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Notice

Revision of the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Medicine Bow National Forest, Albany County, Carbon County, Converse County, Natrona County, Platte County, WY

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Revised Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in conjunction with revision of the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Medicine Bow National Forest.

SUMMARY:

The Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact statement in conjunction with the revision of the Land and Resource Management Plan (hereafter referred to as the Forest Plan or Plan) for the Medicine National Forest.

DATES:

Comments concerning the issues, concerns and scope of the analysis with regard to the proposed action were requested to be received in writing by November 15, 1999. The Forest Service expects to file a Draft Environmental Impact Statement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and make it available for public comment in December 2002. The agency expects to file the Final Environmental Impact Statement in December 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments to: Mary Peterson, Forest Supervisor, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Start Printed Page 499022468 Jackson Street, Laramie, Wyoming 82070.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dave Harris, Planning Team Leader, (307) 745-2403.

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RESPONSIBLE OFFICIAL:

Rick D. Cables, Rocky Mountain Regional Forester at P.O. Box 25127, Lakewood, CO 80225-0127.

COOPERATING AGENCIES:

State of Wyoming, through the Office of Federal Land Policy; Bureau of Land Management; and Conservation Districts.

End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This is a revised Notice of Intent for the prior notice promulgated in the Federal Register, Vol. 64, No. 194, on October 7, 1999 page 54609. The Notice of Intent is being revised for the following reasons:

(1) The draft EIS has been delayed two years. The original expected release date was October 2000; the new expected date is December 2002. The final EIS is expected to be published December 2003.

(2) Two cooperating agencies have been added. The Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming (USDI-BLM) will cooperate on the preparation of the EIS and decisions regarding mineral leasing. Seven Wyoming Conservation Districts (Little Snake River, Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins, Medicine Bow, Converse County, Laramie County, and Laramine Rivers Conservation Districts and the Platte County Resource District, hereinafter referred to as County Conservation Districts) will cooperate in water quality monitoring, planning for impaired watersheds, socio-economic analysis, and public involvement.

(3) The responsible official has changed. Rick D. Cables is the current Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region and responsible official for the Medicine Bow Forest Plan Revision.

Pursuant to Part 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 219.10(g), the Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region gives notice of the agency's intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for the revision effort described above. According to 36 CFR 219.10(g), land and resource management plans are ordinarily revised on a 10- to 15-year cycle. The existing Forest Plan was approved November 20, 1985.

The Forest Service is the lead agency in this revision effort. The State of Wyoming, by and through the Office of Federal Land Policy; USDI-BLM; and County Conservation Districts are cooperating agencies by virtue of special expertise and jurisdiction. The State of Wyoming was listed as a cooperating agency in the 1999 Notice of Intent.

Forest Plans describe the intended management of National Forests. Agency decisions in the Plan will do the following:

  • Establish multiple-use goals and objectives (36 CFR 219.1 1);
  • Establish forestwide management requirements (standards and guidelines) to fulfill the requirements of 16 USC 1604 applying to future activities (resource integration requirements, 36 CFR 219.13 to 219.27);
  • Establish management areas and management area direction (management area prescriptions) applying to future activities in that management area (resource integration and minimum specific management requirements) 36 CFR 219.11 (c);
  • Establish monitoring and evaluation requirements (36 CFR 219.11 (d));
  • Determine suitability and potential capability of lands for producing forage for grazing animals and for providing habitat for management indicator species (36 CFR 219.20), designate lands not suited for timber production, and, where applicable, establish allowable timber sale quantity (36 CFR 219.14, 219.15, and 219.21);
  • Where applicable to oil and gas resources, determine the planning area leasing decision (lands administratively available for leasing) and the leasing decision for specific lands [36 CFR 228.102(4)(d)&(e)]. Where applicable, BLM will issue a decision document on leasing for federal minerals, both under Forest Service administered surface and under private surface.
  • Where applicable, recommend Wild and Scenic River designations, in cooperation with the National Park Service, in accordance with 16 USC 1274; and
  • Where applicable, recommend non-Wilderness allocations or Wilderness recommendations for roadless areas (36 CFR 219.17)

The authorization of project level activities within the planning area occurs through project decision-making, the second stage of forest and grassland planning. Project-level decisions must comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures and must include a determination that the project is consistent with the Management Plan, or the Plan must be amended according to the National Forest Management Act (NFMA).

Release and Review of the EIS: The DEIS is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available for public comment by December 2002. At that time, the EPA will publish a notice of availability for the DEIS in the Federal Register. The comment period on the DEIS will be 90 days from the date the EPA publishes the notice of availability in the Federal Register.

Reviewers of the DEIS must structure their participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and contentions; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Com. v. NRDC. 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the DEIS stage but are not raised until after completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) may be waived or dismissed by the courts; City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d 1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 1986) and Wisconsin Heritages, Inc., v. Harris, 490 F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D. Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings, it is very important that those interested in this proposed action participate by the close of the three-month comment period so that substantive comments and objections are made available to the Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider them and respond to them in the FEIS.

To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed actions, comments on the DEIS should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the DEIS. Comments may also address the adequacy of the DEIS or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the statements. Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act at CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.

After the comment period ends on the DEIS, comments will be analyzed, considered, and responded to by the Forest Service in preparing the Final EIS. The FEIS is scheduled to be completed in December 2003. The responsible officials will consider the comments, responses, environmental consequences discussed in the FEIS, and applicable laws, regulations, and policies in making decisions regarding these revisions. The responsible official will document his decision and reasons for the decisions in a Record of Decision for the revised Management Plan. The decision will be subject to appeal in accordance with 36 CFR 217.

(Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook 1909-15, section 21.2)

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Start Printed Page 49903

Dated: July 26, 2002.

Richard P. Salazar,

Deputy Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region.

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[FR Doc. 02-19404 Filed 7-31-02; 8:45 am]

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