Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, Landscape Vegetation Analysis (LaVA) Project, 33865-33867 [2017-15322]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 139 / Friday, July 21, 2017 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20502. Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: OIRA_Submission@OMB.EOP.GOV or fax (202) 395–5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250– 7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720–8958. An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Rural Housing Service Title: 7 CFR 3575–A, Community Programs Guaranteed Loans. OMB Control Number: 0575–0137. Summary of Collection: The Rural Housing Service (RHS) is authorized by Section 306 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1926) to make loans to public agencies, nonprofit corporations, and Indian tribes for the development of essential community facilities primarily serving rural residents. The Community Facilities Division of the RHS is considered Community Programs under the 7 CFR, part 3575, subpart A. Implementation of the Community Programs guaranteed loan program was affected to comply with the Appropriations Act of 1990 when Congress allocated funds for this authority. The guaranteed loan program encourages lender participation and provides specific guidance in the processing and servicing of guaranteed Community Facilities loans. Need and Use of the Information: RHS will collect information in a written format and using several forms. RHS will use collected information to determine applicant/borrower eligibility, project feasibility, and to ensure borrowers operate on a sound basis and use loan funds for authorized purposes. Failure to collect proper information could result in improper determination of eligibility, improper use of funds, and/or unsound loans. Description of Respondents: Not-forprofit institutions; State, Local or Tribal Government. Number of Respondents: 680. Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Quarterly; Annually. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:50 Jul 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 Total Burden Hours: 12,401. Charlene Parker, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2017–15282 Filed 7–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–XV–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, Landscape Vegetation Analysis (LaVA) Project Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: The Forest Service is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) on its proposed treatment of 150,000 acres of insectinfested areas of the Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF). The Forest Service believes this treatment is necessary to ensure the future health of the MBNF. DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by August 21, 2017. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected in November 2017 and the Final Environmental Impact Statement is due in March 2018. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: LaVA Project, Medicine Bow National Forest, 2468 Jackson Street, Laramie, WY 82070, or via facsimile to 307–745– 2467, c/o LaVA Project. Written comments may also be hand-delivered to the above address between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time, Monday through Friday except federal holidays. Comments may also be submitted electronically at https://cara.ecosystemmanagement.org/Public/ CommentInput?Project=51255. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Martin, Project Manager, at 307–745–2371. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–811–8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF) has experienced epidemic levels of mountain pine beetle and spruce bark beetle infestations since the mid to late 1990s. Although the epidemic has slowed in recent years, the infestation has left behind a changed landscape consisting primarily of regenerating forests that have an overstory of large, dead and dying trees. Action is needed SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 33865 to accelerate management response to this major forest health event to proactively and adaptively respond to changing forest vegetation conditions. On March 22, 2017, Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell designated the majority of the MBNF as a landscapescale insect and disease area under Section 602(d) of the Healthy Forests Restoration Action of 2003 (HFRA, 16 U.S.C. 6591 et seq.), as amended by Section 8204 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. These authorities provide for expedited environmental analysis and treatments to address areas affected by insect and disease infestations. Accordingly, the Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis (LaVa) Project will proceed according to Section 104 of the HFRA and will be subject to subparts A and C of the U.S. Forest Service Project-Level Predecisional Administrative Review Process. Intended goals of the project include, but are not limited to, using tree cutting and/or prescribed burning to: make areas more resilient to future disturbance; restore, and enhance forest ecosystem components; supply forest products to local industries; provide for human safety; reduce wildfire risk to communities, infrastructure, and municipal water supplies; and improve, protect, and restore wildlife habitat. The LaVA analysis area encompasses the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges of the MBNF and includes roughly 850,000 acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands. Of the 850,000 acres, the Forest Service has identified roughly 575,000 acres wherein treatment activities could be proposed; these areas are termed ‘treatment opportunity areas’ (TOAs). Actual treatments are proposed on a subset of the TOAs (150,000–350,000 acres), as described in the Proposed Action. Purpose and Need for Action The purpose of the project is to respond to changed