Kootenai National Forest; Buckhorn Planning Subunit; Lincoln
County, Montana; Environmental Impact Statement
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
SUMMARY: The Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) to disclose the environmental effects of commercial and
non-commercial vegetation management activities, prescribed burning,
and watershed improvement activities. Access management changes and
other design features are included to protect resources and facilitate
management activities. The project is located in the Buckhorn Planning
Subunit on the Three Rivers Ranger District, Kootenai National Forest,
Lincoln County, Montana, and north of Troy, Montana.
DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received
within 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Kirsten Kaiser; District Ranger,
Three Rivers Ranger District, 12858 US Hwy 2, Troy, MT 59935. Comments
may also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or via facsimile to (406) 295-7410.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact Pat Shira, Project Team
Leader, Three Rivers Ranger District, 12858 US Hwy 2, Troy, MT 59935.
Phone: (406) 295-4693. Individuals who use telecommunication devices
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service
(FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time,
Monday through Friday.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The project area is approximately 56,000
acres in size and is located about 27 miles north of Troy, Montana in
the Yaak River Valley and includes the following drainages: Spread
Creek, Hellroaring Creek, and Meadow Creek. The legal description
includes Townships 35 and 36 North, Ranges 34 and 33 West, Lincoln
County, Montana; and Township 64 North, Range 3 East, Boundary County,
Purpose and Need for Action
The purpose and need for this project is: (1) Promote resilient
vegetation conditions by managing towards charactertic landscape-level
vegetation patterns, structure, patch size, fuel loading and species
composition; (2) maintain or improve water quality and native aquatic
species habitat; and, (3) provide wood products to contribute to local
and regional economies.
The proposed action includes timber harvest and associated fuels
treatments, prescribed burning and watershed work to address the
purpose and need. The proposed action includes:
(1) Approximately 1,300 acres of regeneration harvest that would
initially produce foraging opportunities for
wildlife species including big game and grizzly bear, which would
transition into seedling and pole sized stands that provide young
forest habitat before the stands further develop mature forest
characteristics. Grouping of some units would create large areas of
openings within a matrix of leave areas to mimic a stand replacing
fire. There are nine units proposed that would create openings larger
than 40 acres and requires a 60-day public review and Regional Forester
approval (FSM 2471.1). This notice serves as the beginning of the 60-
day public review. The largest of these treatment units would be
approximately 280 acres. The openings are designed to provide no
greater than 600 feet distance to cover for grizzly bear and big game
species. All riparian areas will be identified by the Interdisciplinary
Team and excluded from harvest units. Approximately 414 acres are
proposed for treatments within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).
(2) About 94 acres of intermediate harvest is proposed to improve
stand conditions and increase huckleberry growth in the understory.
(3) In an effort to return fire to the landscape and promote
increased huckleberry growth and foraging opportunities, approximately
12,127 acres of prescribed burning is being proposed with up to 17,793
acres considered as part of the maximum allowable burn area.
Approximately 1,096 acres of burning will occur in the Wildland Urban
Interface (WUI). Approximately 7,195 acres of this burning will occur
within two Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs) located in and adjacent to
the project area. To achieve burn objectives of reducing canopy cover
in portions of the proposed burn units, hand slashing would occur
within the IRAs to create a fuel bed which helps carry fire through the
burn area and meet objectives. In areas of suitable whitebark pine
habitat, slashing of other encroaching conifers around existing live
whitebark pine may occur before burning. Whitebark pine seedlings may
be planted after the burns are completed. Whitebark pine is listed as a
sensitive species in Region One and is a Candidate species for listing
as threatened under the endangered species act (ESA). The US Fish and
Wildlife Service found that whitebark pine is ``warranted but
precluded'' from listing at this time.
(4) It is estimated that two temporary roads, totaling 0.7 miles
would be constructed to accomplish the timber harvest and associated
fuel reduction work and would be obliterated following activities.
Approximately 26 miles of haul routes would receive Best Management
Practices (BMPs) and road maintenance work to meet State BMP
requirements for water quality.
(5) Approximately 28 miles of road have been identified for
stabilization to reduce the potential for sediment delivery to streams
This work includes, but is not limited to the removal of culverts,
removal of log stream crossing structures, water bars and removing
unstable fill material. A Travel Analysis has been completed for the
Project Area. Roads identified in the Travel Analysis, as needed for
long-term management of the National Forest would be put into
intermittent stored service. Roads identified in the Travel Analysis,
as not needed for long-term management would be decommissioned. All
road decommissioning and intermittent stored services work is proposed on roads currently closed to motor vehicle access
. Coordination with
recreational users (snowmobilers, mountain bikers, hikers and stock
users) would be ongoing through analysis and implementation to maintain
popular access routes. To read the full notice... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-05/html/2013-02418.htm