[Federal Register: February 11, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 29)]
[Page 7807-7809]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Forest Service

Thorne Bay Ranger District; Alaska; Big Thorne Project 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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


SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service will 
prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Big Thorne 
Project located on Prince of Wales Island, part of the Thorne Bay 
Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest. This proposal is the 
multi-year timber sale component of a larger stewardship effort that 
will include opportunities such as restoration and enhancement 
activities that will be identified through other environmental 
analyses. The overall effort will be implemented through the use of 
various contracting authorities available to the Forest Service, 
including timber sale, service, and stewardship contracts, by combining 
some of the timber harvest activities of this project with restoration 
and enhancement activities to be analyzed separately. This EIS will 
consider the cumulative effects of the timber harvest activities and 
reasonably foreseeable stewardship activities in the area.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by March 14, 2011. The draft environmental impact statement is expected 
in August 2011 and the final environmental impact statement is expected 
in February 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Thorne Bay Ranger District, 
Tongass National Forest, Attn: Big Thorne Project EIS, P.O. Box 19001, 

[[Page 7808]]

Bay, AK 99919-0001. Comments may be hand-delivered to the Thorne Bay 
Ranger District, 1312 Federal Way, Thorne Bay, AK 99919-0001, Attn: Big 
Thorne Project EIS. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to: comments-
alaska-tongass-thornebay@fs.fed.us or via facsimile to 907-828-3309, 
Attn: Big Thorne Project EIS. In all correspondence, please include 
your name, address, and organization name if you are commenting as a 
representative of an organization.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Anderson, District Ranger, 
Thorne Bay Ranger District, PO Box 19001, Thorne Bay, AK 99919-0001, 
(907) 828-3210 or James Kelly, Team Leader, Thorne Bay Ranger District, 
PO Box 19001, Thorne Bay, AK 99919-0001, (907) 828-3220.
    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.


Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose and need for the Big Thorne Project is to implement the 
Tongass Land Management Plan, aligned with the United States Department 
of Agriculture (USDA) Strategic Plan FY 2010-2015 and the Tongass 
National Forest transition strategy. The USDA Strategic Plan identifies 
key priorities and desired outcomes, such as the goals of rural 
prosperity and preservation and maintenance of forests, as well as 
means and strategies to achieve them. This project will help to provide 
an economically viable, reliable, long-term supply of timber that will 
support jobs for the communities of Southeast Alaska and facilitate the 
transition to a sustainable forest industry based on young-growth 
management. Forest restoration and enhancement activities on Prince of 
Wales Island will be integrated during project implementation to 
further accomplish the goals of the Strategic Plan. These activities 
could include the repair of road culverts that do not meet current 
standards for the passage of fish; recreation activities such as trail 
improvement; and wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement such as 
thinning or stream restoration.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Service is proposing a multi-year timber sale project as 
part of a larger stewardship effort. The proposed action would harvest 
timber from approximately 5,800 acres of forested land using various 
sizes of timber sales, offered over a period of about 10 years, within 
the roaded land base on Prince of Wales Island. This harvest would 
include approximately 600 acres in Phase 2 lands of the Tongass Timber 
Adaptive Management Strategy and will be reserved for small timber 
sales. Approximately 37 miles of National Forest System and temporary 
roads would be constructed and about 26 miles of existing roads would 
be reconstructed. Preliminary analysis shows that an estimated 100 
million board feet of sawtimber and utility wood could be made 
available to industry for harvest. Existing log transfer facilities 
would be used as needed. Harvest would include helicopter, ground-
based, and cable yarding systems and could include even-aged, even-aged 
with reserves, two-aged with reserves, and uneven-aged harvest 
prescriptions to achieve stand objectives. All proposed activities 
would meet the standards and guidelines of the Tongass Land Management 
    While the Forest Service is proposing timber harvest in this 
project area and other areas on Prince of Wales Island, a collaborative 
process is ongoing to develop restoration and enhancement projects. The 
projects from this collaborative effort will be integrated with this 
timber sale project during implementation to provide stewardship 
opportunities. The effects of the reasonably foreseeable restoration 
and enhancement projects will be considered in this analysis, but are 
not part of this proposed action.
    The restoration and enhancement activities will be generated from 
other planning documents, including the Cobble Landscape Assessment, 
Luck Lake Watershed Restoration Plan, the Prince of Wales and 
Surrounding Islands Access Travel Management Plan, and possibly others. 
In addition, because this project extends over several years, the 
Forest Service will integrate the project during implementation with 
future restoration and enhancement projects, including projects 
developed as a result of the Prince of Wales Island Young Growth 
Thinning Feasibility Study now being conducted. Examples of specific 
restoration and enhancement opportunities would include roads and 
transportation activities (e.g., repairing ``red pipes'' or bridges, 
erosion control, vegetation removal, or road relocation); recreation 
activities (e.g., campground and trails improvements, picnic sites, or 
vegetation management); young-growth stand improvement; and wildlife 
and fisheries habitat improvement projects (e.g., beach fringe 
thinning, or placement of large woody debris in streams).

Possible Alternatives

    The proposed action includes an estimated 100 million board feet 
from approximately 5,800 acres within the roaded land base of east-
central Prince of Wales Island. Scoping comments will be used by the 
Forest Service to develop a range of alternatives in response to 
significant issues. A no-action alternative will be analyzed.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official for the decision on this project is the 
Forest Supervisor, Tongass National Forest, Federal Building, 648 
Mission Street, Ketchikan, Alaska 99901.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The responsible official will decide whether or not to authorize 
timber harvest and associated road construction on Prince of Wales 
Island in the Big Thorne Project area.

Preliminary Issues

    Preliminary potential issues which may be analyzed in the EIS 
include: The potential effects of the project on the Southeast Alaska 
timber supply, supporting the timber industry during the transition 
from old-growth harvest to young-growth management, road management, 
economic and rural stability, subsistence, deer, watersheds and fish, 
scenery, and inventoried roadless areas.

Permits or Licenses Required

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

     Review Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan.

State of Alaska, Department of Environmental Conservation

     Certification of Compliance with Alaska Water Quality 
Standards (401 Certification);
     Storm water discharge permit/National Pollutant Discharge 
Elimination System review under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act 

State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

     Solid Waste Disposal Permit;
     Authorization for occupancy and use of tidelands and 
submerged lands.

Scoping Process

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

[[Page 7809]]

will be posted on the Tongass National Forest public Web site at: 
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/projects/projects.shtml and a scoping 
letter will be mailed out in early February 2011. Individuals who want 
to be on the project mailing list should contact the Thorne Bay Ranger 
District at the address above. The scoping package will be available at 
future public open house meetings planned to be held in Thorne Bay, 
Coffman Cove, Craig, and Naukati, Alaska in late February or early 
March 2011. These meetings will be announced in the paper of record, 
the Ketchikan Daily News, as well as the Island News, Thorne Bay, 
    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.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will become part of the public 
record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered, however.

    Dated: February 1, 2011.
Forrest Cole,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2011-3072 Filed 2-10-11; 8:45 am]