[Federal Register: June 12, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 114)]
[Notices]               
[Page 33393-33394]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12jn08-43]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Goose Creek Watershed Livestock Grazing Analysis on the Tongue 
Ranger District, Bighorn National Forest, Sheridan and Johnson 
Counties, WY

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The USDA, Forest Service, will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to update range management planning on seven (7) cattle 
and horse allotments in the Goose Creek area, which will result in 
development of new allotment management plans (AMPs). The agency gives 
notice of the full environmental analysis and decision-making process 
that will occur on the proposal so that interested and affected people 
may become aware of how they may participate in the process and 
contribute to the final decision.

DATES: Comments and input regarding the proposal were requested from 
the public, other groups and agencies, via a legal notice published in 
the Casper Star-Tribune November 7, 2007. Additional comments may be 
made at the addresses below, and would be most helpful if submitted 
within thirty days of the publication of this notice. Based on past 
actions of this type, the Responsible Official has determined that an 
environmental impact statement will be prepared for this project. The 
draft environmental impact statement is expected March 2009, and the 
final environmental impact statement is expected June 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Clarke McClung, Tongue District 
Ranger, 2013 Eastside Second Street, Sheridan, Wyoming 82801.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurie Walters-Clark, 
Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Bighorn National Forest, phone (307) 
674-2600.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The allotments are located approximately 25 
miles by road, west of Sheridan, Wyoming in the Big Goose drainage. 
National Forest System lands within the Bighorn National Forest will be 
considered in the proposal. The purpose of the analysis is to determine 
if livestock grazing will continue on the analysis area. If the 
decision is to continue livestock grazing, then updated management 
strategies outlining how livestock will be grazed will be developed to 
assure implementation of the 2005 Revised Bighorn National Forest Land 
and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) management direction. The 
analysis will consider actions that continue to improve trends in 
vegetation, watershed conditions, and ecological sustainability 
relative to livestock grazing within the allotments. Management actions 
are proposed to be implemented beginning in the year 2011.
    The Bighorn Forest Plan identifies livestock grazing as an 
appropriate use and makes initial determinations for land scapable and 
suitable for grazing by domestic livestock. The seven allotments 
involved are: Big Goose, Little Goose, Rapid Creek, Little Goose 
Canyon, Walker Prairie, Tourist, and Stull Lakes.
    Purpose and Need for Action: The purpose of this project is to 
determine if livestock grazing will continue to be authorized on the 
seven allotments, and if it is to continue, how to best utilize 
adaptive management strategies to maintain or achieve desired 
conditions and meet forest plan objectives. Livestock grazing is 
currently occurring on most of the allotments under existing allotment 
management plans (AMPs) and through direction provided in the Annual 
Operating Instructions (AOI). Portions of the Stull Lakes allotment are 
vacant; however, livestock grazing is occurring on the Antler Creek 
portion. Continuation of livestock grazing will require the review of 
existing management strategies and, if necessary, updating them to 
implement forest plan direction and meet Section 504 of Public Law 104-
19 (Rescission Bill, signed 7/27/95). The results of this analysis may 
require modifying term grazing permits. Modification will be documented 
in updated AMPs for the allotments.
    Proposed Action: The proposed action is to continue livestock 
grazing using adaptive management strategies to meet or move toward 
Forest Plan and allotment-specific desired conditions. This includes 
changing livestock management strategies and construction of additional 
improvements (fences and water developments).
    Possible Alternatives: Two additional alternatives have been 
identified to date: (1) No action; remove livestock grazing from these 
allotments, and (2) No change; continuance of current management 
strategies.
    Responsible Official: Clarke McClung, District Ranger, Tongue 
Ranger District, Bighorn National Forest, 2013 Eastside 2nd Street, 
Sheridan, Wyoming 82801.
    Nature of Decision To Be Made: The Responsible Official will 
consider the results of the analysis and its finding and then document 
the final decision in a Record of Decision (ROD). The decision will 
determine whether or not to authorize livestock grazing on all, part, 
or none of the allotments, and if so, what adaptive management design 
criteria, adaptive options, and monitoring will be implemented so as to 
meet or move toward the desired conditions in the defined timeframe.
    Scoping Process: Formal scoping for this project occurred in 
November 2007.
    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,

[[Page 33394]]

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: June 4, 2008.
Clarke McClung,
Tongue District Ranger.
[FR Doc. E8-13060 Filed 6-11-08; 8:45 am]

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