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Notice

Plumas National Forest; Plumas County, CA; Empire Vegetation Management Project

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice of intent to prepare a supplement to the environmental impact statement.

SUMMARY:

The Forest Service will prepare a supplement to the final Environmental Impact Statement to document and clarify additional analysis of cumulative environmental effects primarily in five resource areas: Vegetation, Fire/Fuels/Air Quality, Wildlife, Watershed, and Botanical Resources/Noxious Weeds. The supplement will also clarify the discussion of planning areas. Additional details will be added to Appendix D: Proposed Actions for Each Road in Each Watershed and Appendix G: Past, Present, and Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions. Additional maps will be included to provide further information to the public.

DATES:

Scoping is not required for supplements to environmental impact statements (40 CFR 1502.9(c)4(4)). The draft supplemental environmental impact statement is expected to be issued in January 2006 and the final supplemental environmental impact statement is expected in April 2006.

ADDRESSES:

Plumas National Forest, 159 Lawrence Street, P.O. Box 11500, Quincy, CA 95971; Mount Hough Ranger District, 39696 Highway 70, Quincy, CA 95971.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gary Rotta, Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Mt. Hough Ranger District 39696 Highway 70, Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-7687.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The prior notice of intent for this project appeared in the Federal Register on February 9, 2005. The Notice of Availability for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement appeared on May 20, 2005. A Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision were issued on August 9, 2005. The legal notice of the Record of Decision appeared in the Feather River Bulletin on August 24, 2005. The decision was appealed and later reversed on November 18, 2005.

Purpose and Need for Action

The purpose and need remain the same as was described in the FEIS. In the FEIS, the purpose of and need for the project has three elements: (1) To implement fuel reduction in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and, as part of the larger HFQLG fuel treatment strategic network as called for by the HFQLG Act (Section 401(b)(1) and (d)(1)) and the HFQLG amendment to the LRMP, to reduce the potential size and intensity of wildfires and provide fire suppression personnel safe locations for taking action against wildfires; (2) to implement group selection and individual tree selection, as directed in the HFQLG Act (Section 401(b)(1) and (d)(2)) and the HFQLG amendment to the LRMP, to test the effectiveness of an uneven-aged silvicultural system in achieving an all-aged, multistory, fire resilient forest, providing an adequate timber supply that contributes to the economic stability of rural communities, and improving and maintaining ecological health of the forest; and (3) to reduce impacts of the transportation system on forest resources and provide the necessary access for the fuel treatments and the group and individual tree selection harvests.

Proposed Action

The proposed action and all alternatives will remain the same as described in the FEIS. These alternatives include varied levels of fuel treatments, group selection timber harvest, individual tree selection harvest and transportation system improvement.Start Printed Page 76751

Responsible Official

Jim Pena, Forest Supervisor, Plumas National Forest, P.O. Box 11500, Quincy, CA 95971.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

Based on the supplement, the responsible official will decide whether to implement the project based on an alternative in the FEIS or not implement the project at this time.

Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent Environmental Review

A draft supplemental environmental impact statement will be prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement will be 45 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability in the Federal Register.

The Forest Service believes, at this early stage, it is important to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public participation in the environmental review process. First, reviewers of draft supplemental environmental impact statements 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 Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the draft supplemental environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised until after completion of the final supplemental environmental impact statement 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 45-day 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 final supplemental environmental impact statement.

To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages of the draft supplement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the statement. Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.

Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal and will be available for public inspection.

(Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, Section 21)

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Dated: December 20, 2005.

James M. Pena,

Forest Supervisor.

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[FR Doc. 05-24517 Filed 12-27-05; 8:45 am]

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