Adoption of Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI-BLM-ID-B000-2014-0002-EIS) Prepared for the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project, 61007 [2019-24576]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 12, 2019 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Natural Resources Conservation Service Adoption of Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI–BLM–ID–B000– 2014–0002–EIS) Prepared for the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to Adopt Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). AGENCY: NRCS announces its intent to adopt the FEIS, titled ‘‘Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project’’ (BOSH), prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the provisions of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. The proposed action will improve and maintain suitable sage-grouse habitat within southwestern Idaho by removing early stage encroaching western juniper. DATES: We will consider comments that we receive by December 12, 2019. ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on this notice. In your comments, include the volume, date, and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRCS–2019–0018. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail, or Hand Delivery: Trisha Cracroft, State Biologist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 9173 or W Barnes Drive, Suite C Boise, Idaho 83709. NRCS will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. In general, personal information provided with comments will be posted. If your comment includes your address, phone number, email, or other personal identifying information (PII), your comments, including PII, may be available to the public. You may request that your PII be withheld from public view, but this cannot be guaranteed. The copies of the BOSH FEIS is available at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-frontoffice/eplanning/planAnd ProjectSite.do?methodName= dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId= 56816. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Trisha Cracroft, State Biologist, NRCS, at (208) 378–5725 or trisha.cracroft@ SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Nov 08, 2019 Jkt 250001 id.usda.gov. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice). NRCS announces its intent to adopt the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project Final EIS, as prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the provisions of the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1506.3). In response to the threat of sagebrush steppe habitat loss posed by the encroachment of western juniper, the proposed action is vegetative treatments to address early stage juniper encroachment in southwestern Idaho in order to maintain and improve sagebrush steppe habitat for the benefit of sage-grouse and other wildlife that rely on these habitats. Treatment methods would include cutting junipers with handsaws or chainsaws, lopping with pruning shears, and using heavy equipment such as a track-hoe fitted with a grinding implement (masticator) or a shearing implement (large, powerful pruning shears). Material may be scattered on site and left in place, or the material may be piled and burned or jackpot burned. Jackpot burning is a type of prescribed fire used to reduce concentrations (or jackpots) of vegetative fuel. Jackpot burning consumes surface fuels but not the overstory vegetation and is used following a pre-treatment such as thinning and/or pile burning to further reduce the surface fuels, help maintain the desired vegetation conditions and enhance the overall health and resiliency of the plant community. Old growth juniper would not be cut or burned regardless of encroachment phase, proximity to leks, or proximity to sage-grouse migration corridors. Cut juniper would be burned in areas near roads for public and fire fighter safety, areas where viewshed issues are a concern, and/or areas where fuel loading is a concern. Burning may also be completed to remove slash from meadow areas that would provide suitable sage-grouse brood rearing habitat. Jackpot and pile burning would take place once the juniper biomass has dried sufficiently and when soils are moist, frozen, or covered by snow. Project implementation would be in accordance with the methods (Section 2.2.4 in the FIES) and design features (Section 2.2.5 in the FEIS) to minimize or eliminate adverse impacts by the proposed action to the identified resources (i.e., cultural resources, soils, vegetation, wildlife). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 61007 Sage-grouse inhabit sagebrush ecosystems that are at risk from juniper encroachment in areas including southwest Idaho and the BOSH project area. The BOSH project will improve and maintain suitable sage-grouse habitat by removing early stage encroaching western juniper on BLMmanaged lands within the Bruneau and Owyhee field office boundaries in southwest Idaho. As described in the FEIS the project is 1.67 million acres with up to 726,000 acres proposed for treatment. Privately-owned land within the project area totals 241,820 acres. Private landowners in the project area may voluntarily choose to conduct the vegetative treatments described above on their own lands. NRCS proposes to provide technical and financial assistance through Farm Bill conservation program contracts with landowners to implement these vegetative treatments to remove early stage encroaching juniper for the purpose of improving sagebrush habitat. Each landowner will be responsible for ensuring that treatment methods meet NRCS conservation practice standards and specifications and may choose to do the work themselves, hire a contractor or coordinate with BLM (or its contractors) to complete the vegetative treatments. Prior to recommending adoption, NRCS completed an internal checklist per NRCS’s Title 190—, National Environmental Compliance Handbook, Part 610, subpart F, section 610.83(D) and subpart H, section 610.134. NRCS was not a cooperating agency on the development of the FEIS. NRCS proposed action is substantially similar to that analyzed in the FEIS therefore, it was determined that the FEIS does not need to be supplemented prior to adoption because circumstances have not changed nor is there new information indicating a new or supplemental EIS should be prepared. NRCS requests feedback from the public, other agencies, tribes, and other interested parties on the proposal to adopt the BOSH FEIS, the FEIS itself, and any associated issues and concerns. Mary Goode, Acting Idaho State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [FR Doc. 2019–24576 Filed 11–8–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P E:\FR\FM\12NON1.SGM 12NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 218 (Tuesday, November 12, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Page 61007]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-24576]



[[Page 61007]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Natural Resources Conservation Service


Adoption of Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI-BLM-ID-
B000-2014-0002-EIS) Prepared for the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat 
Project

AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Department 
of Agriculture (USDA).

