Final Environmental Impact Statement for General Management Plan, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Skagit and Whatcom Counties, WA, 81962-81965 [2011-33398]

Download as PDF 81962 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Notices comments to the Council. Each formal Council meeting will have time allocated at the beginning and end of each meeting for hearing public comments. Depending on the number of persons wishing to comment and time available, the time for individual, oral comments may be limited at the discretion of the chair. John Mehlhoff, Acting State Director. [FR Doc. 2011–33397 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLCOS05000–L10100000. PH0000] Notice of Public Meeting, Southwest Colorado Resource Advisory Council AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior. Notice of public meeting ACTION: wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 Dated: December 21, 2011. John Mehlhoff, Acting State Director. [FR Doc. 2011–33393 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Southwest Colorado Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will meet in January, April and October 2012. DATES: The Southwest Colorado RAC meetings will be held on January 27, 2012, in Ridgeway, Colorado; April 27, 2012, in Hotchkiss, Colorado; and October 26, 2012, in Dolores, Colorado. ADDRESSES: The Southwest Colorado RAC meetings will be held January 27, 2012, at the Ouray County Fairgrounds 4–H Events Center at 22739 Highway 550, Ridgway, CO, 81432; April 27, 2012, at the Hotchkiss Memorial Hall, 174 N. First Street, Hotchkiss, CO, 81419; and October 26, 2012, at the Anasazi Heritage Center at 27501 Highway 184, Dolores, CO, 81323.The meetings will begin at 9 a.m. and adjourn at approximately 4 p.m. A public comment period regarding matters on the agenda will be held at 11:30 a.m. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lori Armstrong, BLM Southwest District Manager, 2505 S. Townsend Avenue, Montrose, CO, 81401; telephone (970) 240–5300; or Shannon Borders, Public Affairs Specialist, 2505 S. Townsend Avenue, Montrose, CO, 81401; telephone (970)–240–5300. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Southwest Colorado RAC advises the Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, on a SUMMARY: variety of public land issues in Colorado. Topics of discussion for all Southwest Colorado RAC meetings may include field manager and working group reports, recreation, fire management, land use planning, invasive species management, energy and minerals management, travel management, wilderness, land exchange proposals, cultural resource management, and other issues as appropriate. These meetings are open to the public. The public may present written comments to the RACs. Each formal RAC meeting will also have time, as identified above, allocated for hearing public comments. Depending on the number of persons wishing to comment and time available, the time for individual oral comments may be limited. BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLCAN00000.L18200000.XZ0000] Notice of Public Meeting: Joint Session of Northeast California Resource Advisory Council and Northwest California Resource Advisory Council, and Individual Meetings Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of public meetings. AGENCY: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Northeast California Resource Advisory Council and Northwest California Resource Advisory Council will meet jointly and individually, as indicated below. DATES: The committees will meet jointly and individual sessions. On Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, the Northeast California RAC will meet from 1 to 5 p.m. Public comments will be accepted at 4 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, the Northeast California RAC and Northwest California RAC will convene at 8 a.m. for a field tour of public lands managed by the BLM. The councils will convene a joint business meeting at 1 p.m. and accept public comments at 4 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 p.m. On Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, the Northwest California RAC will convene at 8 a.m. Public comments will be accepted at 11 a.m. All meetings will be held in the Conference Center of the Oxford Suites Hotel, 1967 Hilltop Dr., Redding, California. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Haug, BLM Northern California District manager, (530) 224–2160; or Joseph J. Fontana, BLM public affairs officer, (530) 252–5332. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: These councils advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the BLM, on a variety of planning and management issues associated with public land management in northern California and far northwest Nevada. Agenda items for the Northeast California RAC meeting include wild horse and burro management and wind energy development proposals. Agenda items for the joint session include habitat restoration partnerships, major BLM initiatives and future RAC work. Agenda items for the Northwest California RAC include the Walker Ridge wind energy project, wilderness management, forest management and the BLM’s fee program and policies. The council will accept public comments at each meeting as indicated above. Depending on the number of persons wishing to speak, and the time available, the time for individual comments may be limited. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation and other reasonable accommodations, should contact the BLM as provided above. Dated: December 9, 2011. Joseph J. Fontana, Public Affairs Officer. [FR Doc. 2011–33394 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–40–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NATIONAL PARK SERVICE [NPS–PWR–PWRO–0927–8529; 9082–S612– 409] Final Environmental Impact Statement for General Management Plan, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Skagit and Whatcom Counties, WA National Park Service, Interior. Notice of availability. AGENCY: ACTION: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the Council on Environmental Quality SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Notices Regulations, the National Park Service (NPS) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (Final EIS) for the proposed General Management Plan for Ross Lake National Recreation Area (Ross Lake NRA) in Washington State. This Final EIS describes and analyzes four alternatives for resource protection and preservation, education and interpretation, visitor use and facilities, land protection and boundaries, and long-term operations and management of the Ross Lake NRA. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The original public information process began in September 2006 when the NPS produced and distributed an initial newsletter announcing the start of the planning process and soliciting feedback on issues to be addressed in park planning. The Notice of Intent formally announcing preparation of a draft environmental impact statement and general management plan (GMP) was published in the Federal Register on October 30, 2006. The NPS released details about the public scoping period and invited public comment through direct mailings and correspondence, press releases, public workshops and informal meetings, the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site and the Ross Lake NRA Web site. A comprehensive scoping outreach effort was planned to elicit early public comment regarding issues and concerns, the nature and extent of potential environmental impacts, and possible alternatives that should be addressed in the preparation of the GMP. NPS staff produced and mailed a newsletter to approximately 350 individuals and entities on the mailing list. Agencies, organizations, governmental representatives, and tribal governments were sent letters of invitation to attend the public workshops or individual meetings. Press releases were distributed to local and regional news media. The project was launched on the NPS PEPC Web site: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/rola, providing access to information about the Ross Lake NRA GMP and a method for taking public comments. News articles featuring the public workshops were written in the local Courier Times and East Skagit Community News and announced on private and public radio stations. The public was invited to submit comments by regular mail, email, fax, online, and at public workshops and individual meetings. The NPS held seven public workshops in western Washington and British Columbia in October 2006 to VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 provide the public with an opportunity to learn about the general management planning project and to offer comments. During the scoping period, the NPS received correspondence from over 80 individuals and organizations that provided a total of over 750 specific comments. All comments received were reviewed and considered by the NPS interdisciplinary planning team for the preparation of this GMP. The NPS conducted an additional round of public involvement at the draft alternatives phase of the planning process to ensure that the public fully comprehended the range of draft alternatives and was able to comment effectively on the draft alternatives. The primary purpose of this planning step was to understand the public’s concerns and preferences with regard to the range of draft alternatives and to assist the planning team in refining the draft alternatives and selecting a preferred alternative. NPS produced and mailed the Draft Alternatives Newsletter to approximately 450 contacts on Ross Lake NRA’s mailing list and announced this planning step on the NPS Web sites. The newsletter fully outlined the concepts and actions in the draft alternatives and proposed management zones. Public review of draft alternatives ran from February 2008 through April 2008. The NPS held four public workshops in Concrete, Sedro-Woolley, Bellingham, and Seattle in February and March 2008. Seventy people participated in the public workshops and provided oral comments. A total of 539 individual comments were received on the draft alternatives and covered a broad range of topics, issues, and recommendations for Ross Lake NRA. All comments received were again reviewed and considered by the NPS interdisciplinary planning team for the preparation of this GMP. The NPS invited public comments on the Skagit Wild and Scenic River Eligibility and Suitability Studies in fall 2008. The primary purpose of this public comment period was to understand the public’s concerns about the preliminary eligibility findings and potentially designating the river segments as wild and scenic rivers. This was an extra planning step designed to provide the public with opportunities to focus on the Skagit wild and scenic studies. A newsletter was sent to approximately 450 contacts and announced this planning step on NPS Web sites and through press releases. Thirty