Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project, Owyhee County, ID, and Malheur County, OR, 87954-87956 [2016-29202]

Download as PDF 87954 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Notices Sea otter population biology at Big Sur and Monterey California: investigating the consequences of resource abundance and anthropogenic stressors for sea otter recovery. Draft Final Report to California Coastal Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. University of California, Santa Cruz, 243 pp. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Final Revised Recovery Plan for the Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). Portland, Oregon, xi + 165 pp. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2015. Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. Ventura, California. 42 pp. Valentine, K., D.A. Duffield, L.E. Patrick, D.R. Hatch, V.L. Butler, R.L. Hall, and N. Lehman. 2008. Ancient DNA reveals genotypic relationships among Oregon populations of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris). Conservation Genetics 9:933–938. Vezie, C., J. Rapala, J. Vaitomaa, J. Seitsonen, and K. Sivonen. 2002. Effect of nitrogen and phosphorus on growth of toxic and nontoxic Microcystis strains and on intracellular microcystin concentrations. Microbial Ecology 43:443–454. Walther, G.-R, E. Post, P. Convey, A. Menzel, C. Parmesank, T.J.C. Beebee, J.-M. Fromentin, O. Hoegh-Guldberg, and F. Bairlein. 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416:389– 395. Wendell, F.E., R.A. Hardy, and J.A. Ames. 1986. An assessment of the accidental take of sea otters, Enhydra lutris, in gill and trammel nets. California Department of Fish and Game, Mar. Res. Tech. Rep. No. 54, 31 pp. Wilson, D.E., M.A. Bogan, R.L. Brownell, Jr., A.M. Burdin, and M.K. Maminov. 1991. Geographic variation in sea otters, Enhydra lutris. Journal of Mammalogy 72:22–36. Authority: The authority for this action is the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et al.). Dated: November 23, 2016. James W. Kurth, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2016–29190 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES [15XL LLIDB03000 LF3100000 DD0000 LFHFFR650000 241A 4500078680] Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project, Owyhee County, ID, and Malheur County, OR Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:39 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 1969, as amended (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended, and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Boise District Office, Boise, Idaho, and the Vale District Office, Vale, Oregon, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a landscape level fuel break project located in Owyhee County, Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon. This notice initiates the public scoping process for the EIS. Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until January 5, 2017. Any scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance through local media, and online at www.blm.gov/id and at www.blm.gov/or. To be most helpful in the preparation of the Draft EIS, comments must be postmarked, faxed, or submitted electronically by the close of the 30-day scoping period or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is later. The BLM will provide additional opportunities for public involvement upon publication of the Draft EIS. ADDRESSES: Submit comments related to the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project by any of the following methods: • Email: blm_id_tristate@blm.gov • Fax: 208–384–3489 • Mail: 3948 South Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705 Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined at the BLM Boise District Office located at the above address and the BLM Vale District Office, 100 Oregon Street, Vale, OR 97918. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lance Okeson, Project Lead, Fuels Assistant Fire Management Officer; telephone: 208–384–3300; address: 3948 South Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705; email: blm_id_tristate@blm.gov. Contact Mr. Okeson to add your name to our mailing list. Persons using a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at (800) 877–8339. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question for Mr. Okeson. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon, and northern Nevada (the Tri-state area) comprise one of the largest intact areas of Greater Sage-grouse (GRSG) habitat in the Northern Great Basin. The shrub-steppe ecosystem within this area is also one of the most imperiled ecosystems in the United States. The U.S. Fish and DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Wildlife Service identified the Northern Great Basin as a Priority Area for Conservation (PAC) in its 2013 Conservation Objectives Team Report due to the threat of wildfire, invasive annual grasses, and conifer expansion. Management of wildfire has been identified as one of the key issues for maintaining sage-grouse populations in sagebrush-dominated landscapes. Secretarial Order 3336 calls for ‘‘. . . an increased focus to suppressing wildfire in highly valuable portions of sagebrush steppe ecosystem to reduce the loss of critically important greater sage-grouse habitat . . . .’’ The 2010 Rapid Ecoregional Assessment of the Northern Basin and Range and Snake River Plain identified the Tri-state area as being at high risk for large-scale wildfires. Wildfires in this remote area can grow quickly and affect hundreds of thousands of acres of sage-grouse habitat within a matter of days. The 2012 Long Draw Fire (558,198 acres), the 2014 Buzzard Complex Fire (395,747 acres), and the 2015 Soda Fire (285,360 acres), all in or near the project area, each had multiple hundred thousand-acre runs in a single burning period, at rates of spread between 10 and 15 miles per hour. Tri-State Strategy The Tri-state Strategy is being developed as an integrated approach to protecting valuable, intact sage-grouse habitat from the threat of wildfire in the Tri-state area. There are several components to the strategy: Coordinating wildfire suppression per the Idaho-Oregon-Nevada Tri-state Local Operating Plan; applying existing and future travel management planning decisions for road access and maintenance, which are essential for fire suppression operations; applying national and local wildfire suppression policies and directives that prioritize protection of important habitats; assessing strategic pre-positioning locations of suppression resources, necessary infrastructure additions and funding sources