[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 196 (Wednesday, October 10, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61570-61571]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24880]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Helena National Forest; Montana; Blackfoot Travel Plan EIS

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Corrected Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact 
statement for the Blackfoot Travel Plan. The original notice was 
published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2010 (FR Doc. 2010-
27353, page 66718-66719) and a corrected notice was published on 
November 26, 2010 (FR Doc. 2010-29772, page 72784-72785).

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SUMMARY: The Helena National Forest (HNF) is submitting a corrected 
Notice of Intent (NOI) in regard to the Blackfoot Travel Plan 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that is being prepared. This NOI 
includes the correction of the previous Blackfoot Travel Plan NOI and 
includes a new alternative, alternative 3 and a potential programmatic 
plan amendment to the Helena National Forest Plan regarding the 
standard for elk hiding cover/open road density index. The plan 
amendment would be signed as a separate decision to the Blackfoot 
Travel Plan EIS. The proposed programmatic plan amendment would 
establish a new standard for elk security for the herd units located 
within the project area. As a result, HNF Forest Plan Standard 4a would 
be amended as it relates to the Blackfoot travel planning area. This 
programmatic plan amendment was not explicitly stated in the previous 
two Federal Register notices. All other aspects of the proposal are the 
same as those described in the previous Federal Register notices. The 
Helena National Forest is preparing an EIS to analyze the effects of 
proposed changes to existing motorized public access routes and 
prohibitions within the Blackfoot travel planning area. Consistent with 
Forest Service travel planning regulations, the resulting available 
public motorized access routes and areas would be designated on a Motor 
Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). Upon publishing the MVUM, public use of a motor 
vehicle other than in accordance with those designations would be 
prohibited.

DATES: The Draft EIS is currently being prepared and will consider 
public scoping comments that have been received to date; all previous 
comments on this project will be retained and considered. The Draft EIS 
will include more details regarding the programmatic plan amendment and 
alternative 3 and will be available for public comment and review in 
January of 2013, with a Final EIS expected in July of 2013. At this 
time, there is no formal notice and comment period that will provide 
the commenter appeal rights, but comments specific to this new 
information are welcome and will be fully considered.

ADDRESSES: Comments can be sent to the Helena National Forest Lincoln 
Ranger District, 1569 Hwy 200 Lincoln, MT 59639. Comments may also be 
sent via email to comments-northern-helena-lincoln@fs.fed.us, or via 
facsimile to 406-362-4253. Please indicate the name ``Blackfoot Travel 
Plan'' in the subject line of your email. It is important that 
reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such a way that 
they are useful to the Agency's preparation of the EIS. Therefore, 
comments 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 become 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Kamps, Lincoln District Ranger, 
1569 Hwy 200, Lincoln, MT 59639, (406) 362-7002 or at the Helena 
National Forest Web page at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=30899. 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:
    Purpose and Need for Action: The overall objective of this proposal 
is to provide a manageable system of designated public motorized access 
routes and areas within the Blackfoot Travel area, consistent with and 
to achieve the purposes of Forest Service travel management regulations 
at 36 CFR part 212 Subpart B. The existing system of available public 
motor vehicle routes and areas in the Blackfoot Travel area is the 
culmination of multiple agency decisions over recent decades. Public 
motor vehicle use of the majority of this available system continues to 
be manageable and consistent with the current travel management 
regulation. Exceptions have been identified, based on public input and 
the criteria listed at 36 CFR 212.55, and in these cases changes are 
proposed to meet the overall objectives. The decisions will ensure 
compliance with the Forest Plan and Interagency requirements for 
grizzly bear security and habitat within the recovery zone.
    Proposed Action (Alternative 2): The Helena National Forest 
proposes the following changes to the existing motorized public access 
routes and prohibitions within the Blackfoot travel planning area. 
Consistent with the travel planning regulations at 36 CFR part 212 
subpart B, the resulting available public motorized access routes and 
areas would be designated on a Motor Vehicle Use Map and the 
prohibition at 36 CFR 261.13 would take effect. 36 CFR 261.13 would 
prohibit public use of a motor vehicle other than in accordance with 
those designations.
    The proposed action would:


[[Page 61571]]


 Change 1.8 miles of currently closed yearlong routes or user-
created routes to open with seasonal restrictions
 Change 5.1 miles of seasonally restricted routes to having a 
different seasonal restriction
 Change 6.7 miles of currently closed yearlong or user-created 
routes to being open yearlong
 Change 9.4 miles of seasonally restricted routes to become 
open yearlong
 Put 82.1 miles of currently open routes into storage (where 
routes are self-maintaining in non-use status for up to 20 years by re-
contouring access points, and removing culverts)
 Change 2.5 miles of open seasonally or open yearlong routes to 
closed yearlong
 Close 7.9 miles (estimated) of user-created routes
 Create 41.4 miles of new motorized trails from currently 
seasonally restricted, open yearlong, user-created, and previously 
decommissioned routes
 Create 1.5 miles of single-track motorized trail from 
currently double-track motorized trail
 Construct 1.6 miles of new road
 Place 65.5 miles of currently closed routes into storage
 Obliterate 8.1 miles of closed yearlong, open yearlong, or 
user-created routes
 Create 5.5 miles of non-motorized trails from currently closed 
or user-created routes
 Create 1.5 miles of non-motorized trails from currently open 
or seasonally restricted routes
 Create 13.7 miles of non-motorized trails from currently 
single or double-track motorized routes
 Create 33 miles of mountain bike trails on National Forest 
(may also include non-motorized or motorized uses)
    Alternative 3: This alternative is being developed in response to 
the 2010 scoping process in conjunction with continued collaboration 
with individuals, groups and organizations. It takes into account input 
regarding water quality and fish habitat, wildlife security and 
wildlife habitat improvements, and enhanced non-motorized recreation 
opportunities while still providing for a motorized recreational 
experience both on and off the trail.
    Forest Plan Consistency: Preliminary analysis indicates this 
proposal may require a programmatic amendment to the HNF Plan for the 
project area regarding the standard for the hiding cover/open road 
density index. The proposed programmatic plan amendment would establish 
a new standard for elk security for those herd units within the project 
area. As a result, the Forest Plan standard would be amended 
specifically at this time and place as it relates to the Blackfoot 
travel planning Area. A separate decision would be signed for this 
programmatic plan amendment.
    Responsible Official: The Responsible Official is Kevin T. Riordan, 
Helena National Forest Supervisor.
    Nature of the Decision to Be Made: The responsible official will 
decide whether to implement the proposed action, no action, other 
alternatives, or any combination of the analyzed alternative components 
considered under analysis. He will consider the comments, disclosures 
of environmental consequences, and applicable laws, regulations, and 
policies in making the decision and stating the rationale in the Record 
of Decision (ROD). Since this proposed travel plan includes the 
implementation plan, upon completion, the plan would be implemented as 
per the ROD.
    Possible Permit/License Requirements: Any project activity that 
involves placement of fill in a jurisdictional body of water would 
require a Clean Water Act section 404 permit (US Army Corps of 
Engineers issuing agency) and a related Montana Stream Protection Act 
124 permit (Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks issuing agency). Any 
construction of new road/trail could potentially require a National 
pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit, depending on the 
area of disturbance and proximity to a water body (Department of 
Environmental Quality issuing agency).
    Scoping Process: This revised NOI guides the development of the EIS 
and Programmatic Forest Plan Amendment. Public comments received to 
date were taken into consideration in developing the above 
alternatives. These comments do not need to be resubmitted; the HNF 
requests that only new or additional comments be submitted if desired, 
specific to this new information. Public meetings will be held when the 
Draft EIS is released.

    Dated: October 1, 2012.
Kevin T. Riordan,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2012-24880 Filed 10-9-12; 8:45 am]
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