forest vegetation conditions presented by the bark beetle epidemics experienced on the MBNF. The approach is to actively manage forest vegetation using tree cutting and/ or prescribed burning, consistent with the goals outlined in the Governor’s Task Force on Forests (Final Report, 2015), the Western Bark Beetle Strategy (July 2011), and the Wyoming Statewide Forest Resource Strategy (2010). These goals include promoting recovery from the insect infestations, improving the resiliency of green stands to future disturbances, helping to protect forested areas on adjacent private and state land, and providing for human safety. These general goals will be adapted to local E:\FR\FM\21JYN1.SGM 21JYN1 33866 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 139 / Friday, July 21, 2017 / Notices landscapes where treatments are needed based on Forest Plan direction, foreseeable conditions, and local environmental, social and economic concerns. The project is needed to: Enhance Forest and Rangeland Resiliency to Future Insect and Disease Infestations • Increase age class, structural, and vegetative diversity across the landscape; • Promote forest and rangeland conditions to improve forage and wildlife habitat; and • Actively accelerate recovery and regeneration of forest ecosystems. Provide for Recovery of Forest Products • Promote vegetation management to recover merchantable products; and • Provide commercial forest products to local industries at a level commensurate with Forest Plan direction and goals. Provide for Human Safety • Treat hazard trees in areas not covered by the Forest-wide Hazard Tree Decision Notice (August 12, 2008); • Treat hazard trees within and outside the wildland urban interface (WUI); • Increase the extent of defensible space around resources at risk; and • Create fuel breaks to slow or stop the progress of wildfires. Provide for Protection of Infrastructure, Municipal Water Supplies, and Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat • Treat vegetation adjacent to infrastructure and non-federally owned lands; • Treat vegetation to protect municipal water supplies and infrastructure; and • Treat vegetation where fire is identified as a threat to the habitat of a threatened or endangered species. Mitigate Hazardous Fuel Loading sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES • Treat hazardous fuels to minimize the potential for large, high intensity/ high severity wildfires; and • Treat hazardous fuels to reduce fire behavior and the possibility of fires spreading onto adjacent, non-federal lands. Proposed Action The Forest Service proposes to conduct vegetation management activities on NFS lands, including inventoried roadless areas, within the Sierra Madre and Snowy Range Mountain Ranges of the MBNF. Vegetation management activities, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:50 Jul 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 including prescribed fire, mechanical, and hand treatment methods, could be applied to 150,000–350,000 acres to protect, restore and enhance forest ecosystem components; reduce wildfire risk to communities and municipal water supplies; supply forest products to local industries; and improve, protect, and restore wildlife habitat. Treatments would be authorized over a 10-year period beginning in 2018 and would be completed within approximately 15 years of the project decision. Due to ever-changing conditions, the Proposed Action incorporates the principles of adaptive management in that it does not identify specific treatment units. Instead, it proposes a range of acres (150,000–350,000) that could be treated within the preestablished TOAs (575,000 acres). During project implementation, the Forest Service would cooperate with other agencies, local governments, interested stakeholders, and organizations to identify specific treatment units. Specific objectives of each treatment unit would be determined prior to any grounddisturbing activities using existing vegetation conditions and a series of project-developed field checklists. The sum of all treatments would not exceed 350,000 acres. Specifically, the Proposed Action would allow each of the following activities to occur within the preestablished TOAs: • Cutting trees or shrubs using a variety of treatment methods including, but not limited to, clearcutting/coppice; group and individual tree selection; salvage; mastication; sanitation; and thinning. Treatments would be designed to protect, restore, and enhance forest ecosystem components; supply forest products to local industries; provide for human safety; reduce wildfire risk to communities and municipal water supplies; and improve, protect, and restore wildlife habitat. • Cutting trees that have encroached on grass and shrub lands to maintain desired species dominance and improve wildlife habitat. • Prescribed burning areas using jackpot, pile burning, and broadcast burning. Maintenance burns on previously treated areas would occur to maintain desired fuels or habitat conditions. • Prescribed burning or tree/shrub cutting on portions of inventoried roadless areas (IRAs). Treatment opportunity areas in IRAs were proposed by Cooperating Agencies and the Forest Service to protect communities at risk; threatened, PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 endangered, and sensitive wildlife habitat; critical infrastructure; and municipal water supplies. No new permanent or temporary road construction would occur in IRAs. • Utilizing and/or reconstructing existing open and closed NFS roads to access treatment units. Reconstruction may include road blading, culvert installation or replacement, and gravelling. Closed NFS roads would be for administrative access only (i.e., they will be managed as closed to the public) and would be returned to a closed status with the method of closure being determined at implementation. • Constructing approximately 25 miles of new, permanent NFS roads, as necessary, to