needed to shorten response times; and implementing the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project, which is the subject of this notice. Purpose and Need The Tri-state area provides important sage-grouse habitat. There is a high potential for large wildfires in the Tristate area due to its remoteness, continuous fuels (i.e., intact sagebrush and understory), and limited sites for firefighters to establish safe anchor points (i.e., secure locations for firefighters to engage a fire without the chance of being outflanked by the fire). E:\FR\FM\06DEN1.SGM 06DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Notices Therefore, strategic measures must be taken to protect habitat in this area. Lightning-caused wildfires in the Tristate area generally involve multiple, simultaneous ignitions, which exhaust fire suppression resources quickly. Constructing fuel breaks—gaps in combustible material (i.e., vegetation) that slow or stop progress of a wildfire— by manipulating vegetation strategically along roads is a proactive measure to protect this important area for species’ habitat. Strategically placed fuel breaks across district and State boundaries enhance fire suppression efforts by providing tactical and logistical opportunities, compartmentalizing areas between fuel breaks to constrain wildfires into more manageable units, and minimizing fire spread. Fuel breaks provide fire suppression resources with opportunities to safely engage wildfires and to be more effective across a larger area with fewer resources. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Goals of the Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project • Develop, maintain, and utilize fuel breaks to conserve and protect sagegrouse and sagebrush-obligate species’ habitat across southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, and to integrate with similar, existing fuel breaks in northern Nevada; • Compartmentalize areas between fuel breaks to help contain large wildfires across the Tri-state landscape and district boundaries; • Provide optimal anchor points for firefighters to safely engage wildfires; • Reduce the risk of sagebrush community conversion to annual grasslands from repeated wildfire; • Reduce spread of invasive plant species along fuel break/transportation corridors; and • Coordinate with current and ongoing travel management planning and implementation to ensure fire personnel have access to fuel breaks. Proposed Action The BLM Boise and Vale Districts propose to create a strategic system of fuel breaks spanning State and BLM District boundaries by manipulating vegetation adjacent to existing roads. Proposed fuel break design considerations for this draft EIS will include: • Reduction of highly combustible vegetation such as invasive annual grasses through chemical and/or mechanical treatments; • Seeding areas with native and/or non-native plant species that retain a higher moisture content into the dry periods of the year or are naturally less combustible; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:39 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 • Mechanical treatments that reduce the height of existing vegetation to slow fire growth and reduce flame length; or • A combination of all the above. Fuel breaks would be developed in a 3.6 million-acre project area within the BLM Vale and Boise Districts and would tie in with an existing fuel break network in the BLM Elko and Winnemucca Districts in Nevada. The BLM identified approximately 1,600 miles of primary roads during preliminary reconnaissance that may be suitable for fuel break development. Fuel breaks would be established adjacent to existing roads only, focusing on main/primary travel routes. These routes would be maintained to the full extent consistent with and under the authority of current approved road maintenance prescriptions and, when completed, travel management decisions would ensure suppression resources have access to fuel breaks in a timely manner. The proposed fuel break system would reduce fuel loads adjacent to these roads through mechanical and/or chemical treatments. Fuel breaks would be maintained over the long term on a set schedule (depending on the types of treatments employed and fuel break condition monitoring) to ensure their continued effectiveness and to minimize the potential for invasive species proliferation. The BLM has completed a conformance review of the proposed project, and all actions considered in the alternatives in the draft EIS will be in conformance with the RMPs for the Owyhee Field Office and public lands in the project area in southeastern Oregon, as amended by the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse Approved RMP Amendments for Idaho and Oregon. Coordination with other Federal, tribal, and non-Federal land owners would occur to facilitate opportunities to meet project objectives across all ownerships within the landscape. Preliminary Issues and Scoping The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that would influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives, and guide the process for developing the draft EIS. At present, the BLM has identified the following preliminary issues: • What is the potential to reduce further loss of sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate species’ habitat and increase species’ persistence through implementation of the proposed fuel break system? • What is the potential for the proposed action to effectively reduce PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 87955 the size of wildfires and reduce the rate of spread of fires once ignited? • What construction of new locations or modifications to existing locations for pre-positioning suppression resources would be required to shorten distances and/or response times to ignitions? • What is the potential for the spread of noxious weeds and invasive plants (i.e., cheatgrass)? • What is the potential to affect wildlife habitat connectivity and how would the proposed action affect animal migration routes and prey-predator interactions? • How would the proposed action affect habitat for the GRSG, migratory birds, and pygmy rabbits? • What would the effects of the proposed action be to wilderness, wilderness study areas, and lands with wilderness characteristics? • How would the proposed action affect exposure of and accessibility to cultural sites and areas of cultural importance? • What is the potential for the proposed action to affect watersheds (e.g., hydrologic function)? Mitigation measures and project design features would be used to minimize impacts to sage-grouse