Rio Grande National Forest; Colorado; Revision of the Land Management Plan for the Rio Grande National Forest, 62706-62708 [2016-21837]

Download as PDF 62706 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 176 / Monday, September 12, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES • Aquarius—Purple Beach Group Site, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $15 per night and an additional $5 extra vehicle, per night fee for more than 2 vehicles. The adjacent day use picnic area will remain free to public use. • Cedar Flats Sewer Dump Station, Fenn Ranger Station, Moose Creek Ranger District: Proposed fee of $10 per use/waste dump. • Elk River Day Use Picnic & Group Shelter, Palouse Ranger District: Proposed fee of $25 daily rental of the group day use facilities which includes a large group shelter, with a maximum capacity of 150 persons and parking for 30 vehicles. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. • Fish Creek Group Site, Salmon River Ranger District: Proposed fee of $25 per night with a maximum capacity of 75 and 20 vehicles. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. • Gold Meadows Cabin Rental, Lochsa/ Powell Ranger District: Proposed fee of $40 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. • Liz Creek Cabin Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $40 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. • Lolo Creek Campground, Lochsa/Powell Ranger District: Proposed fee of $12 per night. • Partridge Creek Campground, Palouse Ranger District; Proposed fee of $12 per night. • Scurvy Mountain Lookout Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $45 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. • Wallow Mountain Lookout Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $45 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. Additional construction is required at Partridge Creek Campground prior to implementation of proposed fee, and is planned to occur in 2016 and 2017. No fee will be charged prior to completion. The four proposed cabin and fire lookout rentals have not been available for recreation use prior to this date. Rentals of other cabins and lookouts on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have shown that people appreciate and enjoy the opportunity and availability of these rentals. The proposed campgrounds, day use group shelters, and dump station have been previously open for public use, free of charge; however, all these sites have received upgrades and the 2014 Recreation Facility Analysis recommended considering fees be implemented to continue the availability and provision of services. Funds generated at these sites will be VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:40 Sep 09, 2016 Jkt 238001 used for the continued operation and maintenance, upkeep of facilities, and improvements as feasible. These fees are only proposed and will be determined upon further analysis and public comment. Dated: September 1, 2016. Cheryl F. Probert, Nez Perce—Clearwater Forest Supervisor. Send any comments about these fee proposals by October 14, 2016 so comments can be compiled, analyzed, and shared with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Coeur d’Alene Resource Advisory Committee. With the exception of the Partridge Creek Campground, the proposed effective date of implementation of proposed new fees will be no earlier than six months after publication of this notice. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DATES: Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, Nez Perce—Clearwater National Forests, 903 3rd Street, Kamiah, Idaho 83536 or Email to cprobert@fs.fed.us. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diana Jones, Landscape Architect Nez Perce—Clearwater National Forests at 208–476–8239 or dljones@fs.fed.us; Information about proposed fee changes can also be found on the Nez Perce— Clearwater National Forests Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/ nezperceclearwater. The Federal Recreation Lands Enhancement Act (Title VII, Pub. L. 108–447) directed the Secretary of Agriculture to publish a six month advance notice in the Federal Register whenever new recreation fee areas are established. Once public involvement is complete, these new fees will be reviewed by the BLM Coeur d’Alene Resource Advisory Committee prior to a final decision and implementation. A business analysis of the proposed new fee sites listed has shown that people desire having a variety of recreation opportunities and experiences throughout the Nez Perce— Clearwater National Forests, such as group camping, cabin and lookout rentals and single family camping. A market analysis of surrounding recreation sites with similar amenities indicates that the proposed fees are comparable and reasonable. People wanting to reserve the identified sites will need to do so through the National Recreation Reservation Service, at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1–877– 444–6777. The National Recreation Reservation Service charges a $9 fee per reservation. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 [FR Doc. 2016–21833 Filed 9–9–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P Forest Service Rio Grande National Forest; Colorado; Revision of the Land Management Plan for the Rio Grande National Forest Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA Forest Service is preparing the revised land management plan (forest plan) for the Rio Grande National Forest. The agency will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the revised plan. The revised forest plan will supersede the existing forest plan previously approved by the responsible official for the Rio Grande National Forest in 1996. The existing forest plan has been amended several times since its approval. The existing forest plan, as amended, will remain in effect until the revised forest plan is approved. The plan 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 scope of the analysis will be accepted throughout the entire plan revision process, however members of the public who wish to establish standing to participate in the administrative review process must submit substantive formal comments on the plan revision within 45 days of the publication of the Legal Notice in the Valley Courier in accordance with 36 CFR 219 Subpart B. ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent in one of the following ways: (1) Via the Forest Plan Revision email address: rgnf_forest_plan@fs.fed.us or (2) send or deliver written comments to the Rio Grande National Forest’s Supervisor’s Office, Attn: Forest Plan Revision, 1803 W. Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Minks, Forest Planner, eminks@ fs.fed.us, 719–852–6215 or Mike Blakeman, Public Affairs Officer, mblakeman@fs.fed.us, 719–852–6212. Information on plan revision is also available at the forest Web site www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande. Individuals SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\12SEN1.SGM 12SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 176 / Monday, September 12, 2016 / Notices 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: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Purpose and Need for Action The purpose and need for revising the Rio Grande forest plan is primarily the age of the current plan and a significant changed condition on the forest. According to the National Forest Management Act, forest plans are to be revised on a 10 to 15 year cycle. The current forest plan is 20 years old and has been amended seven times. Since the forest plan was approved in 1996, there have also been significant changes in economic, social, and ecological conditions in the plan area, including the infestation of 588,000 acres of the spruce by the spruce beetle. The purpose and need for revising the current plan is also to incorporate new policies, priorities, information from monitoring reports and scientific research as required under the 2012 Planning Rule. The Rio Grande has completed monitoring reports annually from 1997 through 2013. The 2012 Planning Rule, which became effective May 9, 2012, requires inclusion of plan components that address social and economic sustainability, ecosystem services, and multiple uses integrated with the plan components for ecological sustainability and species diversity. Social and economic management direction is needed to provide people and communities with a range of social and economic benefits for present and future generations. To meet the Planning Rule’s requirement to provide for ecological sustainability, management direction is also needed that addresses ecosystem integrity and diversity, including key ecosystem characteristics, in light of changes in climate, land ownership and recreational use patterns, as well as other threats and stressors to those ecosystems. Revised plan components are needed that focus on maintaining or restoring aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to provide for species diversity including threatened and endangered species, and species of conservation concern. Additionally, updates and modifications to management direction are needed to address suitability of certain areas for particular uses, address access and sustainable recreation and provide for the management of existing and anticipated uses. The 2012 Planning Rule also requires the identification of VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:40 Sep 09, 2016 Jkt 238001 acreage suitable for timber harvest on the forest, the re-evaluation of the maximum quantity of timber that may be removed from the plan area, a description of the proposed and possible actions related to the planned timber sale program, timber harvesting levels, and the proportion of various methods of forest vegetation management practices. Most importantly, the purpose and need is to address the identified needs to change the existing plan presented to the public in March 2016 and refined into an initial proposal in July 2016. These needs for change were identified through the monitoring reports mentioned above, internal staff recommendations, and the assessment phase of the revision process which was initiated in December 2014 and completed in March 2016. Extensive public and employee involvement, along with science-based evaluations, have helped identify these preliminary needs to change the existing forest plan. During the assessment phase alone, over fifty public meetings were held in multiple forums to engage the public on the current condition and potential needs to change the management of the forest. Upon completion of the assessment phase, two additional rounds of meetings were held on each district in March and July of 2016 to discuss and further refine the needs for change and initial proposal summarized in the proposed action items described below. Proposed Action The Proposed Action is to revise the forest plan to address the needs to change the existing forest plan presented to the public in March 2016 and refined into the initial proposal in July of 2016. The Rio Grande National Forest is proposing to establish a new adaptive management framework that will guide development of the forest plan direction and required components for the next 10 to 15 years. This framework is designed to increase the responsiveness of forest managers to changing conditions on the landscape, changes in higher level direction, and new technologies that are not yet foreseen. This framework was developed with the public through the spring and summer of 2016 and includes an overarching geographic area layer above the forest’s existing management area layer, tiered to levels of active management, the forest’s discretion in said management, and the current legal status of the land. This framework provides a vehicle for the future plan to better communicate how the agency manages the forest, a PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 62707 common theme heard throughout the public process. The Proposed Action also includes forest-wide goals, objectives and desired conditions tied to management areas, tiered to this management framework and directed by the 2012 Planning Rule. Many of these objectives and desired conditions are pulled from the existing 1996 Forest Plan but are organized differently to fit into this overall adaptive management framework. To ensure for management accountability, however, the forest will develop additional required plan components, including standards, guidelines, and suitability determinations during the scoping process and analysis to reflect this adaptive management strategy while ensuring for ecosystem integrity, sustainability, habitat connectivity and the viability of species of conservation concern. The Proposed Action identifies watersheds that are a priority for maintenance and restoration. It also includes an estimate of what may be suitable timber acreage for the next 10– 15 years on the forest, as well as proposal for fire management zones at the geographic level reflecting the level of risk and benefit involved in managing fire for resource benefit. The forest also intends to re-evaluate the suitability of national forest lands to support other multiple uses, including over the snow vehicle use, communication sites, and utility corridors during analysis, following the development of alternatives to the proposed action with the public. The Proposed Action identifies 34 stream reaches to be taken into analysis for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System first presented to the public in draft form in July 2016. The forest is still evaluating areas for wilderness character pursuant to Chapter 70 direction in the Forest Service Handbook 1909.12. The final decision will reflect the analysis of alternatives developed during scoping and a broad range of recommendations. The Proposed Action also describes a monitoring strategy as part of the adaptive management framework while ensuring for accountability. It identifies eight monitoring topics required by the 2012 Planning Rule, describes a developing partnership with the State and Private Forestry Forest Inventory and Analysis program to share information currently being collected on the forest. It also establishes an expectation of an annual information sharing meeting with the public to gauge the implementation of the revised plan and any potential needs for change E:\FR\FM\12SEN1.SGM 12SEN1 62708 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 176 / Monday, September 12, 2016 / Notices which might require a forest-plan amendment or administrative change. Specific monitoring questions to inform plan components will be developed during scoping and refined during analysis. Lead and Cooperating Agencies Throughout the revision process the Rio Grande National Forest is the Lead Agency. The following entities have been formally identified as Cooperating Agencies: Bureau of Land Management, State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the counties of Alamosa, Conejos, Saguache, Hinsdale, Rio Grande, and Mineral, and the Navajo Nation. