Plan Revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests; California and Nevada, 51536-51542 [2014-20459]

Download as PDF 51536 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to: Leo Wong, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 317, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Leo Wong at 703–605–4273 or via email to Leo.Wong@fns.usda.gov. Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http:// www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of this information collection should be directed to Leo Wong at 703– 605–1181. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: User Access Request Form. Form Number: FNS–674. OMB Number: 0584–0532. Expiration Date: 1/31/2015. Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection. Abstract: Form FNS–674 is designed to collect user information required to gain access to FNS Information Systems. Affected Public: Contractors, State Agencies. Estimated Number of Respondents: 2,700. The respondents are State agencies, who are located in the 50 states and Trust Territories, staff contractors and Federal employees. Respondents who require access to the FNS systems are estimated at 3,600 annually (includes Federal, State and private) however, only 2,700 will account for the total public burden, excluding Federal employees. FNS estimates that it will receive an average of 300 requests per month (15 per day). Of the 300, 70 percent (or 210) of the responses are State Agency users, 5 percent (or 15) are staff contractors and 25 percent (or 75) are Federal employees which is not included in the total number of responses. Annually, that results in 2,700 respondents (210 State Agency users per month + 15 staff contractors per month × 12 months). Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.9. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 5,220. Estimated Time per Response: 0.167 of an hour. Each respondent takes approximately 0.167 of an hour, or 10 minutes, to complete the required information on the online form. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 870 hours. See the table below for estimated total annual burden for each type of respondent. REPORTING BURDEN Number of respondents Number of responses annually per respondent Total annual responses Affected public Form number Contractors ................................... FNS–674 .......... 180 1 180 State Agency Users ..................... FNS–674 .......... 2,520 2 Annualized Totals ................. .......................... 2,700 1.9 Dated: August 19, 2014. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service. [FR Doc. 2014–20536 Filed 8–28–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–30–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Plan Revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests; California and Nevada Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Estimate of burden hours per response As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA Forest Service is preparing the revised land management plans (forest plans) for the Inyo Sequoia and Sierra National Forests. The agency will prepare a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 for these three revised plans. The revised forest plans will supersede existing forest plans previously approved by the responsible official on the Inyo National Forest in 1988, the Sequoia National Forest in 1988 and the Sierra National Forest in 1992. The existing forest plans have been amended several times since their approval, including the 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment. The Giant Sequoia National Monument (Monument) Management Plan, which amends the land management plan for the Sequoia National Forest, will be incorporated as a subset of the Sequoia’s revised forest plan. Provisions of the 1990 Mediated Settlement Agreement to the Sequoia National Forest Land Management Plan, applicable to National Forest System lands outside of the Monument, will be addressed in the EIS for forest plan revision. The existing forest plans, as amended, remain in effect until the revised forest plans are approved. The PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Total annual burden hours 5,040 0.16667 (10 minutes). 0.16667 (10 minutes). 30 840 5,220 10 minutes .............. 870 plans will be revised under the 2012 Planning Rule and will provide for social, economic and ecological sustainability within Forest Service authority and the inherent capability of the plan area. Comments concerning the proposed action in this notice will be most useful in the development of the draft revised forest plans and EIS if received by September 29, 2014. The draft EIS is expected in spring 2015. The final EIS is expected in spring 2016. DATES: Please provide comments using the following Web site: http:// tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. We will also accept comments mailed to Maria Ulloa, Forest Plan Revision, 1839 So. Newcomb Street, Porterville, CA 93257 or emailed to r5planrevision@fs.fed.us. When providing comments, clearly indicate which forest or forests your comments apply to. ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Dietl, Plan Revision Team Leader, michaeldietl@fs.fed.us, 707–562–9121. Information on plan revision is also available at http://tinyurl.com/ r5earlyadopters. 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: Lead and Cooperating Agencies The USDA Forest Service is the lead agency. Inyo County is a designated cooperating agency in this plan revision effort. Responsible Officials ensuring that they provide benefits to people. There is a need to modify plan components to maintain levels of forest product and biomass production that support an economically-viable forest products industry, and to encourage local hiring. Tribal Relations and Uses There is a need to include plan direction regarding tribal relations and uses to: Help tribes maintain their culture and connection to the land; support economic opportunities in tribal communities; incorporate traditional ecological knowledge; and collaborate with the agency to meet restoration goals. The Forest Supervisor is the responsible official for plan revision on each forest. Ed Armenta, Forest Supervisor, Inyo National Forest Service, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514. Kevin Elliott, Forest Supervisor, Sequoia National Forest, 1839 South Newcomb Street, Porterville, CA 93257. Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor, Sierra National Forest Service, 1600 Tollhouse Road, Clovis, CA 93611. Sustainable Recreation There is a need to update plan direction to improve recreation facilities, settings, opportunities and access and their sustainability; and to improve and protect scenic character, which contributes to people’s recreation experience and sense of place. There is a need to proactively manage cultural resources to protect and improve the conditions of these resources and help connect people to the land. Purpose and Need for Action Fire The purpose is to revise the forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests as guided by the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR part 219). According to the National Forest Management Act, forest plans are to be revised on a 10 to 15 year cycle. Current plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests were approved between 1988 and 1992 and are due for revisions. Responsible officials used science-based assessments and considered public and employee input to identify needed changes to existing plans. They have identified the following areas where changes are needed: There is a need to add plan direction to improve fire management to recognize climate change. There is a need to modify wildfire management areas and associated plan direction to increase the area where fuel reduction treatments occur, while also increasing the opportunity to use fire as a restoration tool, and to modify plan direction to maintain or restore fire as an ecosystem process, especially in riparian areas. There is a need to include plan direction that incorporates analyzing smoke tradeoffs to communities from prescribed fire or wildfire used to meet resource objectives and large, uncontrolled wildfire. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Benefits to People and Communities There is a need to update plan direction to: Support the long term sustainability of forest benefits to people and contributions to local economies, which come as a result of the many uses of National Forest System lands; to encourage the use of partnerships with private and public entities and tribal stewardship opportunities; and to improve communication and outreach to the public, including underrepresented populations. There is a need to update plan direction to move toward resilience of forests to climate change and fire, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 Ecological Integrity There is a need to add plan direction to improve resilience of ecosystems to climate change. There is a need to modify plan direction to: Increase the rate and extent of the land area where vegetation is being restored, decreasing the threat of large, undesirable fires; to sustain and increase local capacity to restore vegetation and reduce fuels; to add and modify plan direction specific to ecological integrity of eastside ecosystems that occur on the Inyo National Forest and small portions of PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51537 the Sequoia National Forest; and to include plan direction for old forest, early seral habitat and subalpine and alpine systems. There is a need to modify plan direction for terrestrial ecosystems and fire, as described above, to increase the ability of forests to store and sequester carbon. There is a need to modify plan direction for aquatic and riparian ecosystems to maintain or improve the resilience of these ecosystems to climate change, fire, air pollution and invasive species, and to manage meadows holistically across individual resource areas, such as hydrology, soils, wildlife and vegetation. There is a need to identify in the plans watersheds that are a priority for restoration, and to modify plan direction to improve groundwater storage and to address water shortages and climate change in riparian systems. There is a need to modify plan direction to improve ecological conditions for the California spotted owl and to restore and maintain greater sagegrouse habitat on the Inyo National Forest. There is a need to incorporate new information and conservation practices into plan direction to contribute to the recovery of federallylisted species (including candidates and proposed) and to streamline project planning. There is a need to modify plan direction to prevent the establishment and spread of invasive species. Lands There is a need to incorporate lands acquired by the Inyo National Forest through the Nevada Enhancement Act into the forest plan. Designated Areas There is a need to: Review existing plan direction for existing and recommended wilderness to determine if any updates are needed; to review existing plan direction for wild and scenic rivers to determine if any updates are needed; to include a management area for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail corridor and associated management direction; and to include management direction for national recreation trails. Proposed Action The proposed action is to revise the existing forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, as amended. Plan revision creates a new plan for the entire plan area, whether the revised plan differs to a small or large extent from the prior forest plan. In this plan revision effort, plans will be E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 51538 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices revised to meet the requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule and to address the needed changes identified above. A detailed document that complements the following proposed action is available at http://tinyurl.com/ r5earlyadopters. Proposed changes include the following: wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES General Existing direction that is carried forward into revised plans would be converted to 2012 Planning Rule language. This would result in some existing standards and guidelines being changed to other plan components. Plan components that are no longer needed because compliance is already required as a matter of law, regulation, or policy, or that conflict with current national policy would be removed. Plan components that no longer apply, set tasks that have been completed, or refer to timeframes that are now past would be removed. Changes would be made to some standards and guidelines from the 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (SNFPA). These standards and guidelines are referenced using SNFPA and the standard and guideline number (e.g., SNFPA 4). Specific changes are discussed in the appropriate sections below. Current land allocations, management areas and management prescriptions would generally stay the same except as described in the sections below. Under the 2012 Planning Rule, management and/or geographic areas will replace what was previously known as land allocations, management areas and management prescriptions. The Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region and Pacific Southwest Research Station have reviewed and incorporated the latest climate change research and modeling from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to deduce likely present and future impacts to the forests of the Sierra Nevada. Their results show a general increase in temperatures, resulting in longer fire seasons and less snowpack, which melts earlier in the year. Where appropriate, plan components would be adjusted to recognize considerations of climate change. Benefits to People and Communities Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be included to support the long term sustainability of forest benefits to people and forest contributions to local and tribal economies, including multiple uses. This direction includes resilience and sustainability to climate change of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 ecosystems that provide benefits and multiple uses to people. A section would be added to the plan that provides management direction for interpretation and education. This does not exist in the current forest plans. Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be included for communicating and outreaching to residents and visitors. Partnerships with private, public and tribal entities would be encouraged in the plan and associated plan components would be developed. Timber Desired conditions would be added to ensure that predictable forest product yields support economic stability sufficient to maintain local industry infrastructure for use in vegetation restoration, and that forest products are produced in a sustainable manner, improving forest conditions and contributing to local community stability. Standards and guidelines would be added that address reforestation and the range of purposes for which timber harvest may occur, such as timber production, salvage and ecological restoration. Other plan content would be added that encourages the use of local forest products workforces and the use of tools such as stewardship contracts to improve the economic feasibility of vegetation management projects across large landscapes and social, economic and ecological sustainability. Tribal Relations and Uses A section would be added to the plan that provides management direction for tribal relations and uses. This does not currently exist in the forest plans. Desired conditions and other plan content would be included that incorporate traditional tribal ecological knowledge, cultural viewpoints and considerations in forest management; that emphasize working with tribes to develop and implement projects, through stewardship contracting and other mechanisms; and that recognize the value of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into project development and implementation. Desired conditions and other plan content would be integrated throughout other parts of the plan to incorporate tribal considerations in resource management. Direction would be added to require communication and collaboration with tribal leadership during fire incident management. Consideration would be given to defining and designating cultural management areas for sacred sites, areas of cultural and religious sensitivity, PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 traditional cultural properties and significant concentrations of cultural properties. Sustainable Recreation The plan would be updated to reflect the guiding principles, goals and focus areas from the Forest Service National Framework for Sustainable Recreation. This includes updating or developing plan components to guide forest management in a way that sustainably: • Connects people with their natural and cultural heritage; • Promotes social and economic community well-being using a placebased model for recreation planning; • Emphasizes working with partners and volunteers to help meet public needs and expectations, including the needs of youth and underserved communities; • Provides a diverse range of quality natural and cultural recreation opportunities and settings; • Restores and protects the natural, cultural and scenic environment, focusing on special places that are highly valued landscapes or sites; • Promotes citizen stewardship through interpretive services and conservation education; and • Emphasizes effective and adaptive communication in an ever-changing world. Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) classes would be modified, as appropriate, to represent sustainable recreation settings that reflect current management or recreation activities and conditions and future use. The Visual Management System (VMS) used in the existing forest plan would be converted to the Scenery Management System (SMS) resulting in scenic integrity objectives. The SMS supports a place-based planning approach that recognizes the value of both natural and cultural features in the landscape. Desired conditions and other plan content for working with partners would be incorporated to demonstrate that they are integral to program of work planning and conducting sustainable recreation activities. Plan components would be developed to focus agency efforts on each forest’s distinctive recreation roles and contributions. Cultural Resources Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be added or updated that emphasize the role that the forest plays in connecting people to their cultural heritage, offering cultural resource-based recreation and tourism opportunities and sustaining treasured places. E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be added or updated that emphasize the importance of strategic partnerships to protect the sustainability of cultural resources and promote citizen stewardship. Consideration would be given to defining and designating cultural management areas for sacred sites, areas of cultural and religious sensitivity, traditional cultural properties and significant concentrations of cultural properties. Fire The current management areas for wildland urban interface (WUI) defense and threat zones from the SNFPA would be changed to a risk-based protection zone approach, which would focus fuel reduction treatments on conditions that threaten communities and assets. These protection zones would be complemented by two new zones that cover the remaining adjacent National Forest System lands, where increased opportunities for managing wildfires for ecological benefits would occur. The use of fire as a restoration tool would be emphasized in inaccessible and steeper areas where mechanical fuel and restoration treatment would be difficult or is prohibited. Proposed modification of some vegetation and wildlife standards and guidelines aligned with these zones are intended to better manage the threat of wildfire impacts to communities and other at-risk natural resource values. As a risk-based approach, these zones change over time as fuels conditions change from restoration treatments and wildfires and as there are new or changed communities, assets, or natural resource values. The four proposed zones are: 1. Community Wildfire Protection Zone: Conditions currently put communities and community assets at very high risk. This would replace the WUI defense zone. Emphasis would be placed on mechanical and hand treatments to yield desired fire behavior conducive to more effective fire suppression. Prescribed burning is also used, especially to maintain previously treated areas. The use of wildfire to increase ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits is very limited. 2. General Wildfire Protection Zone: Conditions currently put communities, community assets and natural resource values at high risk of loss from wildfire. This would replace the WUI threat zone, but recognizes that fires from greater distances can threaten these areas, in part a result of climate change. This zone adds natural resource values, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 the area is increased. Emphasis would be placed on mechanical and hand treatments to yield desired fire behavior conducive to more effective fire suppression and retention of desired conditions for natural resources. The use of wildfire to increase ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits is limited. 3. Wildfire Restoration Zone: Conditions currently put communities, community assets, watersheds and natural resource values at moderate risk of loss from wildfire. Wildfire could be used to increase ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits when conditions allow. Strategically located mechanical treatments and/or prescribed burning, where feasible, may be a necessary precursor to the reintroduction of wildfire to achieve desired conditions. Strategically located treatments increase the opportunity to manage wildfires to achieve desired conditions. 4. Wildfire Maintenance Zone: Conditions currently put communities, community assets, watersheds and natural resource values at low risk of loss from wildfire, and many natural resources would benefit from wildland fire. Due to low risk, wildfires are expected to be used as often as possible to maintain ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits when conditions allow. Mechanical treatments and/or prescribed burning, where feasible, are used to complement wildfire to achieve desired conditions. Desired conditions and SNFPA 1–11 would be modified to incorporate the four zone approach. In the Protection Zones, plan components would be geared toward safe firefighting and protecting assets (e.g., structures and powerlines) and natural resources. In the Restoration and Maintenance Zones, plan components would emphasize effects of fire on natural resources and would be geared toward desired conditions for ecological resilience and integrity. New plan components would emphasize fire behavior and the effects on resources (e.g., habitat or timber) in terms of severity (e.g., the number of trees killed). Air Quality Desired conditions, guidelines, standards and other plan content would be added to allow for improved coordination with air quality regulators and with communities and to provide for a transparent analysis and clear communication regarding smoke tradeoffs from prescribed fire or wildfire used to meet resource objectives and large, uncontrolled wildfire. Other plan content would be added to consider PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51539 smoke impacts to downwind communities. Terrestrial Ecosystems Within the Community and General Wildfire Protection Zones, to reflect the intent of the new planning rule, some standards and guidelines from the SNFPA would be converted to or replaced with desired conditions and other plan content. Current general desired conditions would be replaced with specific, quantitative desired conditions based on ecological sustainability. Prescriptive elements on vegetation management (SNFPA 1–12 and 17–19) would be replaced with desired conditions and other plan content aimed at restoring ecological integrity and sustainability. Desired conditions would incorporate references to new science (e.g., General Technical Report 220 and 237) that better reflect resilience to fire, drought and climate change and heterogeneity beneficial to wildlife. Vegetation desired conditions would be made more specific by describing ecological outcomes as a numerical range. The importance of fire as an ecological process in vegetation types adapted to fire (e.g., mixed conifer and Jeffrey pine) would be included. A strategy would be added that emphasizes planning and implementing projects at the landscape scale (5,000 to 100,000 acres) to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of restoring ecological resilience to fire, drought and climate change. Locations and types of restoration treatments (e.g. thinning or controlled burning) would occur within these larger areas to influence changes in effects of wildfires. Plan components and other plan content would be added or updated for all major eastside vegetation types on the Inyo National Forest, and small portions of the Sequoia National Forest, including sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, desert shrub, and eastside oak. Desired conditions and other plan content would be added that recognize the importance of perennial grasses in eastside ecosystems and the role they play in resilience to non-native grass invasion and resilience to fire. The existing old forest emphasis area land allocation and desired conditions from the SNFPA would be removed because the desired conditions are general and lack specific information on desired levels of large and old trees. Forest-wide desired conditions for old forest would be added that describe desired large tree densities and the proportion of the landscape containing old forest characteristics. Desired conditions would be added to recognize complex early seral habitat as E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 51540 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES an important component to ecological sustainability, describing the desired proportions on the landscape, large snag and log densities and shrub cover amounts. Desired conditions would be added that integrate all ecological components of complex early seral habitat. Plan content would be added that addresses landscape consideration of the distribution and proportion of complex early seral habitats, including connectivity. A standard that addresses retention of some areas post fire with minimal resource management intervention would be added. Desired conditions and other plan content would be added to address ecological sustainability of subalpine and alpine ecosystems omitted in earlier plans. This includes components to address threats to high elevation white pines from blister rust and bark beetle. Desired conditions would be added for blue oak woodlands to support existing standards and guidelines from the SNFPA. Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems Plan components would be added and modified to better restore, maintain and increase the resilience of aquatic and riparian ecosystems to climate change, fire, ozone and nitrogen depositions. The term riparian conservation objective (RCO) would be dropped to avoid confusion with the 2012 Planning Rule plan component called objectives. The spirit and intent of the original RCOs would remain in other plan components. The standards and guidelines organized under RCOs would be mostly retained and reorganized. More specifically, SNFPA 91 would be modified to include the definition of riparian conservation areas, and by removing the need for a specific RCO analysis. SNFPA 92 and 93 would be removed, because they concern the RCO system and their intent is captured elsewhere in plan components and existing law. SNFPA 109 and 111 would be replaced with other plan content to improve resilience of riparian ecosystems to fire, drought and climate change. This change would allow for increased flexibility with prescribed fire and mechanical treatment and/or hand treatments in riparian conservation areas and critical aquatic refuges where appropriate. Although the new language would emphasize more flexibility to treat in riparian areas, activities would need to be designed considering desired conditions, ensure the protection of atrisk species, and meet all necessary protection measures for water and soil. Desired conditions would be updated for meadows to reflect an integration of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 vegetation, soils, hydrology and wildlife conditions. Guidelines would be added to address the ecological integrity of meadows and their connection to groundwater. Guidelines currently in place for the Inyo National Forest have replaced SNFPA 120 and 121 to further allow for an integrated ecological approach to meadow management on that forest. New guidelines would be included to protect the spring environment and to maintain and restore native species and the ecological integrity of these systems. Water Resources The contribution of the national forests to water quantity and quality in California would be recognized in the plans. Plan components would be added to address the effect of climate change and drought on water quantity. Management direction would be added to ensure compliance with new proposed groundwater directives and to further address water shortages and climate change in riparian systems. SNFPA 106 would be modified to include language that better evaluates diversion of water on National Forest System land, including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing projects. The new language would promote collaboration with other entities involved in the hydropower relicensing process and other water use negotiations. These changes address public feedback and the need to account for climate change and threats to water quality. The changes would also address trends with drought. The Watershed Condition Framework would continue to move forward. Priority watersheds have been identified and these would continue to be a focus for improving water quality, watersheds and aquatic and riparian ecosystem conditions. At-Risk Species SNFPA 53, 54, 98 and 114 which are specifically related to the three newly listed federal threatened and endangered amphibian species (Yosemite toad, Sierra Nevada yellowlegged frog and the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog) would be retained but would incorporate clarifications resulting from consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Actions listed in recovery plans and conservation strategies would be considered in developing plan components that could contribute to the recovery of federally-listed species. Existing management areas and direction for California spotted owl and northern goshawk protected activity PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 centers and spotted owl home range core areas would be retained with clarifications and alignment of plan components. No substantive changes would be made with the following exceptions: • Updating and clarifying the desired conditions and other plan components for these areas based on information from the California spotted owl new interim guidelines and conservation assessment, when they are available. • Changing some standards and guidelines within the Community Wildfire Protection Zone and the General Wildfire Protection Zone to better balance the need to provide key habitat with managing the threat of wildfire impacts to communities and other values at risk. This would include minor changes to SNFPA 73 and converting and clarifying direction related to limited operating periods in SNFPA 75, 76 and 77 to guidelines. • Adding plan content and updating and clarifying standards and guidelines to include opportunities for adaptive management related to the amount of protected activity centers that can be treated mechanically (SNFPA 80 and 81) and with prescribed burning (SNFPA 78 and 79). Direction for the Southern Sierra Fisher Conservation Area (SNFPA 90) and fisher den sites (SNFPA 85–87) would be retained with clarifications and alignment of plan components. No substantive changes would be made, pending completion of the Southern Sierra Fisher Conservation Strategy. These management areas and associated direction would be updated or changed considering information from the conservation strategy. Other plan components in other resource areas would be aligned as needed. Direction for Bi-State sage-grouse management from the Inyo National Forest Sage-Grouse Interim Management Policy, portions of the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest Sage-Grouse Plan Amendment and strategies from the Rocky Mountain Research Stationled conservation strategy on habitat restoration and fire resilience would be added. Plan components and other plan content would be added to conserve sage-grouse habitat. A list of preliminary at-risk species was identified in each forest’s assessment report. During the analysis of alternatives, plan components related to ecosystem integrity and ecosystem diversity will be examined to determine if direction for ecological integrity and ecosystem diversity or for special habitats is sufficient or if additional, species-specific plan components are needed for federally-recognized E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices threatened, endangered, proposed or candidate species or for species of conservation concern. Invasive Species The existing standards and guidelines specific to noxious weed management (SNFPA 36–49) would be clarified and reorganized into desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content that address terrestrial and aquatic invasive species, including noxious plants. