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Notice

Sierra National Forest, California, Sierra National Forest Motorized Travel Management EIS

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.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

SUMMARY:

The Sierra National Forest (Sierra NF) will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to disclose the impacts associated with the following proposed actions: 1. The prohibition of wheeled motorized vehicle travel off designated NFS roads, NFS trails and areas by the public except as allowed by permit or other authorization. 2. The addition of approximately 54 miles of existing unauthorized tracks to the current system of National Forest System (NFS) motorized trails, the permanent conversion of 72 miles of NFS Roads to NFS Trails, the management of 61 miles of NFS Roads as NFS Trails and the addition of six acres for motorized use. 3. The changing of the allowable use or season of use on approximately 970 miles of existing NFS Roads and closing approximately 200 miles of existing NFS Roads to public access usless allowed by permit or other authorization.

DATES:

The comment period on the proposed action will extend 45 days from the date the Notice of Intent is published in the Federal Register.

Completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is expected in November 2007 and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is expected in January 2008.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments to: Travel Management Team, Sierra NF, 1600 Tollhouse Rd., Clovis, CA 93611.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Tom Lowe, Sierra NF, 1600 Tollhouse Rd., Clovis, CA 93611; Phone: (559) 297-0706 extension 4840. E-mail: sierra.route.designation@fs.fed.us.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Over the past few decades, the availability and capability of motorized vehicles, particularly off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) has increased tremendously. Nationally, the number of OHV users has climbed sevenfold in the past 30 years, from approximately 5 million in 1972 to 36 million in 2000. California is experiencing the highest level of OHV use of any state in the nation. There were 786,914 ATVs and OHV motorcycles registered in 2004, up 330% since 1980. Annual sales of ATVs and OHV motorcycles in California were the highest in the U.S. for the last 5 years. Four-wheel drive vehicle sales in California also increased by 1500% to 3,046,866 from 1989 to 2002. (Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation in the United States, Regions and States: A National Report from a National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, USDA Forest Service, 2005).

Unmanaged OHV use has resulted in unplanned roads and trails, erosion, watershed and habitat degradation, and impacts to cultural resource sites. Compaction and erosion are the primary effects of OHV use on soils. Riparian areas and aquatic dependent species are particularly vulnerable to OHV use. Unmanaged recreation, including impacts from OHVs, is one of “Four Key Threats Facing the Nation's Forests and Grasslands.” (USDA Forest Service, June 2004).

On August 11, 2003, the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service entered into a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) with the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, and the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. That MOI set in motion a region-wide effort to “Designate OHV roads, trails, and any specifically defined open areas for motorized wheeled vehicles on maps of the 19 National Forests in California by 2007.”

On November 9, 2005, the Forest Service published final travel management regulations in the Federal Register (FR Vol. 70, No. 216-Nov. 9, 2005, pp. 68264-68291). This final Travel Management Rule requires designation of those roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use on National Forests. Designations will be made by class of vehicle and, if appropriate, by time of year. The final rule prohibits the use of motor vehicles off the designated system as well as use of motor vehicles on routes and in areas that are not designated.

On some NFS lands, long managed as open to cross-country motor vehicle travel, repeated use has resulted in unplanned, unauthorized tracks. These tracks generally developed without environmental analysis or public involvement, and do not have the same status as NFS roads and NFS trails included in the forest transportation system. Nevertheless, some unauthorized tracks are well-sited, provide excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation by motorized and non-motorized users, and would enhance the National Forest system of designated roads, trails and areas. Other unauthorized tracks are poorly located and cause unacceptable impacts. Only NFS roads and NFS trails can be designated for wheeled motorized vehicle use. In order for an unauthorized track to be designated, it must first be added to the forest transportation system.

In accordance with the MOI, the Sierra NF completed an inventory of unauthorized tracks on NFS lands in August of 2006, identifying approximately 520 miles of known unauthorized tracks. The Sierra NF then used an interdisciplinary process to conduct a Travel Analysis including working with the public to determine whether any of the unauthorized tracks should be proposed for addition to the Sierra NF transportation system. Roads, trails and areas that are currently part of the Sierra NF transportation system and are open to wheeled motorized vehicle travel will remain designated for such use except as described below under Proposed Action. This proposal focuses on the prohibition of wheeled motorized vehicle travel off designated routes and needed changes to the Sierra NF transportation system, including the addition of some unauthorized routes to the Sierra NF transportation system and minor changes to the existing transportation systems. The proposed action is being carried forward in accordance with the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR part 212).

In accordance with the rule, following a decision on this proposal, the Sierra NF will publish a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) identifying all Sierra NF roads, trails and areas that are designated for motor vehicle use. The MVUM shall specify the classes of vehicles and, if appropriate, the times of year for which use is designated.

