[Federal Register: January 26, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 15)]
[Page 4368-4369]
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 4368]]


Forest Service

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, WI; Twin Ghost Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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


SUMMARY: The Great Divide Ranger District intends to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to disclose the environmental 
consequences of managing vegetation and the transportation system 
within the Twin Ghost Project area. The approximate legal description 
for the area is as follows: Township 42 North Ranges 4 and 5 West, and 
Township 43 North Ranges 4, 5, and 6 West. The project area encompasses 
approximately 67,085 acres in the west central portion of the Great 
Divide Ranger District, within Ashland, Bayfield, and Sawyer counties 
in Wisconsin. Excluding private in-holdings and lakes, there are about 
53,427 acres of federal land within the project area, of which about 
12,000 acres are proposed for vegetation management activities. See the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for details regarding the purpose and 
need and proposed action.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis should be received 
by February 12th, 2009 to receive timely consideration. The draft 
environmental impact statement is expected in May 2009 and the final 
environmental impact statement is expected in October 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to District Ranger Constance Chaney, 
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Great Divide Ranger District, P.O. 
Box 896, 10650 Nyman Avenue, Hayward, WI 54843. Comments may also be 
sent via facsimile to 715-634-3769.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Debra Proctor, Project Leader; Great 
Divide Ranger District, P.O. Box 896, 10650 Nyman Avenue, Hayward, WI 
54843, 715-634-4821.


Purpose and Need for Action

    The vegetation proposal is to use timber harvest as a means to 
achieve forest health, silvicultural, and wildlife habitat improvement 
goals set forth in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest 2004 Land 
and Resource Management Plan. The transportation system proposal is 
based on a risk/value assessment that was conducted with a goal to 
provide ample public and administrative motorized access while 
preventing undesirable natural resource impacts. The overall goal is to 
balance the needs of the public with the protection of the natural 
resources we all value.
    Many of the stands within the project area are experiencing 
individual tree mortality and decreased growth rates due to their age, 
drought stress, insect and disease outbreaks, overstocking, and other 
factors. Many of the stands of short-lived forest types (aspen, balsam 
fir, paper birch, and jack pine) are beyond rotation age. These stands 
will experience increasing losses to decay and breakage, and be subject 
to greater tree mortality, if they are not treated soon. Wildlife 
species that are dependent upon early successional species such as 
aspen for food and cover benefit from the maintenance of aspen on the 
landscape that has a well-balanced age class distribution. Young aspen 
is needed for foraging, breeding, and protective nesting and brood 
cover. There are currently very few stands younger than 20 years. Many 
of the long-lived stands (oak, red pine, white pine, and northern 
hardwoods) are too crowded resulting in a decline of individual tree 
growth and greater susceptibility to insects and disease. Other needs 
that have been identified include: Increasing the amount of habitat for 
spruce grouse, reducing ladder fuels in Wildland Urban Interface areas, 
providing forest commodities, and providing a safe, efficient, and 
effective transportation system.

Proposed Action

    The following proposed actions have been identified to address the 
needs listed above: Thin 1,425 acres of red oak, 3,008 acres of 
northern hardwood, 536 acres of red pine plantations, 218 acres of 
white pine plantations, 30 acres of aspen, and 34 acres of balsam fir; 
conduct a selection harvest in 1,973 acres of northern hardwoods; 
shelterwood harvest 326 acres of oak, 1,106 acres of paper birch, and 
17 acres of balsam fir; clearcut and regenerate 1,847 acres of aspen, 
491 acres of jack pine, and 169 acres of red pine; underplant up to 313 
acres of white pine and 157 acres of black spruce or jack pine; plant 
169 acres of red pine and 162 acres of jack pine; prescribe burn up to 
1,298 acres of oak, paper birch, or jack pine sites for regeneration; 
mechanically scarify up to 1,780 acres of stands for regeneration; 
remove balsam fir trees less than 3 inches in diameter in up to 3,000 
acres of Wildland Urban Interface areas; maintain 187 miles of existing 
roads; add to the system and maintain as open 57 miles of unauthorized 
roads; add to the system and maintain as closed 37 miles of 
unauthorized roads; construct 14 miles of temporary roads that would be 
decommissioned after use for accessing stands that need treatment 
infrequently; reconstruct 2 miles of road; convert 5 miles of road to 
trail; close 11 miles of road year-round; seasonally close 6 miles of 
road; and decommission 83 miles of predominantly unauthorized roads.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official for this project is District Ranger 
Constance Chaney, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Great Divide 
Ranger District, P.O. Box 896, 10650 Nyman Avenue, Hayward, WI 54843.

Scoping Process

    The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest began the scoping process 
for this project in October 2008, when it was listed on the 
Chequamegon-Nicolet Schedule of Proposed Actions. In November 2008, 
individuals, organizations, and agencies on the District's mailing list 
and those owning property nearby the project area were sent information 
packages and project information was posted on the Forest's Web site. 
Since that time meetings have been held when requested by individuals, 
organizations, and other agencies; news releases published in 
newspapers of record; and information shared on Wisconsin Public Radio 

[[Page 4369]]

other radio stations. An open house is planned to occur in early 
February and additional meetings and open houses will be provided if 
there is interest from the public. Project information is 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/r9/cnnf/. Click on ``Project 
Proposals and Decisions'', then ``Twin Ghost Project''.

Preliminary Issues

    The following issues will be analyzed in the EIS: Effects of the 
proposed activities on forest sustainability, soil productivity, water 
and air quality, Regional Forester Sensitive Species (plants and 
wildlife), game and non-game wildlife and bird species, non-native 
invasive species, recreation and visuals.

Possible Alternatives

    Two alternatives to the proposed action are being developed in 
response to public comments received. One alternative would consider 
different types and amounts of silvicultural treatments to achieve the 
vegetation related purpose and need objectives. The other would provide 
a higher level of motorized access opportunities.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement.

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 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, 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. 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, 36 CFR 220.5(b) and Forest 
Service Handbook 1909.15, Section 21)

    Dated: January 16, 2009.
Jeanne M. Higgins,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. E9-1601 Filed 1-23-09; 8:45 am]