access treatment areas; the final assessment of road needs has not been determined and could be more or less. All newly constructed system roads would be physically closed to public motorized vehicle use following completion of treatment activities; however, their templates would be retained for future management entries. • Constructing approximately 1,000 miles of temporary road, as necessary, to access treatment areas; the final assessment of road needs has not been determined and could be more or less. While open, the roads would be for administrative use only (i.e., they would be managed as closed to the public). Temporary roads would be decommissioned following treatment activities to preclude future motorized use and to restore ecological function; decommissioning returns a road to a natural state. Decommissioning methods may include, but are not limited to, recontouring the road, ripping/scarifying the roadbed, removing culverts, installing drainage features, creating physical barriers to preclude motorized travel, scattering wood/rock debris onto the road, applying seed and mulch to the area, and posting signs. • Conducting regeneration surveys, noxious weed control, native grass seeding, and road maintenance. • Using a combination of commercial timber sales, service contracts, stewardship contracts, cooperative authorities, partner capacity, and Forest Service crews to implement the project. Adaptive Management Process: Due to the adaptive nature of the Proposed Action (i.e., a range of treatment acres v. identification of specific treatment units), the Forest Service will develop standards, protocols, and monitoring requirements to guide project implementation. Under this scenario, the Forest Service would: • Complete all required surveys for each individual treatment area; complete required layout and marking E:\FR\FM\21JYN1.SGM 21JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 139 / Friday, July 21, 2017 / Notices of each treatment area; determine appropriate design features to be applied; and document compliance with requirements of the environmental impact statement using a set of preestablished field checklists. • Perform monitoring during and following implementation of individual treatment activities to ensure treatments are implemented as planned and that project objectives are being attained. • Establish an annual monitoring review with interested stakeholders, partners, and collaborative groups to ensure treatments are implemented as planned and that project objectives are being attained. Possible Alternatives At a minimum, the environmental impact statement will disclose the effects of the Proposed Action and a No Action alternative. The No Action alternative represents no change from current conditions and serves as the baseline for the comparison among alternatives. An alternative to the Proposed Action may be developed in response to public comments. Nature of Decision To Be Made The Forest Supervisor of the MBNF is the deciding official for the LaVA Project. Once the NEPA analysis is completed, he will decide: Whether or not to implement, in part or full, the proposed actions or other alternatives; rationale for the decision; and design criteria, mitigation and monitoring requirements necessary for project implementation. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. It is important that reviewers provide comments at such times and in such a 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. A more detailed scoping document may be accessed at https:// data.ecosystem-management.org/ nepaweb/nepa_project_ exp.php?project=51255. 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, they will not become part of the public record. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:50 Jul 20, 2017 Jkt 241001 Objection Process Dated: June 23, 2017. Jeanne M. Higgins, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System. [FR Doc. 2017–15322 Filed 7–20–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Notice for Request for Revision of a Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY: Rural Housing Service, USDA. Proposed collection; comments requested. ACTION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Housing Service’s (RHS) intent to reinstate a previously approved information collection in support of the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Comments on this notice must be received by [60 days] to be assured of consideration. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Jensen, Finance and Loan Analyst, Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Division, Stop 0784, Room 2250, USDA Rural Development, South Agriculture Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–0784, telephone (503) 894–2382, Email kate.jensen@wdc.usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. OMB Number: 0575–0179. Type of Request: Reinstatement of a Previously Approved Information Collection. Abstract: Under this program, loan guarantees are provided to participating lenders who make loans to income eligible borrowers in rural areas. The purpose of this program is to promote affordable housing for low- and moderate-income borrowers in rural America. Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 49 minutes per response. Respondents: Private sector lenders participating in the Rural Development Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,476. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 737. Estimated Number of Responses: 1,087,927. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 821,112. Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, Support Services Division, at (202) 692–0040. Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of USDA, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of USDA’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, Support Services Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Stop 0742–1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–0742. All DATES: The Forest Service is operating under Part 218—Project-level Pre-decisional Administrative Review Process (hereinafter referred to as ‘objection’), 36 CFR. 218 Subparts A and C, for this analysis. Per these regulations, individuals and entities who submit timely, specific written comments regarding a proposed project or activity during any designated opportunity for public comment will have standing to file an objection. This includes requests for comments during this initial scoping period as well as comments submitted during the 45-day comment period for the draft environmental impact statement. It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit them by the close of established comment periods. Only those who submit timely and specific written comments will have eligibility (36 CFR 218.5) to file an objection under 36 CFR 218.8. For objection eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the comment or verify identity upon request. Individuals and organizations wishing to be eligible to object must meet the information requirements in § 218.25(a)(3). Names and contact information submitted with comments will become part of the public record and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act. Sfmt 4703 33867 E:\FR\FM\21JYN1.SGM 21JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 139 (Friday, July 21, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33865-33867]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-15322]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, Landscape Vegetation 
Analysis (LaVA) Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: The Forest Service is preparing an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) on its proposed treatment of 150,000 acres of insect-
infested areas of the Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF). The Forest 
Service believes this treatment is necessary to ensure the future 
health of the MBNF.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by August 21, 2017. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is 
expected in November 2017 and the Final Environmental Impact Statement 
is due in March 2018.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: LaVA Project, Medicine Bow 
National Forest, 2468 Jackson Street, Laramie, WY 82070, or via 
facsimile to 307-745-2467, c/o LaVA Project. Written comments may also 
be hand-delivered to the above address between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 
Mountain Time, Monday through Friday except federal holidays. Comments 
may also be submitted electronically at https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=51255.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Martin, Project Manager, at 
307-745-2371. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the 
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-
800-811-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday 
through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF) has 
experienced epidemic levels of mountain pine beetle and spruce bark 
beetle infestations since the mid to late 1990s. Although the epidemic 
has slowed in recent years, the infestation has left behind a changed 
landscape consisting primarily of regenerating forests that have an 
overstory of large, dead and dying trees. Action is needed to 
accelerate management response to this major forest health event to 
proactively and adaptively respond to changing forest vegetation 
conditions.
    On March 22, 2017, Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell 
designated the majority of the MBNF as a landscape-scale insect and 
disease area under Section 602(d) of the Healthy Forests Restoration 
Action of 2003 (HFRA, 16 U.S.C. 6591 et seq.), as amended by Section 
8204 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. These authorities provide for 
expedited environmental analysis and treatments to address areas 
affected by insect and disease infestations. Accordingly, the Medicine 
Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis (LaVa) Project will proceed according 
to Section 104 of the HFRA and will be subject to subparts A and C of 
the U.S. Forest Service Project-Level Pre-decisional Administrative 
Review Process. Intended goals of the project include, but are not 
limited to, using tree cutting and/or prescribed burning to: make areas 
more resilient to future disturbance; restore, and enhance forest 
ecosystem components; supply forest products to local industries; 
provide for human safety; reduce wildfire risk to communities, 
infrastructure, and municipal water supplies; and improve, protect, and 
restore wildlife habitat.
    The LaVA analysis area encompasses the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre 
Mountain Ranges of the MBNF and includes roughly 850,000 acres of 
National Forest System (NFS) lands. Of the 850,000 acres, the Forest 
Service has identified roughly 575,000 acres wherein treatment 
activities could be proposed; these areas are termed `treatment 
opportunity areas' (TOAs). Actual treatments are proposed on a subset 
of the TOAs (150,000-350,000 acres), as described in the Proposed 
Action.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the project is to respond to changed forest 
vegetation conditions presented by the bark beetle epidemics 
experienced on the MBNF. The approach is to actively manage forest 
vegetation using tree cutting and/or prescribed burning, consistent 
with the goals outlined in the Governor's Task Force on Forests (Final 
Report, 2015), the Western Bark Beetle Strategy (July 2011), and the 
Wyoming Statewide Forest Resource Strategy (2010). These goals include 
promoting recovery from the insect infestations, improving the 
resiliency of green stands to future disturbances, helping to protect 
forested areas on adjacent private and state land, and providing for 
human safety. These general goals will be adapted to local

