[Federal Register: April 10, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 68)]
[Page 16351-16352]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Forest Service

Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District; Deschutes National Forest; 
Oregon; Lava Rock OHV System

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) on a proposed action to designate a motorized off-
highway vehicle (OHV) trail system on a portion the Bend/Fort Rock 
Ranger District. In addition, the project would close and decommission 
roads and unneeded trails. The project area encompasses 140,650 acres 
and is roughly bounded by U.S. Highway 97 to the west; Newberry 
National Volcanic Monument to the east, Forest Roads 9701-900 and 1801-
400 to the north, and Forest Road 22 to the south. The project area is 
approximately six miles south of Bend, Oregon. The alternatives will 
include the proposed action, no action, and additional alternatives 
that respond to issues generated through the scoping process. The 
agency will give notice of the full environmental analysis and decision 
making process so that interested and affected people may participate 
and contribute to the final decision.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days following the date that this notice appears in the Federal 
Register. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be 
available in July 2009 and the final environmental impact statement is 
expected September 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Shane Jeffries, District Ranger, 
Bend/Ft. Rock Ranger District, 1230 NE 3 St., Suite A-262, Bend, OR 
97701. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to comments-
pacificnorthwest-deschutes-bend-ftrock@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 
(541) 383-4700. Please put ``Lava Rock OHV Project'' in the subject 
line of your e-mail.
    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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Sussmann, Interdisciplinary Team 
Leader, at (541) 383-5594 or via e-mail at prsussman@fs.fed.us.


Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the Lava Rock OHV Project is to designate 
appropriate motorized trails for Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 OHVs 
while reducing overall road and trail densities within the project 
area. The need for this site-specific proposal results directly from 
the implementation of the Forest Service Travel Management Rule, a 
nationally codified rule that prohibits motorized travel off of 
designated routes. The Deschutes National Forest is currently in the 
process of developing an EIS to display the effects of implementing the 
rule, which is expected to be completed by 2010. Recognizing the effect 
to the OHV community once the Rule is implemented, the Deschutes and 
Ochoco National Forests worked in conjunction with the recommendations 
of the Deschutes Provincial Advisory Committee's Travel Management 
Working Group to identify opportunities for trail systems in 
sustainable locations. The Lava Rock OHV area is one of three areas 
identified by the working group of participants representing motorized 
and non-motorized recreation interests that had potential community 
support for a designated trail system.
    Additionally, there is a need to meet the objectives for recreation 
as stated in the Deschutes National Forest Land and Resource Management 
Plan (``Forest Plan'') and under Forest Service policy. The Forest Plan 
directs land managers to provide a full range of recreation 
opportunities, maintain existing trail systems, provide additions or 
modifications which will meet increasing and changing demands in 
dispersed recreation, and to designate trails and areas where OHVs can 
operate legally. Forest Service policy, as stated in the Forest Service 
Manual at FSM 2355, further directs land managers to provide a 
diversity of off-road recreational opportunities when use is compatible 
with established land and resource objectives, where use is consistent 
with resource capability and suitability, when the off-road opportunity 
is an appropriate National Forest Recreation Activity, and when there 
is a demonstrated demand for these opportunities.
    Finally, there is an opportunity to reduce negative impacts to 
resources within the area that are caused by unregulated motorized use. 
There is a need to reduce the density of system roads within the 
project area to reduce fragmentation and minimize motorized disturbance 
to wildlife. Additionally, there is a need to concentrate motorized

[[Page 16352]]

OHV use on designated routes and close user-created trails in excess of 
those needed to provide a functional trail system.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action would designate OHV trails to provide loop and 
point-to-point trail experiences with a variety of challenge levels for 
Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 OHVs. Approximately 80 miles of dual-use 
Class 1 and 3 trails, 45 miles of Class 2 trails and 76 miles of Class 
3 only trails are proposed for designation on existing system roads, 
user created trails, and newly constructed trails. Up to three new 
staging areas and two existing staging areas are proposed for 
designation to facilitate use and connectivity between the proposed 
Lava Rock OHV system and the existing East Fort Rock OHV system.
    The proposed action would close and obliterate user created trails 
and non-system roads not designated by the Lava Rock OHV system. It is 
estimated that more than 50 miles of these trails are present and 
available for closure. Additionally, system roads that are in excess of 
administrative or public access needs would be closed or decommissioned 
in order to reduce road densities in the project area.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official will be Shane Jeffries, Bend/Ft. Rock 
District Ranger, Deschutes National Forest.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The responsible official will decide whether or not to create a 
system of OHV trails within the project area, and if so, where the 
trails and staging areas will be located, which class(es) of OHVs will 
be allowed on each trail, if and where new trails will be located, and 
which user-created trails should be closed or kept open. The 
responsible official will also decide how to mitigate impacts of these 
actions and will determine when and how monitoring of effects will take 

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. 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.
    Public comments regarding this proposal are requested in order to 
assist in identifying issues, determine how to best manage the 
resources, and to focus the analysis. Comments received, 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 will not have 
standing to appeal the subsequent decision under the Code of Federal 
Regulations, Title 36, Part 215 (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 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.
    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 
a 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 
objections that could be raised at the draft EIS stage but that are not 
raised until after completion of the final EIS may be waived or 
dismissed by the courts [City of Rangoon 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 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 comments refer to 
specific pages or chapters of the draft statement. Comments may also 
address the adequacy of the draft EIS of 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.

    Dated: March 25, 2009.
A. Shane Jeffries,
Bend/Fort Rock District Ranger.
[FR Doc. E9-8094 Filed 4-9-09; 8:45 am]