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Lands Plan components with management direction for lands acquired by the Inyo National Forest through the Nevada Enhancement Act would be added. Designated Areas Wilderness: The 15,110 acres of the Moses Recommended Wilderness on the Sequoia National Forest, recommended in the Giant Sequoia National Monument Plan, would continue to be managed as recommended wilderness until such time as Congress designates it as an addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System. There may be new recommendations that result from the wilderness evaluations currently underway. Wild and Scenic Rivers: The 66 miles of the San Joaquin, South Fork San Joaquin, North Fork San Joaquin and Middle Fork San Joaquin River segments that the Sierra National Forest found suitable in previous planning efforts would continue to be managed as suitable and recommended wild and scenic river segments until such time as Congress designates them as additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. One mile of the south Fork Kern River segment that the Sequoia National Forest found suitable in previous planning efforts will continue to be managed as a suitable and recommended wild and scenic river until such time as Congress designates it as an addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. There may be new recommendations that result from the wild and scenic river evaluations currently underway. For the two newly designated wild and scenic rivers on the Inyo National Forest, the revised forest plan would include direction that is applicable to all wild and scenic rivers on the forest and would identify the process and timeline for finishing comprehensive river management plans and developing a final boundary. Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT): The PCT corridor would be identified as a management area and plan components would be added to protect the recreation experience and scenery resources along the PCT. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 Identification of the PCT corridor and associated direction does not currently exist in forest plans. National Recreation Trails: Desired conditions, standards, guidelines and other plan content would be added to protect the recreation experience and scenery resources along the national recreation trails on each forest. There are three national recreation trails on the Inyo National Forest, two on the Sequoia National Forest outside the Giant Sequoia National Monument and five on the Sierra National Forest. This direction does not currently exist in forest plans. Other Designated Areas: Other designated areas would continue to be managed for their designations under current management direction. No new designation areas are being recommended at this time. Plan Monitoring Program A monitoring program will be developed that meets the requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule and informs evaluation the effectiveness of forest plans. The monitoring program consists of monitoring questions and associated indicators that address the following eight items: (1) The status of select watershed conditions; (2) the status of select ecological conditions, including key characteristics, of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; (3) the status of focal species, selected to assess integrity of ecological systems and effects of management on ecological conditions; (4) the status of a select set of ecological conditions that contribute to the recovery of federally-listed threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species and maintain a viable population of species of conservation concern; (5) the status of visitor use, visitor satisfaction and progress toward meeting recreation objectives; (6) measurable changes on the plan area related to climate change and other stressors that may be affecting the plan area; (7) progress toward meeting the desired conditions and objectives in the plan; and (8) the effects of each timber management system to determine that they do not substantially and permanently impair the productivity of the land. Additionally, the monitoring program may include other monitoring questions and indicators that do not address these eight items but which inform effectiveness of the plan. Monitoring programs will be designed within the financial and technical capabilities of the forests. Capability will be expanded by coordinating with partners and through the broader regional strategy currently under development. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51541 Other Requirements and Plan Content As part of plan revision, the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests will also: • Identify the suitability of areas for the appropriate integration of resource management and uses, including identifying lands not suitable for timber production; • Identify the maximum quantity of timber that may be removed from the plan area; • Coordinate with the Regional Forester to identify the species of conservation concern for the plan area; • Describe the plan area’s distinctive roles and contributions within the broader landscape; • Contain information reflecting proposed and possible actions that may occur on the plan area during the life of the plan; • Consider including optional content, such as potential management approaches or strategies and partnership opportunities or coordination activities. Nature of Decision To Be Made The Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests are preparing an EIS to revise their current forest plans. The EIS process will inform each Forest Supervisor’s decision about which alternative best meets the need for quality land management under the 2012 Planning Rule and the sustainable multiple-use management concept, as required by the National Forest Management Act and the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act. This concept seeks to meet the diverse needs of people while protecting forest resources. Each Forest Supervisor will be signing a Record of Decision. Having one EIS is expected to help the agency gain efficiencies and complete plan revision within a reasonable timeframe and budget. The three forests share some landscapes, issues and stakeholders. Consolidating under one EIS will help streamline the process for some stakeholders and helps facilitate a landscape-level approach to plan revision. The revised forest plans will describe the strategic intent of managing the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests for the next 10 to 15 years. The revised forest plans will identify management and/or geographic areas and use five plan components to guide future project and activity decision making: Desired conditions, objectives, standards, guidelines and suitability of lands. Each revised plan will include other required content, such as a monitoring program. Responsible officials will determine whether to make E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 51542 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Notices new recommendations for wilderness and other designated areas. This decision will not authorize project-level activities on the three forests. The authorization of projectlevel activities on each forest occurs through subsequent project-specific decision making. The designation of routes, trails and areas for motorized vehicle travel is not considered during plan revision but addressed in separate analysis processes on each forest. Certain issues (e.g., hunting regulations), although important, are beyond the authority or control of the three forests and will not be considered. In addition, some decisions and determinations, such as wild and scenic river suitability determinations, may not be undertaken at this time but will be addressed in separate processes. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Public Involvement The Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forest plan revision team has provided multiple ways for the public, other agencies and tribes to contribute ideas about how current forest plans need to change or be improved. Public involvement began in earnest in 2012. Formal and informal meetings, letters, emails, phone calls, newspaper announcements and postings to the Pacific Southwest Region and forest Web sites were used to share and gather information and encourage participation. Plan revision team members gave presentations, went to the field and met with individuals and groups. Information collected from the public was used to identify needed changes in the current forest plans and desired conditions. The forests will continue regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal nations on a government-to-government basis to address issues that significantly or uniquely affect their communities. The forests will continue to collaborate with interested members of the public, as well as federal and state agencies, local governments and other organizations. development of the EIS. The purpose of this process is to determine the scope of issues to be addressed and to identify the significant issues related to the proposed action. Public meetings and tribal forums to gather input on the proposed action will be held in September 2014. Additional materials, as well as the dates, times and locations of these meetings can be found at http:// tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. It is important that reviewers provide their comments in a time and manner useful to the agency’s preparation of the EIS. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the scoping period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions. Reviewers should clearly identify which forest or forests each of their comments applies to. The submission of timely and specific comments can affect a reviewer’s ability to participate in subsequent administrative or judicial review. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will become part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered, however, see the section below concerning the objection process and the requirements for filing an objection. Decision Will Be Subject to Objection The decisions to approve the revised forest plans will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 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. Dated: August 20, 2014. Barnie T. Gyant, Deputy Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region. [FR Doc. 2014–20459 Filed 8–28–14; 8:45 am] Applicable Planning Rule Preparation of the revised forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests began with the publication of the Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register on December 26, 2013 [78 FR 78326] and was initiated under the planning procedures contained in the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 219 (2012)). BILLING CODE 3410–11–P Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the 30day scoping process which guides the SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Newspapers for Publication of Legal Notices in the Eastern Region Forest Service, USDA. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: Forest Service administrative review procedures at 36 CFR parts 218 and 219 require agency officials to PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 publish legal notices in newspapers of record for certain opportunities to comment and opportunities to file predecisional objections. Forest Service officials in the Eastern Region will publish those legal notices in the newspapers listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice. The Eastern Region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. As provided in 36 CFR 218 and 36 CFR 219, the public shall be advised through Federal Register notice, of the newspaper of record to be utilized for publishing legal notice of comment and objection opportunities required by those Parts and their associated procedures. This notice fulfills that requirement for the Eastern Region. DATES: Use of these newspapers for purposes of publishing legal notice of opportunities to comment on proposals subject under 36 CFR part 218 and 36 CFR part 219, and notices of the opportunity to object under 36 CFR part 218 and 36 CFR part 219 shall begin the first day after the date of this publication. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Rowell; Appeals Assistant, 626 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI— 414–297–3439 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Responsible Officials in the Eastern Region will publish legal notice regarding proposed land management plans as required under 36 CFR 219.16 and legal notice regarding an opportunity to comment on proposed projects as required under 36 CFR 218.24 in the newspapers that are listed in this section by Forest Service administrative unit. Additionally, Responsible Officials in the Eastern Region will publish legal notice of the opportunity to object to a proposed project under 36 CFR part 218 or to object to a land management plan developed, amended, or revised under 36 CFR part 219 in the legal notice section of the following newspapers. Additional notice regarding an opportunity to comment or object under the above mentioned regulations may be provided in other newspapers not listed below at the sole discretion of the Responsible Official. Legal notice published in a newspaper of record of an opportunity to object is in addition to direct notice to those who have requested it and to those who have participated in planning for the project or land management plan proposal. The timeframe for comment on a proposed action shall be based on the E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 168 (Friday, August 29, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51536-51542]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-20459]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Plan Revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests; 
California and Nevada

