Malheur National Forest, Blue Mountain Ranger District and Umatilla National Forest, North Fork John Day Ranger District; Oregon; Ragged Ruby Project, 15020-15021 [2017-05826]

Download as PDF 15020 Notices Federal Register Vol. 82, No. 56 Friday, March 24, 2017 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Malheur National Forest, Blue Mountain Ranger District and Umatilla National Forest, North Fork John Day Ranger District; Oregon; Ragged Ruby Project Forest Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: The Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to disclose the environmental effects of upland restoration activities; watershed, fisheries, and wildlife restoration; bat gate installation; prescribed burning; road activities; and recreation system changes in the Ragged Ruby planning area. SUMMARY: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register, which initiates the project’s scoping period. The draft environmental impact statement is expected January 2018 and the final environmental impact statement is expected July 2018. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Dave Halemeier, District Ranger, Blue Mountain Ranger District, c/o Sasha Fertig, P.O. Box 909, John Day, OR 97845. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificnorthwestmalheur-bluemountain@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 541–575–3319. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sasha Fertig, NEPA Planner, Blue Mountain Ranger District, 431 Patterson Bridge Road, P.O. Box 909, John Day, OR 97845. Phone: 541–575–3061. Email: sashafertig@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 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:56 Mar 23, 2017 Jkt 241001 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Ragged Ruby planning area encompasses approximately 34,000 acres in the Granite Boulder Creek and Balance Creek subwatersheds that drain into the Middle Fork John Day River. The legal description for the planning area includes Townships 10 and 11 South, Ranges 33 and 34 East, Willamette Meridian, Grant County, Oregon. The full scoping package is available on the Malheur National Forest Web site: https:// www.fs.usda.gov/project/ ?project=49392. Purpose and Need for Action The purpose and need for the Ragged Ruby Project was developed by comparing the management objectives and desired conditions in the Malheur and Umatilla Forest Plans to the existing conditions in the Ragged Ruby planning area related to forest and watershed resiliency and function. The purpose and need is to: Maintain and improve landscape resiliency and manage for diverse forest composition, stocking levels, and pattern to maintain healthy ecological function and process within a complex disturbance regime of wildfire, drought, insects, and diseases; promote forest conditions that allow for the reintroduction of fire upon the landscape, thereby creating conditions that are conducive for firefighter safety, resource values, and private lands; improve aquatic resource conditions; improve wildlife habitat; improve one or more of the nine roadless area characteristics (as defined by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule) within the Dixie Butte and Greenhorn Mountain inventoried roadless areas and restore the characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure within the range of variability that would be expected to occur under natural disturbance regimes of the current climatic period; and contribute to the social and economic health of those enjoying multiple uses in the Ragged Ruby planning area. Proposed Action The proposed action includes: (1) Upland restoration on approximately 9,030 acres. Activities types include dry pine restoration, mixed conifer restoration, aspen PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 restoration, scabland flat bunchgrass restoration, and whitebark pine and western white pine restoration. Upland restoration activities would help restore forest structure, composition, and density toward more resilient vegetative conditions. (2) Watershed, fisheries, and wildlife restoration that includes ecological riparian treatments (variable density thinning, openings, leave areas, tree tipping, and potential removal within riparian habitat conservation areas) and large wood treatments (placement of trees within streams and floodplains). (3) Bat gate installation at 2 mine adits using an existing road or pack stock. (4) Prescribed burning on up to 34,000 acres to restore and maintain an ecosystem that would thrive with the recurring disturbance of wildfire within the planning area. Treated stands would see a combination of burning piled material and underburning. Those stands not mechanically treated would be managed exclusively with the use of prescribed burning. As conditions and stand characteristics allow, natural ignitions within the planning area would be used to meet the objectives of prescribed burning. (5) Road activities that support implementing upland restoration and other project activities as well as road system changes. Road maintenance and reconstruction for haul would occur on open or temporarily opened roads to provide safe access and adequate drainage. Temporary roads (approximately 10 miles) would be constructed to access some timber harvest units, which would be rehabilitated following use. The following changes to the road system are proposed: decommissioning 1.9 miles of road, closing 6.4 miles of currently open road, confirming the previous administrative closure of 26.7 miles or road, opening 2.8 miles of currently closed road, relocating 0.2 miles of road, and adding 2.5 miles existing roadbed onto system as closed road. (6) Recreation system changes to improve or maintain quality recreational opportunities by reducing user conflicts on the current trail system, improving access to trail systems, mitigating resource concerns, and providing family friendly and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessible trails. Seven trails and their associated trailheads would be improved with 3.3 miles of new trail E:\FR\FM\24MRN1.SGM 24MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 56 / Friday, March 24, 2017 / Notices construction, 9.1 miles of trail codesignated on existing roads, 5.1 miles of trails being un-designated, and 18.7 miles of trail remaining on the system. Preliminary