Author Topic: Notice; intent to prepare environmental impact statement. Flathead National Fore  (Read 1421 times)

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[Federal Register: December 11, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 237)]
[Page 70293-70294]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Forest Service

Sheppard Creek Post-Fire Project, Flathead National Forest,
Flathead and Lincoln Counties, MT

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact
statement (EIS) for a proposal to salvage merchantable timber affected
by the Brush Creek wildland fire on the Tally Lake Ranger District of
the Flathead National Forest. This fire burned a total of approximately
30,000 acres on the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests from July to
September of 2007. Approximately 25,000 acres burned on the Tally Lake
Ranger District where this project is proposed. The Kootenai National
Forest will be preparing a separate salvage proposal. The city of
Whitefish, Montana is located about twenty air miles to the east of the
central portion of the project area.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis should be received
in writing on or before January 15, 2008. A public scoping meeting will
be held in the city of Kalispell, Montana on January 9, 2008. The draft
environmental impact statement (DEIS) is expected to be filed with the
Environmental Protection Agency and made available for public review in
April of 2008. No date has yet been determined for filing the final
environmental impact statement (FEIS).

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Lisa Timchak, Tally Lake District
Ranger. The mailing address is Tally Lake Ranger District, 650 Wolfpack
Way, Kalispell, Montana 59901. Electronic comments may be e-mailed to
comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.use with ``Sheppard Creek

Post-Fire Project'' in the subject line and must be submitted in MSWord
(*.doc) or rich text format (*.rtf). Comments received in response to
this request will be available for public inspection and will be
released in their entirety if requested pursuant to the Freedom of
Information Act.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bryan Donner, Planning Team Leader,
Tally Lake Ranger District, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, Montana 59901
or call at (406) 758-0408.


Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose and need for the action is to recover merchantable wood
fiber affected by the Brush Creek Fire in a timely manner to support
local communities and contribute to the long-term yield of forest
    Fire-killed trees do not typically maintain their merchantability
as wood products for more than one to three years, depending on their
species and size. Sapwood staining, checking, woodborer damage, and
decay will deleteriously reduce timber volume after that time. Smaller-
diameter trees typically will not be merchantable within a year.
Larger-diameter trees can retain their merchantability as wood products
for a longer period, but merchantability will deteriorate as time goes
on. While considering ecological needs, salvage harvesting an
appropriate amount of fire-affected trees in a timely manner to ensure
their economic utilization and starting the reforestation process in
the burned area will help facilitate meeting desired conditions within
the area of the Brush Creek Fire.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action includes salvage of trees from approximately
6500 acres, which represents about 30 percent of the area that burned
in the 2007 Brush Creek Fire on the Flathead National Forest.
Approximately 17 miles of road reconstruction are proposed to access
burned trees. This reconstruction on existing road templates would
allow use of the road during salvage operations and would later close
them after salvage operations are completed. In addition, new temporary
road construction is proposed on approximately 9 miles to access burned
trees. No salvage or road building is proposed within inventoried
roadless lands. Planting conifer seedlings and ensuring that Best
Management Practices would be maintained on roads used for the salvage
would also be included in this project.
    More detailed scoping information and maps can be accessed on the
Flathead National Forest internet site at

Possible Alternatives

    Alternative A is the no-action alternative. Alternative B, the
proposed action described above, was developed by the interdisciplinary
team to respond to the purpose and need for action and to comply with
the Flathead Forest Plan. At least one additional action

[[Page 70294]]

alternative will be developed by modifying the proposed action to
respond to the significant issues identified during the public
involvement and scoping process.

Responsible Official

    The Responsible Official is the Forest Supervisor of the Flathead
National Forest, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, Montana 59901. The Forest
Supervisor will make a decision regarding this proposal considering the
comments and responses, environmental consequences discussed in the
final EIS, and applicable laws, regulations, and policies. The decision
and rationale for the decision will be documented in a Record of

Nature of the Decision To Be Made

    An environmental analysis for the Sheppard Creek Post-Fire Project
will evaluate site-specific issues, consider management alternatives,
and analyze the potential effects of the proposed action and
alternatives. The scope of the project is limited to decisions
concerning activities within the Sheppard Creek Post-Fire Project Area
that meet the Purpose and Need, as well as desired conditions. An
environmental impact statement will provide the Responsible Official
with the information needed to decide which actions, if any, to
    This EIS will tier to the Flathead National Forest Land and
Resource Management Plan and EIS of January 1986, and its subsequent
amendments, which provide overall guidance for land management
activities on the Flathead National Forest.

Scoping Process

    Public questions and comments regarding this proposal are an
integral part of this environmental analysis process. Comments will be
used to identify issues and develop alternatives to the proposed
action. To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering
issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments should be as
specific as possible.
    Input provided by interested and/or affected individuals,
organizations, and government agencies will be used to identify
resource issues that will be analyzed in the draft EIS. The Forest
Service will identify significant issues raised during the scoping
process, and use them to formulate alternatives, prescribe project
design features, and/or analyze environmental effects.

Preliminary Issues

    Preliminary issues and concerns include effects of treatments on
the following: Soils, old growth and mature tree wildlife habitat,
cavity nesting wildlife habitat, threatened and endangered species
habitat, and potential bark beetle epidemics.

Comment Requested

    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. 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 statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft
environmental impact statement or the merits of the atlernatives
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.

    Dated: December 4, 2007.
Cathy Barbouletos,
Forest Supervisor, Flathead National Forest.
[FR Doc. 07-6012 Filed 12-10-07; 8:45 am]

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