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA 
Forest Service is preparing the revised land management plans (forest 
plans) for the Inyo Sequoia and Sierra National Forests. The agency 
will prepare a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) for these 
three revised plans. The revised forest plans will supersede existing 
forest plans previously approved by the responsible official on the 
Inyo National Forest in 1988, the Sequoia National Forest in 1988 and 
the Sierra National Forest in 1992. The existing forest plans have been 
amended several times since their approval, including the 2004 Sierra 
Nevada Forest Plan Amendment. The Giant Sequoia National Monument 
(Monument) Management Plan, which amends the land management plan for 
the Sequoia National Forest, will be incorporated as a subset of the 
Sequoia's revised forest plan. Provisions of the 1990 Mediated 
Settlement Agreement to the Sequoia National Forest Land Management 
Plan, applicable to National Forest System lands outside of the 
Monument, will be addressed in the EIS for forest plan revision. The 
existing forest plans, as amended, remain in effect until the revised 
forest plans are approved. The plans will be revised under the 2012 
Planning Rule and will provide for social, economic and ecological 
sustainability within Forest Service authority and the inherent 
capability of the plan area.

DATES: Comments concerning the proposed action in this notice will be 
most useful in the development of the draft revised forest plans and 
EIS if received by September 29, 2014. The draft EIS is expected in 
spring 2015. The final EIS is expected in spring 2016.

