[Federal Register: October 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 204)]
[Page 62461-62462]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


[[Page 62461]]



Forest Service

Ochoco National Forest, Deschutes National Forest; Invasive Plant 
Treatment Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact 


SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service will prepare a Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (SETS) to document and disclose the 
potential environmental effects of proposed invasive plant treatment 
activities on the Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National Forest and 
the Crooked River National Grassland. An FEIS was made available in 
January 2008. A Record of Decision was signed in January 2008 and 
subsequently withdrawn. This project evaluates site-specific treatments 
of invasive plants; including manual, mechanical, cultural, biological 
and herbicide treatment methods as well as the use of prescribed fire. 
Forest Plan direction, including amendments identified in the Pacific 
Northwest Region Invasive Plant Program Environmental Impact Statement, 
will be incorporated into all alternatives, including the Proposed 

DATES: A Draft SEIS is expected to be available in February of 2009, 
and a Final SEIS in May 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments (i.e., letter or fax) to Beth Peer, 
Invasive Plant Team Leader, Bend/Ft. Rock Ranger District, 1230 NE. 
3rd, Suite A-262, Bend, OR 97701. The FAX number is 541-383-4700. 
Submit e-mail comments to: comments-pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bend-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beth Peer, Environmental Coordinator 
and Invasive Plant Team Leader, Bend/Ft. Rock Ranger District, 1230 NE. 
3rd St., Suite A-262, Bend, Oregon 97701, phone (541) 383-4769. E-mail 
bpeer@fs.fed.us. Maps of proposed treatment sites and other information 
about the project are available on the Internet at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/invasiveplant-eis/sitespecific/DES/.
    Approximately 52,000 acres of the total 3 million acres of forests 
and grasslands on the Ochoco National Forest, Deschutes National 
Forests and Crooked River National Grassland are degraded by 
infestations of invasive, non-native plants. These infestations have 
been identified on approximately 1,900 individual locations or sites. 
These infestations have a high potential to expand and further degrade 
forests and grasslands. Infested areas represent potential seed sources 
for further invasion onto neighboring lands.
    Invasive plants create a host of adverse environmental effects 
which are harmful to native ecosystem processes. Examples of these 
effects include: Displacement of native plants; reduction in 
functionality of habitat and forage for wildlife and livestock; loss of 
threatened, endangered, and sensitive species; increased soil erosion 
and reduced water quality; alteration of physical and biological 
properties of soil, including reduced soil productivity; changes to the 
intensity and frequency of wildfires; budget impacts that limit or 
reduce land management opportunities due to high costs or dollars spent 
for controlling invasive plants; and loss of recreational 
opportunities. Without action, invasive plant populations will continue 
to grow; compromising our ability to manage for healthy functioning 

Proposed Action

    The USDA Forest Service; Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National 
Forest, and Crooked River National Grassland propose to treat areas 
currently identified with invasive plant infestations and to provide 
timely treatments for expanded and newly identified invasive plant 
sites. Treatments, depending upon the species of invasive plants and 
site characteristics, would include the use of prescribed fire; manual, 
mechanical, cultural, chemical and biological control methods. The 
proposed treatments would enhance our ability to protect native 
ecosystems from invasive, non-native plants. Some of the infested areas 
are small in size, while others are extensive.
    Invasive plant treatments are proposed on approximately 15,000 
acres that are known to be infested by invasive plants. The Proposed 
Action will also analyze treatments for the likely expansion of these 
existing sites, and for new (unidentified) invasive plant sites in 
areas most susceptible to new introductions.
    Treatment methods are based upon information such as the biology of 
a particular invasive plant species, invasive plant site location, site 
type, and size of the infestation. Long-term site goals would be 
established for infested areas. Site goals are based upon treatment 
options, monitoring and revegetation potential. Prescriptions are based 
upon Integrated Pest Management principles. Integrated Pest Management 
(IPM) is a process by which one selects and applies a combination of 
management techniques (Example: Prevention then manual or mechanical 
treatments, followed by biological treatments) that, together, control 
a particular invasive plant species or infestation efficiently and 
effectively. IPM seeks to combine two or more management techniques 
which interact to provide better control than any one of the actions 
might provide alone. It is typically species-specific, site-specific 
and designed to be practical; with minimum risk to nontarget species or 
the surrounding environment, including wildlife species and human 
    The proposal also includes an Early Detection/Rapid Response 
strategy to timely identify and treat new sites. Actual annual 
treatment acres associated with future sites would likely vary because 
of variations in invasive plant spread and occurrence of new invasive 
plant introductions. Actual annual treatment will likely decline over 
the life of this plan because of the effectiveness of these treatment 
    Based upon currently known sites with weed infestations, the 
Proposed Action includes approximately 25 acres of biological control 
treatment, approximately 400 acres of herbicide only treatment, 
approximately 14,000 acres of herbicide plus one or more of the 
following: Manual, biological, cultural, mechanical, fire.


    The Forest Service conducted scoping for this project in 2005. The 

[[Page 62462]]

was used in development of the DEIS. CEQ NEPA regulations exclude 
scoping from the procedures for supplementing environmental impact 
statements (40 CFR 1 502.9(c)(4)).
    In addition to inviting public comments on the DSEIS, the public 
may visit Forest Service officials familiar with this project, at any 
time during the analysis and prior to the decision. To facilitate 
public participation, additional opportunities may include public 
meetings and/or field trips. Dates of meetings and field trips are yet 
to be determined.

Responsible Official

    The responsible officials will be John Allen, Forest Supervisor, 
Deschutes National Forest, 1230 NE. 3rd, Suite A-262, Bend, OR 97701 
and Jeff Walter, Forest Supervisor, Ochoco National Forest, 3160 NE. 
3rd Street, Prineville, OR 97754.


    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 
the draft EIS 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 
objectives that could be raised at the draft EIS stage but that are not 
raised until after the completion of the final EIS may be waived or 
dismissed by the courts (City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F. 2d 1016, 1022 
[9th Cir. 1986] and Wisconsin Heritage, Inc. v. Harris, 490 F. Supp. 
1334 [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 EIS.
    To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues 
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft EIS should 
be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if the comments refer to 
specific pages or chapters of the draft statement. Comments may also 
address the adequacy of the draft EIS or the merits of alternatives 
formulated and discussed in the statement. Reviewers may wish to refer 
to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing 
the procedural provision of the National Environmental Policy Act (40 
CFR 1503.3) in addressing these points.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, 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 may not have 
standing to appeal the subsequent decision under 36 CFR Part 215. 
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 the 
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.
    Comments on the draft SEIS will be analyzed, considered, and 
responded to by the Forest Service in preparing the final SEIS. The 
final SEIS is scheduled to be completed in May 2006. There will be two 
responsible officials for this multi-Forest SEIS. Duties of the 
Responsible Official will be shared between John Allen, Forest 
Supervisor of the Deschutes National Forest, and Jeff Walter, Forest 
Supervisor of the Ochoco National Forest. They will consider comments, 
responses, and environmental consequences discussed in the final SEIS, 
and applicable laws, regulations, and policies in making a decision 
regarding this proposed action. The responsible officials will document 
the decision and rationale for the decision in the Record of Decision. 
It will be subject to Forest Service Appeal Regulations (36 CFR Part 

    Dated: October 2, 2008.
John Allen,
Deschutes National Forest Supervisor.

    Dated: October 14, 2008.
Jeff Walter,
Ochoco National Forest Supervisor.
 [FR Doc. E8-24841 Filed 10-20-08; 8:45 am]