[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 54 (Wednesday, March 20, 2002)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12960-12963]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-6678]



[[Page 12960]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Revised Land and Resource Management Plan for the Shawnee 
National Forest (Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, 
Pope, Saline, Williamson, and Union Counties, IL)

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS).

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SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service intends to prepare an EIS for revising 
the Shawnee National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest 
Plan) pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 1604(f)(5) and USDA Forest Service National 
Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning regulations. The 
revised Forest Plan will supersede the Forest Plan, which the Regional 
Forester approved November 24, 1986, and the significant amendment 
approved May 14, 1992. This Notice describes the focus areas of change, 
the estimated dates for filing the EIS, the information concerning 
public participation, and the names and addresses of the responsible 
agency official and the individual who can provide additional 
information.

DATES: We need to receive your comments on this Notice of Intent (NOI) 
in writing within 60 days after this notice is published in the Federal 
Register. The Draft EIS should be available for public review by 
December 2003. The Final EIS and revised Forest Plan should be 
completed by September 2004.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: NOI-FP Revision, Shawnee National 
Forest, 50 Hwy. 145 South, Harrisburg, IL 62946. Or direct electronic 
mail to mlross@fs.fed.us Attn: Forest Plan Revision.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Forest Planner, at 618-253-7114. TDY 
618-253-1070, or direct electronic mail to: mlross@fs.fed.us or access 
the Forest web page at www.fs.fed.us/r9/shawnee.

RESPONSIBLE OFFICIAL: Regional Forester, Eastern Region, 310 W. 
Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Regional Forester for the Eastern Region 
gives notice of the agency's intent to prepare an EIS to revise the 
Shawnee National Forest Plan. The Regional Forester approved the 
original Shawnee National Forest Plan in November 1986. In May 1992, 
the Regional Forester approved a significant amendment that 
substantially replaced the 1986 Forest Plan. This plan guides the 
overall management of the Shawnee National Forest. We make six primary 
decisions in the Forest Plan:
    1. Forest-wide multiple-use goals and objectives;
    2. Forest-wide management requirement;
    3. Management area direction;
    4. Lands suited and not suited for resource use and production 
(timber management, etc.);
    5. Monitoring and evaluation requirements; and
    6. Recommendations to Congress (such as wilderness), if any.
    By the requirements of the National Forest Management Act, national 
forests must revise the Forest Plan every 10-15 years (U.S.C. 
1604(f)(5)). At this time, there are three reasons to revise the 1986 
and 1992 Amended Forest Plans: (1) The National Forest Management Act 
of 1976 requires that such plans be revised every 10-15 years (the 
Regional Forester approved the original Shawnee National Forest Plan in 
November 1986 and approved the Amended Shawnee National Forest Plan in 
May 1992); (2) Court direction for additional analysis of certain 
portions of the 1992 Amended Forest Plan; and (3) agency goals and 
