street.
(3) Crested Butte--June 5 (Tuesday), 5:30-8 p.m.
Crested Butte Community School, 818 Red Lady Avenue.
(4) Lake City--June 6 (Wednesday), 5:30-8 p.m.
Lake City Community School (Middle/HS Wing, Room 6/8) 614 Silver.
Legal notices of those meetings and requests for comments will be
published in two local newspapers; Delta County Independent for the
Paonia Ranger District, and the Gunnison Country Times for the Gunnison
Ranger District and BLM Gunnison Field Office.
Based on comments received as a result of this notice and after the
Forest Service and BLM have conducted public meetings and afforded the
public sufficient time to respond to the preliminary proposed action,
the agencies will utilize the public scoping comments and concerns
along with resource related input for the interdisciplinary team and
other agency resource specialists to develop a set of issues to carry
forward into the environmental analysis process.
Preliminary Issues: The Forest Service and BLM addressed several
key issues in the 2000 Gunnison Travel Interim Restrictions
Environmental Assessment which provide the agencies with a list of
potential issues that can be expected to again come from the public
regarding motorized and mechanized travel. The agencies have also
gotten some indications of potential issues from the initial public
involvement process conducted during the summer and fall of 2006. Those
expected issues include:
(1) Adverse resource impacts caused by inappropriate types of
vehicle use (e.g. motorized vehicles in fragile or steep terrain),
proliferation of routes (e.g. parallel trails or roads, illegal travel
off designated routes), and unrestricted season of use (e.g. routes
open to motorized travel too long into the wet or muddy seasons).
(2) Infringement on wildlife caused by roads in important or
critical wildlife habitat areas, too high of a density of roads in
wildlife habitat areas, and disturbance to wildlife during critical
(3) Loss of recreational opportunity when existing routes are
closed to motorized and/or mechanized travel.
(4) Loss of semi-primitive and primitive recreational opportunity
if more routes or areas are open to motorized and/or mechanized travel.
(5) Failure to accommodate the fast growing number of motorized
and/or mechanized users desiring to use federal lands for recreational
riding of ATVs and mountain bikes.
(6) Inconsistencies between Forest Service and BLM restrictions and
regulations for motorized and/or mechanized use of routes managed by
(7) Enforcement concerns centered on whether either of the agencies
have the ability to provide enforcement once decisions have been made
on allowed routes and uses for motorized and/or mechanized travel.
(8) Safety concerns on routes where multiple vehicle types (e.g.
full-sized trucks and cars, ATVs, motorcycles, mountain bikes) are
(9) Conflicts with landowners when routes cross private lands to
access federally managed lands of the BLM and Forest Service.
(10) Jurisdictional questions regarding routes maintained by local
governments or historically used by the public to access federally
Both the Forest Service and the BLM recognize that this list of
issues is not complete and will be further defined and refined as
scoping continues. It is expected that a comprehensive list of key
issues will be determined before the full range of alternatives is
developed and the environmental analysis is begun.
Comments Requested: This notice of intent initiates the formal
scoping process that guides the development of the environmental impact
statement for the Gunnison Travel Management Plan.
However all comments received during the initial comment period
(July to October 2006) will be brought forward into this formal
scoping, and those who commented then need not comment again to have
their comments considered, or to demonstrate their interest in this
planning. Persons and organizations commenting during the initial
scoping will be maintained on the mail list for future information
about Gunnison Travel Management Planning.
Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent
Environmental Review: A draft environmental impact statement will be
prepared for public comment. The comment period on the draft
environmental impact statement will be 45 days from the date that the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes the notice of
availability in the Federal Register. Written comments are preferred
and should include the name and address of the commenter. Comments
submitted for this proposed action will be considered part of the
The Forest Service believes, at this early stage, it is important
to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public
participation in the environmental review process. First, reviewers of
draft environmental impact statements must structure their
participation in the review of the proposal so that it is meaningful
and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and contentions.
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978).
Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the draft
environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised until
after completion of the final environmental impact statement may be
waived or dismissed by the courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d
1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 1986) and Wisconsin Heritages Inc. v. Harris, 409
F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D.Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings, it
is very important those interested in this proposed action participate
by the close of the 45-day comment period so that substantive comments
and objections are made available to the Forest Service at the time
when it can meaningfully consider them and respond to them in the final
environmental impact statement.
To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft
environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is
also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the
draft statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft
environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternative
formulated and discussed in the statement. Reviewers may wish to refer
to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing
the procedural provisions of the
National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these
Dated: April 30, 2007.
Charles S. Richmond,
Manager, Gunnison Field Office.
[FR Doc. 07-2153 Filed 5-1-07; 8:45 am]
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