Author Topic: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest  (Read 1355 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
« on: September 07, 2013, 05:31:31 am »
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana; Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National
Forest Land and Resource Management Plan To Comply With a District of
Montana Court Order (Temporary Roads)

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact


SUMMARY: The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest will prepare a
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the 2009
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan
(Forest Plan) environmental analysis in response to a May 24, 2013
Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The
Court directed the Forest Service to ``. . . supplement its EIS for the
Forest Plan to explain or support, if possible, its decision to exclude
temporary roads from the road density objectives . . . .'' The
supplement will address the Forest Plan Goal for Wildlife Security and
density of roads and trails open to motorized use displayed in Tables
13 and 14 on pages 45-47 of the Forest Plan.

DATES: Scoping is not required for supplements to environmental impact
statements (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(4)). Review and comments will be solicited
once the Draft SEIS is filed with EPA. The Draft SEIS is expected in
February, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The line officer responsible for the decision is the
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Supervisor, 420 Barrett Street,
Dillon, MT 59725.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jan Bowey at 406-842-5432 or email 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


Purpose and Need for Action

    The Forest Plan provides management direction for activities on the
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for the next 10 to 15 years,
including direction on eight revision topics (vegetation, wildlife,
aquatic resources, recreation and travel management, fire management,
livestock grazing, timber and recommended wilderness). In 2012, Native
Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a complaint
in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (case 9:12-cv-00027-
DLC) alleging the Forest Plan failed to ensure elk viability because
the Forest Service did not disclose and consider the best available
science in its analysis of road density. In a May 24, 2013 Order, the
U.S. District Court for the District of Montana found the Forest
Service ``. . . complied with the general requirements of the 1982
viability regulation for elk and adequately disclosed the science upon
which it relied to determine appropriate road density levels for areas
with different management goals. . . . However, the Forest Service did
not explain or support its decision to exclude temporary roads from the
road density objectives.'' Therefore, there is a need to evaluate the
effects of temporary roads to comply with the court's order.

Proposed Action

    We are uncertain if there is a need to change management direction
in the Forest Plan. A determination will be made based upon the
analysis of the effects of temporary road construction and use. The
Draft SEIS may or may not propose an amendment to the Forest Plan.
    We expect to have a Draft SEIS available for public review and
comment in February, 2014. The comment period for the Draft SEIS will
be 90 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes
the notice of availability in the Federal Register. We believe, 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 draft environmental impact statements 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 have been raised at the draft environmental impact statement
stage but are not raised until after completion of the final
environmental impact statement may be waived or dismissed by the
courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d 1016, 1022 (9th Circ. 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 analysis participate by the close of the 90-
day comment period so substantive comments and objections are made
available to the Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully
consider and respond to them in the Final SEIS.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the SEIS, the Forest Supervisor will determine whether or
not additional management direction will be incorporated into the
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

    Dated: August 29, 2013.
Timothy Garcia,
Acting Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2013-21806 Filed 9-6-13; 8:45 am]
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