objectives, along with other national guidance for strategic plans and 
programs, have changed; The agency Government Performance and Results 
Act Strategic Plan (2000) has shifted the course of agency program 
emphasis to sustainability.
    In many southern Illinois communities, people value the 
opportunities public forests provide for enjoying recreation, solitude, 
nature study, and scenic beauty. People also expect important products 
from managed forests, such as game species for hunting, commercial 
recreation events, wood products, and minerals. The Shawnee National 
Forest is integral to the sense of place for communities across 
southern Illinois. When making decisions in the revised plan, we would 
examine economic and social impacts to local communities and at a 
broader regional level, as well as biological impacts.
    We propose to focus our analysis on topics identified as being most 
critically in need of change. These were identified through public 
comment and monitoring and evaluation.
    Plan Opportunities, Goals and Objectives: We propose changing the 
Forest Plan's opportunities, goals and objectives by changing the 
timber resource management goal to a goal for promoting forest 
ecosystem health and sustainability. This would also result in changes 
to Forest Plan objectives and standards and guidelines related to 
timber resource management.
    Revision Topics:
    1. Watershed Resources,
    2. Biological Diversity and Wildlife/Aquatic Habitat;
    3. Recreation Management;
    4. Forest Ecosystem Health and Sustainability;
    5. Mineral Resources;
    6. Wilderness, Roadless Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers; and
    7. Land Ownership Adjustment.
    Additional detail on the revision topics is available on request, 
in the form of the document titled ``Need for Change, Description of 
Proposal for Revising the Forest Plan of the Shawnee National Forest''. 
You are encouraged to review this additional document before commenting 
on the NOI. You may request the additional information by calling the 
phone number listed above, by writing or e-mailing to the addresses 
listed in this notice, or by accessing the Forest web page at 
www.fs.fed.us/r9/shawnee.
    We propose the following direction or actions for each topic:
    1. Watershed Resources:
     Develop a management prescription 6.2 and standards and 
guidelines for Inahgeh lands and other lands on the historic 
Mississippi River floodplain;
     Develop a management prescription 6.1 for priority 
watersheds that provide local drinking water supplies;
     Establish criteria for prioritizing watershed protection 
and restoration; and
     Review and update the riparian area filterstrip standards 
and guidelines (6.3 management prescription).
    2. Biological Diversity, Wildlife and Aquatic Habitat:
     Refine management direction for forest interior birds;
     Create a 6.7 management prescription for large openland 
habitat;
     Review Forest-wide standards and guidelines for wildlife 
opening management;
     Revise standards and guidelines for threatened and 
endangered species and other species of concern;
     Identify and protect ecosystems at risk of loss or 
degradation;
     Develop criteria for control of invasive species that are 
presently degrading native ecosystems;
     Modify current list of Management Indicator Species to 
represent all communities;
     Develop management area prescriptions and standards and 
guidelines for habitat restoration in Inahgeh lands;
     Adjust the boundary of the 1.3 management area at Oakwood 
Bottoms