people attended the two public meetings held on October 14, 2008 in Seattle, WA and October 15, 2008 in Sedro-Woolley, WA. Written comments PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 81963 were received from 52 organizations and individuals. The information gathered was used in formulating and refining the Skagit Wild and Scenic River Eligibility and Suitability Studies. Public review of Draft EIS/GMP began on July 1, 2010 and ended September 30, 2010. A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on July 16, 2010. The Draft EIS/GMP and information about how to provide public comments were made available on the NPS Web sites on July 1, 2010. During early July 2010, the NPS distributed approximately 160 copies of the complete document to the state’s congressional offices, local tribes, governmental agencies, and other interested organizations and individuals. The NPS also produced and mailed the Executive Summary Newsletter #3 to over 900 contacts on the mailing list. The newsletter fully outlined the four alternatives and encouraged the public to participate in the planning process. The public had opportunities to provide comments through attending a public open house, submitting comments on the NPS PEPC Web site, writing a letter or email, or providing comments on the postage paid comment form enclosed in the newsletter. Dates, times, and locations for the public open houses were clearly listed in the newsletter and on the NPS Web sites. Contact information for the public to either request more planning materials and/or comment on the draft plan was also printed in the newsletter and available on the web. Press releases were prepared and mailed to local media in advance of the public open houses by the North Cascades NPS Complex staff, and a series of posters were distributed to approximately 35 locations throughout Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the region announcing the public open houses and requesting public comment. The NPS held six public open houses in Sedro-Woolley, Marblemount, Newhalem, Seattle, Bellingham, and Winthrop in July 2010. Seventy-seven people participated in these public open houses and provided oral comments. The National Park Service received over 1,600 comments on the draft plan by mail, email, fax, hand delivery, oral transcript, and the Internet via the NPS PEPC Web site. A number of groups and individuals submitted duplicate comments by different means, and several people commented up to four times. Of the comments received, 7 were from agencies and elected officials, 5 from businesses, and 22 from organizations. The remaining comments were from individuals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1 81964 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Notices wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES assigned a ‘‘Lack of Objections’’ rating to the Draft EIS. Comments were analyzed and grouped into broad categories. Major areas of emphasis included: alternatives, connection to the ‘‘National Park,’’ boundary modifications, visitor experience, facilities, resource management, wilderness, Skagit Wild and Scenic River Eligibility and Suitability Studies, partnerships, operations, and planning. Substantive comments have been addressed in the FEIS. Changes incorporated in the GMP as result of public comments are shown in the FEIS with gray highlight or text that is in strikeout. The alternatives have been revised or clarified for the following topics: management zones, grizzly bear core area, motor boats, sport climbing, seaplanes, the bridge over the Skagit River in Newhalem, campgrounds, trails, concessions, the land acquisition associated with Diablo Townsite. Moreover, a name change from Ross Lake National Recreation Area to North Cascades National Recreation Area has been added. This list does not include those changes made to clarify points, provide additional rationale for decisions, or correct minor errors or omissions. Proposed Plan and Alternatives Alternative A is the No Action Alternative and assumes that existing programming, facilities, staffing, and funding would generally continue at their current levels. The No Action Alternative is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and also serves as a baseline for comparison in evaluating the changes and impacts of the other three alternatives. The emphasis of the No Action Alternative would be to protect the values of Ross Lake NRA without substantially increasing staff, programs, funding supporting, or facilities. Resource preservation and protection would continue to be high priority for the management of Ross Lake NRA. Staff would continue to work with neighboring agencies for collaborative ecosystem management. Management of visitor use and facilities would generally continue through existing levels and types of service and regulation. Additional visitor facilities, such as new buildings, structures, roads, parking areas, camping areas, and trails, would not be constructed. The park would react to catastrophic events and destruction of visitor facilities on a case-by-case basis, which could result in a net loss of visitor facilities. Alternative B (agency preferred) focuses on managing Ross Lake NRA as VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 a gateway to millions of acres of wilderness, providing enhanced visitor opportunities along the North Cascades Highway, and making better use of facilities along that corridor, while ensuring the long term stewardship