Author Topic: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; Montana; Supplemental EIS  (Read 949 times)

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Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; Montana; Supplemental EIS
« on: September 11, 2015, 02:52:11 am »
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; Montana; Supplemental EIS
for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource
Management Plan To Comply With District of Montana Court Order

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest will prepare a
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the 2009
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Revised Land and Resource
Management Plan (Forest Plan) environmental analysis in response to an
August 27, 2015 Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of
Montana. The Court directed the Forest Service to ``properly disclose
the information underlying its analysis of snowmobile impacts on big
game wildlife'' and ``adequately appl[y] the minimization criteria in
the [2005 Travel Management Rule].''

DATES: Under 40 CFR 1502.9(c)(4), there is no formal scoping period for
this proposed action. The Draft SEIS is expected to be published in
November 2015, which will then begin, in accordance with 36 CFR
219.16(a)(2), a 90-day public comment period on the Draft SEIS.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jan Bowey, Beaverhead-Deerlodge
National Forest, 125 Mill Street, Sheridan, MT 59749 (406) 842-5432.
Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at
800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The 2009 Forest Plan provides management
direction for activities on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
for the next 10 to 15 years, including direction on eight topics
(vegetation, wildlife, aquatic resources, recreation and travel
management
, fire management, livestock grazing, timber and recommended
wilderness).
    In 2010, WildEarth Guardians, Friends of the Bitterroot, Inc., and
Montanans for Quiet Recreation, Inc., filed a complaint in U.S.
District Court for the District of Montana (Case 9:10-cv-00104-DWM)
alleging inadequate analysis of the ``site-specific impacts of
snowmobile use on big game winter habitat and conflicting recreational
uses'' when developing the Forest Plan, failure ``to apply certain
criteria [referred to as the minimization criteria] when designating
areas open to snowmobile use'' and that Subpart C of the 2005 Travel
Management Rule concerning over-snow vehicles was invalid. In its June
22, 2015 Opinion (WildEarth Guardians et al. v. Montana Snowmobile
Ass'n, 790 F.3d 920 (9th Cir. 2015)), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit found the Forest Service provided sufficient information
to establish that it took a ``hard look'' at the impacts of snowmobile
use on non-motorized recreational uses and sufficiently analyzed these
conflicts. Further, the U.S. Court of Appeals found that plaintiffs'
challenge to the Subpart C exemption in the Travel Management Rule was
not ripe for review.
    However, in the same opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals held that
the Forest Service did not provide the public adequate access to
information about the impact of snowmobiles on big game wildlife and
habitat and did not allow the public to play an appropriate role in the
decision-making process. The U.S. Court of Appeals also found the
Forest Service did not adequately apply the minimization criteria found
in the Travel Management Rule. The matter was remanded to the U.S.
District Court for the District of Montana.
    In an August 27, 2015 Order, the U.S. District Court for the
District of Montana ordered the Forest Service to ``properly disclose
the information underlying its analysis of snowmobile impacts on big
game wildlife'' and ``adequately appl[y] the minimization criteria in
the [2005 Travel Managment Rule].'' The SEIS will disclose information
underlying its analysis of snowmobile impacts on big game wildlife and
apply the minimization criteria to areas on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge
National Forest open to over-snow vehicle use during the winter
recreation season (December 2 through May 15).
    A Draft SEIS is expected to be available for public review and
comment in November 2015. The comment period for the Draft SEIS will be
90 days from the date the Notice of Availability is published in the
Federal Register 36 CFR 219.16(a)(2).

    Dated: September 4, 2015.
Melany Glossa,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2015-22890 Filed 9-10-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-11-P

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-11/html/2015-22890.htm
Auckland Four Wheel Drive Club Inc, 4x4 Challenges NZ Inc, NZFWDA life member, Friends of 42 Traverse Inc.