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Responsible Official Dan Dallas, Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144, 719–852–5941. Nature of Decision To Be Made As the forest plan is revised, the responsible official will use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to develop alternatives to the proposed action and decide which alternative best promotes the ecological integrity and sustainability of the Rio Grande National Forest’s ecosystems, watersheds, and diverse plant and animal communities. In addition, the responsible official will decide if the plan provides sufficient management guidance to contribute to social and economic sustainability, and to provide people and communities with ecosystem services and multiple uses including a range of social, economic, and ecological benefits for the present and into the future. The responsible official will also determine whether to make new recommendations for Wilderness and other designated areas. The revised forest plan will provide strategic direction and a framework for decision making during the life of the plan, and will not repeat information already required or described in existing laws, regulations, or guidance. It will not make site-specific project decisions and will not dictate day-to-day administrative activities needed to carry on the Forest Service’s internal operations. The authorization of projectlevel activities will be based on the direction contained in the revised forest plan, but will occur through subsequent project specific decision making, including NEPA analysis. The revised forest plan will provide broad, strategic guidance designed to supplement, not replace, overarching laws and regulations. Though strategic guidance will be provided, no decisions will be VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:40 Sep 09, 2016 Jkt 238001 made regarding the management of individual roads or trails, such as those that might be associated with a travel management plan under 36 CFR part 212. Some issues, although important, are beyond the authority or control of a forest plan and will not be addressed during this revision process. For example, the revision process cannot be used to modify inventoried roadless area boundaries established by the Colorado Roadless Rule. Documents Available for Review The 1996 Forest Plan as amended, Monitoring Reports; Assessments; March 2016 Need for Change; July 2016 Initial Proposal; Proposed Action and supporting documents; and information from previous public meetings are posted on the Rio Grande National Forest’s Web site at www.fs.usda.gov/ riogrande. The material available on this site may be revised or updated at any time as part of the planning process. Scoping Process Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1600–1614; 36 CFR part 219 [77 FR 21162–21276]. This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the EIS. Written comments received in response to this notice will be analyzed to further develop the proposed revised forest plan and identify potential significant issues. Significant issues will, in turn, form the basis for developing alternatives to the proposed action. It is important that reviewers provide their comments such that they are useful to the agency’s preparation of the EIS. Comments on the proposed action will be most valuable if received within 45 days of the publication of the Legal Notice in the Valley Courier newspaper and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s opinions and concerns. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will become part of the public record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the Agency with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental documents. See the section below concerning the objection process and the requirements for filing an objection. The Forest Service continues to receive comments related to the draft evaluation of areas for wilderness character presented to the public in July 2016. The areas analyzed will form the basis for recommendations for future Wilderness designation. Decision Will Be Subject to Objection The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Rio Grande National Forest will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). According to 36 CFR 219.53(a), those who may file an objection are individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments related to plan revision during the opportunities provided for public comment during the planning process. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Dated: September 6, 2016. Dan Dallas, Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest. [FR Doc. 2016–21837 Filed 9–9–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Advisory Committees Expiration United States Commission on Civil Rights. ACTION: Solicitation of applications. AGENCY: Because the terms of the members of the Montana Advisory Committee are expiring on November 20, 2016, the United States Commission on Civil Rights hereby invites any individual who is eligible to be appointed to apply. The memberships are exclusively for the Montana Advisory Committee, and applicants must be residents of Montana to be considered. Letters of interest must be received by the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights no later than October 11, 2016. Letters of interest must be sent to the address listed below. Because the terms of the members of the New Mexico Advisory Committee are expiring on November 20, 2016, the United States Commission on Civil Rights hereby invites any individual who is eligible to be appointed to apply. The memberships are exclusively for the New Mexico Advisory Committee, and applicants must be residents of New Mexico to be considered. Letters of interest must be received by the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights no later than October 11, 2016. Letters of interest must be sent to the address listed below. Because the terms of the members of the Alaska Advisory Committee are expiring on November 20, 2016, the United States Commission on Civil Rights hereby invites any individual who is eligible to be appointed to apply. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\12SEN1.SGM 12SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 176 (Monday, September 12, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 62706-62708]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-21837]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Rio Grande National Forest; Colorado; Revision of the Land 
Management Plan for the Rio Grande National Forest

