[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 239 (Tuesday, December 14, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69691-69692]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-31346]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Mill Creek Timber Sales and Related Activities, Rogue River 
National Forest Jackson County, OR

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The USDA, Forest Service (USFS), will prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS). The purpose of the EIS is to analyze and 
disclose the environmental impacts of a site specific proposal to 
commercially harvest and regenerate trees, construct, reconstruct, and 
decommission roads, implement vegetation density management activities, 
implement wildlife projects, and conduct prescribed burns. The 
activities are proposed in the Upper Rogue River watershed located on 
lands administered by the Rogue River National Forest, on the Prospect 
Ranger District, within Jackson County, Oregon. The Proposed Action 
will tier to and be designed under the Rogue River National Forest Land 
and Resource Management Plan (1990), as amended by the Record of 
Decision for the Northwest Forest Plan (1994), which provides guidance 
for land management activities. This proposal is scheduled for 
implementation during fiscal Years 2000-2003. The Prospect Ranger 
District invites written comments concerning the scope of the analysis 
in addition to those comments that will be solicited as a result of 
local public participation activities. The Forest Service will also 
give notice of the full environmental analysis and decision making 
process so that interested and affected people are made aware as to how 
they may participate and contribute to the final decision.

DATES: Issues and comments concerning the scope, implementation, and 
analysis of the Proposed Action must be received by January 5, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments regarding the Proposed Action to 
Joel King, District Ranger, Prospect Ranger District, 47201 Highway 62, 
Prospect, Oregon, 97536.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Direct questions about the Proposed 
Action and EIS to Don Boucher, Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Propect 
Ranger District, 47201 Highway 62, Prospect, Oregon, 97536, phone: 541-
560-3400, FAX: 541-560-3444, e-mail:dboucher/
r6pnw__rogueriver@fs.ded.us.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Mill Creek Timber Sales and Related

[[Page 69692]]

Activities Project will take place within the following sub-watersheds 
within the Upper Rogue River watershed: Barr Creek, Ginkgo Creek, Union 
Creek, Upper and Lower Mill Creek, and Castle Creek. Only Forest 
Service managed lands would be treated. The project area is 
approximately 45 air miles north of Medford, Oregon. It is bounded on 
the north by Castle Creek, on the west by State Highway 62, on the 
south by Red Blanket Creek, and on the east by Crater Lake National 
Park.
    The Forest Service is proposing to implement activities which 
include, in part, one or more timber sales involving approximately 
7,500 acres of harvest units. Silvicultural prescriptions include: 
density management of overstocked stands of trees (approximately 3,800 
acres); treating mature stands with small group selections or even-aged 
management (approximately 2,000 acres); and, density management of 
small, younger stands for forest health and stand development 
(approximately 1,700 acres). Other projects include road 
decommissioning (approximately 22 miles), prescribed fire for wildlife 
habitat improvement and fuels reduction (approximately 500 acres), 
density management of stands of young trees less than six inches in 
diameter (approximately 2,000 acres), and other wildlife improvement 
projects. Minor amounts of new road construction or reconstruction may 
be necessary to access harvest units. these activities are proposed on 
Matrix lands in the Northwest Forest Plan. Incidental treatments, not 
including timber harvest, are proposed within Riparian Reserves.
    The Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action is to plan timber 
sales and associated road and vegetation management activities to 
implement management direction from the Rogue River National Forest 
Land and Resource Management Plan and the Northwest Forest Plan and to 
manage for ecosystem needs.
    The Forest Service will consider issues with the Proposed Action, 
and develop additional alternatives to the Proposed Action that respond 
to the significant issues. The no-action alternative will also be 
considered.
    Public participation will be important during the analysis. 
Reviewers may refer to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations 
for implementing the procedural provisions of the national 
Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1501.7. The Forest Service will seek 
written concerns and comments regarding the Proposed Action from 
Federal, State, and local agencies, any affected Indian tribes, and 
other individuals who may be interested in or affected by the Proposed 
Action. This input will be used to develop additional alternatives.
    The Draft EIS is expected to be filled with the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) and be available for review by April 2000. The 
comment period for the Draft EIS will be 45 days from the date that the 
EPA publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
    Comments received in response to this notice, 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 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 the 
FOIA, confidentially 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 maybe 
resubmitted with or without name and address within a specified number 
of days.
    The Forest Service believes it is important to give reviewers 
notice at this early stage of several court rulings related to public 
participation in the environmental review process. First, a reviewer of 
a Draft EIS must structure their participation in the environmental 
review process of the proposal so that it is specific, meaningful, and 
alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and contentions. Vermont 
Yankee Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 533 (1978). also, 
environmental objections that could be raised at the Draft EIS stage, 
but that are not raised until after the completion of the final EIS, 
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, 409 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 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 EIS. Comments may also address 
the inadequacy of the Draft EIS or the merits of the alternatives 
formulated and discussed in the EIS. 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.
    After the 45 day comment period ends on the Draft EIS, comments 
will be considered and analyzed by the Agency in preparing the Final 
EIS. The Final EIS is scheduled for release by August 2000. In the 
Final EIS, the Forest Service is required to respond to the comments 
and responses received during the comment period that pertain to the 
environmental consequences discussed in the Draft EIS and applicable 
laws, regulations, and policies considered in making the decision 
regarding the proposal.
    The Forest Service is the lead agency. The Responsible Official is 
Joel King, Prospect District Ranger. The Responsible Official will 
consider the comments and responses received during the comment period 
that pertain to the environmental consequences discussed in the Draft 
EIS and applicable laws, regulations, and policies in making a decision 
regarding the Mill Creek Timber Sales and Related Activities. The 
Responsible Official will document the decision and rationale in the 
Record of Decision. The decision will be subject to appeal by the 
general public under Forest Service appeal regulations (36 CFR part 
215).

    Dated: November 22, 1999.
Joel T. King,
Prospect District Ranger.
[FR Doc. 99-31346 Filed 12-13-99; 8:45 am]
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