[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 231 (Friday, November 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71396-71398]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28936]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest; Nevada and California Greater 
Sage Grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment Forest Plan Amendment 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

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SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976, as amended (FLPMA), and the Resources Planning Act of 1974, as 
amended by the National Forest

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Management Act 1976 (NFMA), the Forest Service (FS) intends to prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to amend the Toiyabe National 
Forest Land and Resource Management Plan and the Carson City and Battle 
Mountain Resource Management Plans. This notice is announcing the 
beginning of the scoping process to solicit public comments and 
identify issues. The FS is the lead agency on the EIS. The Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) is participating as a cooperating agency to 
insure the NEPA can be used to adequately cover their RMP amendment. 
This analysis will be the basis of three records of decision.
    The development of this EIS will be coordinated across management 
units of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, BLM Carson City 
District, and BLM Battle Mountain District and include areas in western 
Nevada and eastern California.
    These management units include the Bridgeport Ranger District and 
Carson Ranger Districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, BLM 
Carson City and Battle Mountain Districts. These management units 
include areas identified as habitat for the Greater Sage Grouse Bi-
State Distinct Population Segment.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by January 30, 2013. The EIS is expected June, 2013 and the final EIS 
is expected September, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: James Winfrey, Humboldt-Toiyabe 
National Forest 1200 Franklin Way, Sparks, NV 89523.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information and/or to have 
your name added to our mailing list, contact James Winfrey, Humboldt-
Toiyabe National Forest, Project Manager, telephone (775) 355-5300; 
address 1200 Franklin Way, Sparks, Nevada 88431; email 
jwinfrey@fs.fed.us. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-
(800) 877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business 
hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a 
message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply 
during normal business hours.
    In all correspondence, please include your name, address, and 
organization name if you are commenting as a representative of an 
organization.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In March of 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) published a ``warranted, but precluded'' Endangered 
Species Act (ESA) listing petition decision for the Greater Sage grouse 
Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (BS DPS). Inadequacy of regulatory 
mechanisms was identified as a significant factor in the FWS finding on 
the petition to list the BS DPS. The FWS concluded that existing 
regulatory mechanism to protect sage grouse in the Bi-State area ``* * 
* afford sufficient discretion to the decision makers as to render them 
inadequate to ameliorate the threats to the Bi-State DPS''. The major 
threat in regards to actions authorized on National Forest System and 
Public Lands is habitat modification (Factor A). Habitat modification 
on Federal lands includes threats from infrastructure (fences, power 
lines, and roads), recreation, mining, energy development, grazing, 
fire, invasive species, noxious weeds, pinyon-juniper encroachment, and 
climate change.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the project is to conserve, enhance and/or restore 
sagebrush and associated habitats to provide for the long-term 
viability of the BS DPS.
    The need for action is to address the recent ``warranted, but 
precluded'' ESA decision from the FWS by addressing needed changes in 
the management and conservation of BS DPS habitats within the Humboldt-
Toiyabe National Forest, BLM Carson City District, and BLM Battle 
Mountain District to support sage grouse population management 
objectives within the States of Nevada and California.

Proposed Action

    The FS is proposing to amend the Toiyabe National Forest Land and 
Resource Management Plan (TNF LRMP) and the BLM is proposing to amend 
the Tonopah RMP and the Carson City Field Office Consolidated RMP by 
adding to or changing some of the regulatory mechanisms that would 
reduce, eliminate, or minimize threats to the BS DPS habitat on Federal 
lands administered by the FS and the BLM under those plans. A planning 
area map is provided in the scoping document (see Scoping Process).
    The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant 
issues relating to the conservation of the BS DPS and its habitat that 
will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including 
alternatives, and guide the process for developing the EIS. Based on 
issues identified in the FWS decision on the petition listing for the 
BS DPS, the proposed regulatory mechanisms would address the following 
resource areas and resource uses on lands administered by the FS and 
the BLM:

 Recreation Management
 Fire and Fuels Management
 Rangeland Management
 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Management
 Rights of Way Management
 Specials Uses
 Transportation System and Facilities Management
 Minerals Management
    [cir] Locatable
    [cir] Fluid
    [cir] Saleable
 Habitat Restoration/Vegetation Management; and
 Renewable Energy Development