[[Page 33866]]

landscapes where treatments are needed based on Forest Plan direction, 
foreseeable conditions, and local environmental, social and economic 
concerns. The project is needed to:

Enhance Forest and Rangeland Resiliency to Future Insect and Disease 
Infestations

     Increase age class, structural, and vegetative diversity 
across the landscape;
     Promote forest and rangeland conditions to improve forage 
and wildlife habitat; and
     Actively accelerate recovery and regeneration of forest 
ecosystems.

Provide for Recovery of Forest Products

     Promote vegetation management to recover merchantable 
products; and
     Provide commercial forest products to local industries at 
a level commensurate with Forest Plan direction and goals.

Provide for Human Safety

     Treat hazard trees in areas not covered by the Forest-wide 
Hazard Tree Decision Notice (August 12, 2008);
     Treat hazard trees within and outside the wildland urban 
interface (WUI);
     Increase the extent of defensible space around resources 
at risk; and
     Create fuel breaks to slow or stop the progress of 
wildfires.

Provide for Protection of Infrastructure, Municipal Water Supplies, and 
Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat

     Treat vegetation adjacent to infrastructure and non-
federally owned lands;
     Treat vegetation to protect municipal water supplies and 
infrastructure; and
     Treat vegetation where fire is identified as a threat to 
the habitat of a threatened or endangered species.

Mitigate Hazardous Fuel Loading

     Treat hazardous fuels to minimize the potential for large, 
high intensity/high severity wildfires; and
     Treat hazardous fuels to reduce fire behavior and the 
possibility of fires spreading onto adjacent, non-federal lands.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Service proposes to conduct vegetation management 
activities on NFS lands, including inventoried roadless areas, within 
the Sierra Madre and Snowy Range Mountain Ranges of the MBNF. 
Vegetation management activities, including prescribed fire, 
mechanical, and hand treatment methods, could be applied to 150,000-
350,000 acres to protect, restore and enhance forest ecosystem 
components; reduce wildfire risk to communities and municipal water 
supplies; supply forest products to local industries; and improve, 
protect, and restore wildlife habitat. Treatments would be authorized 
over a 10-year period beginning in 2018 and would be completed within 
approximately 15 years of the project decision.
    Due to ever-changing conditions, the Proposed Action incorporates 
the principles of adaptive management in that it does not identify 
specific treatment units. Instead, it proposes a range of acres 
(150,000-350,000) that could be treated within the pre-established TOAs 
(575,000 acres). During project implementation, the Forest Service 
would cooperate with other agencies, local governments, interested 
stakeholders, and organizations to identify specific treatment units. 
Specific objectives of each treatment unit would be determined prior to 
any ground-disturbing activities using existing vegetation conditions 
and a series of project-developed field checklists. The sum of all 
treatments would not exceed 350,000 acres.
    Specifically, the Proposed Action would allow each of the following 
activities to occur within the pre-established TOAs:
     Cutting trees or shrubs using a variety of treatment 
methods including, but not limited to, clearcutting/coppice; group and 
individual tree selection; salvage; mastication; sanitation; and 
thinning. Treatments would be designed to protect, restore, and enhance 
forest ecosystem components; supply forest products to local 
industries; provide for human safety; reduce wildfire risk to 
communities and municipal water supplies; and improve, protect, and 
restore wildlife habitat.
     Cutting trees that have encroached on grass and shrub 
lands to maintain desired species dominance and improve wildlife 
habitat.
     Prescribed burning areas using jackpot, pile burning, and 
broadcast burning. Maintenance burns on previously treated areas would 
occur to maintain desired fuels or habitat conditions.
     Prescribed burning or tree/shrub cutting on portions of 
inventoried roadless areas (IRAs). Treatment opportunity areas in IRAs 
were proposed by Cooperating Agencies and the Forest Service to protect 
communities at risk; threatened, endangered, and sensitive wildlife 
habitat; critical infrastructure; and municipal water supplies. No new 
permanent or temporary road construction would occur in IRAs.
     Utilizing and/or reconstructing existing open and closed 
NFS roads to access treatment units. Reconstruction may include road 
blading, culvert installation or replacement, and gravelling. Closed 
NFS roads would be for administrative access only (i.e., they will be 
managed as closed to the public) and would be returned to a closed 
status with the method of closure being determined at implementation.
     Constructing approximately 25 miles of new, permanent NFS 
roads, as necessary, to access treatment areas; the final assessment of 
road needs has not been determined and could be more or less. All newly 
constructed system roads would be physically closed to public motorized 
vehicle use following completion of treatment activities; however, 
their templates would be retained for future management entries.
     Constructing approximately 1,000 miles of temporary road, 
as necessary, to access treatment areas; the final assessment of road 
needs has not been determined and could be more or less. While open, 
the roads would be for administrative use only (i.e., they would be 
managed as closed to the public). Temporary roads would be 
decommissioned following treatment activities to preclude future 
motorized use and to restore ecological function; decommissioning 
returns a road to a natural state. Decommissioning methods may include, 
but are not limited to, re-contouring the road, ripping/scarifying the 
roadbed, removing culverts, installing drainage features, creating 
physical barriers to preclude motorized travel, scattering wood/rock 
debris onto the road, applying seed and mulch to the area, and posting 
signs.
     Conducting regeneration surveys, noxious weed control, 
native grass seeding, and road maintenance.
     Using a combination of commercial timber sales, service 
contracts, stewardship contracts, cooperative authorities, partner 
capacity, and Forest Service crews to implement the project.
    Adaptive Management Process: Due to the adaptive nature of the 
Proposed Action (i.e., a range of treatment acres v. identification of 
specific treatment units), the Forest Service will develop standards, 
protocols, and monitoring requirements to guide project implementation. 
Under this scenario, the Forest Service would:
     Complete all required surveys for each individual 
treatment area; complete required layout and marking

