[Federal Register: March 19, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 52)]
[Notices]               
[Page 11709-11710]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr19mr09-29]                         

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Notices
                                                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.

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[[Page 11709]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Fremont Winema National Forests; Oregon; Proposed Forest Plan 
Amendments for the Ruby Pipeline L.L.C. Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 
(FERC Ruby Pipeline Project) and request for comments on the proposed 
forest plan amendments for the Fremont Land and Resource Management 
Plan to be included in the Ruby Project.

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SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service (Forest Service), Fremont Winema 
National Forests, is proposing to prepare an amendment to the Fremont 
National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) for the 
proposed Ruby Pipeline Project (Project). The Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) is the lead agency for this proposed natural gas 
pipeline (Docket No. CP09-54-000). The staff of FERC is preparing an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will discuss the 
environmental impacts that could result from the construction and 
operation of a new underground natural gas pipeline proposed by Ruby 
Pipeline, LLC (Ruby). The Project's proposed facilities consist of 
675.2 miles of 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline, four new 
compressor stations, and related facilities. The USDA Forest Service, 
Fremont Winema National Forests is participating as a cooperating 
agency because the Project traverses the Fremont Winema National 
Forests in Oregon. As a cooperating agency, the U.S. Forest Service, 
Fremont Winema National Forests intends to adopt the FERC EIS per Title 
40 CFR 1506.3, to meet its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
responsibilities.
    FERC, as lead federal agency in the preparation of the EIS, is 
preparing the EIS to satisfy the requirements of NEPA. NEPA requires 
FERC to take into account the environmental impacts that could result 
from an action when it considers whether or not an interstate natural 
gas pipeline should be issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and 
Necessity for construction of the pipeline. FERC will use the EIS to 
consider the environmental impacts that could result if it issues 
project authorizations. FERC will use the EIS in its decision-making 
processes to determine whether or not to authorize the Project. FERC 
initiated its pre-filing process on January 31, 2008 and issued a 
Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for this Project on September 
26, 2008.
    The USDA Forest Service will use the EIS to evaluate the proposed 
amendments to the Fremont Forest Plan and for any forest plan amendment 
decisions made subsequently should FERC authorize this Project. The 
Forest Service has determined that an amendment to the Fremont Forest 
Plan would be needed because the Project would not meet the plan 
Standards and Guidelines for soil disturbance, visual quality, 
mechanical disturbance in seeps and springs, and old growth management. 
Analysis of the effects of the amendment will be included in the FERC 
EIS. This notice announces the intention to prepare an amendment to the 
Fremont Forest Plan.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by April 20, 2009. The draft environmental impact statement is expected 
in June, 2009 and the final environmental impact statement is expected 
in October 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Glen Westlund, Forest Environmental 
Coordinator, 2819 Dahlia Street, Klamath Falls, OR 97601. Comments may 
also be sent via e-mail to comments-pacificnorthwest-fremont-
winema@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 541-883-6709.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such a way that they are useful to the Agency's preparation of 
the EIS. 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 review or judicial review.
    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 participate in subsequent 
administrative review or judicial review.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glen Westlund; Phone 541-883-6743; e-
mail at gwestlund@fs.fed.us; or by mail at the above address.
    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 Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Purpose and Need for Action

    If the Ruby Pipeline is approved and constructed there will be a 
need to exempt the construction activity from several standards and 
guidelines found in the Fremont National Forest Land and Resource 
Management Plan (Forest Plan) or to relocate a management area. The 
route of the pipeline crosses east-west through the forest and could 
not avoid passing through portions of Management Areas: 6--Scenic; 14--
Old Growth; and 15--Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Water Quality as well 
as portions of soil capability areas 1, 2, 3 and scabland portions of 
capability area 13 covered by general forest standards and guidelines. 
Resource protection was considered in the route location and the 
current route reflects resource concerns like avoiding special interest 
areas in MA 7 or inventoried roadless areas. The general forest 
standard and guideline for detrimental soil conditions would not be met 
because equipment activity would be confined to the clearing limits, 
causing more than 20 percent of soil in the activity area to be 
detrimentally impacted. For the construction to occur, the Forest Plan 
will need amending.