connectivity corridors have been identified between late and old structure stands to allow for movement of old-growth dependent species. The goal of creating ‘‘connectivity’’ is to manage stands in corridors at higher canopy densities when compared to more intensively managed stands located outside of corridors. The Ragged Ruby Project will also include a variety of project design criteria that serve to mitigate impacts of activities to forest resources, including wildlife, soils, watershed condition, aquatic species, riparian habitat conservation areas, heritage resources, visuals, rangeland, botanical resources, and invasive plants. The proposed action may also include amendments to the Malheur National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended: dedicated old growth unit changes, reduce satisfactory and/or total cover, removal of trees greater than or equal to 21 inches diameter at breast height, and harvest within late and old structure stands. Possible Alternatives The Forest Service will consider a range of alternatives. One of these will be the ‘‘no action’’ alternative in which none of the proposed action would be implemented. Additional alternatives may be included in response to issues raised by the public during the scoping process or due to additional concerns for resource values identified by the interdisciplinary team. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Responsible Official The Forest Supervisor of the Malheur National Forest, 431 Patterson Bridge Road, John Day, OR 97845, is the Responsible Official. As the Responsible Official, I will decide if the proposed action will be implemented. I will document the decision and rationale for the decision in the Record of Decision. I have delegated the responsibility for preparing the draft EIS and final EIS to the District Ranger, Blue Mountain Ranger District. Nature of Decision To Be Made Based on the purpose and need, the Responsible Official reviews the proposed action, the other alternatives, the environmental consequences, and public comments on the analysis in order to make the following decision: (1) Whether to implement the proposed activities; and if so, how much and at what specific locations; (2) What, if any, VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:56 Mar 23, 2017 Jkt 241001 specific project monitoring requirements are needed to assure project design criteria and mitigation measures are implemented and effective, and to evaluate the success of the project objectives. Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. The interdisciplinary team will continue to seek information and comments from Federal, State, and local agencies, Tribal governments, and other individuals or organizations that may be interested in, or affected by, the proposed action. There is a collaborative group in the area that the interdisciplinary team will interact with during the analysis process. 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: March 17, 2017. Jeanne M. Higgins, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System. [FR Doc. 2017–05826 Filed 3–23–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests; Idaho; Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project Forest Service, USDA. Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project. AGENCY: ACTION: The U.S. Forest Service is giving notice of its intent to prepare a SEIS for the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project on the Moose Creek Ranger District of the Nez PerceClearwater National Forests, Idaho. Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, has withdrawn the February 2016 Record of SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 15021 Decision (ROD) for this project. Supervisor Probert plans to prepare a SEIS to further review the project alternatives and analysis, to correct and update information that was presented in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), and to consider information that has become available since the FEIS was published in September 2015. Authority: This NOI is being published pursuant to regulations (40 CFR 1508.22) implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Scoping: A NOI published on January 6, 2012 initiated the scoping period for the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project. A legal notice advertising the start of a 30-day scoping period was advertised in the Lewiston, Idaho Lewiston Tribune on December 30, 2011. In accordance with 40 CFR 1502.9(c)(4), there will be no scoping conducted for this SEIS. The scope of the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration FEIS established the scope for this SEIS. The SEIS will be advertised for public comment as required by 40 CFR 1503.1. The Draft SEIS will be announced for public review and comment in the Federal Register, on the Nez PerceClearwater National Forests’ project Web site, and in the Lewiston, Idaho Lewiston Tribune, as well as other local media. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lois Hill, Environmental Coordinator, (208) 935–4258. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The US Forest Service is announcing its intent to prepare a SEIS for the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project. The SEIS will supplement the analysis from the Clear Creek Integrated Restoration FEIS (2015) by providing an updated analysis of the environmental effects. The Clear Creek Integrated Restoration FEIS evaluated the potential effects of four alternatives, including No Action and three action alternatives. The Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest Supervisor will issue a new ROD after evaluating the SEIS and public comments. An objection period for the new ROD will be provided, consistent with 36 CFR part 218. Responsible Official and Lead Agency The USDA Forest Service is the lead agency for this proposal. The Nez PerceClearwater Forest Supervisor is the responsible official. Nature of Decision To Be Made Whether to adopt the proposed action, in whole or in part, or another E:\FR\FM\24MRN1.SGM 24MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 56 (Friday, March 24, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 15020-15021]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-05826]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 56 / Friday, March 24, 2017 / 
Notices