of natural resources, cultural resources, and wilderness. The North Cascades Highway corridor would be managed to provide a variety of day-use and overnight recreational opportunities for visitors with a range of abilities and interests. Management of wilderness and backcountry areas would focus on ecosystem preservation and compatible recreational activities. Interpretation and education would emphasize handson experiential learning and stewardship programs delivered by both the NPS and its partners. Recreation in Ross Lake NRA would be enhanced along the North Cascades Highway corridor through the addition of limited new facilities, including dayhiking trails, reconfigured parking areas, a new Wilderness Information Center, and the modest expansion of overnight facilities and concessions. Recreation in the wilderness and backcountry areas of Ross Lake NRA, including Ross Lake, would focus on providing visitors with opportunities for solitude and connections with the natural world. Self-propelled and nonmechanized recreation would be encouraged throughout Ross Lake NRA. Regulations for motorized water recreation would work to maintain the ambient character and experience on the lakes and the Skagit River, while also moving towards cleaner technologies. An online permit system would allow visitors the opportunity for advance trip planning. In the event of a catastrophic event and the destruction of visitor facilities, the NPS would strive to offer similar visitor facilities in the vicinity while ensuring no net loss of visitor opportunities. If Seattle City Light determines that the Hollywood area of Diablo Townsite is no longer necessary for hydropower operations in the future, the NPS would work to acquire that land. Alternative B is also considered the ‘‘environmentally preferred’’ course of action. Alternative C emphasizes the role of Ross Lake NRA in preserving the greater North Cascades ecosystem, which includes two additional National Park System units, two national forests, as well as provincial parks and protected areas across the Canadian border. Park management and education efforts would focus on broader ecosystem preservation and enhancement through coordinated regional and international environmental stewardship. The focus of visitor experiences would be linked PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 to solitude, tranquility, natural soundscapes, and scenery through traditional outdoor activities. The NPS would actively manage to reduce habitat fragmentation throughout Ross Lake NRA by consolidating development, eliminating certain trails, and limiting construction of new facilities in undeveloped areas. Educational and interpretive opportunities would be primarily structured, and the NPS would increasingly rely on partners to deliver educational and interpretive programs both on-site and off-site. Alternative C would provide visitors with recreational opportunities along the North Cascades Highway. However, there would be no net increase in miles of trail in Ross Lake NRA. In the backcountry and wilderness, Alternative C would focus on resource preservation and enhancement while limiting and/or restricting some recreational uses. Seaplanes would not be allowed to land on the lakes, and the NPS would recommend restricting commercial scenic air tours within Ross Lake NRA in order to protect and enhance soundscapes and wilderness character, experience, and values. In the event of a catastrophic weather event and the destruction of visitor facilities, natural geomorphological processes would be allowed to occur unimpeded wherever possible and affected facilities, including Colonial and Goodell Campgrounds, would be closed and restored to natural conditions. Alternative D focuses on improving connections between visitors and the outdoors through a variety of enhanced recreation and learning opportunities. The emphasis of park management would be to diversify Ross Lake NRA’s visitor base and build stewardship through more hands-on/experiential recreation and education opportunities. Interpretive and educational programs would be offered by both the NPS and partners with expanded offerings in the backcountry and limited areas of the wilderness zones. Park management would continue to protect resources and minimize impacts from visitor use. Overnight accommodations, several new trails, and additional visitor amenities would expand visitor opportunities in Ross Lake NRA primarily along the North Cascades Highway corridor. The public functions of the Wilderness Information Center would be moved to an easily accessible location on Highway 20. A wide variety of recreational activities would be allowed throughout Ross Lake NRA, and there would be fewer restrictions on recreational activities than the other action alternatives. An online reservation and permit system would E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Notices wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES allow visitors the opportunity for advance trip planning. In the event of a catastrophic event and the destruction of visitor facilities, the NPS would close affected facilities and build new facilities on other locations to ensure no net loss of visitor opportunities. Actions Common-to-All Action Alternatives Several actions are common-to-all action alternatives (Alternatives B, C, and D). The NPS would recommend a name change for Ross Lake NRA to North Cascades National Recreation Area. Congressional legislation would be required