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA 
Forest Service is preparing the revised land management plan (forest 
plan) for the Rio Grande National Forest. The agency will prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) for the revised plan. The revised 
forest plan will supersede the existing forest plan previously approved 
by the responsible official for the Rio Grande National Forest in 1996. 
The existing forest plan has been amended several times since its 
approval. The existing forest plan, as amended, will remain in effect 
until the revised forest plan is approved. The plan 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 scope of the analysis will be accepted 
throughout the entire plan revision process, however members of the 
public who wish to establish standing to participate in the 
administrative review process must submit substantive formal comments 
on the plan revision within 45 days of the publication of the Legal 
Notice in the Valley Courier in accordance with 36 CFR 219 Subpart B.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent in one of the following ways: (1) Via 
the Forest Plan Revision email address: rgnf_forest_plan@fs.fed.us or 
(2) send or deliver written comments to the Rio Grande National 
Forest's Supervisor's Office, Attn: Forest Plan Revision, 1803 W. 
Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Minks, Forest Planner, 
eminks@fs.fed.us, 719-852-6215 or Mike Blakeman, Public Affairs 
Officer, mblakeman@fs.fed.us, 719-852-6212. Information on plan 
revision is also available at the forest Web site www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande. Individuals

[[Page 62707]]

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 and need for revising the Rio Grande forest plan is 
primarily the age of the current plan and a significant changed 
condition on the forest. According to the National Forest Management 
Act, forest plans are to be revised on a 10 to 15 year cycle. The 
current forest plan is 20 years old and has been amended seven times. 
Since the forest plan was approved in 1996, there have also been 
significant changes in economic, social, and ecological conditions in 
the plan area, including the infestation of 588,000 acres of the spruce 
by the spruce beetle.
    The purpose and need for revising the current plan is also to 
incorporate new policies, priorities, information from monitoring 
reports and scientific research as required under the 2012 Planning 
Rule. The Rio Grande has completed monitoring reports annually from 
1997 through 2013. The 2012 Planning Rule, which became effective May 
9, 2012, requires inclusion of plan components that address social and 
economic sustainability, ecosystem services, and multiple uses 
integrated with the plan components for ecological sustainability and 
species diversity. Social and economic management direction is needed 
to provide people and communities with a range of social and economic 
benefits for present and future generations. To meet the Planning 
Rule's requirement to provide for ecological sustainability, management 
direction is also needed that addresses ecosystem integrity and 
diversity, including key ecosystem characteristics, in light of changes 
in climate, land ownership and recreational use patterns, as well as 
other threats and stressors to those ecosystems.
    Revised plan components are needed that focus on maintaining or 
restoring aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to provide for species 
diversity including threatened and endangered species, and species of 
conservation concern. Additionally, updates and modifications to 
management direction are needed to address suitability of certain areas 
for particular uses, address access and sustainable recreation and 
provide for the management of existing and anticipated uses. The 2012 
Planning Rule also requires the identification of acreage suitable for 
timber harvest on the forest, the re-evaluation of the maximum quantity 
of timber that may be removed from the plan area, a description of the 
proposed and possible actions related to the planned timber sale 
program, timber harvesting levels, and the proportion of various 
methods of forest vegetation management practices.
    Most importantly, the purpose and need is to address the identified 
needs to change the existing plan presented to the public in March 2016 
and refined into an initial proposal in July 2016. These needs for 
