Environmental Impact Statement for the Power Fire, Eldorado National Forest, 24375-24378 [2014-09698]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 83 / Wednesday, April 30, 2014 / Notices • Serve as a starting point for framing future discussions in proceeding with the Francis Marion plan revision; and • Lend to discussions that would identify additional issues and need to change statements, different alternatives, different land allocations, changes in objectives, changes in suitable uses and different levels of analysis needed A more fully developed description of the proposed action is available for review on the plan revision Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/scnfs/ fmplan. E. Public Involvement Two public meetings held in October and November 2012 were focused on identifying public concerns, special areas and key contacts. Two public meetings, focusing on sustainable recreation and ecological sustainability, were held in February 2013 and August 2013. These public meetings were held to solicit comments, opinions, data and ideas from members of the public as well as representatives of other governmental and non-governmental organizations. A combined total of more than 130 participants attended the meetings. Comments received from the public meetings and from an online commenting tool, along with information obtained from the assessment, were used to develop the preliminary need to change statements. A draft assessment was released to the public in December 2013. Comments that have already been received and any other comments relating to the assessment that may be received following the publication of this notice will be considered in completing the assessment and in describing the Affected Environment section of the EIS. We expect to post the completed assessment report on our Web site (http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/scnfs/ fmplan) within four months after the scoping period closes. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES F. Issues and Preliminary Alternatives Information gathered during this scoping period, as well as other information, will be used to prepare the draft EIS. At this time, the Francis Marion is seeking input on the proposed action. From these comments, the Forest Service will identify issues that will serve as a focus for developing a draft forest plan and alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS. G. Scoping Process Written comments received in response to this notice will be: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:41 Apr 29, 2014 Jkt 232001 • Analyzed to complete the identification of the need to change the existing plan; • Used to further develop the proposed action; and • Used to identify potential significant issues Significant issues will, in turn, form the basis for developing alternatives to the proposed action. Comments on the preliminary need to change and proposed action will be most valuable if received by June 16, 2014 and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s opinions and concerns. Comments received in response to this notice, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, see Section I concerning the objection process and the requirements for filing an objection. Refer to the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests’ Web site at http:// www.fs.usda.gov/goto/scnfs/fmplan for information on when public meetings will be scheduled for refining the proposed action and identifying possible alternatives to the proposed action. H. Applicable Planning Rule Preparation of the revised forest plan for the Francis Marion began with the publication of a Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register on September 30, 2013 [78 FR 61329] and was initiated under the planning procedures contained in the 2012 Forest Service planning rule (36 CFR 219 (2012)). I. Decision Will Be Subject to Objection The decision to approve the Revised Land Management Plan for the Francis Marion National Forest will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). According to 36 CFR 219.53(a), those who may file an objection are individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments related to a plan revision during the opportunities provided for public comment during the planning process. J. Permits or Licenses Required To Implement the Proposed Action No permits or licenses are needed for the development of a Land and Resource Management Plan. K. Documents Available for Review The complete preliminary need for change document, the assessment report including specialist reports, summaries of the public meetings and public meeting materials, and the Francis Marion’s proposed action are posted on PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24375 the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests’ Web site at: http:// www.fs.usda.gov/goto/scnfs/fmplan. As necessary or appropriate, the material available on this site will be further adjusted as part of the planning process using the provisions of the Forest Service 2012 planning rule. (Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1600–1614; 36 CFR 219 [77 FR 21260–21273]). Dated: April 24, 2014. John Richard Lint, Forest Supervisor, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests. [FR Doc. 2014–09823 Filed 4–29–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–ES–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Environmental Impact Statement for the Power Fire, Eldorado National Forest AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. ACTION: The Eldorado National Forest will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to reforest portions of the Power Fire as well as manage existing plantations within the Power Fire. The EIS will analyze planting of small trees, mechanical and chemical site preparation for planting, mechanical and chemical removal of competing vegetation, control of invasive plant species, and oak stand improvement. SUMMARY: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by June 6, 2014, 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. The draft environmental impact statement is expected in July 2014 and the final environmental impact statement is expected in November 2014. DATES: Send written comments to 100 Forth Road, Placerville, CA 95667. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificsouthwest-eldorado@ fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 530–621– 5297. ADDRESSES: Bob Carroll, 4260 Eight Mile Road, Camino, CA 95709, 530–647–5386. 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: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1 24376 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 83 / Wednesday, April 30, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Purpose and Need for Action The purpose of this project is to move the project area more quickly toward desired future conditions for the land allocations within the fire area, as defined by the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (SNFP). The desired conditions for land allocations of old forest emphasis, wildland urban interface (defense and threat zones), protected activity centers (PAC) for spotted owls, and spotted owl home range core areas (HRCA) include: Old Forest Emphasis: Tree sizes range from seedlings to very large diameter trees. Species composition varies by elevation, site productivity, and related environmental factors. Multi-tiered canopies, particularly in older forests, provide vertical heterogeneity. Dead trees, both standing and fallen, meet habitat needs of old-forest-associated species. Defense Zone: Stands are fairly open and dominated primarily by larger, fire tolerant trees. Surface and ladder fuel conditions are such that crown fire ignition is highly unlikely. The openness and discontinuity of crown fuels, both horizontally and vertically, result in very low probability of sustained crown fire. Threat Zone: Flame lengths less than four feet at the head of a fire, reductions in rate of spread and hazards to firefighters, and a doubling of fire line construction rates. PAC: At least two tree canopy layers are present. Dominant and co-dominant trees average at least 24 inches dbh. Area within PAC has at least 60 to 70 percent canopy cover. Some very large snags are present (greater than 45 inches dbh). Levels of snags and down woody material are higher than average. HRCA: Within home ranges, HRCAs consist of large habitat blocks having at least two tree canopy layers, at least 24 inches dbh in dominant and codominant trees, a number of very large (>45 inches dbh) old trees, at least 50– 70% canopy cover, and higher than average levels of snags and down woody material. There is a need to reestablish a forested landscape that is fire resilient. One of the primary objectives of the Power Fire Reforestation Project is to move the project area from its existing condition, which is primarily early-seral conditions, toward the desired future conditions described above. Historically, forests were resilient because they burned on a frequent basis (every 0–35 years) and were of low severity. Frequent burning in these forests regularly consumed fuels, killed small trees, and pruned the boles of VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:41 Apr 29, 2014 Jkt 232001 residual trees, maintained a relatively fire-resistant landscape (Agee 2002). To move the project area towards a frequent fire regime of a fire resilient forest requires the survival and growth of individual trees and forested stands for many years without the occurrence of stand replacing fires. Currently, trees are at high risk of fire-related mortality due to their small size. Competing vegetation also greatly affects tree growth rates. Control of competing vegetation would increase conifer growth rates. Increased growth would accelerate the development of key habitat and old forest characteristics and reduce the risk of loss to wildland fire (SNFP ROD, page 49). Tree mortality is also affected by both the intensity and size of wildfires that occur in the project area. Treatments that reduce fire intensity and rate of spread would reduce tree mortality in wildland fire conditions. Increased fire line production rates would limit the size of wildland fires in the area, further reducing tree mortality and allow trees to continue to accelerate their development of old forest conditions. There is a distinct difference between the desired conditions for forested landscapes and the existing condition of vegetation within the project area. Based on this difference, there is a need to reestablish a forested landscape that is fire resilient. There is a need to reestablish this forested landscape effectively and efficiently. Logged units and pre-fire plantations have mostly been replanted and had brush and grass removed by hand at least once. Surveys show that some of these plantations have failed because the brush and grasses consumed the limited water and nutrients and the seedlings died. Tree survival and growth in the remainder of the plantations are at continued risk of mortality due to high levels of competing vegetation. Some logged areas have not been replanted due to rapid post-fire return of highly competitive vegetation. Competing vegetation could persist for the long term, negatively affecting both planted and natural seedling survival, inhibiting tree growth, and delaying the achievement of the desired conditions. Currently the establishment of grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation, while variable, is approaching 100 percent cover over the project area. Establishment of greater than 30 percent cover of vegetation presents a potential lethal environment to the establishment of conifer seedlings. Currently 20 percent of the planted areas have failed. Examination of the planted areas in the PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 project area indicates survival and growth are threatened by competing vegetation. Management of competing vegetation is essential to assure continued survival and growth of the remaining conifers seedlings and to allow planting in units currently understocked to meet desired future conditions for all of the