[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 61 (Friday, March 31, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 16022-16024]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-06391]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Shoshone National Forest; Wyoming; Shoshone National Forest Land 
Management Plan

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The Rocky Mountain Regional Forester intends to prepare a 
Supplement to the Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the 
Shoshone National Forest Revised Land Management Plan. This notice 
briefly describes the background, purpose and need for action, what is 
being proposed, and the nature of the decision to be made. Also, the 
direction restricting pack goat use contained in the May 6, 2015 
Revised Forest Plan is hereby retracted along with any references to 
the 2009 Payette RADT and the 2012 and 2013 Shoshone RADTs.

DATES: The draft SEIS is expected in April 2017 and the final SEIS is 
expected in August 2017.

ADDRESSES: For further information, mail correspondence to Casey 
McQuiston, Resources Staff Officer, Shoshone National Forest, 808 
Meadow Lane Ave., Cody, WY 82414. Or email [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Casey McQuiston, Resources Staff 
Officer, Shoshone National Forest, 808 Meadow Lane Ave., Cody, WY 
82414. (307) 578-5134 or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 6, 2015, the Rocky Mountain Regional 
Forester signed the Record of Decision (ROD) revising the Shoshone 
National Forest Land Management Plan (LMP).
    The May 6, 2015 Revised LMP included standards and guidelines 
restricting the use of recreational pack goats, and domestic sheep and 
goat grazing, where it was determined that there was unacceptable risk 
of disease transmission from the pack goats or domestic sheep to 
bighorn sheep. Bighorn sheep are a sensitive species on the Shoshone 
National Forest.
    In June 2015, the North American Packgoat Association joined the 
Idaho Wool Growers Association and filed a Motion for Contempt with the 
U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The plaintiffs alleged 
that the Forest Service improperly relied on a report that the Court 
had previously found to be in violation of the Federal Advisory 
Committee Act (FACA) when the Shoshone National Forest prepared its 
2012 and 2013 Risk Assessment of Disease Transmission (RADT) reports, 
which the Shoshone relied upon for the bighorn sheep analysis in the 
forest plan revision effort. The Idaho District Court's 2009 decision 
prohibited the Forest Service from relying on the findings and 
conclusions of two Payette reports that pertained to disease 
transmission between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep on the Payette 
National Forest.
    In February 2016, the District Court granted plaintiff's motion for 
contempt finding that the Shoshone RADT reports had relied on the 
findings and conclusions in the Payette reports. On July 9, 2016, the 
parties agreed to a stipulated settlement.

[[Page 16023]]

    In accordance with the July 2016 Stipulated Settlement Agreement, 
the direction restricting pack goat use contained in the May 6, 2015 
Revised Forest Plan is hereby retracted along with any references to 
the 2009 Payette RADT and the 2012 and 2013 Shoshone RADT reports.
    The Regional Forester must now consider whether the revised Forest 
Plan should include direction regarding management of domestic sheep 
and goats to limit the potential for disease transmission to bighorn 
sheep, and, if so, whether there are differences in the potential for 
disease transmission from domestic sheep, domestic goats, or packgoats, 
to wild bighorn sheep that warrant different management approaches.
    The Regional Forester will prepare a Supplement to the 
Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and a new RADT report consistent 
with the National Environmental Policy Act and all applicable laws and 
regulations pertinent to the revision of the Shoshone LMP. The SEIS 
will document analysis of the potential for disease transmission 
between domestic sheep, domestic goats, and packgoats; and wild bighorn 
sheep on the Shoshone National Forest. The analysis shall consider 
whether there are differences in the potential for disease transmission 
by domestic sheep, domestic goats, and packgoats to wild bighorn sheep.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the federal action being considered here is to 
determine what, if any, use by domestic sheep, domestic goats, or pack 
goats is appropriate within the Shoshone National Forest and what 
direction, if any, should be included in the revised LMP. The need for 
this action was driven by the 2016 Stipulated Settlement Agreement and 
will be accomplished by analyzing the risk of disease transmission from 
domestic sheep and goats and pack goats to bighorn sheep.