habitat, migratory birds, pygmy rabbits, wilderness characteristics, cultural sites, and watersheds and to limit introduction and spread of invasive and noxious vegetation. Mitigation measures and design features would primarily include avoidance buffers and timing restrictions during implementation and avoidance buffers for fuel break placement; these will be described and analyzed in detail in the draft EIS. The BLM will consult with tribes on a government-to-government basis in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other policies. Tribal concerns, including impacts on Indian trust assets and potential impacts to cultural resources and areas of cultural importance, will be given due consideration. The BLM invites and encourages public participation through the NEPA process to satisfy requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA (16 U.S.C. 470(f)) pursuant to 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3). Historic and cultural resources information related to the area potentially affected by the proposed project will assist the BLM in identifying and evaluating impacts to these resources in the context of both NEPA and Section 106 of the NHPA. Federal, State, and local agencies, along with other stakeholders interested in or affected by the proposed project that the BLM is evaluating are invited to participate in the scoping process. E:\FR\FM\06DEN1.SGM 06DEN1 87956 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 234 / Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / Notices Eligible agencies may request or be requested by the BLM to participate in the development of the environmental analysis as a cooperating agency. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7. Lara Douglas, BLM Boise District Manager. Donald N. Gonzalez, BLM Vale District Manager. [FR Doc. 2016–29202 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–GG–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement [S1D1S SS08011000 SX066A0067F 178S180110; S2D2D SS08011000 SX066A00 33F 17XS501520] Notice of Proposed Information Collection; Request for Comments for 1029–0113 Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Interior. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is announcing that the information collection request for General Reclamation Requirements, has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. The information collection request describes the nature of the information collection and its expected burden and cost. DATES: OMB has up to 60 days to approve or disapprove the information collection but may respond after 30 days. Therefore, public comments should be submitted to OMB by January 5, 2017, in order to be assured of consideration. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: Submit comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Department of the Interior Desk Officer, by telefax at (202) ADDRESSES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:39 Dec 05, 2016 Jkt 241001 395–5806 or via email to OIRA_ submission@omb.eop.gov. Also, please send a copy of your comments to John Trelease, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1951 Constitution Ave. NW., Room 203–SIB, Washington, DC 20240, or electronically to jtrelease@osmre.gov. Please refer to OMB control number 1029–0113 in your correspondence. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To receive a copy of the information collection request contact John Trelease at (202) 208–2783 or via email at jtrelease@osmre.gov. You may also review the information collection request online at http:// www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–13), require that interested members of the public and affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on information collection and recordkeeping activities [see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)]. OSMRE has submitted a request to OMB to renew its approval for the collection of information found at 30 CFR part 874. OSMRE is requesting a 3-year term of approval for these information collection activities. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control number for this collection of information is 1029–0113, and may be found in OSMRE’s regulations at 874.10. Responses are required to obtain a benefit. As required under 5 CFR 1320.8(d), a Federal Register notice soliciting comments on the collection of information for Part 874 was published on August 31, 2016 (81 FR 60021). No comments were received from that notice. This notice provides the public with an additional 30 days in which to comment on the following information collection activity: Title: 30 CFR part 874—General Reclamation Requirements. OMB Control Number: 1029–0113. Summary: Part 874 establishes land and water eligibility requirements, reclamation objectives and priorities and reclamation contractor responsibility. The regulations at 30 CFR 874.17 require consultation between the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) agency and the appropriate Title V regulatory authority on the likelihood PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 of removing the coal under a Title V permit and concurrences between the AML agency and the appropriate Title V regulatory authority on the AML project boundary and the amount of coal that would be extracted under the AML reclamation project. Bureau Form Number: None. Frequency of Collection: Once. Description of Respondents: 8 State regulatory authorities and Indian Tribes. Total Annual Responses: 8. Total Annual Burden Hours: 664. Send comments on the need for the collection of information for the performance of the functions of the agency; the accuracy of the agency’s burden estimates; ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collection; and ways to minimize the information collection burdens on respondents, such as use of automated means of collections of the information, to the addresses listed under ADDRESSES. Please refer to OMB control number 1029–0113 in all correspondence. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Dated: December 1, 2016. John A. Trelease, Acting Chief, Division of Regulatory Support. [FR Doc. 2016–29178 Filed 12–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–05–P DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE [OMB Number 1121–0312] Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection: 2014– 2016 Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice. ACTION: 30-day notice. AGENCY: The Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, will be submitting the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06DEN1.SGM 06DEN1