ADDRESSES: Please provide comments using the following Web site: http://tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. We will also accept comments mailed to 
Maria Ulloa, Forest Plan Revision, 1839 So. Newcomb Street, 
Porterville, CA 93257 or emailed to r5planrevision@fs.fed.us. When 
providing comments, clearly indicate which forest or forests your 
comments apply to.

[[Page 51537]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Dietl, Plan Revision Team Leader, 
michaeldietl@fs.fed.us, 707-562-9121. Information on plan revision is 
also available at http://tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. 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: 

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The USDA Forest Service is the lead agency. Inyo County is a 
designated cooperating agency in this plan revision effort.

Responsible Officials

    The Forest Supervisor is the responsible official for plan revision 
on each forest.
    Ed Armenta, Forest Supervisor, Inyo National Forest Service, 351 
Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514.
    Kevin Elliott, Forest Supervisor, Sequoia National Forest, 1839 
South Newcomb Street, Porterville, CA 93257.
    Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor, Sierra National Forest Service, 1600 
Tollhouse Road, Clovis, CA 93611.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose is to revise the forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and 
Sierra National Forests as guided by the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 
part 219). According to the National Forest Management Act, forest 
plans are to be revised on a 10 to 15 year cycle. Current plans for the 
Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests were approved between 1988 
and 1992 and are due for revisions. Responsible officials used science-
based assessments and considered public and employee input to identify 
needed changes to existing plans. They have identified the following 
areas where changes are needed:

Benefits to People and Communities

    There is a need to update plan direction to: Support the long term 
sustainability of forest benefits to people and contributions to local 
economies, which come as a result of the many uses of National Forest 
System lands; to encourage the use of partnerships with private and 
public entities and tribal stewardship opportunities; and to improve 
communication and outreach to the public, including underrepresented 
populations.
    There is a need to update plan direction to move toward resilience 
of forests to climate change and fire, ensuring that they provide 
benefits to people.
    There is a need to modify plan components to maintain levels of 
forest product and biomass production that support an economically-
viable forest products industry, and to encourage local hiring.

Tribal Relations and Uses

    There is a need to include plan direction regarding tribal 
relations and uses to: Help tribes maintain their culture and 
connection to the land; support economic opportunities in tribal 
communities; incorporate traditional ecological knowledge; and 
collaborate with the agency to meet restoration goals.

Sustainable Recreation

    There is a need to update plan direction to improve recreation 
facilities, settings, opportunities and access and their 
sustainability; and to improve and protect scenic character, which 
contributes to people's recreation experience and sense of place.
    There is a need to proactively manage cultural resources to protect 
and improve the conditions of these resources and help connect people 
to the land.

Fire

    There is a need to add plan direction to improve fire management to 
recognize climate change.
    There is a need to modify wildfire management areas and associated 
plan direction to increase the area where fuel reduction treatments 
occur, while also increasing the opportunity to use fire as a 
restoration tool, and to modify plan direction to maintain or restore 
fire as an ecosystem process, especially in riparian areas.
    There is a need to include plan direction that incorporates 
analyzing smoke tradeoffs to communities from prescribed fire or 
wildfire used to meet resource objectives and large, uncontrolled 
wildfire.

Ecological Integrity

    There is a need to add plan direction to improve resilience of 
ecosystems to climate change.
    There is a need to modify plan direction to: Increase the rate and 
extent of the land area where vegetation is being restored, decreasing 
the threat of large, undesirable fires; to sustain and increase local 
capacity to restore vegetation and reduce fuels; to add and modify plan 
direction specific to ecological integrity of eastside ecosystems that 
occur on the Inyo National Forest and small portions of the Sequoia 
National Forest; and to include plan direction for old forest, early 
seral habitat and subalpine and alpine systems.
    There is a need to modify plan direction for terrestrial ecosystems 
and fire, as described above, to increase the ability of forests to 
store and sequester carbon.
    There is a need to modify plan direction for aquatic and riparian 
ecosystems to maintain or improve the resilience of these ecosystems to 
climate change, fire, air pollution and invasive species, and to manage 
meadows holistically across individual resource areas, such as 
hydrology, soils, wildlife and vegetation.
    There is a need to identify in the plans watersheds that are a 
priority for restoration, and to modify plan direction to improve 
groundwater storage and to address water shortages and climate change 
in riparian systems.
    There is a need to modify plan direction to improve ecological 
conditions for the California spotted owl and to restore and maintain 
greater sage-grouse habitat on the Inyo National Forest. There is a 
need to incorporate new information and conservation practices into 
plan direction to contribute to the recovery of federally-listed 
species (including candidates and proposed) and to streamline project 
planning.
    There is a need to modify plan direction to prevent the 
establishment and spread of invasive species.

Lands

    There is a need to incorporate lands acquired by the Inyo National 
Forest through the Nevada Enhancement Act into the forest plan.

Designated Areas

    There is a need to: Review existing plan direction for existing and 
recommended wilderness to determine if any updates are needed; to 
review existing plan direction for wild and scenic rivers to determine 
if any updates are needed; to include a management area for the Pacific 
Crest National Scenic Trail corridor and associated management 
direction; and to include management direction for national recreation 
trails.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to revise the existing forest plans for the 
Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, as amended. Plan revision 
creates a new plan for the entire plan area, whether the revised plan 
differs to a small or large extent from the prior forest plan. In this 
plan revision effort, plans will be

[[Page 51538]]

revised to meet the requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule and to 
address the needed changes identified above. A detailed document that 
complements the following proposed action is available at http://tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. Proposed changes include the following:

General

    Existing direction that is carried forward into revised plans would 
be converted to 2012 Planning Rule language. This would result in some 
existing standards and guidelines being changed to other plan 
components. Plan components that are no longer needed because 
compliance is already required as a matter of law, regulation, or 
policy, or that conflict with current national policy would be removed. 
Plan components that no longer apply, set tasks that have been 
completed, or refer to timeframes that are now past would be removed.
    Changes would be made to some standards and guidelines from the 
2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (SNFPA). These standards and 
guidelines are referenced using SNFPA and the standard and guideline 
number (e.g., SNFPA 4). Specific changes are discussed in the 
appropriate sections below.
    Current land allocations, management areas and management 
prescriptions would generally stay the same except as described in the 
sections below. Under the 2012 Planning Rule, management and/or 
geographic areas will replace what was previously known as land 
allocations, management areas and management prescriptions.
    The Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region and Pacific Southwest 
Research Station have reviewed and incorporated the latest climate 
change research and modeling from the Intergovernmental Panel on 
Climate Change and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to deduce 
likely present and future impacts to the forests of the Sierra Nevada. 
Their results show a general increase in temperatures, resulting in 
longer fire seasons and less snowpack, which melts earlier in the year. 
Where appropriate, plan components would be adjusted to recognize 
considerations of climate change.

