[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 79 (Wednesday, April 26, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19197-19198]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-08406]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Palouse Ranger District; 
Idaho; Little Boulder Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: The Little Boulder project was released for public scoping in 
November 2014. The anticipated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
analysis level at that time was an environmental assessment. Upon 
further environmental impact analysis, the responsible official decided 
to proceed with an environmental impact statement (EIS) to analyze and 
disclose any significant effects which may result from the proposed 
action. Those who submitted comments in response to the initial scoping 
request within the allotted timeframe already have standing to object. 
To establish standing to object, comments may still be submitted in 
response to this notice no later than 30 days from May 26, 2017 OR by 
providing comments during the 45-day comment period following 
distribution of the draft EIS.

DATES: The draft environmental impact statement is expected September 
2017 and the final environmental impact statement is expected March 
2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephanie Israel, NEPA Planner (North 
Zone), Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, (208) 476-8344 or 
[email protected].
    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 of the Little Boulder project is to create conditions 
that are more resilient to disturbance by restoring white pine and 
other seral tree species and to initiate recovery of watershed 
function. Currently, grand fir and Douglas-fir tree species dominate 
the landscape within the proposed project area. The current species 
composition is creating intense competition for nutrients and ladder 
fuels in the drier, fire-dependent ecosystems. If left untreated, these 
conditions would lead to a decline in forest health and put future 
ecological, societal, and economical values at risk.
    There is a need to initiate recovery of watershed function with 
management actions aimed at reducing long-term

[[Page 19198]]

sedimentation to streams and improving soil productivity. Nearly all of 
the fish-bearing streams in the Little Boulder project area are 
critical habitat for steelhead. A combination of various past 
management activities have resulted in channels with excess sediment, 
areas of bank instability, and decreased fisheries habitat. The 
proposed activities in the Little Boulder project would aim to improve 
future watershed conditions.

Proposed Action

    The original proposed action identified has been modified based on 
additional field review, resource concerns, and scoping comments. 
Information about the original proposed action can be found on the 
project Web site at http://prdp2fs.ess.udsa.gov/project/?project=45225. 
The current proposal, also identified as Alternative 2, would harvest 
timber from approximately 2,680 acres. Non-commercial fuels reduction 
treatments would occur on approximately 1,180 acres. Proposed 
activities would require construction of 5.2 miles of new roads, 9 
miles of reconstruction, and 14.9 miles of road re-conditioning. 10.2 
miles of temporary roads would be decommissioned after harvest.
    Watershed improvements would include: Placing existing roads needed 
for future management into intermittent storage; improving channel and 
riparian function through woody debris and vegetation treatments; 
replacing undersized or deteriorated culverts; replacing existing Ruby 
Creek ford with a bridge or other aquatic organism passage structure; 
and decompacting existing skid trails and landings.

Possible Alternatives

    Three alternatives are being developed in addition to the proposed 
action (Alternative 2) for the Little Boulder project: Alternative 1--
No-action; Alternative 2--Proposed Action (preferred); Alternative 3--
Existing Roads; Alternative 4-Openings Less Than 40 Acres in Size.

Responsible Official

    Forest Supervisor, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Responsible Official will determine whether to adopt the 
proposed action or another alternative, in whole or in part, and what 
mitigation measurements and management requirements will be 
implemented.

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Comments 
submitted in a timely and appropriate response to the previous 
notification to prepare an environmental assessment were reviewed, 
considered, and already established standing to object.
    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 procide 
the Agecny with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent 
environmental documents.

    Dated: April 13, 2017.
Glenn P. Casamassa,
Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2017-08406 Filed 4-25-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P