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Greentree Reservoir to include recently acquired adjacent forested 
lands;
     Revise the standards and guidelines pertaining to 
pesticide use for fish and wildlife management purposes; and
     Review list of species of recreation interest.
    3. Recreation Management:
     Expand recreation management goal to include providing a 
comprehensive system of designated trails that are marked, mapped, 
designed, and maintained for all season use;
     Restrict equestrian use to system trails and to roads open 
to vehicular travel;
     Eliminate the Amended Forest Plan map pertaining to ATV/
OHM travelways and hiker/equestrian trail corridors;
     Allow ATV/OHM use for access to National Forest land on 
selected Forest System roads (primarily lower standard local system 
roads) and close those roads to use by vehicles over 50 inches wide;
     The ATV Access Permit for people with disabilities will be 
discontinued because all users will be allowed to access the Forest 
using ATV/OHM's on certain roads;
     Allow mountain bike use on open roads and on designated 
trails, and provide for links to the rails-to-trails system, where 
available;
     Revise recreation goal statement to include both developed 
and dispersed recreation management, emphasizing increased benefits to 
the public and cost-effective operation. Provide direction to evaluate 
continued operation of low use or high unit cost recreation areas, and 
provide direction for new recreation developments; and
     Convert visual management direction from the Visual 
Management System to the new national Scenery Management System.
    4. Forest Ecosystem Health and Sustainability:
     Replace the timber resource management goal with a goal to 
provide for and enhance forest ecosystem health and sustainability;
     The land base suitable for timber production and the 
associated allowable sale quantity will be re-evaluated;
     Revise timber management objectives and standards and 
guidelines;
     Maintain a dominance of oak-hickory in management areas 
1.3, 2.1, and 6.6. Add an oak-hickory objective for other management 
areas based on historic occurrence and ecological landtypes;
     Drop objective for range management except for research 
purposes;
     Subdivide the 2.1 and 6.6 management areas to reflect 
differences along ecological boundaries;
     Change management area designation of Fountain Bluff and 
Iron Mountain from 8.3 to 6.6, to allow for active vegetation 
management, while providing for protection of heritage resources;
     Revise the standards and guidelines pertaining to 
pesticide use; and
     Address the control of invasive species and noxious weeds 
through Forest-wide standards and guidelines.
    5. Mineral Resources:
     Decide on suitability and availability regarding oil and 
gas leasing. No decision will be made on consent to lease at the Forest 
Plan level; and
     With regard to other direction on oil, gas, and other 
minerals, no change will be made in the Amended Plan.
    6. Wilderness, Roadless Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers:
     Based on the results of a Forest-wide roadless area 
analysis, recommendations to Congress for wilderness may be developed;
     Develop appropriate management prescriptions for the Camp 
Hutchins area and the inventoried roadless area known as Burke Branch 
and other roadless areas if they are not recommended for wilderness 
designation;
     Modify standards and guidelines for 5.1 management 
prescription based on the physical and social issues regarding 
wilderness, as identified during the Forest Plan revision process;
     Delete 5.2 management area designations;
     Increase the allowable system trail densities in 
wilderness to a maximum of 2 miles of trail per square mile.
     Formulate management area standards and guidelines for 
cemetery access and maintenance in wilderness; and
     Complete the classification process of the six streams 
eligible for study as part of the Wild and Scenic River System, and 
revise the 9.2 management prescription standards and guidelines to 
reflect the results of the classification process. If any additional 
rivers are identified for potential wild and scenic river designation, 
we will determine their eligibility and highest potential 
classification.
    7. Land Adjustment:
     Revise prioritization list standard and guideline for 
surface ownership to include the 6.6 management prescription, remove 
the 5.2 management prescription, and incorporate other management 
prescriptions that may be identified;
     Recommend a boundary adjustment that incorporates portions 
of the Mississippi River floodplain into the proclamation boundary and 
eliminates portions of the proclamation boundary where additional 
acquistion is not likely;
     Eliminate the Forest Consolidation Map;
     Emphasize acquisition of all available property rights in 
each land adjustment case; and
     Provide recommendation for statutory boundary adjustment.
    New Planning Regulations: The Department of Agriculture published 
new planning regulations in November of 2000. Concerns regarding the 
ability to implement these regulations prompted a review with probable 
revision of these regulations. On May 10, 2001 USDA Secretary Veneman 
signed an interim final rule extending for one year the May 9, 2001 
date by which all land and resource management plan amendments and 
revisions will be subject to the requirements of the new planning rule 
adopted November 9, 2000. The interim rule provides that May 9, 2002 a 
responsible official may elect to continue or to initiate new plan 
amendments or revisions under the 1982 planning regulations or that the 
responsible official may initiate amendments or revisions under the new 
planning rule. The Shawnee National Forest will proceed under the 1982 
planning regulations.
    Range of Alternatives: We will consider a range of alternatives 
when revising the Forest Plan. The alternatives will address different 
options to resolve issues over the focus areas of change listed above 
and to fulfill the purpose and need. A ``no-action alternative'' is 
required, meaning that management would continue under the existing 
Forest Plan. Alternatives will provide different ways to address and 
respond to issues identified during the scoping process.
    The alternatives will display different mixes of recreation 
opportunities and experiences. Alternatives will display different 
mixes of wildlife habitats across the forest. The mix will vary by the 
objectives of the particular alternative, though each alternative will 
strive to provide habitat necessary to maintain viable populations of 
plant and animal species. We will analyze alternatives that examine 
different levels of vegetation management, including more and less 
timber harvest. Management of roadless areas will vary by the 
objectives of any particular alternative, physical criteria for