Purpose and Need for Action

The following needs have been identified for this proposal:

1. There is a need for regulation of unmanaged wheeled motorized vehicle travel by the public. Currently, wheeled Start Printed Page 51776motorized vehicle travel by the public is allowed off designated routes below 6,800 feet elevation. In their enjoyment of the Sierra NF, motorized vehicle users have created numerous unauthorized routes. The number of such routes continues to grow each year with many routes having environmental impacts and safety concerns that have not been addressed. The Travel Management Rule, 36 CFR part 212), provides policy for ending this trend of unauthorized route proliferation and managing the Forest transportation system in a sustainable manner through designation of motorized NFS roads, trails and areas, and the prohibition of cross-country travel.

2. There is a need for limited changes and additions to the Sierra NF transportation system to:

2.1. Provide wheeled motorized access to dispersed recreation opportunities (camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, etc.)

2.2. Provide a diversity of wheeled motorized recreation opportunities (4x4 Vehicles, motorcyles, ATVs, passenger vehicles, etc.)

It is Forest Service policy to provide a diversity of road and trail opportunities for experiencing a variety of environments and modes of travel consistent with the National Forest recreation role and land capability (FSM 2353.03(2)).

In meeting these needs the proposed action must also achieve the following purposes:

A. Avoid impacts to cultural resources.

B. Provide for public safety.

C. Provide for a diversity of recreational opportunities.

D. Assure adequate access to public and private lands.

E. Provide for adequate maintenance and administration of thr transportation system based on availability of resources and funding to do so.

F. Minimize damage to soil, vegetation and other forest resources.

G. Avoid harassment of wildlife and significant disruption of wildlife habitat.

H. Minimize conflicts between wheeled motor vehicles and existing or proposed recreational uses of NFS lands.

I. Minimize conflicts among different classes of wheeled motor vehicle uses of NFS lands or neighboring federal lands.

J. Assure compatibility of wheeled motor vehicle use with existing conditions in populated areas, taking into account sound, emissions, etc.

K. Have valid existing rights of use and access (rights-of-way).

Proposed Action

1. Prohibition of wheeled motorized vehicle travel off the designated NFS roads, NFS trails and areas by the public except as allowed by permit or other authorization.

2. Additions to the National Forest Transportation System—The Sierra NF currently manages and maintains approximately 2,530 miles of NFS roads and no NFS motorized trails. Based on the stated purpose and need for action and as a result of the recent Travel Analysis process; the Sierra NF proposes to add no NFS roads; add approximately 54 miles of new motorized trail; permanently convert 72 miles of NFS Roads to NFS Trails; manage 71 miles of NFS Roads as NFS Trails; and add approximately six acres of new motorized use areas.