change were identified through the monitoring reports mentioned above, 
internal staff recommendations, and the assessment phase of the 
revision process which was initiated in December 2014 and completed in 
March 2016. Extensive public and employee involvement, along with 
science-based evaluations, have helped identify these preliminary needs 
to change the existing forest plan. During the assessment phase alone, 
over fifty public meetings were held in multiple forums to engage the 
public on the current condition and potential needs to change the 
management of the forest. Upon completion of the assessment phase, two 
additional rounds of meetings were held on each district in March and 
July of 2016 to discuss and further refine the needs for change and 
initial proposal summarized in the proposed action items described 
below.

Proposed Action

    The Proposed Action is to revise the forest plan to address the 
needs to change the existing forest plan presented to the public in 
March 2016 and refined into the initial proposal in July of 2016.
    The Rio Grande National Forest is proposing to establish a new 
adaptive management framework that will guide development of the forest 
plan direction and required components for the next 10 to 15 years. 
This framework is designed to increase the responsiveness of forest 
managers to changing conditions on the landscape, changes in higher 
level direction, and new technologies that are not yet foreseen. This 
framework was developed with the public through the spring and summer 
of 2016 and includes an overarching geographic area layer above the 
forest's existing management area layer, tiered to levels of active 
management, the forest's discretion in said management, and the current 
legal status of the land. This framework provides a vehicle for the 
future plan to better communicate how the agency manages the forest, a 
common theme heard throughout the public process.
    The Proposed Action also includes forest-wide goals, objectives and 
desired conditions tied to management areas, tiered to this management 
framework and directed by the 2012 Planning Rule. Many of these 
objectives and desired conditions are pulled from the existing 1996 
Forest Plan but are organized differently to fit into this overall 
adaptive management framework. To ensure for management accountability, 
however, the forest will develop additional required plan components, 
including standards, guidelines, and suitability determinations during 
the scoping process and analysis to reflect this adaptive management 
strategy while ensuring for ecosystem integrity, sustainability, 
habitat connectivity and the viability of species of conservation 
concern.
    The Proposed Action identifies watersheds that are a priority for 
maintenance and restoration. It also includes an estimate of what may 
be suitable timber acreage for the next 10-15 years on the forest, as 
well as proposal for fire management zones at the geographic level 
reflecting the level of risk and benefit involved in managing fire for 
resource benefit.
    The forest also intends to re-evaluate the suitability of national 
forest lands to support other multiple uses, including over the snow 
vehicle use, communication sites, and utility corridors during 
analysis, following the development of alternatives to the proposed 
action with the public.
    The Proposed Action identifies 34 stream reaches to be taken into 
analysis for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River 
System first presented to the public in draft form in July 2016.
    The forest is still evaluating areas for wilderness character 
pursuant to Chapter 70 direction in the Forest Service Handbook 
1909.12. The final decision will reflect the analysis of alternatives 
developed during scoping and a broad range of recommendations.
    The Proposed Action also describes a monitoring strategy as part of 
the adaptive management framework while ensuring for accountability. It 
identifies eight monitoring topics required by the 2012 Planning Rule, 
describes a developing partnership with the State and Private Forestry 
Forest Inventory and Analysis program to share information currently 
being collected on the forest. It also establishes an expectation of an 
annual information sharing meeting with the public to gauge the 
implementation of the revised plan and any potential needs for change

