[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 247 (Thursday, December 24, 1998)]
[Pages 71264-71265]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-34094]



Forest Service

Gardin-Taco Ecosystem Restoration Projects, Colville National 
Forest, Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties, Washington

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

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


SUMMARY: The Forest Service, USDA, will prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to analyze and disclose the environmental effects of 
proposed restoration projects including commercial timber harvest, pre-
commercial thinning, prescribed fire, road construction, road 
reconstruction, road closures, road obliterations, range improvements, 
range allotment planning, and planting. All proposed projects are 
located on National Forest System lands in the Tacoma, Cusick, and 
Gardiner Creek watersheds of the Newport Ranger District. The proposal 
is in compliance with the 1988 Colville National Forest Land and 
Resource Management Plan as amended by the Regional Forester's 
amendments and the Inland Native Fish Strategy. These proposals are 
tentatively planned for implementation in fiscal years 1999 through 
2004. The proposed project area is approximately 25 miles northwest of 
Newport, Washington.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis should be received 
no later than January 15, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments concerning the management of this area 
to Robert L. Vaught, Forest Supervisor, 765 South Main, Colville, WA 
99114, phone: 509-684-7000, fax: 509-684-7280 or to Dan Dallas, 
District Ranger, 315 North Warren, Newport, WA 99156 (phone: 509-447-
7300; fax: 509-447-7301).

Nancy Glines, Interdisciplinary Team Leader, 315 North Warren, Newport, 
WA 99156 (phone: 509-447-7300, fax: 509-447-7301).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The proposed action includes commercial 
timber harvest, pre-commercial thinning, prescribed fire, road 
construction, road reconstruction, road closures, road obliteration, 
range improvements, allotment management planning, and planting. This 
project is not located in or adjacent to an inventoried roadless area.

    Restoration of ecosystem function provides the underlying need for 
the project. The purpose is to restore ecosystem function wherever 
possible and to the greatest extent possible; to restore ecosystem form 
where function cannot be restored at this time; and to reduce adverse 
impacts where possible. When possible, we will accomplish these 
objectives with a commercial timber sale.
    This project was initiated in January 1998. The Forest Service 
began the preparation of an environmental assessment including local 
public. This initial scoping yielded the following preliminary issues: 
roads and road management, noxious weeds, recreation use and U.S. Air 
Force use of the area, livestock uses, and vegetation management near 
    The preliminary alternatives being considered are: (1) No action, 
(2) accomplishing the purpose and need with prescribed fire as the only 
tool, (3) accomplishing the purpose and need using all available tools, 
(4) accomplishing the purpose and need with special emphasis on 
minimizing the risk of the spread of noxious weeds, and with special 
mitigation for recreation users, (5) accomplishing the purpose and need 
while minimizing road construction, (6) accomplishing the purpose and 
need with no new road construction.
    The Draft EIS should be available in February or March 1999, and 
the Final Environmental Impact Statement should be available in June or 
July 1999.
    The comment period on the draft environmental impact statement will 
be 45 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency

[[Page 71265]]

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 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 45 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.
    The final EIS is scheduled to be completed in June or July 1999. In 
the final EIS, the Forest Service is required to respond to comments 
and responses received during the comment period that pertain to the 
environmental consequences discussed in the draft EIS and applicable 
laws, regulations, and policies considered in making the decision 
regarding this proposal. The Responsible Official is Robert L. Vaught, 
Forest Supervisor, 765 South Main, Colville, WA 99114, phone: 509-684-
7000, fax: 509-684-7280. As the responsible official he will document 
the decision and reasons for the decision in the Record of Decision. 
That decision will be subject to Forest Service Appeal Regulations, 36 
CFR part 215.

    Dated: December 14, 1998.
Robert L. Vaught,
Forest Supervisor, Colville National Forest.
[FR Doc. 98-34094 Filed 12-23-98; 8:45 am]