[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 152 (Thursday, August 7, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46246-46248]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-18669]


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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

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Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 152 / Thursday, August 7, 2014 / 
Notices

[[Page 46246]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California: Red Fir Restoration 
Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The Shasta-Trinity National Forest proposes to treat diseased 
stands of Shasta red fir (Abies magnifica var. shastensis) and mixed 
conifer to reduce disease occurrence and fuels accumulations on 
approximately 1,400 acres. Vegetative treatments include regeneration 
with legacy tree retention, thin from above, sanitation/improvement 
cutting, plantation/pre-commercial thinning, and a roadside fuels 
buffer. Removed trees would primarily be those infected with disease 
(dwarf mistletoe and Cytospora canker) as well as those contributing to 
overcrowded stand conditions. Young seedlings would be planted in 
openings created by removal of the diseased overstory. Fuels would be 
reduced to less hazardous levels in all treated stands. The proposed 
project area includes 29 miles of National Forest System Roads, which 
would be maintained and/or reconstructed in order to meet National 
Forest System Road standards. The project area is in Township 1, 2 and 
3 North, and Range 5 and 6 East, Humboldt Meridian, located in Trinity 
and Humboldt Counties, approximately six miles west of Hyampom, 
California.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
within 45 days of this publication in the Federal Register. The draft 
environmental impact statement is expected March 2015 and the final 
environmental impact statement is expected June 2015.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Red Fir Restoration Project, Attn: 
Keli McElroy, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 3644 Avtech Parkway, 
Redding, CA 96002. Comments may also be sent via email to comments-pacificsouthwest-shasta-trinity-yollabolla-hayfork@fs.fed.us.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keli McElroy by phone (530) 226-2354, 
or by email kmcelroy@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

    Land management has been proposed in order to sustain the presence 
of red fir consistent with historic conditions while improving forest 
health and fire resiliency on the South Fork Mountain ridge top. 
Specifically, there are 3 parts to the purpose and need:
     Forest Health: Preserve the diversity of tree species on 
South Fork Mountain ridge top by maintaining red fir populations and 
improving the overall health of residual stands.
     Fuels Reduction: Reduce fuel loading along the ridge top 
in order to protect habitat and watershed resources, reduce threat of 
wildfire in the wildland urban interface (WUI), as well as reduce the 
risk of loss of heritage sites.
     Socioeconomics: Support local communities and contribute 
raw materials toward the existing forest products infrastructure.
    The existing condition of the proposed project area consists of 
Shasta red fir infected with dwarf mistletoe and Cytospora canker. In 
some areas 100 percent of existing red fir are exhibiting signs of 
severe infection. The overstory is inoculating understory with disease, 
and growth is stunted due to parasitic and fungal infections, resulting 
in accelerated mortality. In addition, some natural stands and 
plantations in the proposed project area are overstocked, causing the 
trees to compete for resources, be more susceptible to disease and 
mortality, and further contribute to fuel loading.
    The accelerated mortality and past management practices have 
contributed to heavy fuel loading in some parts of the project area, 
resulting in moderate to high fire hazard. The project area is within a 
National Register of Historic Places eligible Historic District, and 
high intensity fire could damage these sites. In addition, the project 
area has high recreational value for hunters, hikers and motorized 
users due to the ridgetop views and unique forest character. The 
Trinity County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (2010) also 
identifies much of the project area as a Wildland Urban Interface due 
to its proximity to private land and value as a point of ingress/
egress, with fuels reduction along South Fork Mountain Road as a 
priority.
    With over seventy percent of the county's land base in public 
ownership and low quantities of timber sold over the last decade, the 
local forest products industry that contributes to the overall health 
of the Trinity County economic infrastructure is underutilized. Sale 
and removal of timber products within the project area would meet 
forest health and fuels objectives, and would contribute to the local 
forest products infrastructure.
    The desired conditions for the proposed project area consist of 
ridgetop stands with structural and species diversity that create a 
resilience to disturbance. This may be accomplished through reduced 
sources of dwarf mistletoe infection, reduced concentrations of surface 
fuels, maintenance of the condition of historic sites and active use of 
existing local forest products infrastructure. In some areas, reducing 
the sources of infections (i.e. heavily diseased overstory) would allow 
the current young trees to respond to release and outgrow the disease. 
Areas that are heavily diseased and currently do not have a cohort of 
young trees capable of outgrowing the infection, would be planted to 
native conifer species. Natural regeneration of red fir would also 
occur in the openings created by removing diseased trees. Structural 
diversity would be maintained through the retention of older trees that 
constitute biological legacies (not including diseased red fir), 
especially where they exist in clumps exhibiting old growth 
characteristics. In addition, thinning the currently overcrowded and 
diseased mixed conifer stands would allow more resources to be 
available to individual trees thereby improving overall forest stand 
health and resilience.
    Concentrations of surface fuels would be at a level where stands 
are more

[[Page 46247]]

resilient to wildfire and where the intensity of fire in those stands 
would cause less damage to habitat, watershed and heritage resources. 
Merchantable timber and biomass/forest products removed to achieve 
forest health and fuels objectives would provide support to local 
economies and provide local employment opportunities.
    The South Fork Mountain ridge top includes some of the most 
substantial concentrations of disease and resultant mortality on the 
west side of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Due to continued 
deterioration of red fir trees and the integrity of the forest stands 
on South Fork Mountain, implementation should occur as soon as possible 
to prevent further damage to the young cohort of trees, reestablish 
healthy stands, and reduce fuel loads before a fire event occurs.

