[Federal Register: May 16, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 96)]
[Notices]               
[Page 28426-28428]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr16my08-23]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Environmental Impact Statement for Implementing the Travel 
Management Rule for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and 
Crooked River National Grassland, Deschutes & Ochoco National Forests, 
Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Klamath, Grant and Lake Counties, OR

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) on a proposed action to implement 36 CFR parts 212, 
251, 261, and 295; Travel Management: Designated Routes and Areas for 
Motor Vehicle Use; Final Rule (Travel Management Rule). The Deschutes 
and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland 
propose to prohibit motorized travel \1\ outside of 300' of the 
centerline of those existing designated routes (roads and trails) and 
areas that currently allow motorized use and that are not otherwise 
restricted or prohibited for such use by law, regulation, policy, 
order, Land and Resource Management Plans (Forest Plans), or other past 
administrative decisions. Class of vehicles (highway licensed and/or 
non-highway licensed) and season(s) of use that motorized access to 
dispersed campsites would be allowed would match the adjacent 
designated route classification and seasonal use period. Special 
provisions for motorized access only to designated, defined, or 
existing campsites, and/or prohibitions from motorized access would be 
applied adjacent to routes and within areas specified on the Proposed 
Action maps. Identification of routes with special provisions and/or 
prohibitions and would be based on a set of criteria for establishing 
exceptions to the general provision for 300' motorized access adjacent 
to designated routes in the proposed action. No new motorized access to 
areas currently prohibited to motorized access would be included in the 
proposed action.
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    \1\ Over the snow vehicles are excluded from this proposed 
action.
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    The proposed action would amend the Ochoco National Forest Plan by 
deleting forest plan standards and guidelines that are not consistent 
with the Travel Management Rule and the proposed action. The proposed 
action would amend the Deschutes National Forest Plan to make minor (1-
2 day) corrections to some motorized season of use dates for 
consistency with other similar season of use dates, and change some 
analysis requirements from outdated ``implementation units'' to 
watershed or similar sized ecologically-based areas. The alternatives 
will include the proposed action, no action, and additional 
alternatives that respond to issues generated through the scoping 
process. The agency will give notice of the full environmental analysis 
and decision making process so interested and affected people may 
participate and contribute to the final decision.
    Location: The proposed action includes all of the Deschutes and 
Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River National Grassland. These 
federal lands are located in the vicinity of the central Oregon cities 
of Bend, Prineville, and Madras. The proposed action applies only to 
National Forest and Grassland lands, although lands of other than 
federal ownership lie adjacent or interspersed across the landscape 
with national forests and grasslands.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis, issues about the 
proposed action, or alternatives to the proposed action are most 
helpful if received within 30 days following the date that this notice 
appears in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to the Deschutes National Forest at 
1001 SW Emkay, Bend, OR 97701 Attention: Mose Harris, Travel Management 
Team.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mose Harris, Writer-Editor, Mollie 
Chaudet, Peggy Fisher, or Laurel Skelton, at the Deschutes National 
Forest Headquarters, 1001 SW Emkay, Bend, OR 97702, (541) 383-5300.
    Responsible Officials: The Responsible Officials are John Allen, 
Forest Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest and Jeff Walter, Forest 
Supervisor, Ochoco National Forest.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Purpose and Need: In 2005, the Forest Service published a final 
rule in the Federal Register: 36 CFR Parts 212, 251, 261, and 295; 
Travel Management: Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use; 
Final Rule (Travel Management Rule). Currently, the Deschutes and 
Ochoco National Forests have over 9000 miles of designated routes 
(roads and trails), and a few designated areas that are open to a 
variety of highway and non-highway licensed vehicles. There is a 
variety of laws, regulations, and policies that result in a mixture of 
areas of the Forests and Grassland that do or do not allow motorized 
access off of these designated routes. The 2005 Travel

[[Page 28427]]

