[Federal Register: August 29, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 169)]
[Notices]               
[Page 50929-50930]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr29au08-27]                         

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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Cibola National Forest; New Mexico; McKinley County Easement for 
Forest Roads 191 and 191D

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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

SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture, Forest Service has initiated 
the process to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a 
road easement issuance to McKinley County for Forest Roads (FRs) 191 
and 191D. The proposed action would grant an easement to McKinley 
County for FRs 191 and 191D and reassign an existing easement (dated 
December 21, 2001, from David Polich et al.) to the Forest Service 
across private land within Section 9, T 13 N, R 16 W, NMPM to McKinley 
County. The granting of the right-of-way allows McKinley County to 
upgrade the roads and take over their maintenance. The upgrade would 
make these portions of FR 191 and FR191D, approximately 2.78 miles, 
all-weather roads.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days after the publication of the NOI. The draft environmental 
impact statement is expected November, 2008 and the final environmental 
impact statement is expected March, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Nancy Rose, Forest Supervisor, 
Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, or 
fax (505) 346-3901. Copies of the proposed action, project location 
map, or the Environmental Impact Statement, when available, may be 
obtained from the Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna Road, NE, 
Albuquerque, NM 87110-1001; or from the Mount Taylor Ranger District 
Office (Cibola NF), 1800 Lobo Canyon Road, Grants, NM 87020 or 
electronically from the Forest Service Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/projects/nepa_reports.shtml.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, mail 
correspondence to Keith Baker, NEPA Coordinator, Cibola National 
Forest, 2113 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113-1001 or phone (505) 
346-3820.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Purpose and Need for Action

    There is a need to provide for public safety and adequate access to 
private inholdings. The desired condition is to have FR191 and FR191D 
under a County easement. This would allow McKinley County to upgrade 
FR191D to County ``B-2'' type road standards, with an aggregate surface 
in place of a paved surface. An upgrade of this nature would make 
FR191D an all-weather road but maintain it as a rural road. It would 
also place these roads under McKinley County jurisdiction, which would 
be appropriate due the existing and anticipated traffic type and volume 
from the private landowners who live in the area and use the road. The 
current road condition limits access for public services, such as 
school buses and fire and emergency service vehicles to reach these 
people. An improved, all-weather road would allow safe, year-round 
access for the people living on private land and provide access for 
public services and emergency service vehicles.

Proposed Action

    The U.S. Forest Service, Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor 
Ranger District proposes to grant an easement to McKinley County for 
access across forest lands and transfer an existing Forest Service 
easement across private land to the County. The right-of-way would be 
2.78 miles long and 66 feet wide, covering approximately 22 acres. 
About 2.23 miles of the roads are on national forest lands. About one-
quarter mile of the easement would be on FR 191 from its intersection 
with New Mexico State Highway 400 to the intersection of FR191D. The 
remaining 2.53 miles would be on FR191D from its intersection with 
FR191 to private land.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official is Nancy Rose, Forest Supervisor, Cibola 
National Forest Supervisor's Office, 2113 Osuna Road NE., Albuquerque, 
NM 87113-1001.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The decision to be made is whether to implement the proposed action 
as described above, to vary the design of the proposed action to meet 
the purpose and need through some other combination of activities, or 
to take no action at this time.

[[Page 50930]]

Scoping Process

    The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) emphasizes an early and 
open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and 
for identifying significant issues related to the proposed action. To 
meet the intent of the CEQ regulations, the Cibola National Forest will 
do the following to ensure early and open public involvement: (1) 
Include the proposed action on the list of projects for annual tribal 
consultation and address concerns identified during tribal consultation 
as part of the analysis, (2) submit the proposed action to the public 
during scoping, and request comments or issues (points of dispute, 
debate, or disagreement) regarding the potential effects, (3) include 
the proposal on the Cibola National Forest Schedule of Proposed Actions 
quarterly report, (4) use comments received to determine significant 
issues and additional alternatives to address within the analysis, (5) 
consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State 
Historical Preservation Office regarding potential effects to listed 
species and heritage sites as needed, and (6) prepare and distribute a 
draft environmental impact statement for a 45-day public comment 
period. No public meeting is planned.

Preliminary Issues

    One preliminary issue has been identified. The project and other 
actions in the area could affect habitat for the Zuni bluehead sucker, 
a New Mexico state-endangered fish, which exists downstream from the 
project area.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Comments should 
be focused on the nature of the action proposed and should be relevant 
to the decision under consideration. Comments received from the public 
will be evaluated for significant issues and used to assist in the 
development of additional alternatives, if any.
    Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent 
Environmental Review: A draft environmental impact statement will be 
prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft environmental 
impact statement will be 45 days from the date the Environmental 
Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability in the Federal 
Register.
    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 
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 be raised at the 
draft environmental impact statement stage but that 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 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 environmental impact statement.
    To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues 
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft 
environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is 
also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the 
draft statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft 
environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternatives 
formulated and discussed in the statement. 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.
    Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who 
comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal 
and will be available for public inspection.

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

    Dated: August 19, 2008.
Nancy Rose,
Forest Supervisor, Cibola National Forest.
[FR Doc. E8-20105 Filed 8-28-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-11-P