[[Page 62708]]

which might require a forest-plan amendment or administrative change. 
Specific monitoring questions to inform plan components will be 
developed during scoping and refined during analysis.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    Throughout the revision process the Rio Grande National Forest is 
the Lead Agency. The following entities have been formally identified 
as Cooperating Agencies: Bureau of Land Management, State of Colorado 
Department of Natural Resources, the counties of Alamosa, Conejos, 
Saguache, Hinsdale, Rio Grande, and Mineral, and the Navajo Nation.

Responsible Official

    Dan Dallas, Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. 
Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144, 719-852-5941.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    As the forest plan is revised, the responsible official will use 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to develop 
alternatives to the proposed action and decide which alternative best 
promotes the ecological integrity and sustainability of the Rio Grande 
National Forest's ecosystems, watersheds, and diverse plant and animal 
communities. In addition, the responsible official will decide if the 
plan provides sufficient management guidance to contribute to social 
and economic sustainability, and to provide people and communities with 
ecosystem services and multiple uses including a range of social, 
economic, and ecological benefits for the present and into the future. 
The responsible official will also determine whether to make new 
recommendations for Wilderness and other designated areas.
    The revised forest plan will provide strategic direction and a 
framework for decision making during the life of the plan, and will not 
repeat information already required or described in existing laws, 
regulations, or guidance. It will not make site-specific project 
decisions and will not dictate day-to-day administrative activities 
needed to carry on the Forest Service's internal operations. The 
authorization of project-level activities will be based on the 
direction contained in the revised forest plan, but will occur through 
subsequent project specific decision making, including NEPA analysis. 
The revised forest plan will provide broad, strategic guidance designed 
to supplement, not replace, overarching laws and regulations. Though 
strategic guidance will be provided, no decisions will be made 
regarding the management of individual roads or trails, such as those 
that might be associated with a travel management plan under 36 CFR 
part 212. Some issues, although important, are beyond the authority or 
control of a forest plan and will not be addressed during this revision 
process. For example, the revision process cannot be used to modify 
inventoried roadless area boundaries established by the Colorado 
Roadless Rule.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the EIS. Written comments received in response to 
this notice will be analyzed to further develop the proposed revised 
forest plan and identify potential significant issues. Significant 
issues will, in turn, form the basis for developing alternatives to the 
proposed action.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments such that 
they are useful to the agency's preparation of the EIS. Comments on the 
proposed action will be most valuable if received within 45 days of the 
publication of the Legal Notice in the Valley Courier newspaper and 
should clearly articulate the reviewer's opinions and concerns. 
Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and 
addresses of those who comment, will become part of the public record. 
Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; 
however, anonymous comments will not provide the Agency with the 
ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental 
documents. See the section below concerning the objection process and 
the requirements for filing an objection.
    The Forest Service continues to receive comments related to the 
draft evaluation of areas for wilderness character presented to the 
public in July 2016. The areas analyzed will form the basis for 
recommendations for future Wilderness designation.

Decision Will Be Subject to Objection

    The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Rio Grande 
National Forest will be subject to the objection process identified in 
36 CFR 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). According to 36 CFR 219.53(a), 
those who may file an objection are individuals and entities who have 
submitted substantive formal comments related to plan revision during 
the opportunities provided for public comment during the planning 
process.

Documents Available for Review

    The 1996 Forest Plan as amended, Monitoring Reports; Assessments; 
March 2016 Need for Change; July 2016 Initial Proposal; Proposed Action 
and supporting documents; and information from previous public meetings 
are posted on the Rio Grande National Forest's Web site at 
www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande. The material available on this site may be 
revised or updated at any time as part of the planning process.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1600-1614; 36 CFR part 219 [77 FR 21162-
21276].

    Dated: September 6, 2016.
Dan Dallas,
Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2016-21837 Filed 9-9-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3411-15-P