[Federal Register: May 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 95)]
[Page 28098-28099]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

                                                Federal Register

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[[Page 28098]]


Forest Service

Dakota Prairie Grasslands, Medora Ranger District; North Dakota; 
North Billings County Range Allotment Management Plan Revisions

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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


SUMMARY: The Medora Ranger District, Dakota Prairie Grasslands, 
proposes to continue grazing on 48 allotments in a manner consistent 
with direction set forth in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands Land and 
Resource Management Plan (Grasslands Plan) and applicable laws. The ETS 
will lay the groundwork for revising the Allotment Management Plans 
(AMPs) for the 48 allotments. Site-specific resource objectives, 
allowable grazing strategies, and adaptive management tools will be set 
forth in the EIS in order to allow managers flexibility to meet 

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. 
The draft environmental impact statement is expected in August 2008 and 
the final environmental impact statement is expected in December 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Ronald W. Jablonski, Jr., District 
Ranger, Medora Ranger District, 23 Ave W., Suite B, Dickinson, ND 
58601, or e-mail your comments to comments-northern-dakota-praire-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Adams, Project Leader, or Nickole 
Dahl, Co-Project Leader at the Medora Ranger District, USDA Forest 
Service at the above address or call (701) 227-7800.


Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of this action is to develop AMPs for permitted 
domestic livestock grazing using management that is consistent with the 
Grasslands Plan direction and to maintain, meet, or move towards 
desired resource conditions within a 10-20 year timeframe following the 
decision. There is an overall need for greater management flexibility 
to meet Grasslands Plan resource goals and objectives and to cope with 
fluctuations in environmental and social conditions including, but not 
limited to, annual changes in weather; to be responsive to permittee 
requests for reasonable operational adjustments; and to respond to 
unforeseen issues.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Service proposes to continue grazing on 48 allotments 
which are located on the Medora Ranger District in a manner consistent 
with direction in the Grasslands Plan and applicable laws. The proposal 
takes an adaptive management approach to allow flexibility for both the 
Forest Service and the livestock operators to manage appropriately 
under changing conditions.
    The Forest Service has developed allotment-specific desired 
conditions, needs, and adaptive management proposals designed to meet 
the overall purpose and need for the project area. Affected resources 
will be monitored to determine whether they are moving toward, meeting 
or maintaining desired conditions. If desired conditions are not being 
met, or measureable progress is not being made toward them, then 
adaptive management practices will be employed.

Possible Alternatives

    Alternatives in addition to the proposed action include:
     A No Action alternative, which would exclude all domestic 
livestock grazing.
     A current management alternative, which would continue 
grazing as currently authorized.
     An adaptive management alternative that accounts for 
changes in animal unit forage demands based on changes in cow/calf 
     An adaptive management alternative which considers actions 
that can be implemented to maintain or improve resource conditions 
including adjusting authorized use based on estimated livestock 
carrying capacities and changes in animal unit forage demands based on 
cow/calf size.
    Other alternatives may be developed in response to comments.

Responsible Official

    Ronald W. Jablonski, Jr., Medora District Ranger is the responsible 
official. See address under the ADDRESSES section above.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The District Ranger will decide, whether to implement specific 
changes in grazing management to meet desired conditions, what optional 
grazing strategies may be used to meet desired conditions, and what 
monitoring items need to be included.

Scoping Process

    Public participation is important to this analysis. Part of the 
goal of public involvement is to identify additional issues and to 
refine general issues. Scoping notices will be mailed to the public on 
or before May 23, 2008. People may visit with Forest Service officials 
at any time during the analysis and prior to the decision. Two periods 
are specifically designated for comments on the analysis: (1) During 
the scoping process, and (2) during the draft ETS period. During the 
scoping process, the Forest Service seeks additional information and 
comments from individuals, organizations, and federal, state, and local 
agencies that may be interested in or affected by the proposed action. 
The Forest Service invites written comments and suggestions on this 
action, particularly in terms of issues and alternative development. 
While public participation in this analysis is welcome at any time, 
comments received within 30 days of the publication of this notice will 
be especially useful in the preparation of the draft environmental 
impact statement.

Preliminary Issues

    Issues identified through preliminary work include: Effects of 
livestock grazing in woody draws, effects of livestock grazing on 
riparian areas, effects of livestock grazing on herbaceous structure, 
effects of potential management actions on the local economy, drought, 
species composition, and the need for a drought management strategy.

[[Page 28099]]

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping proces which guides the 
development of the environmental impact statement.
    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 
    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: May 8, 2008.
Ronald W. Jablonski, Jr.,
District Ranger.
 [FR Doc. E8-10732 Filed 5-14-08; 8:45 am]