[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 195 (Friday, October 8, 1999)]
[Pages 54860-54862]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-26242]



Forest Service

East Slate Project; Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Shoshone 
County, ID

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

[[Page 54861]]

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


SUMMARY: The St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National 
Forest is considering vegetation activities in the East Slate Project. 
The project area is located approximately one mile west of the town of 
Avery on the St. Joe River.
    The interdisciplinary team has reviewed the current conditions 
which indicated the project area could benefit from treatment. The 
purpose and need is summarized below.
    1. Reduce the risk of blending genetic material from poorly 
adapted, non-local ponderosa pine trees planted earlier this century 
with that of the native ponderosa pine. Replace the poorly adapted 
trees with more sustainable native species.
    2. Speed development of larger stand structures with large trees 
and reverse the trend toward increasing dominance by mid and late 
succession species.
    3. Maintain larch dominance where it is a significant stand 
    4. Promote vegetation structures and compositions that are more 
consistent with those which naturally occur under fire and pathogen 
disturbance regimes.
    5. Restore western white pine.
    6. Contribute wood to the local timber supply when timber is 
feasible and cost effective and can help achieve landscape objectives.
    7. Improve big game wildlife habitat.
    8. Promote conditions for safe and effective control of prescribed 
fires and wildfires.
    9. Provide a safer vehicle turn-around at gate on Road #1934.
    The project consists of vegetation management, including timber 
harvesting and associated road construction and prescribed burning. It 
also plans for wildlife habitat improvement and natural fuels reduction 
through burning.

DATES: Comments should be postmarked on or before November 8, 1999. 
Please include your name and address and the name of the project you 
are commenting on.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments and suggestions on the proposed 
management activities or request to be placed on Project mailing list 
to George Bain, District Ranger, St. Joe Ranger District, PO Box 407, 
St. Maries, ID 83802. George Bain is the Responsible Official.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pete Ratcliffe, Project Team Leader, 
St. Joe Ranger District, (208) 245-4517.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the 
public record on this proposed action and will be available for public 
inspection. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and 
considered; however, those who submit anonymous comments will not have 
standing to appeal the subsequent decision under 36 CFR Parts 215 or 
217. Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any person may request 
the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by showing 
how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits such confidentiality. 
Persons requesting such confidentiality may be granted in only very 
limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest 
Service will inform the requester of the agency's decision regarding 
the request for confidentiality, and where the request is denied, the 
agency will return the submission and notify the requester that the 
comments may be resubmitted with or without name and address within 10 


Vegetation Management

    Vegetation management under this proposal is designed to meet 
several needs, including providing timber products to local markets, 
protecting and enhancing wildlife forage and cover needs, providing for 
long term growth and yield as directed in the Idaho Panhandle National 
Forests Forest Plan, increasing fire resiliency, reducing fire hazards, 
and moving the vegetation to the conditions the area historically had 
in terms of tree species composition and density. Treatment include:
    Approximately 406 acres of commercial timber harvesting including 
commercial thinning, shelterwood preparation and seed cuttings, 
liberation cuts, sanitation cuts and clearcuts. This would include an 
estimated 235 acres of clearcuts with reserves, 86 acres of commercial 
thimming, 18 acres of liberation cuts, 21 acres of sanitation salvage, 
19 acres of seedtree harvest and 27 acres of shelterwood harvest with 
    Approximately 240 acres of brush field burning for maintenance of 
big game browse and wildlife habitat improvement.
    Approximately 203 acres would be treated for natural fuels 
    Approximately 1.6 miles of road construction to access timber 
harvesting units.

Preliminary Issues

    We expect issues and concerns with this project to include the 
impacts on wildlife, fish, water quality, and recreation, as well as 
road construction, clearcutting and economic feasibility. Issues will 
be developed and analyzed based on public comment and the 
interdisciplinary team's analysis of effects on reasoures. Alternatives 
will be developed to modify or eliminate the impacts from proposed 
activities and still meet the purpose for this project.
    Additionally, some of the vegetation treatment may result in 
opening of over 60 acres. While we would like comments that would 
affect alternatives early, comments on the size of openings and their 
effects will be accepted for 60 days after publication of this notice.
    The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed 
with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and available for public 
review in December 1999. The final environmental impact statement is 
expected to be completed in March 2000.
    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 an alerts and agency to the reviewer's position and 
contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 
533 (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 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 concern 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.

[[Page 54862]]

Comments may also address the adequacy of the draft environmental 
impact statement or the merits of the alternatives formulated and 
discussed in the statement. Reviews 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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits 
discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national 
origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital 
or familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) 
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of 
communication of program information (braille, large print, audiotape, 
etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center ad (202) 720-2600 (voice and 
    To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250, or call 1-800-245-6340 
(voice) or 202-720-1127 (TDD). USDA is an equal employment opportunity 

    Dated: September 29, 1999.
George Bain,
St. Joe District Ranger.
[FR Doc. 99-26242 Filed 10-7-99; 8:45 am]