Proposed Additions to Motorized Trails System

Trail nameProposed useLengthSeason of useDistrict
BattalionOpen to All Vehicles0.50May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Chiquito SouthOpen to All Vehicles0.35May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Lost LakeOpen to All Vehicles0.58Year RoundBass Lake.
Deadman MiamiOpen to Motorcycles Only0.83Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
FootmanOpen to Motorcycles Only1.62May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
BeasoreOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.79May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
BLT MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.12Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
BrownsOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.77Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Cedar LoopOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.41Year RoundBass Lake.
CentralOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.32Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Chiquito NorthOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.72May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Cody E MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.79Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Cody W MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.62Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
ExpressOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.01Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
E-Zee MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.65May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
GreysOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.56Year RoundBass Lake.
HailOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.82Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Halfmile MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.62Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
JohnsonOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.18Year RoundBass Lake.
Martin MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.50Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.72May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
MMTB MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″2.27Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Power Loop EOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.25Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Power Loop NOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.82Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
PowerlineOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.70May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Quartz MtnOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.64Jun 15 to Nov 01Bass Lake.
Rock CreekOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.53Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
RushOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.73May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Shady E MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.35Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
Shady MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″2.38May 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
SoquelOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.68Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
StagecoachOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″3.12Apr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
SummitOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.05Year RoundBass Lake.
Sunflower MiamiOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.97Year RoundBass Lake.
TexasOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″0.64Year RoundBass Lake.
WhiskeyOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.58Year RoundBass Lake.
45 CutoffOpen to All Vehicles0.69May 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
Start Printed Page 51777
BasecampOpen to All Vehicles1.07Year RoundHigh Sierra.
BearpawOpen to All Vehicles0.64Year RoundHigh Sierra.
BoneyardOpen to All Vehicles0.48Year RoundHigh Sierra.
BuckOpen to All Vehicles0.10Apr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
CampfireOpen to All Vehicles0.17Year RoundHigh Sierra.
CampoutOpen to All Vehicles0.09Year RoundHigh Sierra.
DayuseOpen to All Vehicles0.16Year RoundHigh Sierra.
DoeOpen to All Vehicles0.29Year RoundHigh Sierra.
Dry CampOpen to All Vehicles0.07Year RoundHigh Sierra.
FawnOpen to All Vehicles0.11Year RoundHigh Sierra.
HorseshoeOpen to All Vehicles0.13Year RoundHigh Sierra.
KaiserOpen to All Vehicles0.02Year RoundHigh Sierra.
Lower BaldOpen to All Vehicles3.34Year RoundHigh Sierra.
Lower DinkeyOpen to All Vehicles0.44Year RoundHigh Sierra.
North BaldOpen to All Vehicles0.66May 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
One MileOpen to All Vehicles0.26Year RoundHigh Sierra.
RacoonOpen to All Vehicles0.71Year RoundHigh Sierra.
RidgelineOpen to All Vehicles0.68Year RoundHigh Sierra.
RidgetopOpen to All Vehicles1.08Year RoundHigh Sierra.
RockhopperOpen to All Vehicles1.15Apr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
RockslideOpen to All Vehicles1.20Year RoundHigh Sierra.
Sand FlatsOpen to All Vehicles0.27Year RoundHigh Sierra.
South FortOpen to All Vehicles0.13Year RoundHigh Sierra.
SpikeOpen to All Vehicles0.05Year RoundHigh Sierra.
StreamsideOpen to All Vehicles0.14Year RoundHigh Sierra.
TamarackOpen to All Vehicles0.06Year RoundHigh Sierra.
Upper BaldOpen to All Vehicles2.14Apr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
Upper DinkeyOpen to All Vehicles0.19Year RoundHigh Sierra.
CreeksideOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.91Apr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
RoadsideOpen to Vehicles Less Than 50″1.37Year RoundHigh Sierra.

Convert From NFS Roads to NFS Trails

Road/trail No.Beg MPEnd MPVehicle classSeason of useDistrict
HITE COVE OHV ROUTE (03S002)1.254.95Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
STAR LAKES OHV ROUTE (05S026)0.62.9Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
GREEN MTN OHV ROUTE (05S030X)02Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
CATTLE MTN OHV ROUTE (05S030XA)02Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
RED TOP OHV ROUTE (05S070A)01.2Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
GLOBE ROCK AA SPUR (05S070AA)00.66Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
IRON LAKES OHV ROUTE (05S092A)00.6Open to All VehiclesYear RoundBass Lake.
DUSY-ERSHIM OHV ROUTE (07S032)1.225.2Open to All VehiclesJul 15 to Nov 01High Sierra.
COYOTE OHV ROUTE (08S042)3.26.1Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
STRAWBERRY OHV ROUTE (08S042X)02.5Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
WEST LAKE OHV ROUTE (08S042XA)00.3Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
MIRROR LAKE OHV ROUTE (08S042XB)00.7Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
BREWER LAKE OHV ROUTE (09S034)02.1Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
BALD MTN OHV ROUTE (09S043)04.5Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
BALD OHV B (09S043B)01.8Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
PEEP OHV (09S043A)00.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
TRI-TIP OHV ROUTE (09S091)01.3Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
SWAMP LAKE OHV ROUTE (10S015)013.8Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Nov 01High Sierra.
SPANISH LAKE OHV ROUTE (11S007A)05.7Open to All VehiclesAug 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.

NFS Roads to be Managed as NFS Trails

Road/Trail No.Beg MpEnd MpVehicle classSeason of useDistrict
50S009XA00.6Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
50S013G00.4Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
50S020X02.5Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
50S02300.9Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
50S02700.4Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
50S024C00.6Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
06S027M00.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S03401Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S034A00.9Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S03700.7Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S037A00.1Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
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06S040XA01.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01Bass Lake.
06S042G00.6Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
06S043A00.5Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Oct 01High Sierra.
06S044XB01.5Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Oct 01High Sierra.
06S048A00.3Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S086B00.4Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S086C00.9Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
06S089YA00.6Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Oct 01High Sierra.
07S005SA00.4Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
07S008A00.7Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
07S008B00.5Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
07S01201.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
07S09500.9Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
07S095A00.2Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
07S09900.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
07S099A00.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
07S303A00.3Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
07S50000.5Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
07S520A01.1Open to Vehicles Less Than 50″Year RoundBass Lake.
08S05601.1Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
08S05700.4Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
08S098G00.7Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S005E00.5Open to All VehiclesAug 15 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S006A00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S009B01.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S009C00.6Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S009K00.1Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
09S014A01Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S01500.7Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S034A00.7Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
09S034B01Open to All VehiclesJun 01 to Nov 01High Sierra.
09S066A00.4Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S069C00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S0720.82.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S072A01.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S09000.7Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S090A00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S090B00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S4040.10.8Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S404A00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
09S404B00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S013A01Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S013G00.4Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S016A00.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S016E00.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S016H00.7Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S016M00.11Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S016NA00.4Open to All VehiclesAug 15 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S018V00.7Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S020E00.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S0364.65.1Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Oct 01High Sierra.
10S036B00.8Open to All VehiclesJun 15 to Oct 01High Sierra.
10S036DA00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066C01.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066E01.3Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066H00.6Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066J00.6Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066JA00.6Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066L00.5Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S066N00.7Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S069C00.3Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
10S069D00.4Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
10S070BA00.4Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
10S070T00.3Open to All VehiclesYear RoundHigh Sierra.
10S075D00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S09003.4Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S09800.4Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S09902.3Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S099A01.1Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S099B01.1Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S40700.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
10S41500.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
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10S41600.3Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S004C00.4Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S010B00.2Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S010F00.6Open to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S023D00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S023F0.51.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S040G00.5Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S040J00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S040N00.7Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.
11S040XA00.2Open to All VehiclesApr 20 to Dec 01High Sierra.

