[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 80 (Thursday, April 27, 2017)]
[Pages 19350-19351]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-08496]

                                                Federal Register

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or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
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Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 80 / Thursday, April 27, 2017 / 

[[Page 19350]]


Forest Service

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Palouse Ranger District; 
Idaho; Moose Creek Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 
and initiate scoping process; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Palouse Ranger District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater 
National Forests (NCF) is gathering information to prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) to identify and assess potential 
impacts on the environment as a result of the Moose Creek Project in 
Latah County, Idaho. The proposed action would use timber harvest and 
fuels treatment in the West Fork Potlatch River subwatershed in an 
overarching effort to improve forest health, reduce the risk of 
potential catastrophic wildfires, and provide for long-term social, 
ecological, and economic sustainability.

DATES: The scoping comment period will be 30 days. To ensure 
consideration, comments must be received no later than May 30, 2017. 
The draft environmental impact statement is expected October 2017 and 
the final environmental impact statement is expected May 2018. Those 
who wish to establish standing to object under 36 CFR part 218 should 
submit scoping comments no later than 30 days after publication of this 
Notice of Intent or during 45-day comment period following distribution 
of the Draft EIS.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted at the addresses indicated below.
    (a) Via mail or hand delivery: Stephanie Israel, Moose Creek IDT 
Leader, Palouse Ranger District, 1700 Highway 6, Potlatch, Idaho 83855.
    (b) Via email: [email protected].

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: This process is being conducted pursuant to 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the NEPA (40 CFR 
parts 1500-1508), and Forest Service NEPA guidelines. Additionally, 
pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the 
public scoping process will allow members of the general public to 
provide NCF comments on potential impacts to historic and cultural 
resources for the proposed action. An objection period for the Draft 
Record of Decision will be provided, consistent with 36 CFR part 218.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the Moose Creek project is to treat areas originally 
analyzed in the late 1990s and early 2000s as part of the West Fork 
Potlatch EIS. When the previous analysis was performed, silvicultural 
prescriptions identified certain stands that would require follow-up 
treatment by 2022 in order to continue efforts of restoring western 
white pine and other early seral tree species to the landscape. 
Restoring the landscape to conditions where white pine and early seral 
tree species are present is desired because these stands are more 
resilient to disturbance such as fire, harmful insects and disease 
pathogens. Current stands are primarily composed of grand fir and 
Douglas-fir which are much less resilient to disturbance. If left 
untreated, these current conditions would likely lead to a decline in 
forest health and put future ecological, societal, and economical 
values at risk.
    There is a need to decrease the risk of potential catastrophic 
wildfire which could threaten private residences within the wildland 
urban interface near the town of Bovill. The current presence of dead 
and dying trees combined with the high probability of increased 
mortality associated with the existing stands is resulting in hazardous 
fuel loading within the watershed. Treating these affected areas by 
reducing hazardous ladder fuels would reduce nutrient competition for 
desired species and decrease the risk of high intensity, high severity, 
and rapidly moving wildfire.
    There is also a need to begin trending toward long-term recovery of 
existing soil conditions within the watershed. Regional soil standards 
require actions be designed to keep detrimental soil disturbance (DSD) 
from exceeding 15%. Current soil conditions already exceed that level 
in some units, and although the proposed action would cause additional 
DSD and impaired productivity initially, initiating restoration efforts 
toward a long-term trend of recovery for overall soil productivity must 
be identified and implemented. It is estimated that long-term recovery 
would occur within 30-50 years.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action would include regeneration timber harvest of 
approximately 1,600 acres. Hazardous fuels reduction and site-
preparation activities (underburning activity, slash and burning of 
machine piles) would be applied following harvest activities. An 
additional 300 acres of hand, mechanical, or prescription fire fuels 
reduction would be conducted in non-harvest areas. Proposed harvest 
activities would require construction of approximately 10 miles of new 
system road to be gated after use to restrict public access and 
construction of approximately 4.4 miles of temporary roads to be 
decommissioned after use. Approximately 2 miles of existing roads will 
be reconstructed and reconditioned. Compaction of existing skid trails 
and/or landings will be implemented to improve soil conditions, at a 
minimum in units currently exceeding the 15% DSD threshold.
    Relocate and decommission a 0.8 mile section of Road 377 and 
construct 1.1 miles of new road and a 40-foot precast bridge across 
Feather Creek. The section of road proposed for relocation is in a 
meadow that floods every spring which poses a threat to fish habitat 
and creates annual access and maintenance issues. The proposed re-route 
and bridge

[[Page 19351]]

crossing would provide safe, consistent access to the land, reduce 
maintenance costs and protect the stream from unnecessary 
contamination. The Forest Service will work with the Latah County 
Highway District to acquire the legal access rights needed for the 
proposed realignment.
    Restore Cougar Meadow area to improve range functions by removing 
or re-contouring portions of an existing railroad berm in Cougar 
Meadows. Reconnecting the floodplain and Cougar Creek channel where 
they are currently separated would improve the meadow's ability to hold 
water into the summer. Construction of two additional stockponds is 
proposed to reduce animal pressure from stream channels and help draw 
cattle away from the riparian meadows.

Possible Alternatives

    Alternatives will be developed based on comments received during 
scoping period. At this time the agency is anticipating a minimum of 
two alternatives: 1. No-action and 2. Proposed Action

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 

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement.
    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 provide 
the Agency 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. 2017-08496 Filed 4-26-17; 8:45 am]