[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 174 (Monday, September 9, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55055-55056]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21806]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana; Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National 
Forest Land and Resource Management Plan To Comply With a District of 
Montana Court Order (Temporary Roads)

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact 
statement.

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SUMMARY: The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest will prepare a 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the 2009 
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 
(Forest Plan) environmental analysis in response to a May 24, 2013 
Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The 
Court directed the Forest Service to ``. . . supplement its EIS for the 
Forest Plan to explain or support, if possible, its decision to exclude 
temporary roads from the road density objectives . . . .'' The 
supplement will address the Forest Plan Goal for Wildlife Security and 
density of roads and trails open to motorized use displayed in Tables 
13 and 14 on pages 45-47 of the Forest Plan.

DATES: Scoping is not required for supplements to environmental impact 
statements (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(4)). Review and comments will be solicited 
once the Draft SEIS is filed with EPA. The Draft SEIS is expected in 
February, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The line officer responsible for the decision is the 
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Supervisor, 420 Barrett Street, 
Dillon, MT 59725.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jan Bowey at 406-842-5432 or email 
jbowey@fs.fed.us. 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 Forest Plan provides management direction for activities on the 
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for the next 10 to 15 years, 
including direction on eight revision topics (vegetation, wildlife, 
aquatic resources, recreation and travel management, fire management, 
livestock grazing, timber and recommended wilderness). In 2012, Native 
Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a complaint 
in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (case 9:12-cv-00027-
DLC) alleging the Forest Plan failed to ensure elk viability because 
the Forest Service did not disclose and consider the best available 
science in its analysis of road density. In a May 24, 2013 Order, the 
U.S. District Court for the District of Montana found the Forest 
Service ``. . . complied with the general requirements of the 1982 
viability regulation for elk and adequately disclosed the science upon 
which it relied to determine appropriate road density levels for areas 
with different management goals. . . . However, the Forest Service did 
not explain or support its decision to exclude temporary roads from the 
road density objectives.'' Therefore, there is a need to evaluate the 
effects of temporary roads to comply with the court's order.

Proposed Action

    We are uncertain if there is a need to change management direction 
in the Forest Plan. A determination will be made based upon the 
analysis of the effects of temporary road construction and use. The 
Draft SEIS may or may not propose an amendment to the Forest Plan.
    We expect to have a Draft SEIS available for public review and 
comment in February, 2014. The comment period for the Draft SEIS will 
be 90 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes 
the notice of availability in the Federal Register. We believe, at this 
early stage, it is important to give reviewers notice of several court 
rulings related to public participation in the environmental review 
process. First, reviewers of draft environmental impact statements must 
structure their participation in the environmental review of the 
proposal so that it is meaningful and alerts an agency to the 
reviewer's position and contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. 
v.

[[Page 55056]]

NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that 
could have been raised at the draft environmental impact statement 
stage but are not raised until after completion of the final 
environmental impact statement may be waived or dismissed by the 
courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d 1016, 1022 (9th Circ. 1986) 
and Wisconsin Heritages, Inc. v. Harris, 490 F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D. 
Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings, it is very important that 
those interested in this analysis participate by the close of the 90-
day comment period so substantive comments and objections are made 
available to the Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully 
consider and respond to them in the Final SEIS.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the SEIS, the Forest Supervisor will determine whether or 
not additional management direction will be incorporated into the 
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

    Dated: August 29, 2013.
Timothy Garcia,
Acting Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2013-21806 Filed 9-6-13; 8:45 am]
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