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[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 234 (Tuesday, December 6, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 87954-87956]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-29202]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[15XL LLIDB03000 LF3100000 DD0000 LFHFFR650000 241A 4500078680]


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Proposed Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project, Owyhee County, ID, and 
Malheur County, OR

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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

SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976, as amended, and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 
as amended (NHPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Boise District 
Office, Boise, Idaho, and the Vale District Office, Vale, Oregon, will 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a landscape level 
fuel break project located in Owyhee County, Idaho, and Malheur County, 
Oregon.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the EIS. 
Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until January 5, 2017. 
Any scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance 
through local media, and online at www.blm.gov/id and at www.blm.gov/or. To be most helpful in the preparation of the Draft EIS, comments 
must be postmarked, faxed, or submitted electronically by the close of 
the 30-day scoping period or 15 days after the last public meeting, 
whichever is later. The BLM will provide additional opportunities for 
public involvement upon publication of the Draft EIS.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments related to the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project 
by any of the following methods:

     Email: blm_id_tristate@blm.gov
     Fax: 208-384-3489
     Mail: 3948 South Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705

Documents pertinent to this proposal may be examined at the BLM Boise 
District Office located at the above address and the BLM Vale District 
Office, 100 Oregon Street, Vale, OR 97918.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lance Okeson, Project Lead, Fuels 
Assistant Fire Management Officer; telephone: 208-384-3300; address: 
3948 South Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705; email: 
blm_id_tristate@blm.gov. Contact Mr. Okeson to add your name to our 
mailing list. Persons using a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at (800) 877-8339. The 
FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or 
question for Mr. Okeson. You will receive a reply during normal 
business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon, and 
northern Nevada (the Tri-state area) comprise one of the largest intact 
areas of Greater Sage-grouse (GRSG) habitat in the Northern Great 
Basin. The shrub-steppe ecosystem within this area is also one of the 
most imperiled ecosystems in the United States. The U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service identified the Northern Great Basin as a Priority Area 
for Conservation (PAC) in its 2013 Conservation Objectives Team Report 
due to the threat of wildfire, invasive annual grasses, and conifer 
expansion. Management of wildfire has been identified as one of the key 
issues for maintaining sage-grouse populations in sagebrush-dominated 
landscapes. Secretarial Order 3336 calls for ``. . . an increased focus 
to suppressing wildfire in highly valuable portions of sagebrush steppe 
ecosystem to reduce the loss of critically important greater sage-
grouse habitat . . . .'' The 2010 Rapid Eco-regional Assessment of the 
Northern Basin and Range and Snake River Plain identified the Tri-state 
area as being at high risk for large-scale wildfires.
    Wildfires in this remote area can grow quickly and affect hundreds 
of thousands of acres of sage-grouse habitat within a matter of days. 
The 2012 Long Draw Fire (558,198 acres), the 2014 Buzzard Complex Fire 
(395,747 acres), and the 2015 Soda Fire (285,360 acres), all in or near 
the project area, each had multiple hundred thousand-acre runs in a 
single burning period, at rates of spread between 10 and 15 miles per 
hour.