[[Page 15020]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Malheur National Forest, Blue Mountain Ranger District and 
Umatilla National Forest, North Fork John Day Ranger District; Oregon; 
Ragged Ruby Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: The Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to disclose the environmental effects of upland 
restoration activities; watershed, fisheries, and wildlife restoration; 
bat gate installation; prescribed burning; road activities; and 
recreation system changes in the Ragged Ruby planning area.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register, which 
initiates the project's scoping period. The draft environmental impact 
statement is expected January 2018 and the final environmental impact 
statement is expected July 2018.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Dave Halemeier, District Ranger, 
Blue Mountain Ranger District, c/o Sasha Fertig, P.O. Box 909, John 
Day, OR 97845. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificnorthwest-malheur-bluemountain@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 
541-575-3319.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sasha Fertig, NEPA Planner, Blue 
Mountain Ranger District, 431 Patterson Bridge Road, P.O. Box 909, John 
Day, OR 97845. Phone: 541-575-3061. Email: sashafertig@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: The Ragged Ruby planning area encompasses 
approximately 34,000 acres in the Granite Boulder Creek and Balance 
Creek subwatersheds that drain into the Middle Fork John Day River. The 
legal description for the planning area includes Townships 10 and 11 
South, Ranges 33 and 34 East, Willamette Meridian, Grant County, 
Oregon. The full scoping package is available on the Malheur National 
Forest Web site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49392.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose and need for the Ragged Ruby Project was developed by 
comparing the management objectives and desired conditions in the 
Malheur and Umatilla Forest Plans to the existing conditions in the 
Ragged Ruby planning area related to forest and watershed resiliency 
and function. The purpose and need is to: Maintain and improve 
landscape resiliency and manage for diverse forest composition, 
stocking levels, and pattern to maintain healthy ecological function 
and process within a complex disturbance regime of wildfire, drought, 
insects, and diseases; promote forest conditions that allow for the 
reintroduction of fire upon the landscape, thereby creating conditions 
that are conducive for firefighter safety, resource values, and private 
lands; improve aquatic resource conditions; improve wildlife habitat; 
improve one or more of the nine roadless area characteristics (as 
defined by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule) within the Dixie 
Butte and Greenhorn Mountain inventoried roadless areas and restore the 
characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure within the range 
of variability that would be expected to occur under natural 
disturbance regimes of the current climatic period; and contribute to 
the social and economic health of those enjoying multiple uses in the 
Ragged Ruby planning area.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action includes:
    (1) Upland restoration on approximately 9,030 acres. Activities 
types include dry pine restoration, mixed conifer restoration, aspen 
restoration, scabland flat bunchgrass restoration, and whitebark pine 
and western white pine restoration. Upland restoration activities would 
help restore forest structure, composition, and density toward more 
resilient vegetative conditions.
    (2) Watershed, fisheries, and wildlife restoration that includes 
ecological riparian treatments (variable density thinning, openings, 
leave areas, tree tipping, and potential removal within riparian 
habitat conservation areas) and large wood treatments (placement of 
trees within streams and floodplains).
    (3) Bat gate installation at 2 mine adits using an existing road or 
pack stock.
    (4) Prescribed burning on up to 34,000 acres to restore and 
maintain an ecosystem that would thrive with the recurring disturbance 
of wildfire within the planning area. Treated stands would see a 
combination of burning piled material and underburning. Those stands 
not mechanically treated would be managed exclusively with the use of 
prescribed burning. As conditions and stand characteristics allow, 
natural ignitions within the planning area would be used to meet the 
objectives of prescribed burning.
    (5) Road activities that support implementing upland restoration 
and other project activities as well as road system changes. Road 
maintenance and reconstruction for haul would occur on open or 
temporarily opened roads to provide safe access and adequate drainage. 
Temporary roads (approximately 10 miles) would be constructed to access 
some timber harvest units, which would be rehabilitated following use. 
The following changes to the road system are proposed: decommissioning 
1.9 miles of road, closing 6.4 miles of currently open road, confirming 
the previous administrative closure of 26.7 miles or road, opening 2.8 
miles of currently closed road, relocating 0.2 miles of road, and 
adding 2.5 miles existing roadbed onto system as closed road.
    (6) Recreation system changes to improve or maintain quality 
recreational opportunities by reducing user conflicts on the current 
trail system, improving access to trail systems, mitigating resource 
concerns, and providing family friendly and Americans with Disability 
Act (ADA) accessible trails. Seven trails and their associated 
trailheads would be improved with 3.3 miles of new trail

