[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 122 (Friday, June 24, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 37059-37061]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-15917]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Siuslaw National Forest; Oregon; Oregon Dunes NRA Management Area 
10 (C) Route and Area Designation

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Forest Service will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to amend the 1990 Siuslaw National Forest Land and 
Resources Management Plan (as amended by the 1994 Oregon Dunes Plan) in 
order to:
    (1) Designate Off Highway Vehicle (OHV), also called Off Road 
Vehicle (ORV) routes within Management Area (MA) 10 (C) of the Oregon 
Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) beyond the three year timeframe 
identified in the Plan;
    (2) modify the boundaries of some areas currently zoned MA 10 (C) 
to MA 10 (B), in order to meet the management objectives of MA 10 (B); 
and
    (3) designate the Banshee Hill route as a site specific exception 
within the 10 (C) Management Area.
    Management Area 10 (C) requires that OHVs be operated only on 
designated routes, while Management Area 10 (B) allows OHVs to be 
operated anywhere

[[Page 37060]]

within the area. This document is being prepared under the following 
authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 40 CFR 1508.22.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. The draft 
environmental impact statement is expected December 2011 and the final 
environmental impact statement is expected May 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Siuslaw National Forest, 855 
Highway 101, Reedsport, OR 97467 Attention: Angie Morris, Team Lead. 
Comments may also be sent via e-mail to comments-pacificnorthwest-siuslaw-centralcoast@fs.fed.us or via facsimile to 541-271-6034.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Angie Morris, Recreation Planner, 
(541) 271-6040.
    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.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 1994, the Oregon Dunes Plan amended 
Siuslaw National Forest Plan direction for the Oregon Dunes National 
Recreation Area (ODNRA). The Plan allocated eleven Management Areas 
(MAs) within the ODNRA. One of the allocations is MA 10 (C), wherein 
ORVs are Restricted to Designated Routes. The Plan specifies that MA 10 
(C) be managed to ``protect vegetated habitats while providing 
controlled opportunities for Off Road Vehicles (ORV) touring and 
traveling on designated routes.'' The Plan further states that the goal 
for this management area is ``to minimize ORV impacts on vegetated 
areas while allowing controlled opportunities for riding and travel 
through the area on designated routes for access to the beach and other 
areas which are open for ORV use.'' Approximately 4,445 acres are 
currently designated MA 10 (C).
    With few exceptions, the routes originally designated with Plan 
approval and those designated prior to 1997 have remained the only 
officially designated routes in MA 10 (C). The incompleteness of the 
existing route system plus the lack of adequate signing and formal 
closure orders for most areas allocated MA 10 (C) permitted and, to a 
degree, encouraged the continued use of undesignated routes and the 
establishment of additional user-developed routes. As a result, the 
majority of existing routes traveled by OHVs within MA 10 (C) today are 
not designated routes. This has in turn led to greater and unnecessary 
impacts to important plant communities within the MA 10 (C) areas. The 
current effort is aimed at providing adequate OHV access and 
reasonable, enjoyable connections between valued riding areas while 
minimizing impacts to adjacent and intervening plant communities and 
habitat areas.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The primary purpose and need for the project is to complete the 
designation and development of a comprehensive, understandable 
designated OHV route system within MA 10 (C) areas of the ODNRA as 
foreseen and directed by the Oregon Dunes Plan. Designation of 
additional routes to enhance already-existing designated routes and 
create a comprehensive, understandable system, coupled with enhanced 
route signing, subsequent rider education, unauthorized route closure 
under provisions at 36 CFR part 212, and strong enforcement:
    [rtarr] Will simplify and facilitate OHV rider access through 
various parts of MA 10 (C) areas that are currently difficult to 
understand and navigate on the ground;
    [rtarr] Will thereby encourage user acceptance of and compliance 
with designated route requirements in MA 10 (C) areas;
    [rtarr] Will discourage use of unauthorized user-developed routes 
allowing them, in turn, to be rehabilitated or to revert naturally to a 
more natural condition;
    [rtarr] Will simplify OHV management within MA 10 (C), allowing 
agency personnel to focus more on visitor education, resource 
restoration and strong enforcement against those who would persist in 
using unauthorized routes.
    A secondary purpose and need for the project is to correct OHV 
management inconsistencies arising from minor mapping errors between 10 
(C) and 10 (B) that date back to the original aerial photo 
interpretation and vegetation typing done for the 1994 Dunes Plan. Some 
small areas totaling about 287 acres out of a total of about 10,400 
acres allocated for OHV use were erroneously allocated to MA 10 (C). In 
actuality, they were subsequently found on the ground to better meet 
the appearance, conditions and management objectives of MA 10 (B). 
Managing areas differently that appear the same on the ground, but are 
allocated as different management areas is problematic for visitor 
understanding, education efforts and enforcement. The criteria for 
changing areas from MA 10 (C) to MA 10 (B) include the ratio of open 
sand to vegetation, the existence of designated dispersed sand camps, 
and the predominance of non-native, invasive vegetation (i.e. Scotch 
broom and/or European beachgrass) over native non-invasive species. 
Non-native, invasive species, such as Scotch broom and European 
beachgrass do not need to be protected from impacts by OHVs.