Tri-State Strategy

    The Tri-state Strategy is being developed as an integrated approach 
to protecting valuable, intact sage-grouse habitat from the threat of 
wildfire in the Tri-state area. There are several components to the 
strategy: Coordinating wildfire suppression per the Idaho-Oregon-Nevada 
Tri-state Local Operating Plan; applying existing and future travel 
management planning decisions for road access and maintenance, which 
are essential for fire suppression operations; applying national and 
local wildfire suppression policies and directives that prioritize 
protection of important habitats; assessing strategic pre-positioning 
locations of suppression resources, necessary infrastructure additions 
and funding sources needed to shorten response times; and implementing 
the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project, which is the subject of this notice.

Purpose and Need

    The Tri-state area provides important sage-grouse habitat. There is 
a high potential for large wildfires in the Tri-state area due to its 
remoteness, continuous fuels (i.e., intact sagebrush and understory), 
and limited sites for firefighters to establish safe anchor points 
(i.e., secure locations for firefighters to engage a fire without the 
chance of being outflanked by the fire).

[[Page 87955]]

Therefore, strategic measures must be taken to protect habitat in this 
area.
    Lightning-caused wildfires in the Tri-state area generally involve 
multiple, simultaneous ignitions, which exhaust fire suppression 
resources quickly. Constructing fuel breaks--gaps in combustible 
material (i.e., vegetation) that slow or stop progress of a wildfire--
by manipulating vegetation strategically along roads is a proactive 
measure to protect this important area for species' habitat. 
Strategically placed fuel breaks across district and State boundaries 
enhance fire suppression efforts by providing tactical and logistical 
opportunities, compartmentalizing areas between fuel breaks to 
constrain wildfires into more manageable units, and minimizing fire 
spread. Fuel breaks provide fire suppression resources with 
opportunities to safely engage wildfires and to be more effective 
across a larger area with fewer resources.

Goals of the Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project

     Develop, maintain, and utilize fuel breaks to conserve and 
protect sage-grouse and sagebrush-obligate species' habitat across 
southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, and to integrate with similar, 
existing fuel breaks in northern Nevada;
     Compartmentalize areas between fuel breaks to help contain 
large wildfires across the Tri-state landscape and district boundaries;
     Provide optimal anchor points for firefighters to safely 
engage wildfires;
     Reduce the risk of sagebrush community conversion to 
annual grasslands from repeated wildfire;
     Reduce spread of invasive plant species along fuel break/
transportation corridors; and
     Coordinate with current and ongoing travel management 
planning and implementation to ensure fire personnel have access to 
fuel breaks.