Proposed Action

    In response to this purpose and need, the Shasta-Trinity National 
Forest is proposing a combination of regeneration harvests and thinning 
from above (removal of infected overstory) in many of the predominantly 
red fir stands. Also sanitation with improvement cutting is proposed in 
the red fir/mixed conifer stands to reduce the sources of infection as 
well as stand densities, and promote healthier stand dynamics. 
Treatments are proposed on approximately 1,400 acres to address disease 
and mortality issues in forested stands on South Fork Mountain. 
Prescriptions vary by stand according to site specific conditions 
including: (1) The extent of disease present, (2) species composition, 
and (3) structural stage of residual stand. Vegetative treatments 
include:
     Regeneration with legacy tree retention (approximately 205 
acres): On the most infected red fir stands: Retain healthy red fir and 
non-red fir tree species within the stand, harvest/treat the remaining 
trees in the stand and reforest the site with an uninfected native 
understory.
     Thin from above (approximately 75 acres) remove mistletoe-
infected red fir trees from the overstory in stands that have an 
uninfected, vigorous population of advanced red fir regeneration; 
followed up with pre-commercial thinning of established natural 
regeneration, where appropriate.
     Sanitation/Improvement thinning (approximately 860 acres): 
Thin dense conifer stands to improve overall stand health, retaining 
the largest, healthiest trees; may be accomplished through small group 
selections in predominantly red fir stands or individual tree 
selections in mixed conifer stands.
     Plantation pre-commercial thinning (approximately 180 
acres) of young plantations: Reduce conifer densities from 400-1,800 
trees/acre to 200-300 trees/acre in order to decrease inter-tree 
competition, thereby promoting increased growth rates, crown 
development and height differentiation.
     Roadside fuels buffer (approximately 80 acres): Non-
commercial fuels reduction consisting of treatment of small trees and 
shrubs as well as down woody debris along the South Fork Mountain 
ridgetop road.
    Fuels would be reduced to less hazardous levels in all treated 
stands. Fuels treatments vary according to site conditions and may be 
accomplished using prescribed burning, biomass and/or forest products 
removal, mechanical treatments such as mastication or machine piling of 
existing and activity fuels, as well as hand or machine piling and 
burning of activity fuels only.
    Reforestation would be implemented in stands where a regeneration 
with legacy tree retention treatment would create the desired 
condition, as well as portions of stands where thinning from above and/
or sanitation would create the desired condition (in the absence of 
sufficient natural regeneration). Regeneration consists of planting 
trees indigenous to the area (red fir, Douglas-fir, sugar pine, incense 
cedar, ponderosa pine and white fir), including planting non-red fir 
species within 50 feet of residual stands containing red fir or in 
pockets to break up the continuity of red fir. By buffering residual 
red fir stands with non-host species, the spread of dwarf mistletoe 
infection will be greatly reduced. Reforestation will be completed 
within five years of final harvest.
    Due to the presence of Annosus root rot (a fungus that often 
initially infects freshly cut stumps, and can spread to neighboring 
live trees through root contact), a licensed borate compound 
(Sporax[supreg] or equivalent) may be utilized to treat all conifer 
(especially true fir) stumps to minimize the potential for increased 
infection due to management activities.
    The Red Fir Restoration project area includes 29 miles of National 
Forest System Roads. Maintenance and/or reconstruction of road segments 
used for haul routes may be accomplished in order to meet National 
Forest System Road standards, water quality standards and/or allow for 
forest product removal. Road actions may include culvert upgrades, 
widening, outsloping, grading, vegetation brushing, rocking, paving and 
drainage work. Where feasible and appropriate, existing unauthorized 
routes would be utilized as temporary roads. These routes would be 
subsequently decompacted, decommissioned and revegetated upon 
completion of implementation.
    The project is planned to begin implementation in 2016.

Responsible Official

    David R. Myers, Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor will decide whether to implement the proposed 
action, take an alternative action that meets the purpose and need or 
take no action. The decision may include project-specific, non-
significant forest plan amendments pertaining to treatment units where 
regeneration harvests are prescribed that permit (a) size of openings 
within Management Prescription III, Roaded Recreation, to average more 
than 5 acres but not exceed 40 acres, and (b) retention of less than 
15% of the largest oldest trees where the existing uninfected 
overstory, including alternate host trees, does not achieve 15%. If it 
is determined that deviation from the 15% green tree retention minimum 
standard and guideline established by the Northwest Forest Plan Record 
of Decision is necessary to meet the purpose and need, the Forest would 
seek the approval of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee. In 
addition, land allocation boundaries may be adjusted from 
Administratively Withdrawn to Matrix in the northeastern corner (45.6 
acres) of Township 2 North, Range 6 East, Section 28 to account for a 
mapping inaccuracy in the Trinity National Forest Forest Plan 
Allocations map.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. In an effort to 
provide for collaborative design of this project or alternatives, open 
public meetings will be held on Saturday, August 9, 2014 between 10:00 
a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and on Thursday, September 4, 2014 between 1:00 
p.m. and 3:00 p.m. at the Hayfork Ranger Station, with a field visit on 
Tuesday, August 19. Any additional meetings will be announced to the 
public through the Record Searchlight and Trinity Journal newspapers 
along with the project Web site. Additional information is available on 
the Shasta-Trinity National Forest NEPA Projects Web site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=32935.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in

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such a way 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 about alternative means of allocating resources 
to meet the purpose and need.
    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 respondent with standing to participate in subsequent 
administrative review or judicial review.

    Dated: July 31, 2014.
David R. Myers,
Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2014-18669 Filed 8-6-14; 8:45 am]
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