[[Page 15021]]

construction, 9.1 miles of trail co-designated on existing roads, 5.1 
miles of trails being un-designated, and 18.7 miles of trail remaining 
on the system.
    Preliminary connectivity corridors have been identified between 
late and old structure stands to allow for movement of old-growth 
dependent species. The goal of creating ``connectivity'' is to manage 
stands in corridors at higher canopy densities when compared to more 
intensively managed stands located outside of corridors.
    The Ragged Ruby Project will also include a variety of project 
design criteria that serve to mitigate impacts of activities to forest 
resources, including wildlife, soils, watershed condition, aquatic 
species, riparian habitat conservation areas, heritage resources, 
visuals, rangeland, botanical resources, and invasive plants. The 
proposed action may also include amendments to the Malheur National 
Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended: dedicated old 
growth unit changes, reduce satisfactory and/or total cover, removal of 
trees greater than or equal to 21 inches diameter at breast height, and 
harvest within late and old structure stands.

Possible Alternatives

    The Forest Service will consider a range of alternatives. One of 
these will be the ``no action'' alternative in which none of the 
proposed action would be implemented. Additional alternatives may be 
included in response to issues raised by the public during the scoping 
process or due to additional concerns for resource values identified by 
the interdisciplinary team.

Responsible Official

    The Forest Supervisor of the Malheur National Forest, 431 Patterson 
Bridge Road, John Day, OR 97845, is the Responsible Official. As the 
Responsible Official, I will decide if the proposed action will be 
implemented. I will document the decision and rationale for the 
decision in the Record of Decision. I have delegated the responsibility 
for preparing the draft EIS and final EIS to the District Ranger, Blue 
Mountain Ranger District.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the purpose and need, the Responsible Official reviews the 
proposed action, the other alternatives, the environmental 
consequences, and public comments on the analysis in order to make the 
following decision: (1) Whether to implement the proposed activities; 
and if so, how much and at what specific locations; (2) What, if any, 
specific project monitoring requirements are needed to assure project 
design criteria and mitigation measures are implemented and effective, 
and to evaluate the success of the project objectives.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. The 
interdisciplinary team will continue to seek information and comments 
from Federal, State, and local agencies, Tribal governments, and other 
individuals or organizations that may be interested in, or affected by, 
the proposed action. There is a collaborative group in the area that 
the interdisciplinary team will interact with during the analysis 
process.
    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: March 17, 2017.
Jeanne M. Higgins,
Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2017-05826 Filed 3-23-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3411-15-P