[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 20 (Tuesday, January 30, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4182-4184]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-01736]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho; Lower Valley Energy Crow 
Creek Pipeline Project

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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

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SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the USDA Forest Service, 
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Montpelier Ranger District, is 
gathering information

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necessary to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 
connection with Lower Valley Energy's request to construct an eight-
inch diameter, low pressure pipeline in a north-northeasterly direction 
between Montpelier, Idaho and Afton, Wyoming.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by March 1, 2018. The draft EIS is expected to be released in spring 
2018, and the final EIS is expected in summer 2018.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Montpelier Ranger District, 322 N. 
4th Street, Montpelier, ID 83254. Comments may also be sent via email 
to [email protected] or via 
facsimile to (208) 847-3426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bryan Fuell, Acting District Ranger, 
Montpelier Ranger District, (208) 547-1101 or Jessica Taylor, National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Coordinator, Caribou-Targhee National 
Forest (208) 557-5837. A public scoping letter with more details is 
posted on the Forest website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/ctnf/landmanagement/projects.
    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 and need for this project is to provide natural gas to 
the Afton/Star Valley, Wyoming area by pipeline. Lower Valley Energy 
currently provides natural gas to the Afton/Star Valley area by 
trucking liquefied natural gas to a central distribution facility 
located in Star Valley. As the demand for natural gas for residences 
and commercial buildings continues to increase, the shipping of gas by 
truck becomes costlier and less efficient. Increased shipping by truck 
also elevates a public safety issue because the level of truck traffic 
carrying hazardous chemicals on public highways increases. Shortages 
occur each winter because truck shipments are stalled by the inclement 
weather. Construction of the proposed pipeline would eliminate the need 
for Lower Valley Energy to ship overland and would contain all natural 
gas conveyance to a single pipeline.

Proposed Action

    The proposed routing of an eight-inch diameter, low pressure 
pipeline parallels existing road corridors through Forest Service 
ownership where feasible. In several locations, an existing road is the 
dividing feature between Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs). In these 
areas, the pipeline will be constructed within the roadway corridor, 
however; due to potential visual, noise and other impacts, IRAs 
adjacent to the pipeline construction may be impacted. In other 
locations, terrain limitations, stream environments, or practicality 
(shorter route, less disturbance) results in deviating from the road 
corridor and, in some of these cases, results in construction within an 
IRA. The total pipeline length is approximately 48 miles, with 
approximately 20 miles occuring on NFS lands (approximately 119 acres), 
and 40 acres of disturbance occuring within IRAs.
    The project would directly impact the Meade Peak, Red Mountain, 
Telephone Draw and Hell Hole IRAs, and would be immediately adjacent 
to, and would thereby have some impact to, the Gannett Spring Creek and 
Sage Creek IRAs.
    No road building is proposed within IRAs. Within the IRAs, only 
activities needed to construct the pipeline would occur and the 
construction areas would be fully reclaimed to original contours and 
with native vegetation. Project activities would include digging a 
trench, hauling pipe, welding pipe, and burying the pipe as well as 
cleanup and reclamation. Alignment markers would be installed at inter-
visible distances along the entire route. While the project would have 
impacts to General Forest, Rangeland and Grassland (GFRG) and 
Backcountry Restoration (BCR) IRA themes, only incidental timber 
cutting would occur in BCR themes because the vegetation communities 
are primarily sagebrush and mountain brush.
    The proposed action would also result in a plan amendment to make 
the project consistent with the Caribou Revised Forest Plan. The 
project would result in the establishment of a utility corridor for 
those portions of the pipeline that are outside existing corridors. The 
plan amendment would change the management prescription of 
approximately 119 acres to Management Prescription 8.1, Concentrated 
Development Areas.
    The 2012 Planning Rule, as amended, requires identification in the 
initial notice of the amendment of the substantive provisions that are 
likely to be directly related to the amendment. Based on the proposed 
amendment for the Lower Valley Energy Crow Creek Pipeline and 
requirements of the planning rule, the following substantive 
requirements of the 36 CFR 219 planning regulations would likely be 
directly related to the proposed amendment:
    Sec.  219.10(a)(1) Aesthetic values, air quality, cultural and 
heritage resources, ecosystem services, fish and wildlife species, 
forage, geologic features, grazing and rangelands, habitat and habitat 
connectivity, recreation settings and opportunities, riparian areas, 
scenery, soil, surface and subsurface water quality, timber, trails, 
vegetation, viewsheds, wilderness, and other relevant resources and 
uses;
    Sec.  219.10(a)(4) Appropriate placement of and sustainable 
management of infrastructure, such as recreational facilities and 
transportation and utility corridors; and
    Sec.  219.10(a)(7) Reasonably foreseeable risks to ecological, 
social, and economic sustainability.

Possible Alternatives

    Two alternative routes to the proposed route have been developed to 
date, although other alternatives may be considered that could provide 
mitigation of potential impacts. At a minimum, the ``no action 
alternative'' will be fully evaluated and analyzed along with the 
proposed action.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The Forest Service is the lead agency; there are no cooperating 
agencies.

Responsible Official

    The Forest Supervisor of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is the 
responsible official.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The decisions to be made include whether to implement the proposed 
action, as designed; whether there are other alternatives capable of 
satisfying the purpose and need; whether any mitigation measures or 
monitoring is required to implement the proposed action or 
alternatives; and whether or not to approve the plan amendment. These 
decisions would be made in the record of decision, which would be 
issued following the publication of a final EIS and completion of the 
Forest Service objection process (36 CFR part 218, subparts A and B and 
36 CFR part 219).

Preliminary Issues

    The Forest Service will identify issues based on internal and 
external scoping comments and will analyze potential effects in a draft 
EIS. Due to the number of IRAs between Montpelier and the terminus of 
the pipeline, avoiding impacts to IRAs is not practical. Up to six IRAs 
could be impacted either directly or by activities occurring

[[Page 4184]]

adjacent to the IRA. The project would directly impact the Meade Peak, 
Red Mountain, Telephone Draw and Hell Hole IRAs, and would be 
immediately adjacent to, and would thereby have some impact to, the 
Gannett Spring Creek and Sage Creek IRAs. The portions of IRAs that 
could be impacted include GFRG and BCR management classifications (36 
CFR part 294).

Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the EIS. In addition to this notice of intent, a 
legal notice will be published in the Idaho State Journal, newspaper of 
record, and the Star Valley Independent to ensure wide distribution of 
this notice.
    The purpose of this comment period is to provide an opportunity for 
the public to provide early and meaningful participation on a proposed 
action prior to a decision being made by the Responsible Official. Per 
36 CFR 218 and 219, only those who provide specific, written comments 
regarding the proposed project or activity will be eligible to file an 
objection. 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.
    An additional opportunity for public participation will occur 
during the public comment period on the draft EIS, which will be 
initiated by the publication of a notice of availability of the draft 
EIS in the Federal Register.

    Dated: January 10, 2018.
Chris French,
Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2018-01736 Filed 1-29-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P