[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 127 (Wednesday, July 2, 1997)]
[Notices]
[Pages 35780-35782]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-17250]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


St. Joe Weed Control Project; Idaho Panhandle National Forests, 
Benewah, Shoshone and Latah Counties, Idaho

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

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SUMMARY: The USDA, Forest Service, will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to disclose the potential environmental effects of 
using herbicides to treat noxious weeds on the St. Joe Ranger District. 
Treatment sites would be located at various locations across the 
district and are within the St. Maries River, St. Joe River, and North 
Fork of the Clearwater River Ecosystems, St. Joe Ranger District, Idaho 
Panhandle National Forests, Benewah, Shoshone and Latah Counties, 
Idaho. Most treatment sites are located near or along forest roads, 
trails or developed recreation sites.
    The proposed action is designed to treat existing populations of 
weeds to promote native and/or desirable plants within these 
ecosystems, treat existing populations of weeds to reduce weed seed 
sources, eradicate weeds found in identified weed-free zones, comply 
with laws regarding management of noxious weeds, and cooperate with 
other agencies and private individuals concerned with the management of 
weeds. The proposed action would include the use of herbicides as part 
of an integrated pest management approach to control weeds. An 
integrated approach includes mechanical, biological, cultural and 
chemical methods.
    The weed species considered for control include spotted knapweed

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(Centaurea maculosa), diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa), orange 
hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum), meadow hawkweek (Hieracium pratense), 
purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), dalmation toadflax (Linaria 
dalmatica) sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta L.), yellow starthistle 
(Centaurea solstitialis), hound's-tongue (cynoglossum officinale) and 
common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare).
    This project level EIS will tier to the Idaho Panhandle National 
Forests Weed Pest Management EIS, 10/89; the Idaho Panhandle National 
Forests Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan), 9/87; the 
Final EIS Noxious Weed Management Projects, Bonner's Ferry Ranger 
District, 9/95; and he Priest Lake Noxious Weed Control Project Final 
EIS, 2/97.

DATES: Written comments and suggestions should be received on or before 
August 1, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments and suggestions on the proposed 
management activities or request to be placed on project mailing list 
to Bradley J. Gilbert, District Ranger, St. Joe Ranger District, P.O. 
Box 407, St. Maries, ID, 83861.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynette Myhre, EIS Team Leader, St. 
Joe Ranger District, phone number 208-245-4517.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Weed control is proposed on 131 sites that 
have been identified on the St. Joe Ranger District. These sites range 
in size from approximately 0.10 acre to 35 acres and total 
approximately 3,360 gross acres. These sites represent less than 0.47% 
of the 720,000 acres of National Forest System Lands on the St. Joe 
Ranger District.
    There are a variety of purposes for treating existing populations 
of weeds on the St. Joe Ranger District. The primary purposes are: (1) 
Eradicate weeds found in weed free zones; (2) reduce weed seed sources 
along main travel routes; (3) to promote native and diserable plants; 
(4) comply with Federal and State Laws regulation management of noxious 
weeds; and (5) cooperate with other agencies and private individuals 
concerned with the management of weeds.
    The treatment sites are located across the district. The greatest 
number of sites are located in the St. Joe Ecosystem. Other sites are 
located in the St. Maries River and the North Fork of the Clearwater 
River Ecosystems. The Idaho Panhandle National Forest Land and Resource 
Management Plan provides guidance for management activities within the 
potentially affected area through its goals, objectives, standards and 
guidelines, and management area direction. The Forest Plan directed 
that forest pests by managed by an integrated pest management approach.
    The Forest Service will consider a range of alternatives. One of 
these will be the ``no action'' alternative, in which current 
management practices would continue. Additional alternatives will 
represent the range of control methods currently available for 
treatment of weeds, including non-chemical methods.
    Public participation is an important part of the analysis and will 
play an important role in developing the alternatives. The initial 
scoping process (40 CFR 1501.7) will occur during June and July, 1997. 
A previous EIS was completed for this project. That EIS was appealed 
and remanded back to the St. Joe District to be redone. The public 
input from that analysis will be used for this analysis in addition to 
response to this NOI and to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest 
Quarterly Schedule of Proposed Actions, July, 1997. In addition, the 
public is encouraged to visit with Forest Service officials during the 
analysis and prior to the decision. The Forest Service will be seeking 
information, comments, and assistance from Federal, State, and local 
agencies and other individuals or organization who may be interested in 
or affected by the proposed actions. Public meetings may be held, but 
have not been scheduled at this time.
    Comments from the public and other agencies will be used in 
preparation of the Draft EIS. The Scoping process will be used to:
    1. Identify potential issues.
    2. Identify major issues to be analyzed in depth.
    3. Eliminate minor issues or those which have been covered by a 
relevant previous environmental analysis.
    4. Identify alternatives to the proposed action.
    5. Identify potential environmental effects of the proposed action 
and alternatives (i.e., cumulative effects).
    Some public concerns have already been identified from initial 
interdisciplinary review of the weed control proposal. The following 
major issues have been identified so far:
    1. Current and potential impacts of noxious weeds on ecosystem 
communities and processes; threatened, endangered, and sensitive plants 
and animals; soils; water quality; aesthetics; wildlife and fish; and 
recreational opportunities.
    2. Potential impacts of weed control.
    3. Potential effects upon human health from the application of 
herbicides.
    This list will be verified, expanded, or modified based on public 
scoping and interdisciplinary review of this proposal.
    The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed 
with the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) and available for 
public review in August, 1997. At that time, the EPA will publish a 
Notice of Availability of the draft environmental impact statement in 
the Federal Register. The comment period on the draft environmental 
impact statement will be 45 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 raised at the 
draft environmental statement stage but that are not raised until after 
completion of the final environmental 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 45-day scoping comment period so that substantive 
comments and objectives 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 instatement.
    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

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National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3 in addressing these 
points.
    I am the responsible official for this environmental impact 
statement. My address is St. Joe Ranger District, P.O. Box 407, St. 
Maries, ID, 83861.

    Dated: June 23, 1997.
Bradley J. Gilbert,
District Ranger, St. Joe District, IPNF.
[FR Doc. 97-17250 Filed 7-1-97; 8:45 am]
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