Proposed Action

    The Shoshone National Forest proposes to limit areas where domestic 
sheep allotments are stocked and restrict the use of domestic goats and 
packgoats on the Shoshone National Forest in order to reduce the risk 
of disease transmission to bighorn sheep. These restrictions would be 
incorporated into the LMP through the following plan components:
    Desired Condition--Low risk of disease transmission from domestic 
sheep and/or goats within the Shoshone national Forest.
    SENS-Goal-03--Maintain low risk of disease transmission from 
domestic sheep and domestic goats to wild bighorn sheep within core 
bighorn sheep ranges.
    SENS-Standard-05--Domestic sheep and goat allotments shall not 
overlap with core native bighorn sheep ranges.
    SENS-Standard-06--Do not allow recreational pack goat use in core 
native bighorn sheep ranges.
    SENS-Guideline-03--On bighorn sheep crucial winter range, 
management activities that disturb bighorn sheep should be conducted 
outside the season of use (December 1 through April 30), or designed to 
reduce disturbance to bighorn sheep when the activity is necessary to 
sustain or improve bighorn sheep crucial winter range conditions.
    SENS-Guideline-06--Restrict disturbances near concentrated bighorn 
sheep lambing areas between April 1 and June 30 with a minimum distance 
of 1 mile from the lambing site. Short-term projects designed to 
improve bighorn sheep habitat such as prescribed burning may be exempt.
    SENS-Guideline-12--Outfitter and guide authorizations for 
recreational goat packing in core bighorn sheep ranges will not be 
issued.
    Management Approach--A wildlife program emphasis for bighorn sheep 
is to reduce the risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep and 
goats to bighorn sheep. There is a concern about the risk of disease 
transmission to bighorn sheep from domestic goats used for packing. To 
minimize that risk, guidelines are applied for domestic pack goats 
within the Shoshone National Forest; domestic sheep and goat grazing 
has been removed from core native bighorn sheep ranges. Authorizations 
for pack goat use in core bighorn sheep ranges will not be issued.

Possible Alternatives

    Alternative 1, No Action: There would be no change in domestic 
sheep management and packgoat use would be allowed on the Shoshone 
National Forest.
    Alternative 2, Proposed Action: Domestic sheep and domestic goat 
grazing would be allowed on the current allotment allocated for sheep 
and goats. Packgoat use would be prohibited from core native bighorn 
sheep ranges.
    Alternative 3: Domestic sheep and domestic goat grazing would be 
allowed on the current allotment allocated for sheep and goats. 
Packgoat use would be prohibited from core native bighorn sheep ranges 
and approved through a permit process once a scientifically proven and 
viable mitigation is developed and approved.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    Cooperating Agency: Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Responsible Official

    Brian Ferebee, Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region, 740 Simms 
Street, Golden, Colorado 80491.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based upon the effects of the alternatives, the responsible 
official will decide how to address the potential risk of disease 
transmission from domestic sheep and goats, and packgoats to bighorn 
sheep.

Scoping Process

    The Regional Forester will rely on the previous scoping efforts 
conducted in preparation for the Environmental Impact Statement for the 
Shoshone National Forest Plan Revision.

Preliminary Issues

    There is potential for disease transmission from domestic sheep, 
domestic goats, and pack goats, to wild bighorn sheep.
    There are differences in the potential for disease transmission by 
domestic sheep, domestic goats or pack goats to bighorn sheep.
    There are minimal options for reducing potential for contact and 
disease transmission.
    Contact between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep, domestic goats, 
and pack goats increases the risk of disease transmission to bighorn 
sheep.
    Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent 
Environmental Review: A draft supplemental environmental impact 
statement will be prepared for comment. The comment period on the draft 
environmental impact statement will be 90 days from the date the 
Environmental Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability in 
the Federal Register.
    The Forest Service believes, 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. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 
553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be

[[Page 16024]]

raised at the draft environmental impact statement stage but that 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 Cir. 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 
proposed action participate by the close of the 90-day comment period 
so that substantive comments and objections are made available to the 
Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider them and 
respond to them in the final environmental impact statement.
    To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues 
and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft 
environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is 
also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the 
draft statement. Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft 
environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternatives 
formulated and discussed in the statement. Reviewers may wish to refer 
to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing 
the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act at 
40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.
    Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who 
comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal 
and will be available for public inspection.

(Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; Forest Service Handbook 
1909.15, Section 21)

    Dated: March 24, 2017.
Glenn P. Casamassa,
Associate Deptuy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2017-06391 Filed 3-30-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P