[Federal Register: January 16, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 11)]
[Page 2991-2992]
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 2991]]


Forest Service

White River National Forest, Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, 
Eagle County, CO; Edwards Inholding Easement Proposal

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) to disclose the anticipated environmental effects of a 
proposal to approve a permanent easement across National Forest System 
(NFS) lands for access to a 680-acre private inholding. The private 
land is entirely surrounded by NFS lands managed by the White River 
National Forest (WRNF). The proposed easement would provide year-round 
motorized access to the private inholding, enabling the owner 
``reasonable use and enjoyment'' of the parcel as required by the 
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by February 19, 2009. The draft EIS is expected to be released in 
summer 2009 and the final EIS is expected in early 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Brian Lloyd, District Ranger, Holy 
Cross Ranger District, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645. Comments may 
also be sent via e-mail to wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us, or via 
facsimile to (970) 827-9343.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide 
the respondent with standing to appeal the subsequent decision.

comments@fs.fed.us. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for 
the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The property is located approximately 1.25 
miles north of the I-70 Edwards interchange and is currently accessible 
in the summer months via Forest System Road (FSR) 774 and FSR 780. A 
0.8-mile segment of FSR 780 traverses the southeastern leg of the 
private land inholding.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The owner of the 680-acre inholding (the Proponent) plans to 
exercise their legal right to plat this private land into 19 individual 
lots (each 35 acres in size or greater) for development of a low-
density, year-round residential community. As such, development of the 
inholding into a viable residential community requires year-round, 
vehicular access across NFS lands. Per ANILCA, the WRNF is obligated to 
``* * * provide such access to nonfederally owned land within the 
boundaries of the National Forest System * * * to secure the owner 
reasonable use and enjoyment thereof * * *'' (16 U.S.C. 3210, Title I, 
Sec.  1323). Therefore, the purpose and need of this proposal is rooted 
in the Forest Service's legal obligations under ANILCA.

Proposed Action

    The Proposed Action would satisfy the Forest Service's minimum 
obligations to accommodate ``reasonable use and enjoyment'' under 
ANILCA. Issuance of a permanent easement would provide year-round 
motorized access to the private inholding, thus enabling the owner to 
develop it as legally entitled. The easement would be for 
reconstruction and use of two existing Forest System roads--FSR 774 and 
FSR 780. The total length of the easement on NFS lands (FSR 774 and FSR 
780) would be approximately 2.6 miles (approximately 13,550 feet). The 
easement would include:
     1.1 miles on FSR 774 (beginning at the Forest Service gate 
at the beginning of FSR 774 and would be followed until its 
intersection with FSR 780),
     1.5 miles on FSR 780 (until it intersects the lower 
southeastern leg of the inholding).

FSR 774 and FSR 780 would be placed within a permanent easement and 
paved/maintained for homeowners' year-round use; the public would 
continue to have access to these roads consistent with the current 
seasonal closures.
    This alignment would provide access to the southeastern portion of 
the inholding. Conceptually, an additional 5.5 miles of private road 
would be constructed throughout the eastern and northern portions of 
the private inholding to accommodate access to each of the 19 lots. 
Road construction within the inholding is not within the jurisdiction 
of the Forest Service.

Responsible Official

    The Responsible Official is the WRNF Supervisor. The Responsible 
Official will document the decision and reasons for the decision in a 
Record of Decision. That decision will be subject to appeal under 36 
CFR part 215 or part 251.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the analysis that will be documented in the forthcoming 
EIS, the Responsible Official will decide whether or not to implement, 
in whole or in part, the Proposed Action or another alternative 
developed by the Forest Service.

Preliminary Issues

    As indicated in the 2002 WRNF Land and Resource Management Plan 
(Forest Plan), NFS lands in the vicinity of the private inholding are 
within two Management Areas (MA): 5.41--Deer and Elk Winter Range, and 
8.32--Designated Utility Corridors. Per MA 5.41, deer and elk winter 
ranges are managed to provide adequate amounts of quality forage, cover 
and solitude for deer, elk, and other species. Consistent with 
management direction in MA 5.41, human activities are managed so that 
deer and elk can effectively use NFS lands in the area.
    Due to the existance of NFS lands managed in MA 5.41, motorized 
travel, including over-the-snow vehicles, on FSR 774 and FSR 780 is 
restricted during winter and spring. Granting a

[[Page 2992]]

year-round easement could result in an inconsistency with Forest Plan 
standards for MA 5.41. In order to approve road reconstruction and 
year-round access to the inholding across NFS lands, an amendment to 
the Forest Plan would be necessary. This amendment would be specific to 
standards included in MA 5.41 related to biodiversity and 

Permits or Licenses Required

     An Eagle County grading permit(s) would be required for 
road construction on NFS and private lands.
     Building construction permits would be required for 
individual buildings on each lot.

Scoping Process

    Publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register 
begins the planning process under provisions of the National 
Environmental Policy Act. Comments will be accepted during the 45-day 
scoping period as described in this NOI. Comments will be reviewed and 
issues identified. Issues that cannot be resolved by mitigation or 
minor changes to the proposed action may generate alternatives to the 
proposed action. This process is driven by comments received from the 
public, other agencies, and internal Forest Service concerns. To assist 
in commenting, a scoping letter providing more detailed information on 
the project proposal (including a map) has been prepared and is 
available to interested parties. Contact Brian Lloyd, District Ranger, 
at the address listed in this NOI if you would like to receive a copy.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process that guides the 
development of the environmental impact statement. Comments that are 
site-specific in nature are most helpful to resource professionals when 
trying to narrow and address the public's issues and concerns.

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 Environment 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, 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.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of 
the Environmental Impact Statement. Therefore, comments should be 
provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly 
articulate the reviewer's concerns and contentions. The submission of 
timely and specific comments can affect a reviewer's ability to 
participate in subsequent administrative appeal or judicial review.

    Dated: January 6, 2009.
Mary Morgan,
White River National Forest Supervisor.
 [FR Doc. E9-965 Filed 1-15-09; 8:45 am]