Benefits to People and Communities

    Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be 
included to support the long term sustainability of forest benefits to 
people and forest contributions to local and tribal economies, 
including multiple uses. This direction includes resilience and 
sustainability to climate change of ecosystems that provide benefits 
and multiple uses to people.
    A section would be added to the plan that provides management 
direction for interpretation and education. This does not exist in the 
current forest plans. Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan 
content would be included for communicating and outreaching to 
residents and visitors.
    Partnerships with private, public and tribal entities would be 
encouraged in the plan and associated plan components would be 
developed.

Timber

    Desired conditions would be added to ensure that predictable forest 
product yields support economic stability sufficient to maintain local 
industry infrastructure for use in vegetation restoration, and that 
forest products are produced in a sustainable manner, improving forest 
conditions and contributing to local community stability. Standards and 
guidelines would be added that address reforestation and the range of 
purposes for which timber harvest may occur, such as timber production, 
salvage and ecological restoration. Other plan content would be added 
that encourages the use of local forest products workforces and the use 
of tools such as stewardship contracts to improve the economic 
feasibility of vegetation management projects across large landscapes 
and social, economic and ecological sustainability.

Tribal Relations and Uses

    A section would be added to the plan that provides management 
direction for tribal relations and uses. This does not currently exist 
in the forest plans. Desired conditions and other plan content would be 
included that incorporate traditional tribal ecological knowledge, 
cultural viewpoints and considerations in forest management; that 
emphasize working with tribes to develop and implement projects, 
through stewardship contracting and other mechanisms; and that 
recognize the value of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge 
into project development and implementation. Desired conditions and 
other plan content would be integrated throughout other parts of the 
plan to incorporate tribal considerations in resource management. 
Direction would be added to require communication and collaboration 
with tribal leadership during fire incident management.
    Consideration would be given to defining and designating cultural 
management areas for sacred sites, areas of cultural and religious 
sensitivity, traditional cultural properties and significant 
concentrations of cultural properties.

Sustainable Recreation

    The plan would be updated to reflect the guiding principles, goals 
and focus areas from the Forest Service National Framework for 
Sustainable Recreation. This includes updating or developing plan 
components to guide forest management in a way that sustainably:
     Connects people with their natural and cultural heritage;
     Promotes social and economic community well-being using a 
place-based model for recreation planning;
     Emphasizes working with partners and volunteers to help 
meet public needs and expectations, including the needs of youth and 
underserved communities;
     Provides a diverse range of quality natural and cultural 
recreation opportunities and settings;
     Restores and protects the natural, cultural and scenic 
environment, focusing on special places that are highly valued 
landscapes or sites;
     Promotes citizen stewardship through interpretive services 
and conservation education; and
     Emphasizes effective and adaptive communication in an 
ever-changing world.
    Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) classes would be modified, as 
appropriate, to represent sustainable recreation settings that reflect 
current management or recreation activities and conditions and future 
use.
    The Visual Management System (VMS) used in the existing forest plan 
would be converted to the Scenery Management System (SMS) resulting in 
scenic integrity objectives. The SMS supports a place-based planning 
approach that recognizes the value of both natural and cultural 
features in the landscape.
    Desired conditions and other plan content for working with partners 
would be incorporated to demonstrate that they are integral to program 
of work planning and conducting sustainable recreation activities.
    Plan components would be developed to focus agency efforts on each 
forest's distinctive recreation roles and contributions.

Cultural Resources

    Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be 
added or updated that emphasize the role that the forest plays in 
connecting people to their cultural heritage, offering cultural 
resource-based recreation and tourism opportunities and sustaining 
treasured places.

[[Page 51539]]

    Desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content would be 
added or updated that emphasize the importance of strategic 
partnerships to protect the sustainability of cultural resources and 
promote citizen stewardship.
    Consideration would be given to defining and designating cultural 
management areas for sacred sites, areas of cultural and religious 
sensitivity, traditional cultural properties and significant 
concentrations of cultural properties.

Fire

    The current management areas for wildland urban interface (WUI) 
defense and threat zones from the SNFPA would be changed to a risk-
based protection zone approach, which would focus fuel reduction 
treatments on conditions that threaten communities and assets. These 
protection zones would be complemented by two new zones that cover the 
remaining adjacent National Forest System lands, where increased 
opportunities for managing wildfires for ecological benefits would 
occur. The use of fire as a restoration tool would be emphasized in 
inaccessible and steeper areas where mechanical fuel and restoration 
treatment would be difficult or is prohibited. Proposed modification of 
some vegetation and wildlife standards and guidelines aligned with 
these zones are intended to better manage the threat of wildfire 
impacts to communities and other at-risk natural resource values. As a 
risk-based approach, these zones change over time as fuels conditions 
change from restoration treatments and wildfires and as there are new 
or changed communities, assets, or natural resource values.
    The four proposed zones are:
    1. Community Wildfire Protection Zone: Conditions currently put 
communities and community assets at very high risk. This would replace 
the WUI defense zone. Emphasis would be placed on mechanical and hand 
treatments to yield desired fire behavior conducive to more effective 
fire suppression. Prescribed burning is also used, especially to 
maintain previously treated areas. The use of wildfire to increase 
ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits is very limited.
    2. General Wildfire Protection Zone: Conditions currently put 
communities, community assets and natural resource values at high risk 
of loss from wildfire. This would replace the WUI threat zone, but 
recognizes that fires from greater distances can threaten these areas, 
in part a result of climate change. This zone adds natural resource 
values, and the area is increased. Emphasis would be placed on 
mechanical and hand treatments to yield desired fire behavior conducive 
to more effective fire suppression and retention of desired conditions 
for natural resources. The use of wildfire to increase ecosystem 
resilience and provide ecological benefits is limited.
    3. Wildfire Restoration Zone: Conditions currently put communities, 
community assets, watersheds and natural resource values at moderate 
risk of loss from wildfire. Wildfire could be used to increase 
ecosystem resilience and provide ecological benefits when conditions 
allow. Strategically located mechanical treatments and/or prescribed 
burning, where feasible, may be a necessary precursor to the 
reintroduction of wildfire to achieve desired conditions. Strategically 
located treatments increase the opportunity to manage wildfires to 
achieve desired conditions.
    4. Wildfire Maintenance Zone: Conditions currently put communities, 
community assets, watersheds and natural resource values at low risk of 
loss from wildfire, and many natural resources would benefit from 
wildland fire. Due to low risk, wildfires are expected to be used as 
often as possible to maintain ecosystem resilience and provide 
ecological benefits when conditions allow. Mechanical treatments and/or 
prescribed burning, where feasible, are used to complement wildfire to 
achieve desired conditions.
    Desired conditions and SNFPA 1-11 would be modified to incorporate 
the four zone approach. In the Protection Zones, plan components would 
be geared toward safe firefighting and protecting assets (e.g., 
structures and powerlines) and natural resources. In the Restoration 
and Maintenance Zones, plan components would emphasize effects of fire 
on natural resources and would be geared toward desired conditions for 
ecological resilience and integrity. New plan components would 
emphasize fire behavior and the effects on resources (e.g., habitat or 
timber) in terms of severity (e.g., the number of trees killed).

Air Quality

    Desired conditions, guidelines, standards and other plan content 
would be added to allow for improved coordination with air quality 
regulators and with communities and to provide for a transparent 
analysis and clear communication regarding smoke tradeoffs from 
prescribed fire or wildfire used to meet resource objectives and large, 
uncontrolled wildfire. Other plan content would be added to consider 
smoke impacts to downwind communities.