Proposed Motorized Use Area Additions

NameAreaProposed useSeason of use
Tule Mdw Use Area6 AcresOpen to All VehiclesMay 20 to Dec 1.

3. Changes of the allowable of use on the NFS Roads—It is proposed to restrict the type of vehicular use and/or the period of use on approximately 970 miles of existing NFS Roads. And to permanently close 200 miles of existing NFS Roads to public access unless allowed by permit or other authorization. [See Internet, http://www.fs.us.fed/​r5/​sierra/​projects/​ohv, for complete tables.]

Maps and tables describing in detail both the Sierra NF transportation system and the proposed action can found at http://www.fs.fed.us/​r5/​sierra/​projects/​ohv. In addition, maps will be available for viewing at:

Supervisor's Office, 1600 Tollhouse Rd., Clovis, CA.

Bass Lake Ranger District, 57003 Road 225, North Fork, CA.

High Sierra Ranger District, 29688 Auberry Road, Prather, CA.

Responsible Official

Edward C. Cole, Forest Supervisor, 1600 Tollhouse Rd., Clovis, CA 93611.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

The responsible official will decide whether to adopt and implement the proposed action, an alternative to the proposed action, or take no action to make changes to the existing Sierra NF Transportation System and prohibit cross country wheeled motorized vehicle travel by the public off the designated system. Once the decision is made, the Sierra NF will publish a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) identifying the roads, trails and areas that are designated for motor vehicle use. The MVUM shall specify the classes of vehicles and, if appropriate, the times of year for which use is designated.

Scoping Process

Public participation will be especially important at several points during the analysis. The Forest Service will be seeking information, comments, and assistance from the federal, state, and local agencies and other individuals or organizations who may be interested in or affected by the proposed action. Public Meetings will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the following locations:

Mariposa: Sept 24, at the Best Western Yosemite Way, 4999 State Highway 49.

Clovis: Sept 26, at the Sierra NF Headquaters. 1600 Tollhouse Road.

Prather: Sept 27, at the High Sierra District Office, 29688 Auberry Road.

Oakhurst: Oct 2, at the Oakhurst Community Center, Road 425B.

The Notice of Intent is expected to be published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2007. The comment period on the proposed action will extend 30 days from the date the Notice of Intent is published in the Federal Register.

The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available for public review by November 2007. EPA will publish a notice of availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register. The comment period on the draft EIS will extend 45 days from the date the EPA notice appears in the Federal Register. At that time, copies of the draft EIS will be distributed to interested and affected agencies, organizations, and members of the public for their review and comment. It is very important that those interested in the management of the Sierra NF participate at that time.

The final EIS is scheduled to be completed in January 2008. In the final EIS, the Forest Service is required to respond to substantive comments received during the comment period that pertain to the environmental consequences discussed in the draft EIS and applicable laws, regulations, and policies considered in making the decision. Substantive comments are defined as “comments within the scope of the proposed action, specific to the proposed action, and have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and include supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider” (36 CFR 215.2). Submission of substantive comments is a prerequisite for eligibility to appeal under the 36 CFR part 215 regulations.

Comments Requested

This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides the development of the environmental impact statement.

Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent Environmental Review

A draft environmental impact statement will be prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft 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 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. Start Printed Page 51780 NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the draft environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised until after completion of the final 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 environmental impact statement.

To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the draft environmental impact statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft 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)

Start Signature

Dated: September 5, 2007.

Edward C. Cole,

Forest Supervisor.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E7-17834 Filed 9-10-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-01-P