[Federal Register: May 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 102)]
[Page 25697-25698]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

                                                Federal Register

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[[Page 25697]]


Forest Service

Umpqua National Forest, Douglas and Jackson Counties, OR; Cow 
Creek Timber Sale and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project

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) for reducing fire hazard, improving forest stand 
conditions and resilience to stand replacement fire for wildlife 
species, including the Northern spotted owl, and restoring fire regimes 
and historic (fire adapted) stand conditions in and around the Cow 
Creek and Tiller Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas. Fuel loadings 
and overall stand densities have increased and landscape scale forest 
structural diversity has been altered due to fire exclusion, increasing 
the potential size and severity of future wildfires, beyond what might 
have occurred historically. This EIS will be prepared under the 
authority of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) and will 
implement recommendations of the Douglas County Community Wildfire 
Protection Plans for the WUI's. The project proposes commercial 
thinning on about 6,300 acres of mid seral and mature unmanaged stands, 
leaving between 40-90 trees per acre (TPA); commercial thinning on 
about 2,700 acres of managed second-growth plantations, leaving between 
50-90 TPA; non-commercial treatment of fuels on about 4,400 acres using 
non-commercial thinning, mastication, whip felling, chipping, piling 
and burning; treating activity-created fuels by underburning, machine 
piling, masticating, handpile burning, lopping and scattering, and/or 
yarding tops attached and whole tree yarding; using prescribed fire as 
the primary method of reducing fuels on about 813 acres; using about 
\1/8\th of a mile of existing unclassified roads to access thinning/
treatment areas, then decommissioning after use; building about 27 
miles of new temporary spur roads for access, then decommissioning them 
after use; road reconstruction and maintenance throughout the planning 
area; and use of existing rock pits. All acreages and miles are 
approximate and will be refined during sale layout. The project 
proposes to amend the 1990 Umpqua National Forest Land and Resource 
Management Plan (LRMP). The planning area is located approximately 34 
miles southeast of Roseburg, Oregon. The project is expected to be 
implemented starting in Fiscal Year 2010. The agency gives notice of 
the full environmental analysis and decision-making process that will 
occur on the proposal so that interested and affected people may become 
aware of how they can participate in the process and contribute to the 
final decision.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days from the date this Notice of Intent appears in the Federal 
Register. The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be 
available in the fall of 2009 and the final environmental impact 
statement is expected to be available in the winter of 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments and suggestions concerning this 
proposal to Clifford J. Dils, Forest Supervisor, c/o Debbie Anderson, 
IDT Leader, Umpqua National Forest, 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, 
OR 97471; you may also submit scoping comments electronically to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information about the proposal, 
contact Joshua Chapman, Cow Creek Project Manager, phone 541-957-3260, 
e-mail joshuachapman@fs.fed.us, or Debbie Anderson, Cow Creek 
Interdisciplinary Team Leader, phone 541-957-3466, e-mail 
danderson01@fs.fed.us, Umpqua National Forest, 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, 
Roseburg, OR 97471. The proposal is also listed on the Forest's Web 
site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/umpqua/projects/projects.shtml.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The planning area being analyzed in the Cow 
Creek Timber Sale and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project encompasses 
almost 45,000 acres, and is bounded by community of Tiller to the 
North, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to the South and West, 
and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to the East. The planning 
area includes all or portions of T31S, R2W; T31S, R3W; T32S, R1W; T32S, 
R2W; T32S, R3W; and T33S, R3W, Willamette Meridian, Oregon.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the Cow Creek Timber Sale and Hazardous Fuels 
Reduction Project is to reduce the current, uncharacteristically high 
fire hazard within the project area, increase the within-stand 
resiliency to stand replacement fire and to increase stand structural 
diversity. The need for action is focused on three elements:
    Element 1: The need to reduce existing and predicted fuel loads and 
fire hazard in areas identified as high fire hazard within the Cow 
Creek and Tiller wildland-urban interface areas (WUIs).
    Element 2: There is a need to reduce the potential fire size and 
severity within spotted owl habitat and Late Successional Reserve 223 
(which is also spotted owl Critical Habitat).
    Element 3: Outside of WUI and LSR, there is a need to alter forest 
and stand conditions in the planning area to more closely resemble 
conditions that were maintained by the mixed severity fire regime of 
the Klamath Province, and a need to move the existing fire regime from 
current Fire Regime Condition Class III, to a Fire Regime Condition 
Class II or I.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action was developed to address the elements of the 
purpose and need. It would implement recommendations of the Douglas 
County Community Wildfire Protection Plans for Cow Creek and Tiller to 
treat hazardous fuels in the WUIs, and reduce existing stand densities 
in order to approximate historic stand conditions maintained by a mixed 
severity fire regime. Specifically the Proposed Action includes the 
following activities:
     Commercial thinning on about 2,700 acres in managed second 
growth plantations leaving 50-90 trees per acre (TPA); Proportional 
thinning and thinning from below on about 6,300 acres in unmanaged late 
seral conifer stands (leaving 40-90 TPA). The