Terrestrial Ecosystems

    Within the Community and General Wildfire Protection Zones, to 
reflect the intent of the new planning rule, some standards and 
guidelines from the SNFPA would be converted to or replaced with 
desired conditions and other plan content.
    Current general desired conditions would be replaced with specific, 
quantitative desired conditions based on ecological sustainability. 
Prescriptive elements on vegetation management (SNFPA 1-12 and 17-19) 
would be replaced with desired conditions and other plan content aimed 
at restoring ecological integrity and sustainability. Desired 
conditions would incorporate references to new science (e.g., General 
Technical Report 220 and 237) that better reflect resilience to fire, 
drought and climate change and heterogeneity beneficial to wildlife. 
Vegetation desired conditions would be made more specific by describing 
ecological outcomes as a numerical range. The importance of fire as an 
ecological process in vegetation types adapted to fire (e.g., mixed 
conifer and Jeffrey pine) would be included.
    A strategy would be added that emphasizes planning and implementing 
projects at the landscape scale (5,000 to 100,000 acres) to increase 
the effectiveness and efficiency of restoring ecological resilience to 
fire, drought and climate change. Locations and types of restoration 
treatments (e.g. thinning or controlled burning) would occur within 
these larger areas to influence changes in effects of wildfires.
    Plan components and other plan content would be added or updated 
for all major eastside vegetation types on the Inyo National Forest, 
and small portions of the Sequoia National Forest, including sagebrush, 
pinyon-juniper, desert shrub, and eastside oak.
    Desired conditions and other plan content would be added that 
recognize the importance of perennial grasses in eastside ecosystems 
and the role they play in resilience to non-native grass invasion and 
resilience to fire.
    The existing old forest emphasis area land allocation and desired 
conditions from the SNFPA would be removed because the desired 
conditions are general and lack specific information on desired levels 
of large and old trees. Forest-wide desired conditions for old forest 
would be added that describe desired large tree densities and the 
proportion of the landscape containing old forest characteristics.
    Desired conditions would be added to recognize complex early seral 
habitat as

[[Page 51540]]

an important component to ecological sustainability, describing the 
desired proportions on the landscape, large snag and log densities and 
shrub cover amounts. Desired conditions would be added that integrate 
all ecological components of complex early seral habitat. Plan content 
would be added that addresses landscape consideration of the 
distribution and proportion of complex early seral habitats, including 
connectivity. A standard that addresses retention of some areas post 
fire with minimal resource management intervention would be added.
    Desired conditions and other plan content would be added to address 
ecological sustainability of subalpine and alpine ecosystems omitted in 
earlier plans. This includes components to address threats to high 
elevation white pines from blister rust and bark beetle.
    Desired conditions would be added for blue oak woodlands to support 
existing standards and guidelines from the SNFPA.

Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems

    Plan components would be added and modified to better restore, 
maintain and increase the resilience of aquatic and riparian ecosystems 
to climate change, fire, ozone and nitrogen depositions.
    The term riparian conservation objective (RCO) would be dropped to 
avoid confusion with the 2012 Planning Rule plan component called 
objectives. The spirit and intent of the original RCOs would remain in 
other plan components. The standards and guidelines organized under 
RCOs would be mostly retained and reorganized. More specifically, SNFPA 
91 would be modified to include the definition of riparian conservation 
areas, and by removing the need for a specific RCO analysis. SNFPA 92 
and 93 would be removed, because they concern the RCO system and their 
intent is captured elsewhere in plan components and existing law.
    SNFPA 109 and 111 would be replaced with other plan content to 
improve resilience of riparian ecosystems to fire, drought and climate 
change. This change would allow for increased flexibility with 
prescribed fire and mechanical treatment and/or hand treatments in 
riparian conservation areas and critical aquatic refuges where 
appropriate. Although the new language would emphasize more flexibility 
to treat in riparian areas, activities would need to be designed 
considering desired conditions, ensure the protection of at-risk 
species, and meet all necessary protection measures for water and soil.
    Desired conditions would be updated for meadows to reflect an 
integration of vegetation, soils, hydrology and wildlife conditions. 
Guidelines would be added to address the ecological integrity of 
meadows and their connection to groundwater. Guidelines currently in 
place for the Inyo National Forest have replaced SNFPA 120 and 121 to 
further allow for an integrated ecological approach to meadow 
management on that forest.
    New guidelines would be included to protect the spring environment 
and to maintain and restore native species and the ecological integrity 
of these systems.

Water Resources

    The contribution of the national forests to water quantity and 
quality in California would be recognized in the plans. Plan components 
would be added to address the effect of climate change and drought on 
water quantity.
    Management direction would be added to ensure compliance with new 
proposed groundwater directives and to further address water shortages 
and climate change in riparian systems.
    SNFPA 106 would be modified to include language that better 
evaluates diversion of water on National Forest System land, including 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing projects. The new 
language would promote collaboration with other entities involved in 
the hydropower relicensing process and other water use negotiations. 
These changes address public feedback and the need to account for 
climate change and threats to water quality. The changes would also 
address trends with drought.
    The Watershed Condition Framework would continue to move forward. 
Priority watersheds have been identified and these would continue to be 
a focus for improving water quality, watersheds and aquatic and 
riparian ecosystem conditions.

At-Risk Species

    SNFPA 53, 54, 98 and 114 which are specifically related to the 
three newly listed federal threatened and endangered amphibian species 
(Yosemite toad, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern 
distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog) would 
be retained but would incorporate clarifications resulting from 
consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    Actions listed in recovery plans and conservation strategies would 
be considered in developing plan components that could contribute to 
the recovery of federally-listed species.
    Existing management areas and direction for California spotted owl 
and northern goshawk protected activity centers and spotted owl home 
range core areas would be retained with clarifications and alignment of 
plan components. No substantive changes would be made with the 
following exceptions:
     Updating and clarifying the desired conditions and other 
plan components for these areas based on information from the 
California spotted owl new interim guidelines and conservation 
assessment, when they are available.
     Changing some standards and guidelines within the 
Community Wildfire Protection Zone and the General Wildfire Protection 
Zone to better balance the need to provide key habitat with managing 
the threat of wildfire impacts to communities and other values at risk. 
This would include minor changes to SNFPA 73 and converting and 
clarifying direction related to limited operating periods in SNFPA 75, 
76 and 77 to guidelines.
     Adding plan content and updating and clarifying standards 
and guidelines to include opportunities for adaptive management related 
to the amount of protected activity centers that can be treated 
mechanically (SNFPA 80 and 81) and with prescribed burning (SNFPA 78 
and 79).
    Direction for the Southern Sierra Fisher Conservation Area (SNFPA 
90) and fisher den sites (SNFPA 85-87) would be retained with 
clarifications and alignment of plan components. No substantive changes 
would be made, pending completion of the Southern Sierra Fisher 
Conservation Strategy. These management areas and associated direction 
would be updated or changed considering information from the 
conservation strategy. Other plan components in other resource areas 
would be aligned as needed.
    Direction for Bi-State sage-grouse management from the Inyo 
National Forest Sage-Grouse Interim Management Policy, portions of the 
Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest Sage-Grouse Plan Amendment and 
strategies from the Rocky Mountain Research Station-led conservation 
strategy on habitat restoration and fire resilience would be added. 
Plan components and other plan content would be added to conserve sage-
grouse habitat.
    A list of preliminary at-risk species was identified in each 
forest's assessment report. During the analysis of alternatives, plan 
components related to ecosystem integrity and ecosystem diversity will 
be examined to determine if direction for ecological integrity and 
ecosystem diversity or for special habitats is sufficient or if 
additional, species-specific plan components are needed for federally-
recognized

[[Page 51541]]

threatened, endangered, proposed or candidate species or for species of 
conservation concern.

Invasive Species

    The existing standards and guidelines specific to noxious weed 
management (SNFPA 36-49) would be clarified and reorganized into 
desired conditions, guidelines and other plan content that address 
terrestrial and aquatic invasive species, including noxious plants.