to authorize this name change. Recreation activities, including hunting and hiking with dogs on trails, would continue. The Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness Area would be designated as wilderness through administrative action, as authorized in the Washington Park Wilderness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100–668, Title IV), and included in the Stephen Mather Wilderness. The NPS would recommend Congressional legislation for wild and scenic river designation of the Skagit River from Gorge Powerhouse downstream to the boundary of Ross Lake NRA, Goodell Creek, and Newhalem Creek. Climate change impacts and Ross Lake NRA’s carbon footprint would be addressed through various strategies and actions including the reduction of emissions, use of green energy, adaptive management, and support for scientific research and educational programs. The Final GMP/EIS is now available. Interested persons and organizations may obtain the Final EIS/GMP online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/rola or by contacting Superintendent, North Cascades NPS Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, Washington 98284. A limited number of additional printed copies of this report are available from the mailing address above. If you comment, before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Following the release of the Final GMP/EIS, a Record of Decision will be prepared not sooner than 30 days after the EPA has published its notice of filing of the document in the Federal Register. Notice of approval of the GMP VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 would be similarly published. As a delegated EIS, the official responsible for the final decision is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region; subsequently the official responsible for implementation would be the Superintendent, North Cascades NPS Complex. Dated: November 4, 2011. Cynthia L. Ip, Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region. [FR Doc. 2011–33398 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–GX–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [1730–SZM] Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission; Cape Cod National Seashore, South Wellfleet, MA National Park Service, Interior. Two Hundred Eighty-Second Notice of Meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is hereby given in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92–463, 86 Stat. 770, 5 U.S.C. App 1, Section 10) of a meeting of the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission. DATES: The meeting of the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission will be held on January 9, 2012, at 1 p.m. ADDRESSES: The Commission members will meet in the meeting room at Headquarters, 99 Marconi Station, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission was reestablished pursuant to Public Law 87–126 as amended by Public Law 105–280. The purpose of the Commission is to consult with the Secretary of the Interior, or his designee, with respect to matters relating to the development of Cape Cod National Seashore, and with respect to carrying out the provisions of sections 4 and 5 of the Act establishing the Seashore. The regular business meeting is being held to discuss the following: 1. Adoption of Agenda 2. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting (November 14, 2011) 3. Reports of Officers 4. Reports of Subcommittees 5. Superintendent’s Report Update on Dune Shacks Improved Properties/Town Bylaws Herring River Wetland Restoration Wind Turbines/Cell Towers Shorebird Management Planning Highlands Center Update Alternate Transportation funding SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 81965 Ocean stewardship topics—shoreline change 50th Anniversary North Beach Cottages, Chatham 6. Old Business 7. New Business 8. Date and agenda for next meeting 9. Public comment and 10. Adjournment The meeting is open to the public. It is expected that 15 persons will be able to attend the meeting in addition to Commission members. Interested persons may make oral/ written presentations to the Commission during the business meeting or file written statements. Such requests should be made to the park superintendent prior to the meeting. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Further information concerning the meeting may be obtained from the Superintendent, Cape Cod National Seashore, 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA 02667. Dated: December 19, 2011. George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent. [FR Doc. 2011–33399 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–WV–P INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION [Investigation No. 332–525] Remanufactured Goods: An Overview of the U.S. and Global Industries, Markets, and Trade; Submission of Questionnaire for OMB Review United States International Trade Commission. ACTION: In accordance with the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission) has submitted a request for approval of a questionnaire to the Office of Management and Budget for review. AGENCY: Purpose of Information Collection: The form is for use by the Commission in connection with Investigation No. E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 250 (Thursday, December 29, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 81962-81965]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33398]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