Proposed Action

    Approximately 14 miles of right-of-way (ROW) will be located on the 
Fremont National Forest disturbing about 328 acres, including temporary

[[Page 11710]]

storage and staging areas. Ruby is proposing to use a 115 foot wide 
construction right-of-way with a 50 foot wide permanent ROW over the 
top of the pipeline. All work sites would be restored. The following 
Forest Plan amendments are proposed:
    1. General Forest Plan Standard and Guideline for Soils Management, 
Forest Plan pages 80 to 81. Add item (5) under the Operational 
Considerations for Surface Soil Condition which says: During and 
immediately after construction of the Ruby Pipeline the soil conditions 
within the activity area (construction right-of-way) will be permitted 
to exceed the 20 percent standard and guideline for detrimental soil 
condition. The implementation of Ruby's Upland Erosion, Revegetation 
and Mitigation Plan would reduce erosion impacts and minimize impacts 
to soil productivity.
    2. General Forest Standard and Guideline for Soils Management, 
Forest Plan pages 83 and 84. Add a statement under item 4, operational 
considerations ``During installation of the Ruby pipeline exposed 
mineral soil standards displayed in Table 21 will be exceeded; however 
with the extra mitigation proposed in Ruby's Upland Erosion, 
Revegetation and Mitigation Plan, these standards would be achieved.''
    3. Management Area 6--Scenic Viewsheds: The pipeline crosses 
through a portion of Management Area 6 when it crosses FR 3915; the 
area has a VQO of foreground retention and middleground partial 
retention. Item B will be added to Land Uses on Forest Plan page 154: 
B. The cleared corridor needed to install the Ruby pipeline will not 
immediately meet VQO objectives of retention and partial retention. 
Mitigation measures, including vegetation management and restoration 
actions, will occur to move the construction corridor toward current 
visual quality objectives over an extended timeframe.
    4. Management Area 14--Old Growth habitat: The pipeline crosses 
through a stand of dedicated old growth. The best stands either meeting 
or soon to meet old growth standards will be designated as replacement.
    5. Management Area 15--Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Water Quality: 
The crossing of seeps and springs is expected to be uncommon. The 
pipeline is known to cross one seasonal seep. The following statement 
will be added under Seeps and Springs, management treatments on Forest 
plan page 204. (d) Construction equipment necessary to install the Ruby 
pipeline will be permitted in the area of seeps and springs. 
Implementation of Ruby's Upland Erosion, Revegetation and Mitigation 
Plan and special construction measures would minimize impacts.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official of the Forest Plan amendments will be the 
Forest Supervisor of the Frement Winema National Forests.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Determine what forest plan standards and guideline would need to be 
amended to allow the construction of the Ruby pipeline if FERC approves 
the project. These amendments would apply only to Ruby pipeline and are 
expected to be limited in scope.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process for the forest 
plan amendment. The decision will be tiered to the analysis contained 
in the FERC EIS for the Ruby Pipeline Project. FERC has already 
performed the scoping process for the EIS. This NOI is to inform about 
the Fremont Winema National Forest's need to amend the Fremont Forest 
Plan, which did not get included in the original FERC NOI scoping 
period for the Ruby Project. A scoping letter will be mailed to those 
currently on the Forests' mailing list. No other methods of scoping 
will be used. The Fremont Forest Plan can be found on the Forests' Web 
page at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/frewin/projects/forestplan/index.shtml. 
Comments should be focused on the forest plan amendments and not about 
the decision whether to construct the pipeline or not. There will be 
another opportunity to comment on the construction aspect when the DEIS 
is available in June 2008.
    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.

    March 11, 2009.
Karen Shimamoto,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. E9-5989 Filed 3-18-09; 8:45 am]

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