Proposed Action

    Within the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area MA 10 (C), the 
Siuslaw National Forest proposes a non-significant Plan amendment to 
designate an additional ten routes open to motorized vehicles totalling 
approximately 3.96 miles. Nine of the ten proposed routes already exist 
on the ground as historic, user-developed routes and will involve no 
new construction or ground disturbance. One new route of approximately 
0.62 miles would be constructed to replace a currently designated route 
that would be closed because it is impassible due to high water most of 
the year. Under provisions at 36 CFR part 212, existing user-developed 
routes not designated under this action would by definition be closed 
to future motorized use and would be obliterated or allowed to 
naturally revert. Approximately 103 miles of unathorized user-developed 
routes would be closed and eventually naturalized by this action. The 
project would also modify Management Area boundaries, changing 
approximately 287 acres, encompassing about 32 miles of user-created 
routes, from MA 10 (C) to MA 10 (B) in order to meet the management 
objectives of MA 10 (B). This action results in no net gain or loss of 
acres managed for OHV use and does not affect any other management 
areas. Finally, the route commonly known as Banshee Hill in the Umpqua 
Dunes riding area will be designated. It will be a site specific 
exception to the criteria otherwise used for designating routes within 
the 10C area because it does not connect otherwise unconnected riding 
areas and it does not serve all vehicle classes, being restricted by 
steepness and width to Class 1 (quads) and Class 3 (motorcycles) 
vehicles. Prior decisions such as those made in the Plan to allocate 
large blocks of land as open or closed to motorized use, areas managed 
for habitat protection, etc. will not be revisited.
    In summary, the proposed action amends the Dunes Management Plan 
to:
    (1) Designate an additional 3.96 miles of OHV routes within the 10 
(C) area beyond the 3 year standard and guideline timeframe identified 
in the Plan;

[[Page 37061]]

    (2) modify some Management Area boundaries, changing 287 acres from 
MA 10 (C) to MA 10 (B);
    (3) designate the route known as Banshee Hill as a site specific 
exception within Management Area 10 (C).

Possible Alternatives

    The EIS will consider the following alternatives:
    (1) A ``No Action/No Change'' Alternative, that would not designate 
additional routes or reallocate MA 10 (C) areas to MA 10 (B);
    (2) The proposed action;
    (3) Alternatives to the proposed action that are within the scope 
of the project, meet the purpose and need, are responsive to the 
comments received during the scoping period and are approved by the 
Forest Supervisor for consideration.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official will be the Forest Supervisor of the 
Siuslaw National Forest.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The decision to be made falls within the broad framework of the 
existing Forest Plan. The Forest Supervisor of the Siuslaw 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. Proposed actions are believed to 
constitute non-significant amendments of the Forest Plan and are narrow 
in scope, dealing only with off highway vehicle riding areas (MAs 10 
(C) and 10 (B)) at the Oregon Dunes NRA, an area comprising 
approximately 2% of the entire Siuslaw National Forest.

Preliminary Issues

    (1) Designation of OHV routes in MA 10 (C) may cause adverse 
effects to natural resources, nearby residents and/or other 
recreational users of the 10 (C) area.
    (2) Minor modifications of MA 10 (C) to MA 10 (B) and associated 
changes in OHV use of the area may cause adverse effects to natural 
resources, nearby residents and/or other recreation users of motorized 
use areas.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Public comments 
about this proposal are requested in order to assist in identifying 
issues, determine how to best manage the resources, and to focus the 
analysis. Comments received 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 
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 where the request 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 a specified 
number of days.
    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 
a draft EIS must structure their 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 EIS 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. 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 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 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 statement. Comments may also 
address the adequacy of the draft EIS of 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.
    A draft EIS will be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA) and available for public review by December 2011. The EPA will 
publish a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the draft EIS in the Federal 
Register. The comment period on the draft EIS will be 45 days from the 
date the EPA publishes the notice of availability in the Federal 
Register. The final EIS is scheduled to be available Summer 2012.

    Dated: June 8, 2011.
Katherine Harbick,
Acting Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2011-15917 Filed 6-23-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE; P