land allocations. There is a need to restore wildlife habitats and provide for the native plant and animal species associated with these ecosystems. Nearly 50 percent of the Power Fire burned at high intensity, killing 75 to 100 percent of the trees. Another 13 percent burned at moderate intensity, killing 25 to 75 percent of the trees. In the high and moderate intensity areas the fire resulted in loss of old forest habitat for sensitive species. Some dead trees standing today may contribute to the decaying, fallen log component of future old forest and spotted owl habitat. Decomposing logs contribute to the structural complexity of old forests, provide habitat for old forest dependent wildlife species and their prey, and contribute to soil productivity. A portion of the high and moderate intensity burned area (about 2,500 acres, 18 percent of the National Forest System lands within the fire area) has been planted with seedlings. Surveys show that over 20 percent of these plantations have failed. Competition with brush and grasses for the limited soil moisture during the dry summer months caused mortality and insufficient growth in the conifer seedlings. Tree survival and growth in the remainder of the plantations are at continued risk of mortality due to high levels of competing vegetation. Desired conditions that apply to old forest emphasis areas include dead trees, both standing and fallen, that meet habitat needs of old-forestassociated species. In HRCAs and PACs desired conditions include some very large snags, and higher than average levels of snags and down woody material. Over the long term, desired conditions in PACs and HRCAs include areas of suitable habitat with large trees, and multi-layered, dense canopy cover. Long term desired conditions for old forest emphasis include high levels of structural diversity over large areas comprised of roughly even-aged vegetation groups, varying in size, species composition, and structure. Where possible, areas treated for fuels also provide for the successful establishment of early seral stage vegetation (SNFP ROD pg. 41). There is a dramatic difference between the desired conditions and the existing condition of the project area. E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 83 / Wednesday, April 30, 2014 / Notices There is a need to restore/reestablish wildlife habitats and provide for species associated with these ecosystems. There is a need to control or eliminate invasive species in the project area to reduce the potential for spread of invasive species to other areas in the forest. The project area had documented invasive species infestations prior to the fire. They included yellow starthistle, French broom, skeletonweed, ripgut brome, cheatgrass, medusahead, Klamathweed, bull thistle, woolly mullein, and Himalayan blackberry. After the fire and salvage logging invasive species infestations have increased. Goals (desired conditions) for noxious weed management are to manage weeds using an integrated weed management approach according to the priority set forth in FSM 2902: Priority 1—prevent the introduction of new invaders; Priority 2—conduct early treatment of new infestations; Priority 3—contain and control established infestations; and Priority 4—proactively manage aquatic and terrestrial areas of the National Forest to increase the ability of those areas to be self-sustaining and resistant to the establishment of invasive species (SNFP ROD, pg. 36 and FSM 2900). There is a need to control or eliminate invasive species in the project area to move the project area in a trajectory toward the desired condition. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed Action Hand planting and inter-planting would occur on approximately 1,580 acres. Inter-planting would occur on 500 acres within the 2,500 acres previously planted. Approximately 1,080 acres would be planted by hand using one of three tree planting arrangements. Additional acres would be inter-planted if monitoring shows desired stocking levels have not been met on any of the plantations. Planting Arrangement A, designed to accelerate the development of old forest conditions without establishing dense, homogenous stands that are at greatest risk to loss in future fires, would plant trees in groups at a wide spacing. The prescription is also designed to allow for development of structural diversity and the inclusion of small openings and shrub habitats over the next several decades as planted areas grow into mature stands. This arrangement is intended to provide for an interspersion of habitats used by wildlife associated with early forest conditions and for VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:41 Apr 29, 2014 Jkt 232001 development of heterogeneity in mature forest stands. The following guidelines for planting would apply on 1,400 acres in areas outside of California spotted owl Protected Activity Centers, sensitive plant occurrences and potential habitat areas, deer critical winter range and riparian areas. Plant approximately 200 to 400 trees per acre by hand. Trees would be planted in groups of 2 to 4 trees with approximately 21 feet apart from the center of the clusters. Planting would be reduced on unproductive ridge tops. Planting Arrangement B is designed to establish habitat suitable for California spotted owl nesting. Accelerating the development of dense, old forest conditions is the primary objective in these areas. Conifers would be planted at denser spacing to ensure sufficient survival for establishing dense canopied, old forest habitat in a relatively rapid timeframe. The following guidelines for planting would apply in the approximately 125 acres that are within currently unsuitable habitat occurring in California spotted owl PACs. Plant approximately 300 to 350 trees per acre by hand. Trees would be planted individually at a spacing of approximately 10 to 15 feet. Planting Arrangement C is designed to accelerate development of more open forest conditions and provide shrub and oak habitats important for wildlife associated with early forest habitats. The Power Fire occurred