[Federal Register: April 28, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 80)]
[Notices]               
[Page 19193-19195]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr28ap09-23]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Alpine, Black Mesa, Clifton, and Lakeside Ranger Districts of the 
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Mogollon Rim and Red Rock Ranger 
Districts of the Coconino National Forest and Verde Ranger District of 
the Prescott National Forest; Show Low South Land Exchange

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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[[Page 19194]]

SUMMARY: The Forest Service, USDA will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) on a proposal to exchange approximately 1,028 acres of 
Federal lands for approximately 1,555 acres of non-Federal lands. The 
EIS will analyze the proposed exchange of the Federal lands described 
as Sierra Blanca Ranch Adjustment, City of Show Low, Show Low South, 
and Soda Springs Ranch Adjustment parcels for the non-Federal lands 
described as Sierra Blanca Ranch, Sprucedale, Alder Peak, Juan Miller, 
Leonard Canyon, Soda Springs Ranch, Cherry, Sponseller Ranch, and 
Railroad parcels. The Federal and non-Federal lands proposed for 
exchange are located in Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, Navajo, and Yavapai 
Counties, Arizona. The affected Forest Service units are the Alpine, 
Black Mesa, Clifton, and Lakeside Ranger Districts of the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests, the Mogollon Rim and Red Rock Ranger 
Districts of the Coconino National Forest, and the Verde Ranger 
District of the Prescott National Forest. The exchange would occur with 
First American Title Insurance Company, Trustee, under Trust 8667, on 
behalf of SL Land Exchange, LLC. Implementation of the proposed 
exchange is scheduled for May 2010. The Apache-Sitgreaves National 
Forest Supervisor invites the public to submit comments on the proposal 
and suggestions on the scope of the proposed exchange. The Forest 
Supervisor also invites the public to participate in the environmental 
analysis and decision-making process for the proposed exchange of 
lands.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. The draft 
environmental impact statement is expected January 2010 and the final 
environmental impact statement is expected March 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Bruce Buttrey, Natural Resources 
Specialist, Springerville Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National 
Forest, c/o EnviroSystems Management, Inc, 23 East Fine Avenue, 
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to 
comments-southwestern-apache-sitgreaves@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 
(928) 333-4182.
    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: Bruce Buttrey, Natural Resource 
Specialist, at bbuttrey@fs.fed.us or (928) 331-4372.
    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

    The proposal to exchange lands in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, 
and Prescott National Forests responds to the Forest Service's need for 
consolidation of Federal land ownership patterns and the need to 
enhance management of the public's natural resources. There is a need 
to acquire lands that (1) protect habitat for several threatened, 
endangered, and sensitive species, (2) facilitate public access to 
Federal lands, (3) improve wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas, 
(4) decrease the complexity of maintaining property boundaries, and (5) 
improve the efficiency of resource management by focusing the Forest's 
funding and staff on consolidated ownerships.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Supervisor proposes to exchange approximately 1,028 
acres of Federal lands for approximately 1,555 acres of non-Federal 
lands. The Federal lands proposed for exchange are located in Apache, 
Navajo, and Yavapai Counties, Arizona; the non-Federal lands proposed 
for exchange are located in Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, Navajo, and 
Yavapai Counties, Arizona. The affected Forest Service units are the 
Alpine, Black Mesa, Clifton, and Lakeside Ranger Districts of the 
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, the Mogollon Rim and Red Rock 
Ranger Districts of the Coconino National Forest, and the Verde Ranger 
District of the Prescott National Forest. All acreages in this proposal 
are approximate. The United States of America would convey fee title to 
First American Title Insurance Company, Trustee, under Trust 8667 for 
the approximate acreages of the 2-acre Sierra Blanca Ranch Adjustment 
Parcel in the Apache National Forest; the 70-acre City of Show Low 
Parcel and the 948-acre Show Low South Parcel in the Sitgreaves 
National Forest; and the 8-acre Soda Springs Ranch Adjustment Parcel in 
the Coconino National Forest. First American Title Insurance Company, 
Trustee, under Trust 8667 would convey fee title to the United States 
of America for the approximate acreages of the 152-acre Sierra Black 
Ranch Parcel, 70-acre Sprucedale Parcel, 160-acre Alder Peak Parcel, 
and 120-acre Juan Miller Parcel in the Apache National Forest; the 118-
acre Sponseller Parcel and 22-acre Railroad Parcel in the Sitgreaves 
National Forest; the 640.00 acre Leonard Canyon Parcel and 157-acre 
Soda Springs Ranch Parcel in the Coconino National Forest; and the 117-
acre Cherry Parcel in the Prescott National Forest. The proposed 
exchange of lands does not require an amendment to the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests Land and Resource Management Plan. Pursuant 
to the regulations for land exchanges (36 CFR 254.3(f)): ``Lands 
acquired by exchange that are located within areas having an 
administrative designation established through the land management 
planning process shall automatically become part of the area within 
which they are located, without further action by the Forest Service, 
and shall be managed in accordance with the laws, rules, and 
regulations, and land and resource management plan applicable to such 
area.''

