Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest, Council Ranger District, Idaho, Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project, 77447-77448 [2014-30193]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 24, 2014 / Notices environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered, however. Dated: December 18, 2014. Laurence Crabtree, Forest Supervisor. N. Mission Street, Building 2, McCall, Idaho 83638. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-intermtnpayette@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 208–634–0744. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Penny, Project Team Leader, 208–253–0164, spenny@fs.fed.us. 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: Purpose and Need for Action [FR Doc. 2014–30158 Filed 12–23–14; 8:45 am] The purpose is to: (1) Move vegetation toward the desired conditions (e.g., canopy closure in large tree class, species composition, and size class DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE distribution) defined in the Forest Plan and consistent with the current science Forest Service for restoration of ponderosa pine, Intermountain Region, Payette National Douglas-fir, grand fir, subalpine fir and Forest, Council Ranger District, Idaho, lodgepole habitat types, with an Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape emphasis on: (a) Improving habitat for Restoration Project specific wildlife species of concern, such as the species dependent on dry AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA. coniferous forests, while maintaining ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an habitat for federally-listed and sensitive environmental impact statement. species; (b) Maintaining and promoting large tree forest structure, early seral SUMMARY: The Council Ranger District of the Payette National Forest will prepare species composition (for example aspen, western larch, ponderosa pine, and an Environmental Impact Statement Douglas-fir) and forest resiliency to fire, (EIS) for the Middle Fork Weiser River insects and disease and climate change; Landscape Restoration Project. The (c) Reducing the risk of uncharacteristic Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape wildland fire, with an emphasis on Restoration Project area is located restoring and maintaining desirable approximately six miles southeast of Council, Idaho, primarily in the Middle plant community attributes including fuel levels, fire regimes, and other Fork Weiser River watershed. It ecological processes; and (d) comprises approximately 50,000 acres Maintaining and promoting large trees and is within the boundaries of the where retention is consistent with the Council Ranger District of the Payette above objectives. (2) Maintaining and National Forest, in Adams County promoting legacy ponderosa pine and Idaho. The project is designed to move western larch and legacy-like Douglas vegetation toward desired conditions, fir; (3) Restore heterogeneous fine and improve wildlife habitat, reduce forest landscape scale mosaic patterns by fuels, improve watershed conditions establishing varying patch sizes through a variety of activities including consistent with spatial patterns that commercial and non-commercial vegetation management and road system promote forest resilience to disturbance; (4) Within dry non-forested habitats, modifications and maintenance; maintain and promote native grasses improve recreation infrastructure and and restore desired conditions for age opportunities; and improve firefighter and canopy class structure on sagebrush and public safety by establishing and bitterbrush; (5) Decrease the conifer fuelbreaks. encroachment into aspen and nonDATES: Comments concerning the scope forested habitats; (6) In order of priority, of the analysis must be received by move the Granite Creek subwatershed January 23, 2015. The draft from a Watershed Condition Framework environmental impact statement is (WCF) rating of Class 3 (Impaired) to a expected August, 2015 and the final Class 2 (Functioning at Risk), and move environmental impact statement is Mica Creek, Jungle Creek, and Little Fall expected February 2016. Creek subwatersheds within the Project area toward the desired condition for ADDRESSES: Send written comments to soil, water, riparian, and aquatic Keith Lannom, Forest Supervisor, 500 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 3410–11–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 23, 2014 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 77447 resources; (7) Manage recreation use in the Project with an emphasis on hardening primary dispersed recreation areas, improving existing trails and providing new trail opportunities including an OHV loop and a nonmotorized trail; (8) Contribute to the economic vitality of the communities adjacent to the Payette National Forest; and (9) Improve firefighter and public safety by establishing strategically placed defensible fuelbreaks within the Project area. The need for the Project is based on the difference between the existing and desired conditions. These differences include: (1) Loss of