[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 221 (Wednesday, November 16, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70955-70956]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-29564]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Helena Nation Forest: Dalton Mountain Forest Restoration & Fuels 
Reduction Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The Helena National Forest (HNF) is proposing on the Lincoln 
Ranger District both commercial and non-commercial treatments using 
mechanical harvesting, pre-commercial thinning, hand felling, and 
prescriber burning within a project boundary encompassing about 18,240 
acres to improve vegetative structure and fuels arrangement; enhance 
composition of aspen, whitebark pine, and ponderosa pine species; 
modify fire behavior to enhance community protection while creating 
conditions to allow reestablishment of controlled periodic fire; and 
capturing the value of removed trees in an economical approach.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis and to be most 
helpful in this due process must be received by

[[Page 70956]]

November 30, 2011. The draft environmental impact statement is expected 
February 2013 and the final environmental impact statement is expected 
June of 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Amber Kamps, Helena National 
Forest, 1569 Hwy. 200, Lincoln, MT 59639. Comments may also be sent via 
email to comments-northern-helena@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to (406) 
362-4253. Please indicate `Dalton Scoping' on the subject line. 
Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and 
addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for 
this proposal.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Kamps at (406) 362-7000 or Jan 
FauntLeRoy at (406) 449-5201.
    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: The Forest Service, using agency data, has 
implemented a collaborative approach in the preliminary development of 
this proposed action. Involved in this due process was the Lincoln 
Restoration Committee (LRC) of the Montana Forest Restoration Committee 
(MFRC). The MFRC is a collaborative group with representatives from 
diverse interests who came together in 2007 to help address stewardship 
issues. The LRC is a group of private citizens with diverse community 
interests and was formed in 2008 with the purpose of working within the 
framework developed by the MFRC and developing recommendations for 
restoration projects on the Lincoln Ranger District, HNF. Please go to 
the Web site http://www.montanarestoration.org for further information 
regarding this group. The HNF has been working collaboratively with 
this group in compliance with Executive Order 13352-Facilitation of 
Cooperative Conservation.

Purpose and Need for Action

    Forest restoration and fuel reduction in the Dalton Mountain area 
is needed to move toward the goals of the HNF, Forest Plan, 
specifically II.A.14: Provide a fire protection and use program which 
is responsive to land and resource management goals and objectives; 
II.A.17: Coordinate Forest management activities with the land and 
resource management efforts of other Federal agencies, state and local 
governments, and adjacent private landowners; and II.A: Provide 
sustained timber yield that is responsive to local industry and 
national needs.
    Much of the area's current condition is a mixed-severity fire 
regime that is dominated by lodgepole pine. Tree mortality from a 
mountain pine beetle epidemic is extensive. This area lacks the desired 
forest structure and species diversity. Some other tree species native 
to the area including aspen, whitebark pine, and ponderosa pine do not 
occur in the numbers desired and as envisioned by the HNF, Forest Plan.
    The specific needs for this proposal are:
     Improve vegetative structure and fuels arrangement 
resulting in diversity of structure, patterns, and patch sizes across 
the landscape.
     Enhance composition of aspen, whitebark pine, and 
ponderosa pine species and their habitats.
     Modify fire behavior to enhance community protection while 
creating conditions that may allow the reestablishment of fire as a 
natural process on the landscape.
     Utilize economic value of trees with economic removal.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Supervisor on the HNF is proposing forest restoration 
and fuels reduction on the Lincoln Ranger District about five miles 
southwest of Lincoln, Montana.
    The actions in this proposal include mechanical harvesting, pre-
commercial thinning, fuels reduction by hand felling, and prescribed 
burning. About 6.4 miles of road would be built to facilitate 
commercial removal, then would be obliterated following implementation 
of this project. This proposal also includes treatments within the 
boundaries of Ogden Mountain and Nevada Mountain Inventoried Roadless 
Areas (IRA). These treatments include about 1,815 acres of prescribed 
burning and non-commercial hand slashing in the Nevada Mountain IRA and 
about 4,906 acres of fuels reduction by hand felling and prescribed 
fire with non-commercial hand slashing applied in the Ogden Mountain 
IRA. No commercial removal or road construction would occur within 
these IRAs.
    This proposed action also includes `control' units along with 
managed units with the purpose to compare their results in treating or 
not treating similar sites. Studying these results would strengthen the 
learning and collaborative adaptive management of restoration in the 
mixed severity fire regime.

Responsible Official

    Helena National Forest Supervisor.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Whether or not to implement the proposed action or an alternative 
to the proposed action, what monitoring would be appropriate to 
evaluate implementation of this project, and whether a Forest Plan 
amendment would be necessary as a result of the decision for this 
project.

Preliminary Issues

     Proposed activities reducing wildlife habitat e.g. lynx.
     Configuration of treatment and control units that 
effectively meets or moves the project area toward the purpose and need 
for this project.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. A scoping 
package has been mailed to interested publics, tribes and other 
agencies in October of 2011. A community open house conducted by the 
Lincoln Restoration Group and supported/participated by the Forest 
Service was held in early November 2011. Pertinent project information 
and more detail is also posted on the Helena National Forest Web site 
at http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena. Please provide comments specific to 
the actions proposed to meet the purpose and need for this project.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of 
the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be 
provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly 
articulate the reviewer's concerns and contentions.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. 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.

    Dated: November 9, 2011.
Kevin T. Riordan,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2011-29564 Filed 11-15-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P