Management rule requires that all national forests prohibit motorized 
travel off of designated routes or outside of designated areas, with 
some exceptions. The rule was passed because of a number of resource 
and social concerns related to motorized travel that were detailed in 
the rule. Prohibiting motorized travel off of existing designated 
routes without exception would affect the ability of many forest users 
to access existing ``dispersed'' or informal campsites, some of which 
have been used by generations of families. The objective of the 
proposed action would be to continue to provide for motorized access to 
dispersed campsites without adversely affecting sensitive resources. 
There are also some potential safety concerns concerning ``mixed'' 
(highway and non-highway licensed vehicles) that could result from 
limiting all motorized use to the existing designated National Forest 
System roads and motorized trails on the Forests and Grassland. 
Currently, many National Forest System roads on the Deschutes and 
Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland have 
existing designations that follow state regulation(s) that allow for 
``mixed'' use of highway and non-highway licensed vehicles on roads 
classified by the Forest Service as ``Maintenance Level 2''. Mixed use 
of some of these roads may pose a risk to reasonable levels of public 
safety for motorized users. The proposed action would implement the 
national Travel Management rule while continuing to provide motorized 
access for dispersed camping without adversely affecting sensitive 
resources and reasonable levels of public safety on mixed use roads.
    Proposed Action: In accordance with 36 CFR 212, 251, 261, and 295, 
the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River 
National Grassland propose to prohibit motorized travel \2\ outside of 
those existing designated routes (roads and trails) and areas where it 
is not already restricted or prohibited by law, regulation, policy, 
order, Forest Plan direction, or site-specific decision. The Proposed 
Action would not propose to close any existing designated motorized 
routes open to motorized travel, although non-highway licensed vehicles 
would be prohibited from some roads because of safety concerns. The 
proposed action would amend the Ochoco National Forest Plan by deleting 
forest plan standards and guidelines that are not consistent with the 
Travel Management Rule and the proposed action. The proposed action 
would amend the Deschutes National Forest Plan to make minor (1-2 day) 
corrections to some motorized season of use dates for consistency with 
other similar season of use dates, and change some analysis 
requirements from outdated ``implementation units'' to watershed or 
similar sized ecologically-based areas. Existing designated routes and 
areas for motorized use according to the season of use (open to use 
time frame) and class of vehicle (highway licensed or non-highway 
licensed) will be identified on the Deschutes and Ochoco National 
Forest and Crooked River National Grassland Proposed Action maps. In 
accordance with provisions of the Travel Management Rule, and with the 
objective of minimizing resource damage associated with motorized 
travel off of designated route, the proposed action would:
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    \2\ Over the snow vehicles are excluded from this proposed 
action.
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    1. Continue to allow motorized access for the purpose of ingress 
and egress to a dispersed campsite within 300' of the centerline of 
most of the designated routes shown on the proposed action maps. This 
approach mirrors the local so-called ``green dot'' motorized access 
rules that have been in place adjacent to some designated roads on the 
forests for many years during hunting seasons.
    2. In certain areas with specific resource concerns, special 
provisions would continue to allow motorized access within 300' of the 
centerline of a designated route only for the purpose of accessing 
designated, defined or existing dispersed campsites. Designated sites 
are marked with a sign; defined sites limit the extent of the site and 
motorized access to the site with boulder or wood structures; and 
existing sites have established fire rings or other evidence of 
historic use.
    3. In riparian areas (those areas adjacent to wetlands, lakes, 
streams and springs), motorized access would continue to be allowed 
only to designated, defined, or existing camping sites. Motorized 
access to existing (not specifically designated or defined) campsites 
less than 30' from the edge of the wetland, lake, stream or spring 
would not be allowed. Motorized vehicles would not be permitted to 
cross streams except on designated roads or trails open to motorized 
use.
    4. No motorized access to areas with current prohibitions or 
restrictions on motorized access to dispersed campsites (e.g.: 
Wilderness Areas, Newberry National Volcanic Monument Caldera Zone, 
other Management Areas adjacent to open roads but closed to motorized 
use) or motorized access to dispersed campsites not on National Forest 
lands would be authorized under this proposal.
    Decisions To Be Made: The Deschutes and Ochoco Forest Supervisors 
are the Deciding Officials for:
    Prohibiting motorized travel off of existing designated routes 
within the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River 
National Grassland where such use is not already prohibited by law, 
regulation, policy, Land and Resource Management Plans, or past 
administrative action or decision;
    determining whether or under what conditions motorized access for 
dispersed camping allowed by the rule would be provided;
    determining whether or under what conditions mixed use of highway 
and non-highway licensed vehicles on identified national forest system 
roads would be allowed; and
    determining whether, or under what conditions, to amend forest 
plans.
    Possible Alternatives: The EIS will consider the following 
alternatives to the Proposed Action:
    (1) A ``No Action/No Change'' Alternative--that would not prohibit 
motorized travel off of designated routes and would not amend forest 
plans. This action would not be consistent with the Travel Management 
Rule.
    (2) The proposed action.
    (3) Alternatives to the proposed action that are within the scope 
of the proposed action, meet the purpose and need, are responsive to 
the comments received during the scoping period, and are approved by 
the Forest Supervisors for consideration.
    Scoping Process: The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests have 
held ten public workshops and thirteen Travel Management Strategy 
Working Group meetings that were open to the public throughout central 
Oregon in 2006 and 2007 to help develop the proposed action identified 
for this Environmental Impact Statement. Additional public meetings to 
gather comments on the proposed action will be held at the following 
locations and dates from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.:
     May 19--Sisters High School, 1700 W. McKinney Butte Rd., 
Sisters, Oregon.
     May 20--Madras Senior Center, 860 SW Madison, Madras, 
Oregon.
     May 21--Deschutes National Forest Headquarters, 1001 SW 
Emkay, Bend, Oregon.
     May 27--Ochoco National Forest Headquarters, 3160 NE 3 
St., Prineville, Oregon.
     May 28--Gilchrist High School, 201 Mountain View Dr., 
Gilchrist, Oregon.
     June 2--Redmond High School, Hugh Hartman Building, 2105 
W. Antler Ave., Redmond, Oregon.

[[Page 28428]]

    Comment. Public comments about this proposal are requested in order 
help identify significant issues concerning the proposed action which 
will help to develop the range of alternatives to the proposed action 
that are considered and help to focus the analysis. Comments received 
in response to this notice, including names and addresses of those who 
comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposed 
action 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 parts 215 and 217. Additionally, pursuant to 7 
CFR 1.27(d), any person may request the agency to withhold a submission 
from the public record by showing how the Freedom of Information Act 
(FOIA) permits such confidentiality. Persons requesting such 
confidentiality should be aware that, under FOIA, confidentiality may 
be granted in only very limited circumstances, such as to protect trade 
secrets. The Forest Service will inform the requester of the agency's 
decision regarding the request for confidentiality, and where the 
request is denied; the agency will return the submission and notify the 
requester that the comments may be resubmitted with or without name and 
address within a specified number of days.

    Dated: May 9, 2008.
John Allen,
Forest Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest.
 [FR Doc. E8-10947 Filed 5-15-08; 8:45 am]

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