within a State Game Refuge that includes critical deer winter range for the Salt Springs Deer Herd. This planting arrangement is intended to maintain high quality foraging within this area. The following guidelines for planting would apply on 60 acres of critical deer winter range and a portion of the winter range and areas that are within sensitive plant occurrences and potential habitat. Plant 100 to 150 trees per acre in identified sensitive plant potential habitat areas and deer critical winter and winter range areas. Individual trees would be planted on 17 to 20 foot wide spacing. Within all planting arrangements a mixture of conifer species (ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, Douglas fir, incense cedar, white fir, and red fir) would be planted depending on elevation and seedling availability. Planted seedlings would be grown from seed produced from Region 5 seed orchards or seed of local origin (collected within the same seed zone PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24377 and 500 foot elevation band as the planting site). Seedlings grown from these sources would exhibit higher levels of genetic variability and broader adaptability. When unavailable, seed would be transferred in compliance with seed transfer rules based on California Tree Seed Zones (1971, J. Buck, et al) and in reference to R–5 Forest Service Handbook 2409.26, Section 42.2. Inter-planting would be implemented where seedling mortality threatens plantation failure (less than 60 percent stocking at 100 trees per acre within planting Arrangements A and C or 60 percent stocking at 200 trees per acre within planting Arrangement B). Opportunities to provide patches of early seral vegetation less than one acre in size by limiting inter-planting on some sites with high seedling mortality would be evaluated. Site preparation (mechanical and chemical) is proposed on approximately 1,080 acres. Mechanical methods include mastication and tractor piling and burning on approximately 610 acres. Chemical site preparation would involve ground application of glyphosate or aminopyralid/glyphosate on approximately 470 acres prior to planting. Prior to chemical application, brush may be cut on portions of units for access. Chemical application would be restricted to ground-based methods. Colorants would be added to the herbicide mixtures to provide visibility for applicators to track coverage. Adjuvants would be added to herbicide mixtures to improve herbicide effectiveness. Herbicides proposed for use include glyphosate (Rodeo or equivalent), aminopyralid, clopyralid, and triclopyr (Garlon 4 or equivalent). Additives proposed for use include surfactants (methylated seed oil, NPEbased, or a silicone/MSO blend) and a colorant or dye. Release of conifer seedlings from competing vegetation would involve targeted area ground application of herbicide on approximately 3,025 acres. Prior to herbicide application, brush may be cut on portions of units for access. Follow-up herbicide applications would occur if monitoring results show competing vegetation (grasses and/or brush) is projected to exceed 40 percent ground cover of the plantation within 3 to 5 years of planting. The follow-up applications would include the following methods by vegetation type: E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1 24378 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 83 / Wednesday, April 30, 2014 / Notices Completing vegetation type Herbicide application method Bearclover, grass ...................................................................................... Whitethorn, manzanita ground ................................................................. Deerbrush area ......................................................................................... Targeted area ground application. First follow-up would be radial ground application. First follow-up would be targeted ground application and additional follow-up would be radial ground application. Herbicide applications would be excluded near streams and special aquatic features as described below: Aquatic feature type Herbicide formulation Perennial Streams and Special Aquatic ............ Features ............................................................. Intermittent Streams .......................................... Aminopyralid, triclopyr, clopyralid ..................... Glyphosate ....................................................... Aminopyralid, triclopyr, clopyralid ..................... Glyphosate ....................................................... Aminopyralid, triclopyr, clopyralid ..................... Glyphosate ....................................................... 100. 50. 100 if wet, 50 if dry. 50 if wet, 25 if dry. 50 if wet, 25 if dry. 25 if wet, 10 if dry. on Monday May 15, 2014 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such 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 contentions. 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. gap creations and no-cut leave areas) and regeneration harvest on ∼49 acres (through a two-aged system that would allow for the regeneration of younger trees underneath residual trees left from the original canopy). The proposed action would also include maintenance of approximately 43 miles of road and creation of approximately 8 miles of temporary roads. The project area surrounds the community of McKenzie Bridge and is intermixed with private and national forest lands. The proposed project would manage stands to improve stand conditions: Diversity, density, and structure; reduce hazardous fuel levels in the McKenzie Bridge Wildland-Urban Interface; and provide for a sustainable supply of timber products from within the project area. Ephemeral Streams ........................................... Hand grubbing or cutting would be used to release conifer seedlings within exclusion zones and within approximately 500 acres of critical habitat for Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog. Control of invasive plant species would follow integrated pest management principles including manual, mechanical, and chemical control methods. Chemical control methods may include directed foliar and radius application using clopyralid, aminopyralid, or glyphosate. Oaks stand improvement would include oak pruning/thinning or fencing as needed to improve oak regeneration and growth within approximately 900 acres of deer winter range and critical winter range. Small conifer trees would be removed within 20 feet of existing oaks within the deer winter and critical winter ranges. Fencing would be used to protect individual oaks from deer and cattle browsing with small cages 2–4 feet in diameter or by fencing areas 1⁄4 acre to 2 acres in size. Distance (feet) Dated: April 23, 2014. Laurence Crabtree, Forest Supervisor, Eldorado National Forest. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by May 30, 2014. The draft environmental impact statement is expected September 2014, and the final environmental impact statement is expected November 2014. Responsible Official Forest Service ADDRESSES: The Responsible Official is Laurence Crabtree, Forest Supervisor of the Eldorado National Forest. Willamette National Forest, McKenzie River Ranger District; Oregon; Goose Project Nature of Decision To Be Made AGENCY: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES The Responsible Official may decide to implement the proposed action, take no action, or implement an alternative action. Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. An open house will be held at the Amador District Office, 26820 Silver Drive, Pioneer, CA 95666, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:41 Apr 29, 2014 Jkt 232001 [FR Doc. 2014–09698 Filed 4–29–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–11–M Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. ACTION: We propose to commercially harvest approximately 2,134 acres, reduce hazardous fuels through noncommercial thinning on ∼588 acres, and implement understory prescribe fire on ∼80 to ∼679 acres within the McKenzie Bridge Wildland-Urban Interface. Commercial harvest treatments would be comprised of variable density thinning on ∼2,085 acres (that includes SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DATES: Send written comments to 57600 McKenzie HWY, McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacific northwest-willamette-mckenzieriver@ fsfed.us, or via facsimile to 541–822– 7254. District open-house public meetings will be held at the McKenzie River district office (57600 McKenzie Hwy, McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413) on April 24, 2014 and May 1, 2014 from 1 p.m.–7 p.m. Goose open-house meetings will be held on May 2, 2014 at McKenzie Bridge, OR and May 9, 2014 at Leaburg, OR both from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at locations to be determined (please contact our office at 541–822– 3381 for updated information). These meetings provide additional E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 83 (Wednesday, April 30, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24375-24378]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-09698]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Environmental Impact Statement for the Power Fire, Eldorado 
National Forest

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: The Eldorado National Forest will prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) to reforest portions of the Power Fire as well 
as manage existing plantations within the Power Fire. The EIS will 
analyze planting of small trees, mechanical and chemical site 
preparation for planting, mechanical and chemical removal of competing 
vegetation, control of invasive plant species, and oak stand 
improvement.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by June 6, 2014, 30 days from date of publication in the Federal 
Register. The draft environmental impact statement is expected in July 
2014 and the final environmental impact statement is expected in 
November 2014.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to 100 Forth Road, Placerville, CA 
95667. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificsouthwest-eldorado@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 530-621-5297.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Carroll, 4260 Eight Mile Road, 
Camino, CA 95709, 530-647-5386.
    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.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

[[Page 24376]]

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of this project is to move the project area more 
quickly toward desired future conditions for the land allocations 
within the fire area, as defined by the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan 
Amendment (SNFP). The desired conditions for land allocations of old 
forest emphasis, wildland urban interface (defense and threat zones), 
protected activity centers (PAC) for spotted owls, and spotted owl home 
range core areas (HRCA) include:
    Old Forest Emphasis: Tree sizes range from seedlings to very large 
diameter trees. Species composition varies by elevation, site 
productivity, and related environmental factors. Multi-tiered canopies, 
particularly in older forests, provide vertical heterogeneity. Dead 
trees, both standing and fallen, meet habitat needs of old-forest-
associated species.
    Defense Zone: Stands are fairly open and dominated primarily by 
larger, fire tolerant trees. Surface and ladder fuel conditions are 
such that crown fire ignition is highly unlikely. The openness and 
discontinuity of crown fuels, both horizontally and vertically, result 
in very low probability of sustained crown fire.
    Threat Zone: Flame lengths less than four feet at the head of a 
fire, reductions in rate of spread and hazards to firefighters, and a 
doubling of fire line construction rates.
    PAC: At least two tree canopy layers are present. Dominant and co-
dominant trees average at least 24 inches dbh. Area within PAC has at 
least 60 to 70 percent canopy cover. Some very large snags are present 
(greater than 45 inches dbh). Levels of snags and down woody material 
are higher than average.