Lands

    Plan components with management direction for lands acquired by the 
Inyo National Forest through the Nevada Enhancement Act would be added.

Designated Areas

    Wilderness: The 15,110 acres of the Moses Recommended Wilderness on 
the Sequoia National Forest, recommended in the Giant Sequoia National 
Monument Plan, would continue to be managed as recommended wilderness 
until such time as Congress designates it as an addition to the 
National Wilderness Preservation System. There may be new 
recommendations that result from the wilderness evaluations currently 
underway.
    Wild and Scenic Rivers: The 66 miles of the San Joaquin, South Fork 
San Joaquin, North Fork San Joaquin and Middle Fork San Joaquin River 
segments that the Sierra National Forest found suitable in previous 
planning efforts would continue to be managed as suitable and 
recommended wild and scenic river segments until such time as Congress 
designates them as additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers 
System. One mile of the south Fork Kern River segment that the Sequoia 
National Forest found suitable in previous planning efforts will 
continue to be managed as a suitable and recommended wild and scenic 
river until such time as Congress designates it as an addition to the 
National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. There may be new 
recommendations that result from the wild and scenic river evaluations 
currently underway. For the two newly designated wild and scenic rivers 
on the Inyo National Forest, the revised forest plan would include 
direction that is applicable to all wild and scenic rivers on the 
forest and would identify the process and timeline for finishing 
comprehensive river management plans and developing a final boundary.
    Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT): The PCT corridor would 
be identified as a management area and plan components would be added 
to protect the recreation experience and scenery resources along the 
PCT. Identification of the PCT corridor and associated direction does 
not currently exist in forest plans.
    National Recreation Trails: Desired conditions, standards, 
guidelines and other plan content would be added to protect the 
recreation experience and scenery resources along the national 
recreation trails on each forest. There are three national recreation 
trails on the Inyo National Forest, two on the Sequoia National Forest 
outside the Giant Sequoia National Monument and five on the Sierra 
National Forest. This direction does not currently exist in forest 
plans.
    Other Designated Areas: Other designated areas would continue to be 
managed for their designations under current management direction. No 
new designation areas are being recommended at this time.

Plan Monitoring Program

    A monitoring program will be developed that meets the requirements 
of the 2012 Planning Rule and informs evaluation the effectiveness of 
forest plans. The monitoring program consists of monitoring questions 
and associated indicators that address the following eight items: (1) 
The status of select watershed conditions; (2) the status of select 
ecological conditions, including key characteristics, of terrestrial 
and aquatic ecosystems; (3) the status of focal species, selected to 
assess integrity of ecological systems and effects of management on 
ecological conditions; (4) the status of a select set of ecological 
conditions that contribute to the recovery of federally-listed 
threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate 
species and maintain a viable population of species of conservation 
concern; (5) the status of visitor use, visitor satisfaction and 
progress toward meeting recreation objectives; (6) measurable changes 
on the plan area related to climate change and other stressors that may 
be affecting the plan area; (7) progress toward meeting the desired 
conditions and objectives in the plan; and (8) the effects of each 
timber management system to determine that they do not substantially 
and permanently impair the productivity of the land. Additionally, the 
monitoring program may include other monitoring questions and 
indicators that do not address these eight items but which inform 
effectiveness of the plan. Monitoring programs will be designed within 
the financial and technical capabilities of the forests. Capability 
will be expanded by coordinating with partners and through the broader 
regional strategy currently under development.

Other Requirements and Plan Content

    As part of plan revision, the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National 
Forests will also:
     Identify the suitability of areas for the appropriate 
integration of resource management and uses, including identifying 
lands not suitable for timber production;
     Identify the maximum quantity of timber that may be 
removed from the plan area;
     Coordinate with the Regional Forester to identify the 
species of conservation concern for the plan area;
     Describe the plan area's distinctive roles and 
contributions within the broader landscape;
     Contain information reflecting proposed and possible 
actions that may occur on the plan area during the life of the plan;
     Consider including optional content, such as potential 
management approaches or strategies and partnership opportunities or 
coordination activities.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests are preparing an EIS 
to revise their current forest plans. The EIS process will inform each 
Forest Supervisor's decision about which alternative best meets the 
need for quality land management under the 2012 Planning Rule and the 
sustainable multiple-use management concept, as required by the 
National Forest Management Act and the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield 
Act. This concept seeks to meet the diverse needs of people while 
protecting forest resources.
    Each Forest Supervisor will be signing a Record of Decision. Having 
one EIS is expected to help the agency gain efficiencies and complete 
plan revision within a reasonable timeframe and budget. The three 
forests share some landscapes, issues and stakeholders. Consolidating 
under one EIS will help streamline the process for some stakeholders 
and helps facilitate a landscape-level approach to plan revision.
    The revised forest plans will describe the strategic intent of 
managing the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests for the next 10 
to 15 years. The revised forest plans will identify management and/or 
geographic areas and use five plan components to guide future project 
and activity decision making: Desired conditions, objectives, 
standards, guidelines and suitability of lands. Each revised plan will 
include other required content, such as a monitoring program. 
Responsible officials will determine whether to make

[[Page 51542]]

new recommendations for wilderness and other designated areas.
    This decision will not authorize project-level activities on the 
three forests. The authorization of project-level activities on each 
forest occurs through subsequent project-specific decision making. The 
designation of routes, trails and areas for motorized vehicle travel is 
not considered during plan revision but addressed in separate analysis 
processes on each forest. Certain issues (e.g., hunting regulations), 
although important, are beyond the authority or control of the three 
forests and will not be considered. In addition, some decisions and 
determinations, such as wild and scenic river suitability 
determinations, may not be undertaken at this time but will be 
addressed in separate processes.

Public Involvement

    The Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forest plan revision team has 
provided multiple ways for the public, other agencies and tribes to 
contribute ideas about how current forest plans need to change or be 
improved. Public involvement began in earnest in 2012. Formal and 
informal meetings, letters, emails, phone calls, newspaper 
announcements and postings to the Pacific Southwest Region and forest 
Web sites were used to share and gather information and encourage 
participation. Plan revision team members gave presentations, went to 
the field and met with individuals and groups. Information collected 
from the public was used to identify needed changes in the current 
forest plans and desired conditions.
    The forests will continue regular and meaningful consultation and 
collaboration with tribal nations on a government-to-government basis 
to address issues that significantly or uniquely affect their 
communities.
    The forests will continue to collaborate with interested members of 
the public, as well as federal and state agencies, local governments 
and other organizations.

Applicable Planning Rule

    Preparation of the revised forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and 
Sierra National Forests began with the publication of the Notice of 
Initiation in the Federal Register on December 26, 2013 [78 FR 78326] 
and was initiated under the planning procedures contained in the 2012 
Planning Rule (36 CFR 219 (2012)).

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the 30-day scoping process which 
guides the development of the EIS. The purpose of this process is to 
determine the scope of issues to be addressed and to identify the 
significant issues related to the proposed action. Public meetings and 
tribal forums to gather input on the proposed action will be held in 
September 2014. Additional materials, as well as the dates, times and 
locations of these meetings can be found at http://tinyurl.com/r5earlyadopters. It is important that reviewers provide their comments 
in a time and manner useful to the agency's preparation of the EIS. 
Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the 
scoping period and should clearly articulate the reviewer's concerns 
and contentions. Reviewers should clearly identify which forest or 
forests each of their comments applies to. The submission of timely and 
specific comments can affect a reviewer's ability to participate in 
subsequent administrative or judicial review. Comments received in 
response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those 
who comment, will become part of the public record for this proposed 
action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered, 
however, see the section below concerning the objection process and the 
requirements for filing an objection.

Decision Will Be Subject to Objection

    The decisions to approve the revised forest plans will be subject 
to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 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.

    Dated: August 20, 2014.
Barnie T. Gyant,
Deputy Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2014-20459 Filed 8-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P