habitat for Family 1 wildlife species, such as the whiteheaded woodpecker, compared to historical conditions; (2) Fewer large tree size classes than desired in the drier forest types (Potential Vegetation Groups 2, and 5), and higher canopy cover; (3) Fewer early seral tree species (i.e. aspen, ponderosa pine and western larch) than desired; (4) Increased stand and landscape homogeneity of size classes, species diversity, tree distributions and canopy closure; (5) Increased high canopy closer in the large size classes in some vegetation types; (6) Increased conifer encroachment into aspen and nonforested habitats; (7) Fewer fire resistant tree species (i.e., ponderosa pine and Western larch) and higher densities of non-fire resistant tree species; (8) Higher surface fuel loading in those areas that have missed one or more fire return intervals; (9) Less than desired watershed function and integrity, including increased sedimentation, hydrologic risk from flooding, disturbance in RCAs (mainly roadrelated), habitat fragmentation, lack of large woody debris in some streams, and lack of coarse woody debris in areas of past timber harvest; and (10) Trail and recreation facilities that do not meet current design and accessibility standards. Proposed Action The Proposed Action includes: Up to 13,002 acres of commercial harvests (a combination of Free Thin, Free Thin– Patch Cut-Selection Harvest, Aspen Restoration, and Mature Plantation Harvest). Combined commercial and non-commercial vegetation treatments include up to 5,280 acres of Meadow Restoration and 1,267 acres of Restoration of Low Density Timber Stands. Non-commercial treatments include thinning up to 4,309 acres. These acreages include treatments designed for and within Riparian Conservation Areas (RCAs) and total approximately 3,428 acres. Prescribed E:\FR\FM\24DEN1.SGM 24DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 77448 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 24, 2014 / Notices burning would be conducted on up to 37,000 acres and approximately 13 miles of shaded fuelbreak would be created. Currently closed roads used for timber harvest would be evaluated for firewood retrieval, and could include firewood decks made available for public use. Watershed improvements proposed would improve watershed function and resiliency through minimizing the impact of the road and trail network throughout Middle Fork Weiser River watershed, and restoring vegetation and soil productivity in riparian areas. Treatments include road and trail decommissioning, improvements and reroutes, improvement to dispersed recreation sites within the Middle Fork Weiser River RCA, and vegetation treatments designed to restore or enhance native riparian vegetation through mechanical or hand treatment, prescribed fire, and planting and seeding. Forest Service System road treatments proposed throughout the project area include maintenance and/or improvement of Forest Service System Roads. This could include graveling, reshaping, upgrading and replacing culverts, and stabilizing cut and fill slopes. Approximately 16.6 miles of system road would be placed in longterm closure status. Long-term closure treatments include stabilizing the road surface and cut and fill slopes, removing or bypassing culverts, and blocking the entrance. Approximately 16.1 miles of system roads and 62.1 miles of unauthorized routes would be decommissioned. Decommissioning treatments proposed range from full recontour to spot treating isolated areas such as stream crossings on roads that have little to no defined prism and have recovered. Culverts that restrict proper hydrologic function and passage of fish and other aquatic organisms would be replaced. These are: (1) FS System Road 50186 at the Middle Fork Weiser River near the junction with FS System Road 50245 and (2) FS System Road 50186 at Big Creek. Developed and dispersed recreation improvements include: 1) Cabin Creek Campground—Install and relocate one single vault toilet to replace the old existing one, add new site markers to individual campsites, install a new fee tube and information kiosk, install accessible tables, and build an accessible pathway to the water system, gravel the main campground loop road, and widen the road and turn at the campground access to accommodate full size recreational vehicles; (2) Make improvements to the Horse Cabin Flat VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:34 Dec 23, 2014 Jkt 235001 dispersed site including installation of up to four hitch rails, designation of camping sites using boulders, graveling and site signs to mark the allowed camping locations, add a single vault toilet; (3) Harden the crossing of the Middle Fork Weiser River at the dispersed camping area for stock use and to minimize resource damage and focus motorized access to the existing bridge approximately 300 feet from this crossing. Make improvements to the site in general (hardening, providing physical barriers to direct use) in order to minimize impacts to the adjacent Middle Fork Weiser River; and 4) Roads identified for decommissioning would be evaluated for site-specific dispersed