    HRCA: Within home ranges, HRCAs consist of large habitat blocks 
having at least two tree canopy layers, at least 24 inches dbh in 
dominant and co-dominant trees, a number of very large (>45 inches dbh) 
old trees, at least 50-70% canopy cover, and higher than average levels 
of snags and down woody material.
    There is a need to reestablish a forested landscape that is fire 
resilient.
    One of the primary objectives of the Power Fire Reforestation 
Project is to move the project area from its existing condition, which 
is primarily early-seral conditions, toward the desired future 
conditions described above.
    Historically, forests were resilient because they burned on a 
frequent basis (every 0-35 years) and were of low severity. Frequent 
burning in these forests regularly consumed fuels, killed small trees, 
and pruned the boles of residual trees, maintained a relatively fire-
resistant landscape (Agee 2002).
    To move the project area towards a frequent fire regime of a fire 
resilient forest requires the survival and growth of individual trees 
and forested stands for many years without the occurrence of stand 
replacing fires. Currently, trees are at high risk of fire-related 
mortality due to their small size. Competing vegetation also greatly 
affects tree growth rates. Control of competing vegetation would 
increase conifer growth rates. Increased growth would accelerate the 
development of key habitat and old forest characteristics and reduce 
the risk of loss to wildland fire (SNFP ROD, page 49).
    Tree mortality is also affected by both the intensity and size of 
wildfires that occur in the project area. Treatments that reduce fire 
intensity and rate of spread would reduce tree mortality in wildland 
fire conditions. Increased fire line production rates would limit the 
size of wildland fires in the area, further reducing tree mortality and 
allow trees to continue to accelerate their development of old forest 
conditions.
    There is a distinct difference between the desired conditions for 
forested landscapes and the existing condition of vegetation within the 
project area. Based on this difference, there is a need to reestablish 
a forested landscape that is fire resilient.
    There is a need to reestablish this forested landscape effectively 
and efficiently.
    Logged units and pre-fire plantations have mostly been replanted 
and had brush and grass removed by hand at least once. Surveys show 
that some of these plantations have failed because the brush and 
grasses consumed the limited water and nutrients and the seedlings 
died. Tree survival and growth in the remainder of the plantations are 
at continued risk of mortality due to high levels of competing 
vegetation. Some logged areas have not been replanted due to rapid 
post-fire return of highly competitive vegetation. Competing vegetation 
could persist for the long term, negatively affecting both planted and 
natural seedling survival, inhibiting tree growth, and delaying the 
achievement of the desired conditions.
    Currently the establishment of grasses, shrubs, and other 
vegetation, while variable, is approaching 100 percent cover over the 
project area. Establishment of greater than 30 percent cover of 
vegetation presents a potential lethal environment to the establishment 
of conifer seedlings. Currently 20 percent of the planted areas have 
failed. Examination of the planted areas in the project area indicates 
survival and growth are threatened by competing vegetation. Management 
of competing vegetation is essential to assure continued survival and 
growth of the remaining conifers seedlings and to allow planting in 
units currently understocked to meet desired future conditions for all 
of the land allocations.
    There is a need to restore wildlife habitats and provide for the 
native plant and animal species associated with these ecosystems.
    Nearly 50 percent of the Power Fire burned at high intensity, 
killing 75 to 100 percent of the trees. Another 13 percent burned at 
moderate intensity, killing 25 to 75 percent of the trees. In the high 
and moderate intensity areas the fire resulted in loss of old forest 
habitat for sensitive species. Some dead trees standing today may 
contribute to the decaying, fallen log component of future old forest 
and spotted owl habitat. Decomposing logs contribute to the structural 
complexity of old forests, provide habitat for old forest dependent 
wildlife species and their prey, and contribute to soil productivity.
    A portion of the high and moderate intensity burned area (about 
2,500 acres, 18 percent of the National Forest System lands within the 
fire area) has been planted with seedlings. Surveys show that over 20 
percent of these plantations have failed. Competition with brush and 
grasses for the limited soil moisture during the dry summer months 
caused mortality and insufficient growth in the conifer seedlings. Tree 
survival and growth in the remainder of the plantations are at 
continued risk of mortality due to high levels of competing vegetation.
