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E-M:/ Plantation Lakes Project; Ottawa National Forest



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[Federal Register: May 26, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 103)]
[Notices]
[Page 34139-34141]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr26my00-42]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Plantation Lakes Project; Ottawa National Forest, Houghton
County, Michigan

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) for the Plantation Lakes Project to disclose the
effects of timber harvest, site preparation for natural and artificial
regeneration, planting, road management including: road construction,
reconstruction, temporary road construction, obliteration, and
motorized vehicle closure; dispersed parking area installation and
improvement, trail construction, maintenance of permanent openings for
wildlife habitat, and classification of old growth, in the Frost
Opportunity Area on the Ontonagon Ranger District, and the Connors,
Kenton, Plantation Lakes, and Richard Lake Opportunity Areas on the
Kenton Ranger District, located approximately 7 air miles northeast of
Kenton, Michigan. The purpose and need for action is to: (1) Promote
and maintain processes which would enhance natural species diversity,
manage to reduce insect and disease potential below epidemic levels,
and decrease fire hazard in the long term while providing a supply of
wood products for regional and local needs to help support a stable
economic base within the dependent geographical area. (2) Maintain and
enhance habitat capable of sustaining long-term populations of a
variety of wildlife species. (3) Maintain a road system that allows for
management of National Forest lands and provides for public access
while meeting other resource needs, and (4) Provide dispersed
recreation opportunities to meet public needs.
    The DEIS is expected to be filed with the EPA and available for
public review by September, 2000.

DATES: Written comments and suggestions should be received on or before
June 26, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and suggestions concerning the scope of the
analysis should be sent to Leanne Marten, District Ranger, Ontonagon
District, 1209 Rockland Road, Ontonagon, MI 49953.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact Allen Nicholson,
Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Iron

[[Page 34140]]

River Ranger District, Phone: (906) 265-5139.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The project area contains approximately
17,700 acres within the Ottawa National Forest, Houghton County,
Michigan. The legal location of the National Forest lands within the
project area are: all or portions of Section 4-10, 15-22, 27-30, 33,
T48N R36W; Sections 1, 12, 24, 25, T48N R37W; Sections 29-34, T49N
R36W; Sections 22, 23, 26, 27, 34-36, T49N R37W, Michigan Meridian.
    The Forest Service proposes to harvest approximately 111,000
hundred cubic feet (equivalent to approximately 60 million board feet,
MMBF) of timber through a variety of harvest methods on approximately
7,080 acres of forest land. Silviculture systems include approximately
1830 acres of salvage-modified clearcut, 1070 acres of salvage/
sanitation harvest, 3,250 acres of selection harvest, 200 acres of
shelterwood preparation harvest, and 730 acres of commercial thinning.
Connected actions include: approximately 2120 acres of mechanical site
preparation for natural and artificial regeneration, and supplemental
planting on approximately 140 acres. An estimated 2.5 miles of new
system road construction, 8.0 miles of system road reconstruction, and
4.0 miles of temporary road construction would be needed to access
timber harvest areas. Temporary roads would be evaluated based on the
proposed national transportation policy and would be either obliterated
following completion of sale activities or added to the classified road
system in the Maintenance Level 1 closed category. The proposal also
includes an estimated 3.5 miles of system road decommissioning,
permanent closure or obliteration of approximately 16 miles of
unclassified roads currently closed, and permanent closure or
obliteration of approximately 7.5 miles of unclassified roads currently
open. Approximately 0.5 additional miles of Forest Road 1338, currently
open, would be managed as closed to highway vehicles. A dispersed
parking/camping area would be provided at this new road closure.
Approximately 400 feet of new trail and a canoe access at Echo Lake
would be constructed, about 100 feet of trail would be resurfaced at
Penegor Lake, and improvements made to small parking areas at Penegor
and Echo Lakes.
    The proposal also includes maintaining approximately 110 acres of
permanent openings for wildlife habitat and the classification of
approximately 1660 acres of old growth.
    The Ottawa Forest Plan provides guidance for management activities
within the potentially affected area through its goals, objectives,
standards and guidelines, and management area direction. The proposed
projects include activities in management areas (MAs) 1.1,2.1,3.1, and
4.1. This proposal includes 11 openings greater than 40 acres (size
range is approximately 50 to 480 acres), to treat high-risk stands of
jack pine (Regional Forester approval for exceeding the forty acre
regeneration and salvage/sanitation harvest would be required prior to
signing the Record of Decision).