Possible Alternatives

    A full range of alternatives to the proposed action, including a 
no-action alternative, will be considered during the environmental 
analysis and will be discussed in the EIS. The no-action alternative 
represents no change from the current pattern of land ownership, and it 
serves as the baseline for the comparison among the action 
alternatives.

Responsible Official

    The Responsible Official is the Forest Supervisor, Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests. He will review all issues, alternatives, 
and environmental consequences associated with the analysis; consider 
all public comments and response; and comply with all policies, 
regulations, and laws in making a decision regarding the proposed 
exchange of lands

[[Page 19195]]

documented in the final EIS for the Show Low South Land Exchange. The 
Responsible Official will document his decision and rationale for the 
decision in a Record of Decision (ROD). His decision will be subject to 
public notice, review, comment, and appeal under the Forest Service 
Regulations for Notice, Comment, and Appeal Procedures for National 
Forest System projects and Activities at 36 CFR part 215.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Service will determine if the lands to be exchanged are 
desirable, in the public interest, and suitable for inclusion in the 
National Forest System. Land exchanges are discretionary, voluntary 
real estate transactions between the Federal and non-Federal parties.
    The exchange can only be completed after the authorized officer 
determines that the exchanges meets the requirements at 36 CFR 
254.3(b): (1) The resource values and the public objectives served by 
non-Federal lands and interests to be acquired are equal to or exceed 
the resource values and public objectives served by the Federal lands 
to be disposed, and (2) the intended use of the disposed Federal lands 
will not substantially conflict with established management objectives 
on adjacent Federal lands, including Indian Trust Lands. Lands will be 
exchanged on a value for value basis, based on current fair market 
value appraisals. The appraisal is prepared in accordance with the 
Uniform Appraisal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and the 
Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisition. The appraisal 
prepared for the land exchange is reviewed by a qualified review 
appraiser to ensure that it is fair and complies with the appropriate 
standards. Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, 
all exchanges must be equal in value. Forest Service regulations at 36 
CFR 254.3 require that exchanges must be of equal value or equalized 
pursuant to 36 CFR 254.12 by cash payment after making all reasonable 
efforts to equalize values by deleting lands. If lands proposed for 
exchange are not equal in value, either party may make them equal by 
cash payment not to exceed 25 percent of the Federal land value. A 
value consultation by the Regional Appraiser, November 25, 2008 
concluded that it appears that the exchange is structured with 
flexibility to comply with the equal value requirement of the Federal 
Land Policy Management Act (FLMPA), as amended.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Scoping will 
include notice in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests' Quarterly 
Schedule of Proposed Actions; distribution of letters to individuals, 
organizations, and agencies who have previously indicated interest in 
the Show Low South Land Exchange; communication with Tribal interests; 
and publication of news releases in the White Mountain Independent and 
The Arizona Republic, the newspaper of record, for Regional Forester 
decisions for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Any news releases 
will also be distributed to other local newspapers that serve areas 
affected by this proposal. A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 
April 28, 2009, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Show Low Library, 180 
North 9th Street, Show Low, AZ 85901. This meeting and any future 
public meetings will have a notice of time and location provided to 
newspapers that serve areas affected by this proposal. The scoping 
process will include identifying any key issues and previously unknown 
potential environmental effects of the proposed action.
    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: April 17, 2009.
Chris Knopp,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. E9-9617 Filed 4-27-09; 8:45 am]

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