[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 217 (Wednesday, November 9, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69700-69702]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-29046]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Klamath National Forest; California; Pumice Vegetation Management 
Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The Klamath National Forest will prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) to document and publically disclose the 
environmental effects of implementing the Pumice Vegetation Management 
project. The project is being developed to address deteriorating forest 
health conditions, increasing hazardous fuel conditions, and reduced 
ecological diversity all caused by a century of fire exclusion, and 
past management activities.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of analysis must be received by 
December 9, 2011. The draft environmental impact statement is expected 
June 2012, and the final environmental impact statement is expected 
October 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Patricia A. Grantham, Forest 
Supervisor, Attn: Ben Haupt, Pumice Vegetation Management Project Team 
Leader, Goosenest Ranger District, 37805 Highway 97, Macdoel, 
California 96058. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificsouthwest-klamath@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to (530) 398-5749. 
Include the subject ``Pumice Scoping.'' Email attachments are 
acceptable in the following formats: plain text (.txt), rich text 
(.rtf), Word (.doc or .docx), or portable document format (.pdf). Oral 
comments may be provided to the interdisciplinary team lead in person 
at the Goosenest Ranger District office or by phone: (530) 398-5790 
during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m., except holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Project documents can be found on the 
project Web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=30290. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions 
regarding the proposal, contact Ben Haupt (phone: (530) 398-5790) at 
the Goosenest Ranger District, Klamath National Forest, 37805 Highway 
97, Macdoel, California 96058.

[[Page 69701]]

    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: There are 6,473 acres of treatment proposed 
within the 9,056-acre project boundary on the Goosenest Ranger District 
of the Klamath National Forest. The project is located entirely within 
the Tamarack Flat 7th field watershed. The western extent of the 
project area is about eight miles east of Tennant, California in 
Siskiyou County; T43N, R1E, Sections 12 and 13; T43N, R2E, Sections 2-
11, 14-21, 29 and 30; T44N, R2E, Sections 32 and 33, Mt. Diablo 
Meridian. About 247 acres of private land are located within the 
project boundary, but are excluded from the proposed treatments. 
Elevation ranges from 5,500-7,200 feet.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of this project is to: restore fire as an ecosystem 
process; improve stand resilience to wildfire, insects and disease; 
reduce stand densities to productive and sustainable levels; maintain 
and encourage vegetation species diversity and stand structure; reduce 
the risk of undesired wildfire effects to important resources within 
the project area; and provide opportunities for public firewood 
cutting.