[[Page 12962]]

evaluating each individual roadless area, and public input.
    We may make other minor changes, particularly in the guidance 
chapter of the Forest Plan, to reflect changes made when addressing the 
above revision topics.
    Inviting Public Participation: We are now soliciting comments and 
suggestions from federal agencies, state and local governments, 
individuals, and organizations on the scope of the analysis to be 
included in the DEIS for the revised Forest Plan (40 CFR 1501.7). 
Comments should focus on: (1) The proposal for revising the Forest 
Plan; (2) possible alternatives for addressing issues associated with 
the proposal; and (3) identify any possible impacts associated with the 
proposal based on an individual's civil rights (race, color, national 
origin, age, religion, gender, disability, political beliefs, sexual 
orientation, marital or family status). We will encourage public 
participation in the environmental analysis and decision-making 
process.
    In spring 2002 we are releasing our NOI and proposal. We will have 
many types of public involvement including 60-day formal comment 
period, public meetings, written comments, website, and e-mail.
    Following publication of this NOI, the Forest Service will host a 
series of public meetings to (1) Establish multiple opportunities for 
the public to generate ideas, concerns, and alternatives, (2) present 
and clarify proposed changes to the Forest Plan; (3) describe ways that 
individuals can respond to this NOI; and (4) accept comments from the 
public on this proposal for revising the Forest Plan.
    In the year 2002 we will work on alternative development and issue 
validation. We will have many types of public involvement including: 
public workshops, collaborative meetings, written comments, website, 
and e-mail.
    In the year 2003 we will release our proposed revised Forest Plan 
and DEIS. We will have many types of public involvement including 90-
day formal comment period, public meetings, and written comments.
    During 2004 we will release the decision, final revised Forest 
Plan, EIS, and Record of Decision. We will have informational meetings 
to explain the decisions on the final Forest Plan.
    We will provide the public with general notice on opportunities to 
participate through mailings, news releases, public meetings, and 
website (www.fs.fed.us/r9/shawnee). In addition to formal opportunities 
for public comment, we will consider comments received at any time 
throughout the revision process.
    The Shawnee National Forest will host five open house meetings to 
(1) answer specific questions relative to the NOI and (2) provide 
information on how to comment on the NOI and to accept written comments 
from the public. All information shared by the Forest Service will be 
identical at each meeting. Following is a schedule of the meetings.

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April 2, 2002:
    2:00-7:00 p.m......................  Eddyville Community Center,
                                          Eddyville, IL 62928.
April 3, 2002:
    2:00-7:00 p.m......................  Ralph Metcalf Federal Building,
                                          77 West Jackson Blvd.,
                                          Chicago, IL 60404.
April 4, 2002:
    2:00-7:00 p.m......................  Fisher's Hotel and Conference
                                          Center, 2100 West Main St.,
                                          Belleville, IL 62226.
April 10, 2002:
    2:00-7:00 p.m......................  Executive Inn Evansville, 600
                                          Walnut St., Evansville, IN
                                          47708.
April 11, 2002:
    2:00-7:00 p.m......................  Travelodge & Convention Center,
                                          2600 West DeYoung, Marion, IL
                                          62959.
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Availability of Public Comment

    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the 
public record for 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 decisions under 36 CFR parts 215 or 
217.
    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 when the 
requester 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 90 days.

Release and Review of the DEIS

    The DEIS is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) and to be available for public comment in 2003. At that 
time, the EPA will publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal 
Register. The comment period on the DEIS will be 90 days from the date 
the EPA publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
    The Forest Service believes it is important to give reviewers 
notice of several court rulings related to public participation in the 
environmental review process. First, reviewers of DEIS's must structure 
their participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that 
it is meaningful and alerts an agency to reviewer's position and 
contentions [Vermont Yankee Nuclear Poser Corp. v. NRDS, 435 U.S. 519, 
553 (1978)]. Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the 
DEIS stage but that are not raised until after 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, 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 90-day comment period 
so 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 Federal Service in identifying and considering issues 
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the DEIS should be as 
specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific 
pages or chapters of the DEIS. Comments may also address the adequacy 
of the DEIS or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed 
in the statement. Reviews may wish to refer to

[[Page 12963]]

the Council of Environmental Quality Regulations (http://
ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/nepanet.htm) for implementing the procedural 
provision of he National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in 
addressing these points.

    Dated: March 12, 2002.
Donald L. Meyer,
Acting Regional Forester.
[FR Doc. 02-6678 Filed 3-19-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-M