recreation opportunities, at the intersection with FS System open, or seasonally open roads, if no resource concerns are identified. Trail improvements include: (1) Establish trailheads with parking and hitch rails for the #205 (northeast) and the #198 (southwest) trails. Both trailheads would require securing easements from Potlatch Corporation, the private landowner; (2) To accommodate continued two-wheel motorized access on the entire #198 trail, change the designation of a short section (two miles) of the trail from nonmotorized to two-wheel motorized use; (3) Perform trail maintenance (including proper signing) on 24 miles of existing open designed trail within the Project area; (4) Construct and formally designate for seasonal use, a motorized OHV loop Trail (Trail open to vehicles 70 inches and less in width) using closed road 50166 and closed road 50485, to provide a motorized trail approximately three miles in length. This would require 1⁄2 mile of new trail construction to complete and close the loop; (5) Sign and formally designate the former #202 trail as open for nonmotorized use. Complete needed switchback construction to mediate the steep sections; (6) Relocate the trailhead for the #209 ATV trail onto National Forest Lands. Change the designation of the trail from ‘‘open year round’’ to ‘‘seasonal’’; (7) Re-route portions of the #198 trail near the base of Council Mountain to reduce resource impacts and improve sustainability. Reduce congestion of multiple trail junctions in this sensitive upper elevation trail network; and (8) Close and rehabilitate approximately four miles of unauthorized OHV trails throughout the project area. Proposed actions in the Council Mountain and Poison Creek Inventoried Roadless Areas include (1) Prescribed burning and preparation for prescribed burning including associated handline PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 and (2) Trail improvement and designation changes. There is no treatment proposed in the Council Mountain Research Natural Area. Responsible Official The Forest Supervisor of the Payette National Forest is the Responsible Official. Nature of Decision To Be Made Based on the purpose and need for the proposed action, the Responsible Official will determine whether to proceed with the action, as proposed, as modified by another alternative or not at all. If an action alternative is selected, the Responsible Official will determine what design features, mitigation measures and monitoring requirements. Preliminary Issues Preliminary issues for this project include effects related to the proposed activities on water quality, soil productivity, wildlife habitat, recreation, and access management. Addresses Additional project information is available on the Payette National Forest Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/ projects/payette/landmanagement/ projects. Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner that they are useful to the agency’s preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered, however. Dated: December 17, 2014. Keith Lannom, Forest Supervisor, Payette National Forest. [FR Doc. 2014–30193 Filed 12–23–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–11–P E:\FR\FM\24DEN1.SGM 24DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 24, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 77447-77448]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30193]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest, Council Ranger 
District, Idaho, Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: The Council Ranger District of the Payette National Forest 
will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Middle 
Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project. The Middle Fork Weiser 
River Landscape Restoration Project area is located approximately six 
miles southeast of Council, Idaho, primarily in the Middle Fork Weiser 
River watershed. It comprises approximately 50,000 acres and is within 
the boundaries of the Council Ranger District of the Payette National 
Forest, in Adams County Idaho. The project is designed to move 
vegetation toward desired conditions, improve wildlife habitat, reduce 
forest fuels, improve watershed conditions through a variety of 
activities including commercial and non-commercial vegetation 
management and road system modifications and maintenance; improve 
recreation infrastructure and opportunities; and improve firefighter 
and public safety by establishing fuelbreaks.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by January 23, 2015. The draft environmental impact statement is 
expected August, 2015 and the final environmental impact statement is 
expected February 2016.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Keith Lannom, Forest Supervisor, 
500 N. Mission Street, Building 2, McCall, Idaho 83638. Comments may 
also be sent via email to comments-intermtn-payette@fs.fed.us, or via 
facsimile to 208-634-0744.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Penny, Project Team Leader, 
208-253-0164, spenny@fs.fed.us. 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:

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose is to: (1) Move vegetation toward the desired 
conditions (e.g., canopy closure in large tree class, species 
composition, and size class distribution) defined in the Forest Plan 
and consistent with the current science for restoration of ponderosa 
pine, Douglas-fir, grand fir, subalpine fir and lodgepole habitat 
types, with an emphasis on: (a) Improving habitat for specific wildlife 
species of concern, such as the species dependent on dry coniferous 
forests, while maintaining habitat for federally-listed and sensitive 
species; (b) Maintaining and promoting large tree forest structure, 
early seral species composition (for example aspen, western larch, 
ponderosa pine, and Douglas-fir) and forest resiliency to fire, insects 
and disease and climate change; (c) Reducing the risk of 
uncharacteristic wildland fire, with an emphasis on restoring and 
maintaining desirable plant community attributes including fuel levels, 
fire regimes, and other ecological processes; and (d) Maintaining and 
promoting large trees where retention is consistent with the above 
objectives. (2) Maintaining and promoting legacy ponderosa pine and 
western larch and legacy-like Douglas fir; (3) Restore heterogeneous 
fine and landscape scale mosaic patterns by establishing varying patch 
sizes consistent with spatial patterns that promote forest resilience 
to disturbance; (4) Within dry non-forested habitats, maintain and 
promote native grasses and restore desired conditions for age and 
canopy class structure on sagebrush and bitterbrush; (5) Decrease the 
conifer encroachment into aspen and non-forested habitats; (6) In order 
of priority, move the Granite Creek subwatershed from a Watershed 
Condition Framework (WCF) rating of Class 3 (Impaired) to a Class 2 
(Functioning at Risk), and move Mica Creek, Jungle Creek, and Little 
Fall Creek subwatersheds within the Project area toward the desired 
condition for soil, water, riparian, and aquatic resources; (7) Manage 
recreation use in the Project with an emphasis on hardening primary 
dispersed recreation areas, improving existing trails and providing new 
trail opportunities including an OHV loop and a non-motorized trail; 
(8) Contribute to the economic vitality of the communities adjacent to 
the Payette National Forest; and (9) Improve firefighter and public 
safety by establishing strategically placed defensible fuelbreaks 
within the Project area.
    The need for the Project is based on the difference between the 
existing and desired conditions. These differences include: (1) Loss of 
habitat for Family 1 wildlife species, such as the white-headed 
woodpecker, compared to historical conditions; (2) Fewer large tree 
size classes than desired in the drier forest types (Potential 
Vegetation Groups 2, and 5), and higher canopy cover; (3) Fewer early 
seral tree species (i.e. aspen, ponderosa pine and western larch) than 
desired; (4) Increased stand and landscape homogeneity of size classes, 
species diversity, tree distributions and canopy closure; (5) Increased 
high canopy closer in the large size classes in some vegetation types; 
(6) Increased conifer encroachment into aspen and non-forested 
habitats; (7) Fewer fire resistant tree species (i.e., ponderosa pine 
and Western larch) and higher densities of non-fire resistant tree 
species; (8) Higher surface fuel loading in those areas that have 
missed one or more fire return intervals; (9) Less than desired 
watershed function and integrity, including increased sedimentation, 
hydrologic risk from flooding, disturbance in RCAs (mainly road-
related), habitat fragmentation, lack of large woody debris in some 
streams, and lack of coarse woody debris in areas of past timber 
harvest; and (10) Trail and recreation facilities that do not meet 
current design and accessibility standards.

