AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of Intent to Revise the Land and Resource Management
Plan and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement
SUMMARY: As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA
Forest Service is preparing the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests'
revised land management plan (forest plan) and will also prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
for this revised forest plan. This
notice briefly describes the nature of the decision to be made, a
general proposed action based on the preliminary identified need to
change the existing plan, and information concerning public
participation. It also provides estimated dates for filing the EIS and
the name and address of the responsible agency official and the
individuals who can provide additional information. Finally, this
notice identifies the applicable planning rule that will be used for
completing this plan revision. The revised forest plan will supersede
the existing forest plan that was approved by the Regional Forester in
1987, and significantly amended in 1994. The existing forest plan will
remain in effect until the revised forest plan takes effect.
DATES: Comments concerning the preliminary need for change and proposed
action provided in this notice will be most useful in the development
of the draft revised forest plan and EIS if received by April 28, 2014.
The agency expects to release a draft revised forest plan and draft EIS
for formal comment by April 1, 2015 and a final revised forest plan and
final EIS by June 30, 2016.
ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent via email to: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=43545
or via facsimile to
828-257-4263. Send or deliver written comments to: National Forests in
North Carolina, Attention: Nantahala and Pisgah Plan Revision Team,
160A Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ruth Berner, Forest Planner, National
Forests in North Carolina, 160A Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC, (828)
257-4862, or at NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us
. Information regarding this
revision is also available at the National Forests in North Carolina
Web site: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/nprevision
. 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.
A. Lead and Cooperating Agencies
The USDA Forest Service is the lead agency on revision of the
forest plan and the Bureau of Land Management is designated as a
cooperating agency in the plan revision.
B. Name and Address of the Responsible Official
The responsible official who will approve the Record of Decision is
Kristin Bail, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in North
Carolina, 160A Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801.
C. Nature of the Decision To Be Made
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests (NFs) are preparing an
EIS to revise the existing forest plan. The EIS process is meant to
inform the Forest Supervisor so that she can decide which alternative
best meets the diverse needs of people while conserving the forests'
resources, as required by the National Forest Management Act and the
Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. The revised forest plan will describe
the strategic intent of managing the Nantahala and Pisgah NFs into the
next 10 to 15 years and will address the identified need to change the
existing land management plan. A description of the preliminary need
for change is provided below. The revised forest plan will provide
management direction in the form of desired conditions, objectives,
suitability determinations, standards, guidelines, and a monitoring
program. It may make changes to the structure and delineation of the
Management Areas described in the existing plan, along with possible
changes to administratively designated areas and recommendations for
changes to other designations. The revised forest plan will also
provide a description of the plan area's distinctive roles and
contributions within the broader landscape. It is also important to
identify the types of decisions that will not be made within the
revised forest plan. The authorization of project-level activities on
the forests is not a decision made in the forest plan but occurs
through subsequent project specific decision-making. Though some
strategic guidance may be provided, the designation of routes and
trails for motorized vehicle travel, equestrian and mountain bike use
are not considered during plan revision, but will be addressed through
subsequent planning processes
. Some issues (e.g., hunting regulations),
although important, are beyond the authority or control of the National
Forest System and will not be considered. No decision regarding oil and
gas leasing availability will be made, though standards will be brought
forward or developed that would serve as mitigations should an
availability decision be necessary in the future. No decision will
likely be made regarding the management of individual roads, such as
might be associated with a Travel Management plan under 36 CFR Part
D. Need for Change and Proposed Action
According to the National Forest Management Act, forest plans are
to be revised on a 10 to 15 year cycle. The purpose and need for
revising the current forest plan is (1) the forest plan is over 25
years old, (2) since the forest plan was approved in 1987, there have
been changes in economic, social, and ecological conditions, new
policies and priorities, and new information based on monitoring and
scientific research, and (3) to address the preliminary identified
needs to change the existing
plan, which are summarized below. Extensive public and employee
involvement, along with science-based evaluations, have helped to
identify theses preliminary needs to change the existing forest plan.
The Proposed Action is to revise the forest plan to address these
identified needs to change the existing forest plan. Alternatives to
the Proposed Action will be developed to address the significant issues
that will be identified through scoping.
What follows is a summary of the preliminary identified needs for
change. A more fully developed description of the preliminary need for
change, which has been organized into several resource and management
topic sections, is available for review on the plan revision Web site
Throughout the Plan
There is a need for the revised plan to address how forest
management in all resource areas should be prioritized given varying
levels of money and personnel likely to be available over the course of
the planning cycle.
There is a need to reconsider the number, arrangement, boundaries
of, and plan direction for the management areas.
There is a need to recognize the role of the Nantahala and Pisgah
NFs in supporting local economies.
There is a need to include plan direction regarding potential
climate change impacts.
There is a need to incorporate opportunities for working across
boundaries to manage landscapes with adjacent land managers such as
state and federal partners and other land management entities.
Lands and Boundaries of the National Forest
There is a need to ensure the revised plan contains sufficient
direction for dealing with land adjustment opportunities.
Minerals and Energy
There is a need to update and clarify plan direction regarding
recreational metal detecting, mineral collection, and gold panning;
direction for potential energy and mineral developments; and direction
for managing geologic hazards.
Timber Production and Non-Timber Forest Products
There is a need to reconsider which areas of the national forests
are suitable for timber production, and there is a need to update plan
direction for non-timber forest products.
Restoring Ecosystems and Rare Habitats
There is a need to provide direction to proactively manage,
maintain, or restore ecosystems, watersheds and rare habitats, to
better control non-native invasive species, and to reconsider riparian
There is a need for management direction regarding municipal
watersheds and groundwater.
There is a need to include direction for improving aquatic passage
There is a need to reconsider direction for wildlife habitat
diversity provided in the 1987 Plan. Young forest is in short supply
and other habitat components are in need of adjustment.
There is a need to provide direction for managing elk habitat in
anticipation of their expanding range.
There is a need to update the scenery management system.
There is a need to clarify and update plan direction regarding
There is a need to conduct an inventory and evaluation of potential
additions to Wilderness and identify the eligibility of rivers for
inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. There is a
need to reconsider previous recommendations for Wilderness and update
plan direction regarding management of Wilderness and Wilderness Study
Areas, and other designated areas.
There is a need to update plan direction for managing roads.
There is a need to update plan direction for managing cultural
There is a need for the plan to promote opportunities for
There is a need to be responsive to changing trends in regard to
services, activities and types of facilities desired by the public, but
balance those with fiscal reality. The trends in demographics such as
the expectation for an older and more ethnically diverse population,
the need to promote outdoor physical activities, especially among
youth, and the desire to support local cultures and economies should
all be considered in establishing a path forward for recreation
management on Nantahala and Pisgah NFs.Trails
There is a need for the plan to
better address the sustainability
of the trail systems considering changing trends in use, conditions,
and maintenance capacity.For the full notice ..... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-03-12/html/2014-05374.htm