[[Page 25698]]

thinnings would use ground-based and skyline logging systems in both 
the matrix, riparian reserve, and late successional reserve (LSR) land 
allocations and would generate an estimated 90 million board feet of 
timber. Within the late successional reserve, canopy closure would be 
maintained at about 60% on the approximate 2,850 acres thinned in the 
LSR to maintain its ability to function as spotted owl habitat. All 
perennial streams would have a no harvest buffer of 50 feet or greater 
to protect the primary shade zone. Final no harvest riparian buffers 
will be designated prior to the Draft EIS and will further reduce the 
number of acres thinned.
     Treating activity-created fuels (slash) on commercially 
thinned areas by underburning, machine piling, masticating, handpile 
burning, lopping and scattering, yarding tops attached or whole tree 
yarding, or using a combination of the above.
     Non-commercial treatement and/or removal of fuels on about 
4,400 acres by non-commercial thinning, mastication, whip felling, 
chipping, and piling and burning of slash.
     Using prescribed fire to reduce fuels as the primary 
treatment method on about 813 acres.
     Using about \1/8\ of a mile of an existing, unclassified 
temporary road to access thinning areas then decommissioning after use.
     Building a total of about 27 miles of new temporary spur 
roads to provide access for logging machinery and for accessing stands 
for non-commercial treatments, then obliterating them after use.
     Re-opening about 0.5 miles of currently closed system road 
to provide access to stands, then closing them after use.
     Reconstructing and repairing portions of existing system 
roads (work would occur along small sections of these roads) including: 
Road re-alignment; intersection improvement; road widening; slide and/
or slump repair; placing or replacing surface rock; reshaping road 
beds; culvert replacement, and hazard tree felling.
     Maintaining about 88 miles of existing roads including: 
Grading and shaping of existing road surfaces; dust abatement using 
magnesium chloride or water; blading road beds and ditches; hazard tree 
felling; cleaning/maintaining ditches as needed; opening and re-closing 
existing closed roads; removing debris from the roadway; and cutting of 
intruding vegetation along roadsides.
     Utilizing the existing Peavine, Brownie, and Stauch Ranch 
rock pits (including drilling, blasting, rock crushing and rock 
hauling), along with several rock disposal sites as the rock source for 
the road work.
     Other connected and similar actions would also be 
implemented, including noxious weed treatment, pre-commercial thinning, 
expansion of the Peavine pit, and sump improvement.

Forest Plan Amendments

    The 1990 Umpqua National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(LRMP) would be amended in the following areas:
    1. The LRMP does not permit timber harvest in Management Areas 1, 
except in the event of catastrophic damage; there are about 36 acres of 
potential commercial treatment planned in MA 1 in order to reduce fuels 
in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area. The LRMP would be amended 
to potentially allow timber harvest and tree removal to help reduce the 
fire risk in the WUI and to allow for more than one year of recovery to 
the Visual Quality Objective of Retention.
    2. The LRMP excludes timber harvest around unique habitats for a 
distance of 150 feet. The LRMP would be amended to allow for fuel 
reduction treatments adjacent to some unique habitats in order to 
reduce existing and predicted fuel loads.

Possible Alternatives

    The alternatives to be considered include the No Action 
Alternative, the Proposed Action, and another alternative that may be 
developed if scoping identifies any issues with the proposed action.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The USDA Forest Service, Umpqua National Forest is the lead agency.

Responsible Official

    Clifford J. Dils, Forest Supervisor of the Umpqua National Forest, 
is the responsible official for this project. The address for the 
Umpqua National Forest is 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, OR 97471.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor of the Umpqua National Forest will decide 
whether to implement the action as proposed, whether to take no action 
at this time, or whether to implement any alternatives that are 
proposed. The Forest Supervisor will also decide whether to amend the 
1990 Umpqua National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, if an 
action alternative is chosen.

Preliminary Issues

    At this time, no preliminary issues have been identified.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping proces which guides the 
development of the environmental impact statement. The project has also 
been listed in the quarterly schedule of proposed actions (SOPA) since 
January of 2009. A scoping packet, detailing the proposed action, along 
with maps of the proposal, will be mailed to over 125 interested 
publics in May of 2009. The scoping effort is intended to identify 
issues, which may lead to the development of alternatives to the 
proposed action. Issues that are raised with the proposal may lead to 
alternative ways to meet the purpose and need of the project.
    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: May 21, 2009.
Clifford J. Dils,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. E9-12527 Filed 5-28-09; 8:45 am]