Proposed Action

    The Proposed Action includes: Up to 13,002 acres of commercial 
harvests (a combination of Free Thin, Free Thin-Patch Cut-Selection 
Harvest, Aspen Restoration, and Mature Plantation Harvest). Combined 
commercial and non-commercial vegetation treatments include up to 5,280 
acres of Meadow Restoration and 1,267 acres of Restoration of Low 
Density Timber Stands. Non-commercial treatments include thinning up to 
4,309 acres. These acreages include treatments designed for and within 
Riparian Conservation Areas (RCAs) and total approximately 3,428 acres. 
Prescribed

[[Page 77448]]

burning would be conducted on up to 37,000 acres and approximately 13 
miles of shaded fuelbreak would be created.
    Currently closed roads used for timber harvest would be evaluated 
for firewood retrieval, and could include firewood decks made available 
for public use.
    Watershed improvements proposed would improve watershed function 
and resiliency through minimizing the impact of the road and trail 
network throughout Middle Fork Weiser River watershed, and restoring 
vegetation and soil productivity in riparian areas. Treatments include 
road and trail decommissioning, improvements and reroutes, improvement 
to dispersed recreation sites within the Middle Fork Weiser River RCA, 
and vegetation treatments designed to restore or enhance native 
riparian vegetation through mechanical or hand treatment, prescribed 
fire, and planting and seeding.
    Forest Service System road treatments proposed throughout the 
project area include maintenance and/or improvement of Forest Service 
System Roads. This could include graveling, reshaping, upgrading and 
replacing culverts, and stabilizing cut and fill slopes. Approximately 
16.6 miles of system road would be placed in long-term closure status. 
Long-term closure treatments include stabilizing the road surface and 
cut and fill slopes, removing or bypassing culverts, and blocking the 
entrance. Approximately 16.1 miles of system roads and 62.1 miles of 
unauthorized routes would be decommissioned. Decommissioning treatments 
proposed range from full recontour to spot treating isolated areas such 
as stream crossings on roads that have little to no defined prism and 
have recovered.
    Culverts that restrict proper hydrologic function and passage of 
fish and other aquatic organisms would be replaced. These are: (1) FS 
System Road 50186 at the Middle Fork Weiser River near the junction 
with FS System Road 50245 and (2) FS System Road 50186 at Big Creek.
    Developed and dispersed recreation improvements include: 1) Cabin 
Creek Campground--Install and relocate one single vault toilet to 
replace the old existing one, add new site markers to individual 
campsites, install a new fee tube and information kiosk, install 
accessible tables, and build an accessible pathway to the water system, 
gravel the main campground loop road, and widen the road and turn at 
the campground access to accommodate full size recreational vehicles; 
(2) Make improvements to the Horse Cabin Flat dispersed site including 
installation of up to four hitch rails, designation of camping sites 
using boulders, graveling and site signs to mark the allowed camping 
locations, add a single vault toilet; (3) Harden the crossing of the 
Middle Fork Weiser River at the dispersed camping area for stock use 
and to minimize resource damage and focus motorized access to the 
existing bridge approximately 300 feet from this crossing. Make 
improvements to the site in general (hardening, providing physical 
barriers to direct use) in order to minimize impacts to the adjacent 
Middle Fork Weiser River; and 4) Roads identified for decommissioning 
would be evaluated for site-specific dispersed recreation 
opportunities, at the intersection with FS System open, or seasonally 
open roads, if no resource concerns are identified.
    Trail improvements include: (1) Establish trailheads with parking 
and hitch rails for the #205 (northeast) and the #198 (southwest) 
trails. Both trailheads would require securing easements from Potlatch 
Corporation, the private landowner; (2) To accommodate continued two-
wheel motorized access on the entire #198 trail, change the designation 
of a short section (two miles) of the trail from non-motorized to two-
wheel motorized use; (3) Perform trail maintenance (including proper 
signing) on 24 miles of existing open designed trail within the Project 
area; (4) Construct and formally designate for seasonal use, a 
motorized OHV loop Trail (Trail open to vehicles 70 inches and less in 
width) using closed road 50166 and closed road 50485, to provide a 
motorized trail approximately three miles in length. This would require 
\1/2\ mile of new trail construction to complete and close the loop; 
(5) Sign and formally designate the former #202 trail as open for non-
motorized use. Complete needed switchback construction to mediate the 
steep sections; (6) Relocate the trailhead for the #209 ATV trail onto 
National Forest Lands. Change the designation of the trail from ``open 
year round'' to ``seasonal''; (7) Re-route portions of the #198 trail 
near the base of Council Mountain to reduce resource impacts and 
improve sustainability. Reduce congestion of multiple trail junctions 
in this sensitive upper elevation trail network; and (8) Close and 
rehabilitate approximately four miles of unauthorized OHV trails 
throughout the project area.
    Proposed actions in the Council Mountain and Poison Creek 
Inventoried Roadless Areas include (1) Prescribed burning and 
preparation for prescribed burning including associated handline and 
(2) Trail improvement and designation changes. There is no treatment 
proposed in the Council Mountain Research Natural Area.

Responsible Official

    The Forest Supervisor of the Payette National Forest is the 
Responsible Official.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the purpose and need for the proposed action, the 
Responsible Official will determine whether to proceed with the action, 
as proposed, as modified by another alternative or not at all. If an 
action alternative is selected, the Responsible Official will determine 
what design features, mitigation measures and monitoring requirements.

Preliminary Issues

    Preliminary issues for this project include effects related to the 
proposed activities on water quality, soil productivity, wildlife 
habitat, recreation, and access management.

Addresses

    Additional project information is available on the Payette National 
Forest Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/payette/landmanagement/projects.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. It is important 
that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner 
that they are useful to the agency's preparation of the environmental 
impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the 
close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the 
reviewer's concerns and contentions.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered, however.

    Dated: December 17, 2014.
Keith Lannom,
Forest Supervisor, Payette National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2014-30193 Filed 12-23-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P