Proposed Action

    The project includes eight overlapping types of treatment: (1) Thin 
From Below; (2) Thin From Below and Thin Chip; (3) Thin Chip; (4) Small 
Tree Thinning and Pile Burn; (5) Seed Tree and Small Tree Thinning; (6) 
Firewood; (7) Commercial Christmas Trees; and (8) Prescribed Fire. In 
addition to the above treatments, the proposed action includes the 
temporary access on 15.50 miles of temporary roads along existing road 
beds within the project. A total of 0.75 miles of new temporary roads 
will be constructed in order to implement the project. Both existing 
and new temporary roads will be closed and hydrologically stabilized at 
the end of the project. Acres by treatment type are described below and 
do not account for overlap in treatment types.
    (1) Thin From Below (693 acres): Thin from below will be variable 
(140-220 ft\2\/ac Basal Area) removing trees greater than 10 inches 
diameter at breast height (DBH), leaving dominant and co-dominant trees 
that exhibit health and vigor in order to increase resiliency to fire, 
insects and disease. Ponderosa pine will be favored, which will 
increase the percentage of pine in the species composition. Stocking 
levels will be commensurate with site productivity and standard 
guidelines. To maintain stand diversity, no-treatment retention clumps 
varying from 15-25 percent of the stand will be left in each stand.
    (2) Thin From Below and Thin Chip (1,973 acres): The goal of this 
treatment is to thin from below (140-220 ft\2\/ac Basal Area) and 
reduce stocking levels in the understory. This will increase species 
and structural diversity. Thin chip treatment will thin trees ranging 
between three and 10 inches DBH to a variable spacing of 15-25 feet. 
Treatment will focus on those areas with the most ladder fuels to 
reduce the risk of stand replacing wildfire. No-treatment (leave) 
clumps will vary from 15-25 percent depending upon stand conditions.
    (3) Thin Chip (1,088 acres): Even-aged early seral stands will be 
variably thinned removing trees ranging between three and 10 inches 
DBH. Reducing stand densities will improve tree vigor, increase species 
and structural diversity, and reduce the risk of stand replacing 
wildfire. No-treatment clumps will vary from 15-40 percent depending 
upon stand conditions.
    (4) Small Tree Thinning and Pile Burn (128 acres): Treatment will 
be applied to previously harvested stands that have dense tree 
regeneration. Trees ranging between three to 10 inches DBH will be 
variably thinned to a spacing of 15-25 feet. Trees will be cut by hand 
or low ground pressure machinery. Trees will then be piled and burned 
or chipped and removed.
    (5) Seed Tree and Small Tree Thinning (245 acres): These lodgepole 
pine stands were previously harvested with strip clear cuts. Treatment 
within the retention strips from previous harvest will remove trees 
greater than 10 inches DBH, and leave one to five healthy dominant 
trees per acre to serve as a seed source. Trees ranging between three 
and 10 inches DBH will be thinned to a variable spacing of 15-25 feet 
in previously harvested strips.
    (6) Firewood (206 acres): Firewood cutting will be made available 
to the public for permitted firewood cutting. Dead lodgepole trees, 
which were created by western and mountain pine beetle mortality within 
several lodgepole stands, will be removed by permit only. Standing dead 
and down trees will be cut by hand. All limbs and debris will be 
scattered to a depth of no greater than 18 inches; individual pieces 
will not exceed four feet in length. Trees and limbs will be utilized 
down to three inches in diameter.
    (7) Commercial Christmas Trees (94 acres): Shasta red and white fir 
trees less than eight inches DBH will be harvested. Leave trees will be 
retained at a maximum of 16 feet to meet 16 by 16 foot spacing for the 
stand. Leave trees are defined as trees at least four feet tall and 
four inches DBH. Trees will be harvested with chainsaws and removed to 
existing skid trails and roads for removal by hand or ATV. Trees will 
be cut below the lowest living branch, with a maximum stump height of 
approximately 10 inches. All activity-generated slash will be treated 
so the residual slash on the ground is no higher than 18 inches and not 
more than four feet long. Approximately 1,000 pounds of boughs (or 
stems) may be cut by hand with pruning shears and/or chainsaws. Sheared 
trees will have a maximum harvest of one-third the diameter of the 
bottom half of the tree cut for boughs. Boughs may not be longer than 
24 inches in length. Trees for bough harvest may not be the dominant or 
co-dominant leave trees. Cut boughs will be removed to vehicles parked 
on existing skid trails or roads.
    (8) Prescribed Fire (6,473 acres): Prescribed fire will be used in 
varying intensities (mosaic pattern of burned and unburned patches) 
either as a stand-alone treatment, or following mechanical treatments. 
Pre-treatment such as hand piling of ladder and activity fuels will 
ensure that the residual stand is protected. Piles will be burned 
within two years of their construction. Prescribed fire will be used 
under controlled situations and favorable weather conditions. The 
objectives are to reduce natural fuel loads, surface and ladder fuels, 
and past activity slash, while increasing herbaceous species and 
encouraging pine regeneration. Due to feasibility considerations, 
prescribed fire treatments will not take place all at once, but 
incrementally throughout the life of the project. Prior to 
implementation of prescribed fire, detailed burn plans will be prepared 
for all prescribed fire activities.
    Road access: The proposed action includes the temporary access 
along 15.50 miles of temporary roads along existing road beds within 
the project area. A total of 0.75 miles of new temporary roads will be 
constructed in order to implement the project. All roads needed for 
treatment access will be cleared and graded as necessary to allow log 
truck and equipment access using minimum disturbance methods and 
minimum clearing widths. New temporary roads constructed for this 
project will be graded, out-sloped, covered with slash if needed, and 
blocked with natural barriers after the harvest season (prior to the 
first winter

[[Page 69702]]

use). All temporary roads will be closed and hydrologically stabilized 
at the end of the project. No new roads will be added to the National 
Forest System.
    The Forest Service developed project design features to mitigate 
adverse environmental impacts of the proposed action to forest 
resources. To view project design features, maps, and additional 
information about this project please visit the following Web site: 
http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=30290.

Responsible Official

    The Responsible Official for this project is the Forest Supervisor 
for the Klamath National Forest, Patricia A. Grantham, 1312 Fairlane 
Road, Yreka, California 96097.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Service is the lead agency for the project. Based on the 
result of the NEPA analysis, the Forest Supervisor's record of decision 
regarding the Pumice Vegetation Management Project will recommend 
implementation of one of the following: (1) The proposed action; (2) an 
alternative to the proposed action; or (3) the no-action alternative. 
The record of decision will also document the consistency of the 
selected alternative with the Klamath National Forest Land and Resource 
Management Plan (1995, as amended).

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the EIS. To be considered for EIS development, 
comments should be submitted prior to the close of this comment period. 
To be most helpful to the agency for alternative development and 
effects analysis, comments should be as specific as possible and 
discuss potentially significant issues, points of discussion, dispute, 
or debate about the effects of the proposed action.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public project 
record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; 
however, anonymous comments will not provide the agency with the 
ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental 
documents. See the ADDRESSES section at the beginning of this notice 
for more information about how and when to submit comments.

    Dated: November 1, 2011.
Patricia A. Grantham,
Forest Supervisor, Klamath National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2011-29046 Filed 11-8-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P