[NPS-PWR-PWRO-0927-8529; 9082-S612-409]


Final Environmental Impact Statement for General Management Plan, 
Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park 
Service Complex, Skagit and Whatcom Counties, WA

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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

SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the 
Council on Environmental Quality

[[Page 81963]]

Regulations, the National Park Service (NPS) has prepared a final 
environmental impact statement (Final EIS) for the proposed General 
Management Plan for Ross Lake National Recreation Area (Ross Lake NRA) 
in Washington State. This Final EIS describes and analyzes four 
alternatives for resource protection and preservation, education and 
interpretation, visitor use and facilities, land protection and 
boundaries, and long-term operations and management of the Ross Lake 
NRA.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The original public information process 
began in September 2006 when the NPS produced and distributed an 
initial newsletter announcing the start of the planning process and 
soliciting feedback on issues to be addressed in park planning. The 
Notice of Intent formally announcing preparation of a draft 
environmental impact statement and general management plan (GMP) was 
published in the Federal Register on October 30, 2006. The NPS released 
details about the public scoping period and invited public comment 
through direct mailings and correspondence, press releases, public 
workshops and informal meetings, the NPS Planning, Environment, and 
Public Comment (PEPC) Web site and the Ross Lake NRA Web site. A 
comprehensive scoping outreach effort was planned to elicit early 
public comment regarding issues and concerns, the nature and extent of 
potential environmental impacts, and possible alternatives that should 
be addressed in the preparation of the GMP. NPS staff produced and 
mailed a newsletter to approximately 350 individuals and entities on 
the mailing list.
    Agencies, organizations, governmental representatives, and tribal 
governments were sent letters of invitation to attend the public 
workshops or individual meetings. Press releases were distributed to 
local and regional news media. The project was launched on the NPS PEPC 
Web site: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/rola, providing access to 
information about the Ross Lake NRA GMP and a method for taking public 
comments. News articles featuring the public workshops were written in 
the local Courier Times and East Skagit Community News and announced on 
private and public radio stations. The public was invited to submit 
comments by regular mail, email, fax, online, and at public workshops 
and individual meetings.
    The NPS held seven public workshops in western Washington and 
British Columbia in October 2006 to provide the public with an 
opportunity to learn about the general management planning project and 
to offer comments. During the scoping period, the NPS received 
correspondence from over 80 individuals and organizations that provided 
a total of over 750 specific comments. All comments received were 
reviewed and considered by the NPS interdisciplinary planning team for 
the preparation of this GMP. The NPS conducted an additional round of 
public involvement at the draft alternatives phase of the planning 
process to ensure that the public fully comprehended the range of draft 
alternatives and was able to comment effectively on the draft 
alternatives. The primary purpose of this planning step was to 
understand the public's concerns and preferences with regard to the 
range of draft alternatives and to assist the planning team in refining 
the draft alternatives and selecting a preferred alternative. NPS 
produced and mailed the Draft Alternatives Newsletter to approximately 
450 contacts on Ross Lake NRA's mailing list and announced this 
planning step on the NPS Web sites. The newsletter fully outlined the 
concepts and actions in the draft alternatives and proposed management 
zones.
    Public review of draft alternatives ran from February 2008 through 
April 2008. The NPS held four public workshops in Concrete, Sedro-
Woolley, Bellingham, and Seattle in February and March 2008. Seventy 
people participated in the public workshops and provided oral comments. 
A total of 539 individual comments were received on the draft 
alternatives and covered a broad range of topics, issues, and 
recommendations for Ross Lake NRA. All comments received were again 
reviewed and considered by the NPS interdisciplinary planning team for 
the preparation of this GMP.
    The NPS invited public comments on the Skagit Wild and Scenic River 
Eligibility and Suitability Studies in fall 2008. The primary purpose 
of this public comment period was to understand the public's concerns 
about the preliminary eligibility findings and potentially designating 
the river segments as wild and scenic rivers. This was an extra 
planning step designed to provide the public with opportunities to 
focus on the Skagit wild and scenic studies. A newsletter was sent to 
approximately 450 contacts and announced this planning step on NPS Web 
sites and through press releases. Thirty people attended the two public 
meetings held on October 14, 2008 in Seattle, WA and October 15, 2008 
in Sedro-Woolley, WA. Written comments were received from 52 
organizations and individuals. The information gathered was used in 
formulating and refining the Skagit Wild and Scenic River Eligibility 
and Suitability Studies.
    Public review of Draft EIS/GMP began on July 1, 2010 and ended 
September 30, 2010. A Notice of Availability was published in the 
Federal Register on July 16, 2010. The Draft EIS/GMP and information 
about how to provide public comments were made available on the NPS Web 
sites on July 1, 2010. During early July 2010, the NPS distributed 
approximately 160 copies of the complete document to the state's 
congressional offices, local tribes, governmental agencies, and other 
interested organizations and individuals. The NPS also produced and 
mailed the Executive Summary Newsletter 3 to over 900 contacts 
on the mailing list. The newsletter fully outlined the four 
alternatives and encouraged the public to participate in the planning 
process. The public had opportunities to provide comments through 
attending a public open house, submitting comments on the NPS PEPC Web 
site, writing a letter or email, or providing comments on the postage 
paid comment form enclosed in the newsletter. Dates, times, and 
locations for the public open houses were clearly listed in the 
newsletter and on the NPS Web sites. Contact information for the public 
to either request more planning materials and/or comment on the draft 
plan was also printed in the newsletter and available on the web.
    Press releases were prepared and mailed to local media in advance 
of the public open houses by the North Cascades NPS Complex staff, and 
a series of posters were distributed to approximately 35 locations 
throughout Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the region announcing 
the public open houses and requesting public comment.
    The NPS held six public open houses in Sedro-Woolley, Marblemount, 
Newhalem, Seattle, Bellingham, and Winthrop in July 2010. Seventy-seven 
people participated in these public open houses and provided oral 
comments. The National Park Service received over 1,600 comments on the 
draft plan by mail, email, fax, hand delivery, oral transcript, and the 
Internet via the NPS PEPC Web site. A number of groups and individuals 
submitted duplicate comments by different means, and several people 
commented up to four times. Of the comments received, 7 were from 
agencies and elected officials, 5 from businesses, and 22 from 
organizations. The remaining comments were from individuals. The 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