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to Adopt Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (FEIS).

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SUMMARY: NRCS announces its intent to adopt the FEIS, titled ``Bruneau-
Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project'' (BOSH), prepared by the U.S. 
Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the 
provisions of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. 
The proposed action will improve and maintain suitable sage-grouse 
habitat within southwestern Idaho by removing early stage encroaching 
western juniper.

DATES: We will consider comments that we receive by December 12, 2019.

ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on this notice. In your 
comments, include the volume, date, and page number of this issue of 
the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted by any of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRCS-2019-0018. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail, or Hand Delivery: Trisha Cracroft, State Biologist, 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, 9173 or W Barnes Drive, Suite C 
Boise, Idaho 83709.
    NRCS will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. In 
general, personal information provided with comments will be posted. If 
your comment includes your address, phone number, email, or other 
personal identifying information (PII), your comments, including PII, 
may be available to the public. You may request that your PII be 
withheld from public view, but this cannot be guaranteed. The copies of 
the BOSH FEIS is available at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage¤tPageId=56816.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Trisha Cracroft, State Biologist, 
NRCS, at (208) 378-5725 or [email protected]. Persons with 
disabilities who require alternative means for communication should 
contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NRCS announces its intent to adopt the 
Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project Final EIS, as prepared by 
the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 
under the provisions of the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1506.3). In 
response to the threat of sagebrush steppe habitat loss posed by the 
encroachment of western juniper, the proposed action is vegetative 
treatments to address early stage juniper encroachment in southwestern 
Idaho in order to maintain and improve sagebrush steppe habitat for the 
benefit of sage-grouse and other wildlife that rely on these habitats. 
Treatment methods would include cutting junipers with handsaws or 
chainsaws, lopping with pruning shears, and using heavy equipment such 
as a track-hoe fitted with a grinding implement (masticator) or a 
shearing implement (large, powerful pruning shears). Material may be 
scattered on site and left in place, or the material may be piled and 
burned or jackpot burned. Jackpot burning is a type of prescribed fire 
used to reduce concentrations (or jackpots) of vegetative fuel. Jackpot 
burning consumes surface fuels but not the overstory vegetation and is 
used following a pre-treatment such as thinning and/or pile burning to 
further reduce the surface fuels, help maintain the desired vegetation 
conditions and enhance the overall health and resiliency of the plant 
community. Old growth juniper would not be cut or burned regardless of 
encroachment phase, proximity to leks, or proximity to sage-grouse 
migration corridors. Cut juniper would be burned in areas near roads 
for public and fire fighter safety, areas where viewshed issues are a 
concern, and/or areas where fuel loading is a concern. Burning may also 
be completed to remove slash from meadow areas that would provide 
suitable sage-grouse brood rearing habitat. Jackpot and pile burning 
would take place once the juniper biomass has dried sufficiently and 
when soils are moist, frozen, or covered by snow. Project 
implementation would be in accordance with the methods (Section 2.2.4 
in the FIES) and design features (Section 2.2.5 in the FEIS) to 
minimize or eliminate adverse impacts by the proposed action to the 
identified resources (i.e., cultural resources, soils, vegetation, 
wildlife).
    Sage-grouse inhabit sagebrush ecosystems that are at risk from 
juniper encroachment in areas including southwest Idaho and the BOSH 
project area. The BOSH project will improve and maintain suitable sage-
grouse habitat by removing early stage encroaching western juniper on 
BLM-managed lands within the Bruneau and Owyhee field office boundaries 
in southwest Idaho. As described in the FEIS the project is 1.67 
million acres with up to 726,000 acres proposed for treatment. 
Privately-owned land within the project area totals 241,820 acres. 
Private landowners in the project area may voluntarily choose to 
conduct the vegetative treatments described above on their own lands. 
NRCS proposes to provide technical and financial assistance through 
Farm Bill conservation program contracts with landowners to implement 
these vegetative treatments to remove early stage encroaching juniper 
for the purpose of improving sagebrush habitat. Each landowner will be 
responsible for ensuring that treatment methods meet NRCS conservation 
practice standards and specifications and may choose to do the work 
themselves, hire a contractor or coordinate with BLM (or its 
contractors) to complete the vegetative treatments.
    Prior to recommending adoption, NRCS completed an internal 
checklist per NRCS's Title 190--, National Environmental Compliance 
Handbook, Part 610, subpart F, section 610.83(D) and subpart H, section 
610.134. NRCS was not a cooperating agency on the development of the 
FEIS. NRCS proposed action is substantially similar to that analyzed in 
the FEIS therefore, it was determined that the FEIS does not need to be 
supplemented prior to adoption because circumstances have not changed 
nor is there new information indicating a new or supplemental EIS 
should be prepared.
    NRCS requests feedback from the public, other agencies, tribes, and 
other interested parties on the proposal to adopt the BOSH FEIS, the 
FEIS itself, and any associated issues and concerns.

Mary Goode,
Acting Idaho State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-24576 Filed 11-8-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-16-P