[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 86 (Friday, May 3, 2002)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22389-22390]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-10981]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Cibola National Forest Invasive Plant Management Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare An Environmental Impact Statement.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture, Forest Service will prepare an 
environmental impact statement for a proposal to manage invasive plant 
species on the Cibola National Forest and the Kiowa, Rita Blanca, Black 
Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands. Counties included in 
the analysis area are Socorro, Sierra, Catron, Lincoln, Torrance, 
Bernalillo, Valencia, Cibola, Sandoval, McKinley, Colfax, Union, Mora 
and Harding in New Mexico; Dallam, Gray and Hemphill Counties in Texas; 
and Cimarron and Roger Mills Counties in Oklahoma.

DATES: Comments must be received, in writing, on or before May 31, 
2002.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to Range and Wildlife Staff, Forest 
Supervisor's Office, Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna Rd., NE, Suite 
A, Albuquerque, NM 87113-1001, Attn: Range, Wildlife and Watershed 
Staff. For further information, mail correspondence to: Range and 
Wildlife Staff, Cibola National Forest Supervisor's Office, 2113 Osuna 
Rd., NE, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM 87113-1001, phone (505) 346-3900.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose and need for the Proposed Action of managing invasive 
plant infestations on the Cibola National Forest and Kiowa, Rita 
Blanca, Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands is to:
     Protect forests, rangelands, grasslands, wildlands and 
adjacent private, industrial and other agency lands by eradicating 
invasive plant species where possible and by limiting the spread of 
well established invasive plant species when eradication is not 
realistically possible given time and funding constraints;
     Comply with federal, state and county noxious week laws 
regarding the management of noxious weed species.

Proposed Action

    The project proposes to take an integrated pest management (IPM) 
approach to management of invasive plant species. This approach will 
combine biological, cultural, mechanical and chemical methods as well 
as incorporating prevention and education measures. These methods are 
further defined below:
     Biological control methods involve the release of insects 
or plant pathogens that impact invasive plant species through reduction 
of seed production, reduction of plant vigor, or other avenue that 
reduces the ability of invasive plants to dominate native plant 
communities. Biological control agents typically come from the area of 
origin of the pest plant host, which is usually overseas. These agents 
have been proven to be benign to native plants and crop species. They 
are generally not effective in elimination of invasive plants, and 
usually require large infestations to become established.
     Cultural control methods include planting, fertilizing or 
generally encouraging desired vegetation to limit sites available for 
encroachment by invasive species.
     Mechanical control methods involve hand pulling or digging 
individual plants, picking off and destroying flower and seed heads
     Chemical control methods involve the use of herbicides to 
kill invasive species while maintaining as much desirable vegetation as 
possible.

Possible Alternatives

    Possible alternatives to the proposed action include taking no 
action against invasive plant species and using only non-chemical 
control methods.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official is Liz Agpaoa, the Cibola National Forest 
Supervisor. The address is Cibola National Forest Supervisor's Office, 
2113 Osuna Rd., NE, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM 87113-1001.

Nature of Decisions To Be Made

    The decisions to be made are: (1) Whether to manage invasive plant 
species and if so, whether to use one or a combination of several 
methods of control, including mechanical, chemical, biological or 
cultural treatments and if so, where and how much? (2) A range of 
alternatives will be considered. These include taking no action against 
invasive plant species, using only non-chemical control methods, and 
using a combination of control methods in an integrated pest management 
strategy.

Scoping Process

    Public participation will be important at several times during the 
analysis. The first time is during the scoping period [Reviewer may 
wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for 
implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environment 
Policy Act (CFR) at 40 CFR 1501.7]. The Agency will be seeking written 
issues with 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. The U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, will be invited to 
participate as a cooperating agency to evaluate potential impacts to 
threatened and endangered species habitat if any such species are found 
to exist in the potential treatment areas. This input will be used to 
develop additional alternatives. The scoping process includes:
     Identifying potential issues;
     Selecting significant issues with the Proposed Action, 
needing in-depth analysis;
     Eliminating insignificant issues; issues that have been 
analyzed and documented in a previous EIS, issues that controvert the 
need for the Proposed Action, or issues that are outside the authority 
of the Responsible Official to decide;
     Exploration of additional alternatives based on the issues 
identified during the scoping process; and
     Identification of potential environmental effects of the 
proposed action and alternatives (i.e., direct, indirect, and 
cumulative effects and connected actions).

Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent 
Environmental Review

    A draft environmental impact statement will be prepared for 
comment. The comment period on the draft environmental impact statement 
will be 45 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency 
publishes the notice of availability in the Federal Register.
    The Forest Service believes, at this early stage, it is important 
to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public 
participation in the environmental review process. First, reviewers of 
draft environmental impact statements must structure their

[[Page 22390]]

participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is 
meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and 
contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 
553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the 
draft environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised 
until after completion of the final environmental impact statement 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 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 them and respond to 
them in the final environmental impact statement.
    To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues 
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft 
environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is 
also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the 
draft statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft 
environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternatives 
formulated and discussed in the statement. 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.

(Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook 
1909.15, Section 21)

    Dated: April 29, 2002.
Liz Agpaoa,
Forest Supervisor, Cibola National Forest.
[FR Doc. 02-10981 Filed 5-2-02; 8:45 am]
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