[[Page 81964]]

assigned a ``Lack of Objections'' rating to the Draft EIS.
    Comments were analyzed and grouped into broad categories. Major 
areas of emphasis included: alternatives, connection to the ``National 
Park,'' boundary modifications, visitor experience, facilities, 
resource management, wilderness, Skagit Wild and Scenic River 
Eligibility and Suitability Studies, partnerships, operations, and 
planning. Substantive comments have been addressed in the FEIS. Changes 
incorporated in the GMP as result of public comments are shown in the 
FEIS with gray highlight or text that is in strikeout. The alternatives 
have been revised or clarified for the following topics: management 
zones, grizzly bear core area, motor boats, sport climbing, seaplanes, 
the bridge over the Skagit River in Newhalem, campgrounds, trails, 
concessions, the land acquisition associated with Diablo Townsite. 
Moreover, a name change from Ross Lake National Recreation Area to 
North Cascades National Recreation Area has been added. This list does 
not include those changes made to clarify points, provide additional 
rationale for decisions, or correct minor errors or omissions.

Proposed Plan and Alternatives

    Alternative A is the No Action Alternative and assumes that 
existing programming, facilities, staffing, and funding would generally 
continue at their current levels. The No Action Alternative is required 
by the National Environmental Policy Act and also serves as a baseline 
for comparison in evaluating the changes and impacts of the other three 
alternatives. The emphasis of the No Action Alternative would be to 
protect the values of Ross Lake NRA without substantially increasing 
staff, programs, funding supporting, or facilities. Resource 
preservation and protection would continue to be high priority for the 
management of Ross Lake NRA. Staff would continue to work with 
neighboring agencies for collaborative ecosystem management.
    Management of visitor use and facilities would generally continue 
through existing levels and types of service and regulation. Additional 
visitor facilities, such as new buildings, structures, roads, parking 
areas, camping areas, and trails, would not be constructed. The park 
would react to catastrophic events and destruction of visitor 
facilities on a case-by-case basis, which could result in a net loss of 
visitor facilities.
    Alternative B (agency preferred) focuses on managing Ross Lake NRA 
as a gateway to millions of acres of wilderness, providing enhanced 
visitor opportunities along the North Cascades Highway, and making 
better use of facilities along that corridor, while ensuring the long 
term stewardship of natural resources, cultural resources, and 
wilderness. The North Cascades Highway corridor would be managed to 
provide a variety of day-use and overnight recreational opportunities 
for visitors with a range of abilities and interests. Management of 
wilderness and backcountry areas would focus on ecosystem preservation 
and compatible recreational activities. Interpretation and education 
would emphasize hands-on experiential learning and stewardship programs 
delivered by both the NPS and its partners.
    Recreation in Ross Lake NRA would be enhanced along the North 
Cascades Highway corridor through the addition of limited new 
facilities, including dayhiking trails, reconfigured parking areas, a 
new Wilderness Information Center, and the modest expansion of 
overnight facilities and concessions. Recreation in the wilderness and 
backcountry areas of Ross Lake NRA, including Ross Lake, would focus on 
providing visitors with opportunities for solitude and connections with 
the natural world. Self-propelled and non-mechanized recreation would 
be encouraged throughout Ross Lake NRA. Regulations for motorized water 
recreation would work to maintain the ambient character and experience 
on the lakes and the Skagit River, while also moving towards cleaner 
technologies. An online permit system would allow visitors the 
opportunity for advance trip planning. In the event of a catastrophic 
event and the destruction of visitor facilities, the NPS would strive 
to offer similar visitor facilities in the vicinity while ensuring no 
net loss of visitor opportunities. If Seattle City Light determines 
that the Hollywood area of Diablo Townsite is no longer necessary for 
hydropower operations in the future, the NPS would work to acquire that 
land. Alternative B is also considered the ``environmentally 
preferred'' course of action.
    Alternative C emphasizes the role of Ross Lake NRA in preserving 
the greater North Cascades ecosystem, which includes two additional 
National Park System units, two national forests, as well as provincial 
parks and protected areas across the Canadian border. Park management 
and education efforts would focus on broader ecosystem preservation and 
enhancement through coordinated regional and international 
environmental stewardship. The focus of visitor experiences would be 
linked to solitude, tranquility, natural soundscapes, and scenery 
through traditional outdoor activities. The NPS would actively manage 
to reduce habitat fragmentation throughout Ross Lake NRA by 
consolidating development, eliminating certain trails, and limiting 
construction of new facilities in undeveloped areas. Educational and 
interpretive opportunities would be primarily structured, and the NPS 
would increasingly rely on partners to deliver educational and 
interpretive programs both on-site and off-site.
    Alternative C would provide visitors with recreational 
opportunities along the North Cascades Highway. However, there would be 
no net increase in miles of trail in Ross Lake NRA. In the backcountry 
and wilderness, Alternative C would focus on resource preservation and 
enhancement while limiting and/or restricting some recreational uses. 
Seaplanes would not be allowed to land on the lakes, and the NPS would 
recommend restricting commercial scenic air tours within Ross Lake NRA 
in order to protect and enhance soundscapes and wilderness character, 
experience, and values. In the event of a catastrophic weather event 
and the destruction of visitor facilities, natural geomorphological 
processes would be allowed to occur unimpeded wherever possible and 
affected facilities, including Colonial and Goodell Campgrounds, would 
be closed and restored to natural conditions.
    Alternative D focuses on improving connections between visitors and 
the outdoors through a variety of enhanced recreation and learning 
opportunities. The emphasis of park management would be to diversify 
Ross Lake NRA's visitor base and build stewardship through more hands-
on/experiential recreation and education opportunities. Interpretive 
and educational programs would be offered by both the NPS and partners 
with expanded offerings in the backcountry and limited areas of the 
wilderness zones. Park management would continue to protect resources 
and minimize impacts from visitor use.
    Overnight accommodations, several new trails, and additional 
visitor amenities would expand visitor opportunities in Ross Lake NRA 
primarily along the North Cascades Highway corridor. The public 
functions of the Wilderness Information Center would be moved to an 
easily accessible location on Highway 20. A wide variety of 
recreational activities would be allowed throughout Ross Lake NRA, and 
there would be fewer restrictions on recreational activities than the 
other action alternatives. An online reservation and permit system 
would

