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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Midwest  |  Topic: Wi - Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest - EIS « previous next »
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« on: June 26, 2007, 09:30:45 am »

[Federal Register: June 26, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 122)]
[Notices]               
[Page 35029-35030]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr26jn07-15]                         

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Medford Aspen Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest,
Medford-Park Falls Ranger District intends to prepare an environmental
impact statement (EIS) to document the analysis and disclose the
environmental effects of proposed land management activities, and
corresponding alternatives within the Medford Aspen project area. The
primary purpose of this proposal is to implement activities consistent
with direction in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forests Land and
Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) and respond to specific needs
identified in the project area.
    The project area is located on National Forest System land in the
northern portion of the Medford landbase of the Medford-Park Falls
Ranger District, approximately 10 miles northwest of Medford,
Wisconsin. The legal description for the area is: Township 32 North,
Range 3 West, sections 1,12-13, 24; Township 32 North, Range 2 West,
sections 3-10, 16-19; Township 32 North, Range 1 West, sections 1-6, 9-
10, 12-14; Township 32 North, Range 1 East, sections 4-9, 16-18;
Township 33 North, Range 2 West, sections 2-5, 8-11, 13-16, 21-28, 34-
35; Township 33 North, Range 1 West, sections 1-3, 10-12, 13, 18-19,
28-35; and Township 33 North, Range 1 East, sections 6-7, 31-32; Fourth
Principal Meridian.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received
within 30 days of publication of this notice to receive timely
consideration in the preparation of the draft EIS.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Jeanne Higgins, c/o Jane Darnell,
Medford-Park Falls Ranger District, 850 N. 8th St., Medford, Wisconsin
54451. Send electronic comments to: jdarnell01@fs.fed.us with a subject
line that reads ``Medford Aspen Project''.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jane Darnell, Environmental
Coordinator, Medford-Park Falls Ranger District, Chequamegon-Nicolet
National Forest, USDA Forest Service: telephone 715-748-4875 (or TTY:
711, National Relay System), e-mail jdarnell01@fs.fed.us. To mail
correspondence to Jane Darnell, see information in ADDRESSES. Copies of
documents may be obtained at the same address. Another means of
obtaining information is to visit the Forest Web site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/cnnf/natres/index.html
.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The information presented in this notice is
included to help the reviewer determine if they are interested in or
potentially affected by this proposed project. The information
presented in this notice is summarized. Those who wish to comment on
this proposal or are otherwise interested in or potentially affected by
it are encouraged to review more detailed documents such as the
Proposed Action for the Medford Aspen Project (currently available for
review) and the draft EIS. See the preceding section of this notice for
the person to contact for more detailed information about this project.

Project Background

    The Medford Aspen project falls within the area defined in the
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forests 2004 Land and Resource Management
Plan (Forest Plan) as Management Area (MA) 1A. Guidance in the Forest
Plan identifies this area to be managed for early successional forest
communities such as aspen, balsam fir, and paper birch. Forest Plan
guidance recommends certain percentages of the aspen be within certain
age categories in order to maintain the aspen type and provide a
variety of wildlife habitat. Within the project area, about 23 percent
of the aspen is 45 years old or older. The Forest Plan recommended
percentage of aspen in this age class is between 5 and 15 percent.
Aspen is a fairly short lived tree species and as aspen surpasses the
age of 45, growth and vigor of the trees start to decline. By 60 years
of age, aspen is declining to the point where it looses the ability to
regenerate itself. By harvesting aspen

[[Page 35030]]

before it reaches this stage, the aspen forest type can be maintained.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The primary purpose of the Medford Aspen proposal is to implement
activities consistent with direction in the Forest Plan and to respond
to specific needs identified in the project area. The primary project-
specific need is to address the older declining aspen, much of which is
approaching 60 years of age and losing the ability to regenerate itself
back into productive aspen forest. This need will be met through timber
harvest. An associated need is to provide a safe and efficient
transportation system near and within the areas being proposed for
harvest.

Proposed Action

    The proposed land management activities (proposed actions), include
the following, with approximate acreage and mileage values:
    (1) The following activity addresses the need arising from an
abundance of mature, declining aspen in the project area:
    Clearcut regeneration harvest on about 1660 acres of aspen in MA 1A
has been identified in the proposed action. This even-aged method of
harvest removes most trees in the area, which encourages natural
regeneration of aspen and other early successional forest species.
    (2) The following projects address transportation needs for timber
harvest and for providing a safe and efficient transportation system:
    About 5 miles of temporary road construction and about 1 mile of
permanent road construction is needed to accomplish harvest activities.
Temporary logging roads are roads that would be decommissioned and
revegetated following project completion.
    About 3 miles of existing road would be utilized for the harvest
activity and then be decomissioned and revegetated. These roads are not
Forest system roads. They were probably utilized for past harvest
activity, but since they would not be needed again for many years (20-
40), they will be dropped from our road inventory following
decommissioning activity.
    About 14 miles of existing road would be used and added to the
Forest's transportation system. These roads would be maintained to meet
future access needs.

Preliminary Issues

    Preliminary issues are as follows: Potential effects on some
federally threatened or endangered species and Regional Forester
Sensitive Species (RFSS); potential effects on heritage resources;
potential effects on forest age structure as it relates to forest
health and wildlife species; potential effects on water, wetlands, and
soils; and some potential economic and social impacts (such as visual
quality, recreation).

Possible Alternatives

    Alternatives to the proposed action that are currently being
considered for display in the draft EIS are as follows: The required No
Action alternative and an alternative that harvests more or less of the
mature aspen than the proposal.

Nature of the Decision To Be Made

    The primary decision will be whether or not to implement the
proposed projects or alternatives of the projects within the project
area that respond to the purpose and need. The decision may also
include additional resource protection measures, monitoring, and
whether Forest Plan amendments are needed to implement the decision.

Responsible Official

    Jeanne Higgins, Forest Supervisor, Chequamegon-Nicolet National
Forest, 1170 4th Avenue South, Park Falls, WI 54552.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping proces which guides the
development of the EIS. Comments in response to this solicitation for
information should focus on (1) the proposal; (2) issues or impacts
from the proposal; and (3) possible alternatives for addressing issues
associated with the proposal. We are especially interested in
information that might identify a specific undesired result of
implementing the proposed actions.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation and subsequent
solicitations, including names and addresses of those who comment, will
be considered part of the public record 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 part 215. See
the section titled ADDRESSES in this notice for location of where to
send comments.

Estimated Dates for Filing

    The draft EIS is expected to be filed with the Environmental
Protection Agency and be available for public review in December 2007.
A 45-day comment period will follow publication of a Notice of
Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register. Comments
received on the draft EIS will be used in preparation of a final EIS.
We expect to file the notice of the availability of the final EIS and
Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register in April 2008.

Early Notice of the Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent

Environmental Review

    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
the 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. 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 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 EIS. Comments may also address
the adequacy of the draft EIS or the merits of the alternatives
formulated and discussed in the draft EIS. 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.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook
1909.15, Section 21.

    Dated: June 18, 2007.
Jeanne Higgins,
Forest Supervisor.
 [FR Doc. E7-12314 Filed 6-25-07; 8:45 am]

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