Proposed Action

    The BLM Boise and Vale Districts propose to create a strategic 
system of fuel breaks spanning State and BLM District boundaries by 
manipulating vegetation adjacent to existing roads. Proposed fuel break 
design considerations for this draft EIS will include:
     Reduction of highly combustible vegetation such as 
invasive annual grasses through chemical and/or mechanical treatments;
     Seeding areas with native and/or non-native plant species 
that retain a higher moisture content into the dry periods of the year 
or are naturally less combustible;
     Mechanical treatments that reduce the height of existing 
vegetation to slow fire growth and reduce flame length; or
     A combination of all the above.
    Fuel breaks would be developed in a 3.6 million-acre project area 
within the BLM Vale and Boise Districts and would tie in with an 
existing fuel break network in the BLM Elko and Winnemucca Districts in 
Nevada. The BLM identified approximately 1,600 miles of primary roads 
during preliminary reconnaissance that may be suitable for fuel break 
development.
    Fuel breaks would be established adjacent to existing roads only, 
focusing on main/primary travel routes. These routes would be 
maintained to the full extent consistent with and under the authority 
of current approved road maintenance prescriptions and, when completed, 
travel management decisions would ensure suppression resources have 
access to fuel breaks in a timely manner. The proposed fuel break 
system would reduce fuel loads adjacent to these roads through 
mechanical and/or chemical treatments. Fuel breaks would be maintained 
over the long term on a set schedule (depending on the types of 
treatments employed and fuel break condition monitoring) to ensure 
their continued effectiveness and to minimize the potential for 
invasive species proliferation.
    The BLM has completed a conformance review of the proposed project, 
and all actions considered in the alternatives in the draft EIS will be 
in conformance with the RMPs for the Owyhee Field Office and public 
lands in the project area in southeastern Oregon, as amended by the 
2015 Greater Sage-Grouse Approved RMP Amendments for Idaho and Oregon.
    Coordination with other Federal, tribal, and non-Federal land 
owners would occur to facilitate opportunities to meet project 
objectives across all ownerships within the landscape.

Preliminary Issues and Scoping

    The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant 
issues that would influence the scope of the environmental analysis, 
including alternatives, and guide the process for developing the draft 
EIS. At present, the BLM has identified the following preliminary 
issues:
     What is the potential to reduce further loss of sage-
grouse and other sagebrush-obligate species' habitat and increase 
species' persistence through implementation of the proposed fuel break 
system?
     What is the potential for the proposed action to 
effectively reduce the size of wildfires and reduce the rate of spread 
of fires once ignited?
     What construction of new locations or modifications to 
existing locations for pre-positioning suppression resources would be 
required to shorten distances and/or response times to ignitions?
     What is the potential for the spread of noxious weeds and 
invasive plants (i.e., cheatgrass)?
     What is the potential to affect wildlife habitat 
connectivity and how would the proposed action affect animal migration 
routes and prey-predator interactions?
     How would the proposed action affect habitat for the GRSG, 
migratory birds, and pygmy rabbits?
     What would the effects of the proposed action be to 
wilderness, wilderness study areas, and lands with wilderness 
characteristics?
     How would the proposed action affect exposure of and 
accessibility to cultural sites and areas of cultural importance?
     What is the potential for the proposed action to affect 
watersheds (e.g., hydrologic function)?
    Mitigation measures and project design features would be used to 
minimize impacts to sage-grouse habitat, migratory birds, pygmy 
rabbits, wilderness characteristics, cultural sites, and watersheds and 
to limit introduction and spread of invasive and noxious vegetation. 
Mitigation measures and design features would primarily include 
avoidance buffers and timing restrictions during implementation and 
avoidance buffers for fuel break placement; these will be described and 
analyzed in detail in the draft EIS.
    The BLM will consult with tribes on a government-to-government 
basis in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other policies. 
Tribal concerns, including impacts on Indian trust assets and potential 
impacts to cultural resources and areas of cultural importance, will be 
given due consideration.
    The BLM invites and encourages public participation through the 
NEPA process to satisfy requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA (16 
U.S.C. 470(f)) pursuant to 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3). Historic and cultural 
resources information related to the area potentially affected by the 
proposed project will assist the BLM in identifying and evaluating 
impacts to these resources in the context of both NEPA and Section 106 
of the NHPA.
    Federal, State, and local agencies, along with other stakeholders 
interested in or affected by the proposed project that the BLM is 
evaluating are invited to participate in the scoping process.

[[Page 87956]]

Eligible agencies may request or be requested by the BLM to participate 
in the development of the environmental analysis as a cooperating 
agency.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Authority:  40 CFR 1501.7.

Lara Douglas,
BLM Boise District Manager.
Donald N. Gonzalez,
BLM Vale District Manager.
[FR Doc. 2016-29202 Filed 12-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-GG-P