[Federal Register: January 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 5)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR; Westside Rangeland Analysis
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
SUMMARY: The USDA, Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact
statement to authorize livestock grazing within the Westside Rangeland
Analysis Area on the Wallowa Valley Ranger District of the Wallowa-
Whitman National Forest.
DATES: Written comments concerning the proposed action should be
received by February 11, 2008. Send written comments and suggestions to
Wallowa Valley District Ranger, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, 88401
Highway 82, Box A, Enterprise, OR 97828.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alicia Glassford, Interdisciplinary
Team Leader, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Wallowa Mountains Office,
88401 Hwy 82, Box A, Enterprise, OR, Phone: (541) 426-5689.
Purpose and Need
The purpose of and need for this action is to allocate forage for
commercial livestock grazing. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Land
and Resource Management Plan allows for livestock forage production
where forage is in excess to basic plant and soil needs, wildlife
needs, and where other specific resource conditions are to be achieved
or maintained. While livestock grazing has been ongoing for many years
in the Westside Rangeland Analysis Area, this grazing has been
addressed through annual operating instructions which have not been
subjected to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis
process. Thus, the NEPA process for this group of allotments is being
The Westside Rangeland Analysis Area (63,507 acres) is located
approximately 20 miles north of Enterprise, Oregon and is the portion
of National Forest System lands within the Wallowa Valley Ranger
District generally located west of State Highway 3. The proposal will
result in Allotment Management Plans for the six allotments within the
Westside Rangeland Analysis Area: Buck Creek Allotment, Day Ridge
Allotment, Mud Creek Allotment, North Powwatka Allotment, South
Powwatka Allotment, and Tope Creek Allotment. Specific elements of the
Proposed Action are as follows:
Authorize a total of 1579 head-months of livestock grazing on the
22,718-acre Buck Creek Allotment between June 1 and October 31.
Authorize a total of 100 head-months of livestock grazing on the
2,765-acre Day Ridge Allotment between May 15 and June 15.
Authorize a total of 3,528 head-months of livestock grazing on the
11,032-acre Mud Creek Allotment between May 15 and September 15.
Authorize a total of 774 head-months of livestock grazing on the
8074-acre North Powwatka Allotment between April 15 and November 15.
Authorize a total of 1171 head-months of livestock grazing on the
11,455-acre South Powwatka Allotment between June 1 and October 31.
Authorize a total of 429 head-months of livestock grazing on the
7,463-acre Tope Creek Allotment between June 1 and September 30.
The Wallowa Valley District Ranger, Barbara C. Van Alstine, will be
the responsible official for making the decision and providing
direction for the analysis.
Nature of Decision To Be Made
The responsible official will decide whether or not to authorize
commercial livestock grazing within the Westside Rangeland Area. The
responsible official will also decide whether or not to select the
proposed action as stated or modified, or to select an alternative to
it, any mitigation measures needed and any monitoring that may be
This notice of intent begins the scoping process in the development
of the environmental impact statement. Public participation is
especially important at several points during the development of the
EIS. The Forest Service is seeking information, comments, and
coordination with the Federal, State, and local agencies and tribal
governments and individuals or organizations who may be interested in
or affected by the proposed action. The public is asked to provide the
responsible official with written comments describing their concerns
about this project. The most useful comments to developing or refining
the proposed action would be site specific concerns and those that
pertain to authorizing livestock grazing within the Westside Rangeland
Analysis Area that meets the Purpose of and Need for
Action. See DATES above for the mailing address for written comments.
Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent
The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available to
the public for review by May 2008. 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
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest participate at that time.
The final EIS is scheduled to be completed in September 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
regarding authorization of livestock grazing. 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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)
Dated: December 20, 2007.
Barbara C. Van Alstine,
Wallowa Valley District Ranger.
[FR Doc. 08-17 Filed 1-7-08; 8:45 am]
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