Range of Alternatives

    The Forest Service will consider a range of alternatives. One of
these will be the ``no action'' alternative in which none of the
proposed activities will be implemented. Additional alternatives will
examine varying levels and locations for the proposed activities to
achieve the proposal's purposes, as well as to respond to the issues
and other resource values.
    The EIS will analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative
environmental effects of the alternatives. Past, present, and projected
activities on both private and National Forest lands will be
considered. The EIS will disclose site-specific mitigation measures, if
needed, and their effectiveness.

Preliminary Issues

    Tentatively, several preliminary issues of concern have been
identified. These issues are briefly described below:
    Transportation System: Implementation of the proposed action would
permanently close or obliterate roads not needed for the transportation
system, and manage an additional segment of road as closed to some
types of motorized use. This may affect the public's ability to use
traditional access routes.
    Vegetation: There are large areas of mature and declining jack pine
that are at high risk of loss to insects, disease, or fire. When
proposed harvest areas are added to adjacent recently harvested areas
(10-15 years ago) several temporary open areas exceeding 40 acres will
be created.
    Canada Lynx: Effective April 24, 2000, the lynx was listed as a
threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The lynx will
be addressed in the EIS.

Decisions To Be Made

    The Ottawa Forest Supervisor will decide the following:
    <bullet> Whether or not to harvest timber and, if so, identify the
selection of, and site-specific location of, appropriate timber
management practices (silvicultural prescription, fuels treatment, site
preparation, and reforestation), road construction, reconstruction, and
temporary road construction necessary to provide access to accomplish
treatments, and appropriate mitigation measures.
    <bullet> Whether or not to permanently close or obliterate roads
and restrict motorized access, and if so, where and how.
    <bullet> Whether or not to maintain permanent openings, and, if so,
the location and size of openings to be maintained.
    <bullet> What facilities, if any, should be constructed to enhance
dispersed recreation opportunities.
    <bullet> What, if any, specific project monitoring requirements
would be needed to assure mitigation measures are implemented and
effective.
    Public Involvement and Scoping: In February 1996, initial scoping
was done for the Trophy Barr timber sale, now one of the projects
included in the Plantation Lakes analysis. Comments received regarding
the Trophy Barr sale project proposal prior to this notice will be
included in the documentation for the EIS. The public is encouraged to
take part in the process by communicating or visiting with Forest
Service officials at any time during the analysis and prior to the
decision. The Forest Service will be seeking information, comments, and
assistance from Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as other
individuals or organizations who may be interested in, or affected by,
the proposed action. This input will be used in preparation of the
draft and final EIS. The scoping process will include:
    <bullet> Identifying potential issues.
    <bullet> Identifying major issues to be analyzed in depth.
    <bullet> Identifying alternatives to the proposed action.
    <bullet> Identifying potential environmental effects of this
proposed action and the alternatives (i.e. direct, indirect, and
cumulative effects and connected actions).
    Estimated Dates for Filing. While public participation in this
analysis is welcome at any time, comments received within 30 days of
the publication of this notice will be especially useful in the
preparation of the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS is expected to be filed
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to be available for
public review by September, 2000. At that time EPA will

[[Page 34141]]

publish a Notice of Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal
Register. The comment period on the draft EIS will be 45 days from the
date the EPA publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal
Register. It is very important that those interested in the management
of this area participate at that time.
    The final EIS is scheduled to be completed by March, 2001. 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 a decision
regarding the proposal.
    Reviewer's Obligations: 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 impact statement stage may
be waived or dismissed by the courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F2d
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 objectives are made available to the Forest
Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider and respond to them
in the final EIS.
    To be most helpful, comments on the draft EIS should be as specific
as possible and may address the adequacy of the statement or the merit
of the alternatives discussed. 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 fl503.3 in addressing these points.
    Responsible Official: Phyllis A. Green, Forest Supervisor, Ottawa
National Forest, E6248 U.S. 2, Ironwood, MI 49938, is the Responsible
Official. As the Responsible Official she will decide if the proposed
project will be implemented. She will document the decision and reasons
for the decision in the Record of Decision. I have delegated the
responsibility to prepare the EIS to Leanne Marten, District Ranger,
Ontonagon Ranger District.

    Dated: May 17, 2000.
Phyllis A. Green,
Forest Supervisor, Ottawa National Forest.
[FR Doc. 00-13027 Filed 5-25-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-M

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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permits/Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste Issues
and Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039 
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)
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