[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 30 (Friday, February 13, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8098-8100]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-03039]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of the Secretary

[AAK6006201 1565A2100DD AOR3030.999900]


National Environmental Policy Act: Implementing Procedures; 
Additions to Categorical Exclusions for Bureau of Indian Affairs (516 
DM 10)

AGENCY: Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Final National Environmental Policy Act Implementing 
Procedures.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA) and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations 
implementing NEPA, and Department of the Interior (Department) NEPA 
implementing regulations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the 
Department is adding three categorical exclusions (CE) to the 
Departmental Manual 516 DM 10. The three proposed CEs pertain to timber 
harvesting on Indian lands.

DATES: Effective Date: The categorical exclusions are effective 
February 13, 2015.

ADDRESSES: To obtain a copy of the new categorical exclusions contact 
Mr. David Koch, Acting Chief Forester, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1849 C 
Street, Washington, DC 20240; email: [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. David Koch, Acting Chief Forester, 
(202) 208-4837.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Harvesting timber on Indian lands, as defined in 25 CFR 163.1, 
allows landowners to realize value from lands held in trust for them by 
the Federal Government or subject to restrictions against alienation. 
The National Indian Forest Resources Management Act, and its 
implementing regulations, require the Secretary, with the participation 
of the landowners, to undertake forest land management activities on 
Indian forest

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lands, including the approval of timber harvests. As a result of the 
need for Federal permits and contracts, such projects are Federal 
actions that require compliance with the NEPA. The BIA has typically 
conducted NEPA reviews of actions associated with timber harvesting by 
preparing Environmental Assessments (EA). The addition of CEs to cover 
these three categories of small actions will allow for a more efficient 
NEPA review because those EAs resulted in findings of no significant 
impacts which were substantiated over time. The three proposed CEs were 
developed based on CEs currently used by the United States Forest 
Service (FS), as described in FS regulations 36 CFR 220, and adopted by 
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as described the Departmental 
Manual, 516 DM 11. The BIA relied on the experience of the FS and BLM 
and applied its expertise to benchmark these CEs and determined these 
are appropriate to establish as BIA CEs.
    Because these CEs have important implications for actions occurring 
on Indian lands, the BIA initiated consultation and requested comments 
from all federally recognized tribes. This consultation period began on 
July 23, 2014, and concluded on September 21, 2014. Public comments 
were also solicited through a notice placed in the Federal Register on 
November 14, 2014 [79 FR 68287].

Comments on the Proposal

    The BIA received no comments from tribes, and no public comments.

Conclusion

    The Department and the BIA determined that the actions defined in 
the CEs presented at the end of this notice normally do not 
individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human 
environment and, absent extraordinary circumstances, do not require 
preparation of an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact 
Statement. This finding is based on the analysis of the application of 
similar CEs established and used by other Federal departments and 
agencies; and the professional judgment of BIA environmental and 
forestry personnel who conducted environmental reviews of similar 
actions that resulted in Findings of No Significant Impact.

Categorical Exclusions

    The Department will add the following categorical exclusions to the 
Departmental Manual at 516 DM 10.5: H. Forestry.
    (11) Harvesting live trees not to exceed 70 acres, requiring no 
more than 0.5 mile of temporary road construction. Such activities:
    (a) Shall not include even-aged regeneration harvests or vegetation 
type conversions.
    (b) May include incidental removal of trees for landings, skid 
trails, and road clearing.
    (c) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads 
authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or 
emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or Tribal 
transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource 
management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate 
for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and 
impacts on land and resources; and
    (d) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or 
used so as to permit the reestablishment by artificial or natural 
means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the 
vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, 
as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such 
treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as 
practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the 
contract.
    Examples include, but are not limited to:
    (a) Removing individual trees for sawlogs, specialty products, or 
fuelwood.
    (b) Commercial thinning of overstocked stands to achieve the 
desired stocking level to increase health and vigor.
    (12) Salvaging dead or dying trees not to exceed 250 acres, 
requiring no more than 0.5 mile of temporary road construction. Such 
activities:
    (a) May include incidental removal of live or dead trees for 
landings, skid trails, and road clearing.
    (b) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads 
authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or 
emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or Tribal 
transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource 
management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate 
for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and 
impacts on land and resources; and
    (c) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or 
used so as to permit the reestablishment, by artificial or natural 
means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the 
vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, 
as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such 
treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as 
practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the 
contract.
    (d) For this CE, a dying tree is defined as a standing tree that 
has been severely damaged by forces such as fire, wind, ice, insects, 
or disease, such that in the judgment of an experienced forest 
professional or someone technically trained for the work, the tree is 
likely to die within a few years.
    Examples include, but are not limited to:
    (a) Harvesting a portion of a stand damaged by a wind or ice event.
    (b) Harvesting fire damaged trees.
    (13) Commercial and non-commercial sanitation harvest of trees to 
control insects or disease not to exceed 250 acres, requiring no more 
than 0.5 miles of temporary road construction. Such activities:
    (a) May include removal of infested/infected trees and adjacent 
live uninfested/uninfected trees as determined necessary to control the 
spread of insects or disease; and
    (b) May include incidental removal of live or dead trees for 
landings, skid trails, and road clearing.
    (c) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads 
authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or 
emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or tribal 
transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource 
management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate 
for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and 
impacts on land and resources; and
    (d) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or 
used so as to permit the reestablishment, by artificial or natural 
means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the 
vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, 
as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such 
treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as 
practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the 
contract.
    Examples include, but are not limited to:
    (a) Felling and harvesting trees infested with mountain pine 
beetles and immediately adjacent uninfested trees to control expanding 
spot infestations (a buffer); and
    (b) Removing or destroying trees infested or infected with a new 
exotic insect or disease, such as emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned 
beetle, or sudden oak death pathogen.


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    Dated: February 5, 2015.
Willie R. Taylor,
Director, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2015-03039 Filed 2-12-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4337-A2-P