    Desired conditions that apply to old forest emphasis areas include 
dead trees, both standing and fallen, that meet habitat needs of old-
forest-associated species. In HRCAs and PACs desired conditions include 
some very large snags, and higher than average levels of snags and down 
woody material. Over the long term, desired conditions in PACs and 
HRCAs include areas of suitable habitat with large trees, and multi-
layered, dense canopy cover. Long term desired conditions for old 
forest emphasis include high levels of structural diversity over large 
areas comprised of roughly even-aged vegetation groups, varying in 
size, species composition, and structure. Where possible, areas treated 
for fuels also provide for the successful establishment of early seral 
stage vegetation (SNFP ROD pg. 41).
    There is a dramatic difference between the desired conditions and 
the existing condition of the project area.

[[Page 24377]]

There is a need to restore/reestablish wildlife habitats and provide 
for species associated with these ecosystems.
    There is a need to control or eliminate invasive species in the 
project area to reduce the potential for spread of invasive species to 
other areas in the forest.
    The project area had documented invasive species infestations prior 
to the fire. They included yellow starthistle, French broom, 
skeletonweed, ripgut brome, cheatgrass, medusahead, Klamathweed, bull 
thistle, woolly mullein, and Himalayan blackberry. After the fire and 
salvage logging invasive species infestations have increased.
    Goals (desired conditions) for noxious weed management are to 
manage weeds using an integrated weed management approach according to 
the priority set forth in FSM 2902: Priority 1--prevent the 
introduction of new invaders; Priority 2--conduct early treatment of 
new infestations; Priority 3--contain and control established 
infestations; and Priority 4--proactively manage aquatic and 
terrestrial areas of the National Forest to increase the ability of 
those areas to be self-sustaining and resistant to the establishment of 
invasive species (SNFP ROD, pg. 36 and FSM 2900). There is a need to 
control or eliminate invasive species in the project area to move the 
project area in a trajectory toward the desired condition.

Proposed Action

    Hand planting and inter-planting would occur on approximately 1,580 
acres. Inter-planting would occur on 500 acres within the 2,500 acres 
previously planted. Approximately 1,080 acres would be planted by hand 
using one of three tree planting arrangements. Additional acres would 
be inter-planted if monitoring shows desired stocking levels have not 
been met on any of the plantations.
    Planting Arrangement A, designed to accelerate the development of 
old forest conditions without establishing dense, homogenous stands 
that are at greatest risk to loss in future fires, would plant trees in 
groups at a wide spacing. The prescription is also designed to allow 
for development of structural diversity and the inclusion of small 
openings and shrub habitats over the next several decades as planted 
areas grow into mature stands. This arrangement is intended to provide 
for an interspersion of habitats used by wildlife associated with early 
forest conditions and for development of heterogeneity in mature forest 
stands.
    The following guidelines for planting would apply on 1,400 acres in 
areas outside of California spotted owl Protected Activity Centers, 
sensitive plant occurrences and potential habitat areas, deer critical 
winter range and riparian areas. Plant approximately 200 to 400 trees 
per acre by hand. Trees would be planted in groups of 2 to 4 trees with 
approximately 21 feet apart from the center of the clusters. Planting 
would be reduced on unproductive ridge tops.
    Planting Arrangement B is designed to establish habitat suitable 
for California spotted owl nesting. Accelerating the development of 
dense, old forest conditions is the primary objective in these areas. 
Conifers would be planted at denser spacing to ensure sufficient 
survival for establishing dense canopied, old forest habitat in a 
relatively rapid timeframe.
    The following guidelines for planting would apply in the 
approximately 125 acres that are within currently unsuitable habitat 
occurring in California spotted owl PACs. Plant approximately 300 to 
350 trees per acre by hand. Trees would be planted individually at a 
spacing of approximately 10 to 15 feet.
    Planting Arrangement C is designed to accelerate development of 
more open forest conditions and provide shrub and oak habitats 
important for wildlife associated with early forest habitats. The Power 
Fire occurred within a State Game Refuge that includes critical deer 
winter range for the Salt Springs Deer Herd. This planting arrangement 
is intended to maintain high quality foraging within this area.
    The following guidelines for planting would apply on 60 acres of 
critical deer winter range and a portion of the winter range and areas 
that are within sensitive plant occurrences and potential habitat. 
Plant 100 to 150 trees per acre in identified sensitive plant potential 
habitat areas and deer critical winter and winter range areas. 
Individual trees would be planted on 17 to 20 foot wide spacing.
