Author Topic: Ochoco National Forest, Lookout Mountain Ranger District; Oregon; Ochoco Summit;  (Read 1714 times)

Offline Todd Ockert

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[Federal Register: November 20, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 223)]
[Page 60235-60236]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings,
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents
appearing in this section.


[[Page 60235]]


Forest Service

Ochoco National Forest, Lookout Mountain Ranger District; Oregon;
Ochoco Summit; OHV Trail EIS

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: The Ochoco National Forest is preparing an Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the effects of changing the existing
motorized trail system to create and designate a sustainable system of
roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicles that will provide legal
public access, enhance regulation of unmanaged wheeled motor vehicle
travel, protect resources, and decrease conflicts between motorized and
non-motorized use on the Ochoco National Forest. Consistent with the
Ochoco National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended,
this action is needed to provide to the public a diversity of road and
trail opportunities for experiencing a variety of environments and
modes of travel.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received
by December 21, 2009. The draft environmental impact statement is
expected to be completed and available for public comment in May 2010.
The final environmental impact statement is expected to be completed in
August 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Ochoco Summit OHV Trail Planning
Team, Ochoco National Forest, 3160 NE Third Street, Prineville, Oregon
97754. Alternately, electronic comments may be sent to comments- Electronic comments must be
submitted as part of the actual e-mail message, or as an attachment in
plain text (.txt), Microsoft Word (.doc), rich text format (.rtf), or
portable document format (.pdf).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dede Steele, Project Leader, at 3160
NE. Third Street, Prineville, Oregon 97754, or at (541) 416-6500, or by
e-mail at
    Responsible Official: The responsible official will be Jeff Walter,
Forest Supervisor, Ochoco National Forest, 3160 NE. Third Street,
Prineville, Oregon 97754.

    Purpose and Need. The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests are
working to complete a Travel Management EIS. If implemented, the two-
forest Travel Management EIS would identify specific roads as open for
motorized mixed use, and would prohibit off-road travel except where
specifically allowed. Opportunities for recreation with off-road
vehicles would be reduced. There currently is only one motorized trail
in a forested setting on the Ochoco National Forest: The Green Mountain
Trail. At just over eight miles, it is not of sufficient length to
provide a day of riding to an experienced rider, let alone a weekend of
opportunity. As a result, riders are currently venturing off the trail
and have created a network of loops. This represents an unauthorized
expansion of an undersized trail system. To provide a successful OHV
trail system, the system must contain adequate length, diversity,
difficulty, loops, alternative routes and other features to provide a
quality experience and to keep the use on the designated system.
    OHV riders have indicated a desire for additional motorized
opportunities other than on mixed use roads. NFS roads are designed
primarily for highway-legal vehicles such as passenger cars or log
trucks, and are often too wide and too smooth to provide a course with
sufficient technical difficulty to keep OHV riders interested and
challenged. The intent of providing trails for OHVs is to provide
routes with sufficient technical difficulty, diversity of experience
and interesting features to keep the riders interested, challenged and
engaged with staying on the designated route. The intent of providing
mixed use roads is to provide riders with access to a variety of
locations on the forest and to provide easy routes for riders who are
not looking for a technically difficult experience.
    Proposed Action. The Proposed Action focuses on designating
motorized trails and supporting areas, in conjunction with
opportunities that would remain on mixed use roads identified in the
forest-level Travel Management EIS. The Proposed Action would:
     Designate a system of trails and areas (including staging
areas, play areas, riding areas where young riders may be supervised by
adults, learner/warm-up loops, picnic and camping areas) by class of
vehicle and season of use.
     Utilize designated open motorized mixed use roads as
connecters between trail segments.
     Designate areas for developed and dispersed camping
activities with legal trail access.
     Implement rehabilitation or restoration activities in
previously damaged areas and interconnecting unauthorized or user-
created routes to promote recovery, and to prevent confusion about
which routes are open and which are not.
     Establish directional, informational and interpretive
signing to: Facilitate proper trail use, safety and enforcement; to
provide public information and education; to define trail, riding area,
staging area and camp sites locations; to promote recovery of
rehabilitation and restoration sites; and to encourage reporting of
violations, restoration or maintenance needs.
     Trails would be designed with width and difficulty
appropriate for each intended vehicle type, while roads designated as
open in the forest-level Travel Management EIS would not be narrowed to
trail standards (i.e. designated open roads would remain designated
open roads).
    Issues. Preliminary issues identified include:
     Resource concerns including effects to wildlife, fish,
streams, sensitive habitats, forage and weeds.
     Inadequate quality of experience for off-highway vehicle
use on open roads.
     Retention of non-motorized use experience, potential noise
     Retention of traditional motorized recreational
experience, noise/traffic levels.
     Concern for increasing off-highway vehicle use on the

[[Page 60236]]

     User conflicts associated with motorized/non-motorized
     Economic sustainability of road and trail system.
     Monitoring, maintenance and enforcement of appropriate
     Potential economic benefits to communities that rely on
     Potential impacts to adjacent land owners.
     Potential impacts to livestock and range improvements on
permitted allotments.
    Comment. Public comments about this proposal are requested in order
to assist in identifying issues, determine how to best manage the
resources, and to focus the analysis. Comments received to this notice,
including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered
part of the public record on this proposed action and will be available
for public inspection. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted
and considered; however, those who submit anonymous comments will not
have standing to appeal the subsequent decision under 36 CFR parts 215
and 217. Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any person may
request the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by
showing how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits such
confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be
aware that, under FOIA, confidentiality may be granted in only very
limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest
Service will inform the requester of the agency's decision regarding
the request for confidentiality, and where the request is denied, the
agency will return the submission and notify the requester that the
comments may be resubmitted with or without name and address within a
specified number of days.
    A draft EIS will he filed with the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and available for public review by May, 2010. The EPA will
publish a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the draft EIS in the Federal
Register. The final ElS is scheduled to be available August, 2010.
    The comment period on the draft ElS will be 45 days from the date
the EPA 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
a draft EIS 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 EIS stage but that are not
raised until after completion of the final EIS may be waived or
dismissed by the courts [City of Angoon 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 EIS.
    To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft EIS 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 EIS of 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.
    In the final ETS, the Forest Service is required to respond to
substantive comments received during the comment period for the draft
EIS. The Forest Service is the lead agency and the responsible official
is the Forest Supervisor, Ochoco National Forest. The responsible
official will decide whether and how to change the existing motorized
trail system on the Ochoco National Forest. The responsible official
will also decide how to mitigate impacts of this action and will
determine when and how monitoring of effects will take place.
    The Ochoco Summit OHV Trail decision and the reasons for the
decision will be documented in the record of decision. That decision
will be subject to Forest Service Appeal Regulations (35 CFR Part 215).

    Dated: November 12, 2009.
William R. Queen,
District Ranger.
[FR Doc. E9-27801 Filed 11-19-09; 8:45 am]


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