    The proposed regulatory mechanisms for these resource areas and 
resource uses are identified in the scoping package (see Scoping 
Process) and are listed and organized as in the current TNF LRMP with 
the exception of Habitat Restoration/Vegetation Management and 
Renewable Energy Developments which would be new resource areas.
    The LRMP and RMP amendments will recognize valid existing rights. 
Lands addressed in the LRMP and RMP amendments will be National Forest 
System lands and Public Lands (including surface-estate split estate 
lands) managed by the FS and BLM, respectively, in habitats of the BS 
DPS. Any decisions in the LRMP and RMP amendments will apply only to 
Federal lands administered by either the FS or the BLM. The LRMP and 
RMP amendments will be limited to making land use planning decisions 
specific to the conservation of habitats of the BS DPS.
    As allowed at 36 CFR 219.17(b)(2), ``* * * with respect to plans 
approved or revised under a prior planning regulation, including the 
transition provisions of the reinstated 2000 rule (36 CFR part 219, 
published at 36 CFR parts 200 to 299, revised as of July 1, 2010), plan 
amendments may be initiated under the provisions of the prior planning 
regulation for 3 years after May 9, 2012, and may be completed and 
approved under those provisions * * *.''
    As allowed at 36 CFR 219.17(b)(2), the responsible official has 
opted to initiate and complete this proposed plan amendment consistent 
with transition provisions of the reinstated 2000 rule. Determination 
as to whether the amendment is significant or not significant will be 
based on Forest Service direction at the time of the decision. Based on 
current direction found in Forest Service Manual 1926.52,

[[Page 71398]]

the amendment is expected to be not significant.

Possible Alternatives

    Under the No Action Alternative the TNF LRMP and BLM RMPs would not 
be amended to incorporate new or change existing regulatory mechanisms. 
There are no other alternatives to the proposed action identified at 
this time.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The FS is the lead agency and the BLM is a cooperating agency. The 
Forest has also invited the Walker River Paiute and Yerington Paiute 
Tribes and the Bridgeport Indian Colony, Nevada BLM, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and Mono, Lyon, 
Douglas, Alpine, Esmeralda, and Mineral Counties to be cooperating 
Agencies. Federal, State, and local agencies, along with other 
stakeholders that may be interested or affected by the FS's or BLM's 
decision on this proposal are invited to participate in the scoping 
process and, if eligible, may request or be requested by the FS to 
participate as a cooperating agency.

Responsible Official

    For the FS the responsible official is the Forest Supervisor, 
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest 1200 Franklin Way, Spark Nevada 89431.
    For the Department of Interior, BLM the responsible officials are: 
The District Manager, Carson City District, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, 
Carson City, NV 8970, and the District Manager, Battle Mountain 
District, 50 Bastian Road, Battle Mountain, NV 89820.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the analysis conducted and represented in the EIS and 
project record the FS responsible official will decide whether to amend 
the TNF LRMP as described in the proposed action, as in one of the 
alternatives to the proposed action, or by combining elements of the 
proposed action and alternatives to create a decision that best meets 
the purpose of conserving, enhancing and/or restoring sagebrush and 
associated habitats to provide for the long-term viability of the BS 
DPS and the need to improve the FS regulatory mechanisms. The FS 
decision does not include a decision about the BLM RMPs. The BLM will 
make its own decisions based on the EIS.

Scoping Process

    Scoping begins upon publication of this notice in the Federal 
Register and ends January 30, 2013. The scoping document is posted on 
the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest public Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/htnf/landmanagement/projects. During the 
scoping period the Forest will solicit comments from interested parties 
and the public. 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 FS with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent 
environmental documents. This proposal has been listed on the Humboldt-
Toiyabe National Forest Schedule of Proposed Actions since November 
2012.

Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent 
Environmental Review

    As required under 36 CFR 219.17(b)(2), this proposed plan amendment 
is subject to the pre-decisional administrative review process 
(``objection procedure'') set forth in 36 CFR 219 Subpart B. Only those 
individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments 
related to the proposed plan amendment during opportunities for public 
comment may file an objection. Objections must be based on previously 
submitted substantive formal comments attributed to the objector, 
unless the objection concerns an issue that arises after the 
opportunities for formal comment (36 CFR 219.53). Comments are 
considered substantive when they are within the scope of the proposal, 
are specific to the proposal, have a direct relationship to the 
proposal, and include supporting reasons for the responsible official 
to consider (36 CFR 219.62). Formal comments received from an 
authorized representative(s) of an entity are considered those of the 
entity only. A member of an individual must submit substantive formal 
comments independently to be eligible to file an objection in an 
individual capacity (36 CFR 219.53(b)).
    Substantive formal comments must be written comments submitted to, 
or oral comments recorded by, the reponsible official or his designee 
during an opportunity for public participation and attributed to the 
individual or entity providing them (36 CFR 219.62). For this proposal, 
the opportunities for public participation are the 45 day scoping 
comment period announced by this Notice of Intent and the 90 day 
comment period that begins when the Environmental Protection Agency 
publishes the Notice of Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal 
Register.

    Dated: November 20, 2012.
William A. Dunkelberger,
Forest Supervisor, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2012-28936 Filed 11-29-12; 8:45 am]
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