[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 42 (Monday, March 4, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 14072-14073]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04887]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Trestle Forest Health Project, Eldorado National Forest, El 
Dorado County, CA

AGENCY: USDA Forest Service.

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

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SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service, Eldorado National Forest will prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposal to modify 
vegetation on approximately 7,000 acres of National Forest System land. 
The purpose of the project is to modify the forest vegetation in order 
to put it on a trajectory toward the desired conditions for: (1) 
Reduced tree density; (2) sustained old forest conditions; (3) enhanced 
wildlife habitat; (4) reduced wildfire risk; (5) improved long-term 
scenic sustainability; (6) increased recreational opportunities; (7) 
enhanced riparian conservation areas; and, (8) maximized revenue 
derived from commercial products to perform essential and costly 
biomass removal, and to support the retention of local industrial 
infrastructure. The project area is located south-east of the community 
of Grizzly Flat, including the area surrounding Leoni Meadows, west of 
Caldor, and north of Big Mountain. The project is located entirely in 
El Dorado County, California in T.8N., R.13 E., in all or portions of 
Sections 1 and 2; T.8N., R.14 E., in all or portions of Sections 4-6; 
T.9N., R.13E., in portions of Section 1-3, 11-16, 19-30, 33-36; T.9N., 
R.14E., in all or portions of Sections 5-10, 14-22, 28-33; and T.10 N, 
R.13E., in all or portions of Sections 35 and 36; M.D.B & M.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis should be received 
by April 8, 2013.
    The draft environmental impact statement is expected November 2013 
and the final environmental impact statement is expected May 2014.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Placerville Ranger District, 4260 
Eight Mile Road, Camino, CA 95709. Attention: Trestle Forest Health 
Project. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificsouthwest-eldorado-placerville@fs.fed.us, or via facsimile to 
(530) 647-5311.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Howard, Project Leader, 
Placerville Ranger District, 4260 Eight Mile Road, Camino, California 
95709, or telephone at (530) 647-5382. 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 purpose and need is to: (1) Improve the forest health across 
the project area; (2) reduce the fuel loading to reduce the threat of 
large high intensity wildfire and threats to Grizzly Flat, Leoni 
Meadows, and other landowners; (3) maintain and enhance the existing 
hardwood and late seral conifer component; (4) maintain and enhance 
scenic integrity and recreation opportunities; (5) treat hazardous 
fuels in a cost-effective manner to optimize treatment acres under a 
limited budget while fulfilling the role the Forest Service has in 
providing a wood supply for local manufacturers; (6) provide a 
maintainable level of forest access while closing unneeded roads and 
motorized trails to enhance wildlife habitat and reduce wildlife 
harassment; (7) enhance and maintain strategically placed area fuels 
treatments designed to slow the spread of wildfire; (8) enhance 
watershed conditions; (9) remove impediments to deer/wildlife movement; 
and, (10) improve winter range for the Grizzly Flat deer herd through 
reducing disturbance, improving forage to enhance winter survival, 
particularly that of pregnant does and fawns, providing thermal and 
security cover and utilizing updated deer management plan guidance.

Proposed Action

    Conduct prescribed understory burning on approximately 15,287 
acres. Activities would include construction of firelines by hand or 
tractor, and hand cutting ladder fuels around large old growth 
conifers, and oak trees.
    Hand cut understory vegetation, pile and burn the piles on 
approximately 1,196 acres within 300 feet of private property 
boundaries in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) defense zones and 
within the threat and defense zones of the Steely Fork Cosumnes River 
drainage south of the community of Grizzly Flat. Hand treatments would 
still occur if mechanical treatment units are dropped from 
implementation.
    Conduct danger tree removal adjacent to system roads and motorized 
trails open to the public, including landings, dispersed camping areas, 
and within treatment units, for public, woods workers, and Forest 
Service employee safety. Dead and unstable live trees that do not 
present a hazard would be retained.
    Remove competing conifers from the understory and within 30 feet of 
the

[[Page 14073]]

perimeter of existing oak trees and/or groups of oaks.
    Close approximately 53 miles of system roads and 4 miles of 
motorized trails previously determined to not be open to the public 
motorized use with barricades or gates. These roads would continue to 
be used for FS administrative traffic for follow-up prescribed burning 
and other activities.
    Decommission approximately 5 miles of non-system roads and trails 
previously determined to not be open to public motorized use by 
obliterating, ripping, or hiding with woody debris.
    Use a combination of ground based and skyline logging systems to 
conduct commercial thinning on approximately 4,653 acres (274 acres of 
skyline and 4,124 acres of ground based in natural stands, and 274 
acres ground based in plantations). Ground-based mechanized equipment 
(low-impact feller-buncher, hand felling, and whole tree yarding with 
conventional skidding equipment) would be restricted to slopes 
generally less than 40%.
    Where necessary during initial harvest, small trees and brush would 
be mechanically thinned to facilitate sawtimber and biomass removal. 
Skyline logging systems would be restricted to slopes generally over 
40%.
    Conduct pre-commercial thinning and mastication of competing brush 
on 184 acres of conifer plantations, of which, 19 acres are located in 
California spotted owl Protected Activity Centers (PACs) and 164 acres 
located outside of PACs.
    Reconstruct approximately 73 miles of system roads and maintain 
approximately 30 miles of system roads. Reconstruction activities would 
involve the repair or replacement of inadequate drainage culverts, 
elimination of ruts, ditch repair, installation of waterbars and dips 
with inadequate water runoff control, gate installation to control 
seasonal use or replacement of existing non-functional gates or 
barricades, and removal of brush and small trees encroaching on roads.
    Perform follow-up machine piling, and cutting small trees and brush 
with pile burning on approximately 2,000 acres in natural stands to 
reduce ground fuels and ladder fuels. Machine piling would occur only 
on slopes less than 40%. Piling locations would be determined after 
harvest activities are complete.
    Reuse about 3 miles of existing temporary roads. After the 
temporary roads have served their use, they would be barricaded, 
obliterated and ripped to alleviate soil compaction, restore 
infiltration, and discourage unauthorized motor vehicle use.
    Approximately 70 existing landings and any new landings constructed 
in this project would be ripped to minimize erosion problems, restore 
infiltration, and discourage unauthorized motor vehicle use.
    Remove approximately 26 miles of barbed wire fencing, primarily 
from the vacant Caldor and Steely Creek Range Allotments. Materials 
that could be salvaged would be incorporated into future projects on 
the Forest and the remainder would be recycled.
    Boulders would be placed to protect the Pleasant Valley Mariposa 
lily occurrence along Big Mountain Road from vehicle traffic.
    Rehabilitate several dispersed camping areas and associated spur 
roads adjacent to Dogtown Creek and the Steely Fork Consumnes River. 
Activities would include, but not limited to, one or more of the 
following: Placement of boulders to define the foot print of the 
camping areas and close unnecessary spur roads; ripping of compacted 
areas and spur roads; construction of waterbars and/or other runoff 
control structures; placement of organic material on the ground surface 
of denuded areas, and planting of native vegetation.

Responsible Official

    Forest Supervisor, Eldorado National Forest.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The decision to be made is whether to adopt and implement the 
proposed action, an alternative to the proposed action, or take no 
action to improve forest health.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. To facilitate 
public participation, information about the proposed action will be 
mailed to all who express interest in the proposed action. 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.

    Dated: February 25, 2013.
Kathryn D. Hardy,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2013-04887 Filed 3-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P