[Federal Register: August 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 159)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management
Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement
for the North Steens Ecosystem Restoration Project
AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of Availability.
SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of
1969, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and the
Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act (Steens Act)
of 2000, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze potential effects of
implementing the North Steens Ecosystem Restoration Project (North
Steens Project). The proposed project area lies within the Andrews
Management Unit (AMU) and the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management
and Protection Area (CMPA), designated October 30, 2000 by Act of
Congress. The North Steens Project is located in Harney County, Oregon,
and affects approximately 336,000 acres of public and private lands.
DATES: The Final EIS will be available for a 30-day period of
availability with the publishing of the Environmental Protection
Agency's Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: North Steens Project EIS Lead, BLM,
Burns District Office, 28910 Hwy 20 West, Hines, Oregon 97738; (541)
573-4543; Fax (541) 573-4411; or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The North Steens Project is a proposed
landscape-level project utilizing a combination of western juniper
treatments (mechanical and nonmechanical methods) and wildland
(prescribed and natural) fire to treat fuels and to restore sagebrush/
steppe habitat. Implementation of the project would reduce the
increasing adverse influence of western juniper in mountain big
sagebrush, low sagebrush, quaking aspen, mountain mahogany, old growth
juniper (over 120 years old), and riparian plant communities.
Section 113(c) of the Steens Act states, ``The Secretary shall
emphasize the restoration of the historic fire regime in the
Cooperative Management and Protection Area and the resulting native
vegetation communities through active management of western juniper on
a landscape level. Management measures shall include the use of natural
and prescribed burning.''
The Resource Management Plans for the CMPA and AMU contain overall
direction and guidance for proposed management actions such as those
analyzed in the North Steens Project EIS. Management actions analyzed
include seeding of native species, reduction of western juniper (less
than 120 yrs old), fencing, and management of wildland fire.
Preliminary issues and management concerns were identified by BLM
personnel and through public scoping. Major issues addressed in the EIS
include management of woodlands, rangeland vegetation, Steens Mountain
Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), Wild and Scenic River
corridors, wildlife habitat, special status species, wildland fire/
fuels, recreation, cultural resources, noxious weeds, water quality/
aquatic resources/fisheries, biological soil crusts, and social and
economic values. The EIS also considered American Indian traditional
practices. An interdisciplinary approach was used to develop the Final
Government agencies having specific expertise or interests in the
invited to participate as cooperating agencies. The public and interest
groups have been provided opportunities to participate during formal
comment periods and during Steens Mountain Advisory Council meetings.
The Final EIS evaluates six alternative management approaches
including a No Action Alternative. A Preferred Alternative is proposed
in the Final EIS. The three features of the Preferred Alternative are:
(1) The Full Treatment Alternative would be implemented in all portions
of the project area including WSAs, but excluding Steens Mountain
Wilderness; (2) The Continuation of Current Management Alternative
would be selected for the Steens Mountain Wilderness; (3) Future
proposals in Steens Mountain Wilderness would be in conformance with
the Steens Act and the Wilderness Act.
Copies of the Final EIS have been sent to affected Federal, State,
Tribal and local government agencies and to interested parties. The
Final EIS is available for public inspection at the BLM Burns District
Office in Hines, Oregon, during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays). Comments received
from the public and internal BLM review comments on the Draft EIS were
incorporated into the Final EIS, where appropriate.
Public input during scoping as well as internal scoping identified
at least 20 issues for analysis in the EIS. These issues are outlined
in Chapter 1 of the Final EIS.
Opportunities for public involvement to date in the process have
included two separate public scoping periods, a 45-day comment period
on the Draft EIS which included two public meetings. In addition, the
Steens Mountain Advisory Council has participated in the process and
made a specific recommendation which supports the Preferred
Public comments on the Draft EIS received during the 45-day comment
period were reviewed by BLM specialists and cooperating agencies.
Responses to public comments as well as summarized versions of the
public comments are included in the Final EIS. Changes to the EIS made
between Draft and Final were based on public comments and internal
review. Meetings were held and coordination has been conducted with
Harney County Commissioner, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Services, Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center,
Burns Paiute Tribe, and Harney Soil and Water Conservation District.
Andrews Resource Area Field Manager.
[FR Doc. E7-16126 Filed 8-16-07; 8:45 am]
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