    Within all planting arrangements a mixture of conifer species 
(ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, Douglas fir, incense cedar, 
white fir, and red fir) would be planted depending on elevation and 
seedling availability. Planted seedlings would be grown from seed 
produced from Region 5 seed orchards or seed of local origin (collected 
within the same seed zone and 500 foot elevation band as the planting 
site). Seedlings grown from these sources would exhibit higher levels 
of genetic variability and broader adaptability. When unavailable, seed 
would be transferred in compliance with seed transfer rules based on 
California Tree Seed Zones (1971, J. Buck, et al) and in reference to 
R-5 Forest Service Handbook 2409.26, Section 42.2.
    Inter-planting would be implemented where seedling mortality 
threatens plantation failure (less than 60 percent stocking at 100 
trees per acre within planting Arrangements A and C or 60 percent 
stocking at 200 trees per acre within planting Arrangement B). 
Opportunities to provide patches of early seral vegetation less than 
one acre in size by limiting inter-planting on some sites with high 
seedling mortality would be evaluated.
    Site preparation (mechanical and chemical) is proposed on 
approximately 1,080 acres. Mechanical methods include mastication and 
tractor piling and burning on approximately 610 acres. Chemical site 
preparation would involve ground application of glyphosate or 
aminopyralid/glyphosate on approximately 470 acres prior to planting. 
Prior to chemical application, brush may be cut on portions of units 
for access.
    Chemical application would be restricted to ground-based methods. 
Colorants would be added to the herbicide mixtures to provide 
visibility for applicators to track coverage. Adjuvants would be added 
to herbicide mixtures to improve herbicide effectiveness. Herbicides 
proposed for use include glyphosate (Rodeo or equivalent), 
aminopyralid, clopyralid, and triclopyr (Garlon 4 or equivalent). 
Additives proposed for use include surfactants (methylated seed oil, 
NPE-based, or a silicone/MSO blend) and a colorant or dye.
    Release of conifer seedlings from competing vegetation would 
involve targeted area ground application of herbicide on approximately 
3,025 acres. Prior to herbicide application, brush may be cut on 
portions of units for access. Follow-up herbicide applications would 
occur if monitoring results show competing vegetation (grasses and/or 
brush) is projected to exceed 40 percent ground cover of the plantation 
within 3 to 5 years of planting. The follow-up applications would 
include the following methods by vegetation type:

[[Page 24378]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Completing vegetation type          Herbicide application method
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bearclover, grass......................  Targeted area ground
                                          application.
Whitethorn, manzanita ground...........  First follow-up would be radial
                                          ground application.
Deerbrush area.........................  First follow-up would be
                                          targeted ground application
                                          and additional follow-up would
                                          be radial ground application.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Herbicide applications would be excluded near streams and special 
aquatic features as described below:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Herbicide
      Aquatic feature type            formulation       Distance (feet)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Perennial Streams and Special     Aminopyralid,       100.
 Aquatic.                          triclopyr,
                                   clopyralid.
Features........................  Glyphosate........  50.
Intermittent Streams............  Aminopyralid,       100 if wet, 50 if
                                   triclopyr,          dry.
                                   clopyralid.
                                  Glyphosate........  50 if wet, 25 if
                                                       dry.
Ephemeral Streams...............  Aminopyralid,       50 if wet, 25 if
                                   triclopyr,          dry.
                                   clopyralid.
                                  Glyphosate........  25 if wet, 10 if
                                                       dry.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hand grubbing or cutting would be used to release conifer seedlings 
within exclusion zones and within approximately 500 acres of critical 
habitat for Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog.
    Control of invasive plant species would follow integrated pest 
management principles including manual, mechanical, and chemical 
control methods. Chemical control methods may include directed foliar 
and radius application using clopyralid, aminopyralid, or glyphosate.
    Oaks stand improvement would include oak pruning/thinning or 
fencing as needed to improve oak regeneration and growth within 
approximately 900 acres of deer winter range and critical winter range. 
Small conifer trees would be removed within 20 feet of existing oaks 
within the deer winter and critical winter ranges. Fencing would be 
used to protect individual oaks from deer and cattle browsing with 
small cages 2-4 feet in diameter or by fencing areas \1/4\ acre to 2 
acres in size.

Responsible Official

    The Responsible Official is Laurence Crabtree, Forest Supervisor of 
the Eldorado National Forest.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Responsible Official may decide to implement the proposed 
action, take no action, or implement an alternative action.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. An open house 
will be held at the Amador District Office, 26820 Silver Drive, 
Pioneer, CA 95666, on Monday May 15, 2014 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such 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 contentions.
    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.

    Dated: April 23, 2014.
Laurence Crabtree,
Forest Supervisor, Eldorado National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2014-09698 Filed 4-29-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-M