[[Page 81965]]

allow visitors the opportunity for advance trip planning. In the event 
of a catastrophic event and the destruction of visitor facilities, the 
NPS would close affected facilities and build new facilities on other 
locations to ensure no net loss of visitor opportunities.

Actions Common-to-All Action Alternatives

    Several actions are common-to-all action alternatives (Alternatives 
B, C, and D). The NPS would recommend a name change for Ross Lake NRA 
to North Cascades National Recreation Area. Congressional legislation 
would be required to authorize this name change. Recreation activities, 
including hunting and hiking with dogs on trails, would continue. The 
Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness Area would be designated as 
wilderness through administrative action, as authorized in the 
Washington Park Wilderness Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-668, Title IV), and 
included in the Stephen Mather Wilderness. The NPS would recommend 
Congressional legislation for wild and scenic river designation of the 
Skagit River from Gorge Powerhouse downstream to the boundary of Ross 
Lake NRA, Goodell Creek, and Newhalem Creek. Climate change impacts and 
Ross Lake NRA's carbon footprint would be addressed through various 
strategies and actions including the reduction of emissions, use of 
green energy, adaptive management, and support for scientific research 
and educational programs.
    The Final GMP/EIS is now available. Interested persons and 
organizations may obtain the Final EIS/GMP online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/rola or by contacting Superintendent, North 
Cascades NPS Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, Washington 
98284. A limited number of additional printed copies of this report are 
available from the mailing address above.
    If you comment, before including your address, phone number, email 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.
    Following the release of the Final GMP/EIS, a Record of Decision 
will be prepared not sooner than 30 days after the EPA has published 
its notice of filing of the document in the Federal Register. Notice of 
approval of the GMP would be similarly published. As a delegated EIS, 
the official responsible for the final decision is the Regional 
Director, Pacific West Region; subsequently the official responsible 
for implementation would be the Superintendent, North Cascades NPS 
Complex.

    Dated: November 4, 2011.
Cynthia L. Ip,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
[FR Doc. 2011-33398 Filed 12-28-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-GX-P