[Federal Register: May 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 99)]
[Notices]               
[Page 29480-29481]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr21my08-28]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, ID; Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement for the Targhee Revised Forest Plan With Proposed 
Forest Plan Amendment

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact 
statement.

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SUMMARY: The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is proposing to prepare a 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the Targhee 
Revised Forest Plan (FEIS) to disclose effects of a proposed amendment 
to the TRFP to address Plan direction for forested vegetation that 
presently does not reflect the ecological capability of forest 
ecosystems found on the Targhee National Forest and to also clarify 
TRFP direction on snags.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
within 45 days from the date of this publication. The draft 
supplemental environmental impact statement is expected July of 2008 
and the final supplemental environmental impact statement is expected 
November 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Robbin Redman, Forest Planner, 
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, 1405 Hollipark Drive, Idaho Falls, 
Idaho. Electronic comments can be sent to comments-intermtn-caribou-
targhee@fs.fed.us.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robbin Redman, Forest Planner, 
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, 1405 Hollipark Drive, Idaho Falls, 
Idaho 83401 or telephone (208) 557-5821.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The Caribou-Targhee National Forest (C-T) has completed an 
assessment of forest vegetation for the Targhee portion of the C-T and 
in addition to this assessment the Forest has previously completed 
identification of the properly functioning condition (PFC) for forested 
landscapes in the Madison-Pitchstone Plateau Subsection. Scientific 
research papers published after the TRFP and PFC were also completed 
that help the Forest to identify desired conditions that better match 
the ecological capabilities of forested vegetation including a range of 
amounts and distribution of old growth and late seral structural stages 
by forest type.
    The results of the information discussed above indicate a need to 
amend guidance in the TRFP for old growth and late seral structural 
stages to better describe desired conditions in the TRFP for old growth 
and late seral structural stages. Specifically, review of existing 
information and TRFP direction indicates the following:
    The TRFP established guidelines for old growth and late seral 
forest stages that suggest minimum percentages of forested acres of old 
growth and late seral forest be present in each principal watershed. 
Presence and persistence of late seral stages and old growth are highly 
dependent on natural disturbance cycles that vary with forest type. For 
example, several principal watersheds are dominated by the lodgepole 
pine forest type, which rarely develops old growth conditions on the 
Targhee National Forest. Natural disturbance cycles in lodgepole pine 
forest such as insects, disease, and fire recur frequently enough to 
preclude development of old-growth conditions in most of this type. 
Therefore, the old growth and late seral guidelines presently in the 
TRFP do not reflect the ecological capability of these forest 
ecosystems.
    Similarly, several principal watersheds have a large component of 
the aspen forest type. On the Targhee, aspen is primarily seral to 
conifer. Stable aspen is rare and limited to harsh sites generally 
along ecotones with poor growing conditions where conifer cannot 
establish. Absent disturbances in seral types, these aspen stands will 
eventually be replaced by conifer types and it is unlikely that late 
seral or old growth aspen stands will develop or persist. Even though 
the ecological capability of these forest types is different from 
others such as spruce/fir the Forest is still proposing to manage for 
old growth and replacement old growth in these forest types, this would 
be for vegetation diversity.
    Recent insect outbreaks have changed the number and distribution of 
snags over much of the Targhee NF. Currently TRFP snag direction 
requires several levels of analysis of snags: at the prescription area, 
at the watershed level and at a 100 acre level. This direction will be 
reviewed and adjusted to reflect current conditions and allow for 
wildlife habitat needs.

Proposed Action

    The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is proposing to amend the TRFP 
with regard to Plan direction for old growth and late seral forested 
vegetation. The Proposed old growth direction will be to manage for ten 
percent of forested acres in a combination of old growth and 
replacement old growth in ecological subsections. The old growth would 
meet Region 4 Characteristics of Old Growth Forests definitions. The 
Forest is also proposing to clarify snag direction in the Plan to allow 
more ease in implementation while still providing for wildlife habitat 
needs.

Possible Alternatives

    The Forest has developed the Proposed Action and the no-action 
alternative which is to continue with current TRFP direction.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is the lead agency for this 
project.

[[Page 29481]]

Responsible Official

    The responsible official is: Larry Timchak, Forest Supervisor, 
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, 1405 Hollipark Drive, Idaho Falls, 
Idaho 83401.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Given the purpose and need, the deciding officer will decide 
whether or not to amend the Targhee Revised Forest Plan with regard to 
TRFP direction for old growth and late seral structural stages and to 
clarify TRFP snag direction.

Scoping Process

    The C-T Forest is now seeking comments on this proposal and will 
seek comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement 
when it becomes available.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides 
the development of the supplemental environmental impact statement. The 
Forest is seeking comments that may be used to develop alternatives to 
the Proposed Action. We are seeking specific comments on snag 
requirements for cavity nesters for the TRFP, specifically management 
guidance for retention of snags and specific comments on a more 
appropriate percentage of old growth and at what level it is 
appropriate to be maintained for vegetation diversity. To be most 
helpful comments should include rationale for any recommendations.
    Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent 
Environmental Review: A draft supplemental environmental impact 
statement will be prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft 
supplemental 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 supplemental 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 14, 2008.
Lawrence Timchak,
Forest Supervisor.
 [FR Doc. E8-11248 Filed 5-20-08; 8:45 am]

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