[[Page 33867]]

of each treatment area; determine appropriate design features to be 
applied; and document compliance with requirements of the environmental 
impact statement using a set of pre-established field checklists.
     Perform monitoring during and following implementation of 
individual treatment activities to ensure treatments are implemented as 
planned and that project objectives are being attained.
     Establish an annual monitoring review with interested 
stakeholders, partners, and collaborative groups to ensure treatments 
are implemented as planned and that project objectives are being 
attained.

Possible Alternatives

    At a minimum, the environmental impact statement will disclose the 
effects of the Proposed Action and a No Action alternative. The No 
Action alternative represents no change from current conditions and 
serves as the baseline for the comparison among alternatives. An 
alternative to the Proposed Action may be developed in response to 
public comments.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor of the MBNF is the deciding official for the 
LaVA Project. Once the NEPA analysis is completed, he will decide: 
Whether or not to implement, in part or full, the proposed actions or 
other alternatives; rationale for the decision; and design criteria, 
mitigation and monitoring requirements necessary for project 
implementation.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. It is important 
that reviewers provide comments at such times and in such a 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. A more detailed scoping document may be 
accessed at https://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=51255.
    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, they will not become part of the 
public record.

Objection Process

    The Forest Service is operating under Part 218--Project-level Pre-
decisional Administrative Review Process (hereinafter referred to as 
`objection'), 36 CFR. 218 Subparts A and C, for this analysis. Per 
these regulations, individuals and entities who submit timely, specific 
written comments regarding a proposed project or activity during any 
designated opportunity for public comment will have standing to file an 
objection. This includes requests for comments during this initial 
scoping period as well as comments submitted during the 45-day comment 
period for the draft environmental impact statement.
    It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit 
them by the close of established comment periods. Only those who submit 
timely and specific written comments will have eligibility (36 CFR 
218.5) to file an objection under 36 CFR 218.8. For objection 
eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity 
submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the 
comment or verify identity upon request. Individuals and organizations 
wishing to be eligible to object must meet the information requirements 
in Sec.  218.25(a)(3). Names and contact information submitted with 
comments will become part of the public record and may be released 
under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Dated: June 23, 2017.
Jeanne M. Higgins,
Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2017-15322 Filed 7-20-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P