DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment Project EIS
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA
ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement
SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Regions 4 and 5 will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to amend eleven National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans and the Regional Guides for the Intermountain and Pacific Southwest Regions in response to changed circumstancesand new information resulting from the report of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, the Sierra Nevada Science Review, and the Summary of Existing Management Direction. The Land and Resource Management Plans to be amended encompass the Humboldt-Toiyabe, Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, Sierra, Sequoia, and Inyo National Forests, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
DATES: The public is asked to provide any additional information they believe the Forest Service may still not
have at this time, and to submit any issues (points of concern, debate, dispute or disagreement) regarding
potential effects of the proposed action or alternatives by January 19, 1999.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Steve Clauson, EIS Team Leader, USDA Forest Service, Sierra
Nevada Framework Project, Room 419, 801 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact Steve Clauson, EIS Team Leader, USDA Forest Service,
Sierra Nevada Framework Project, Room 419, 801 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone number -
In the Pacific Southwest Region, Region 5 of the Forest Service, a Sierra Nevada-wide planning effort was
initiated in 1992 to protect the California spotted owl (CASPO). This planning responded to Forest Service
research on the status and viability of the California spotted owl (CASPO Technical Report, 1992). The
CASPO report recommended interim management guidelines be adopted to protect California spotted owl
populations while a more comprehensive management plan was developed. An environmental assessment to
implement interim guidelines was prepared and a Decision Notice approving implementation of interim
guidelines was signed on January 13, 1993. To develop a comprehensive management plan, the Forest Service
prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the comprehensive management of California spotted
owl in 1995. A revised draft EIS was scheduled for release in 1996, however new scientific information came
to light and work was suspended pending the report of a Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) that was chartered
to review the revised draft EIS. The work of the FAC was influenced by the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project
(SNEP), which produced four volumes of scientific assessments including several papers exploring possible
management strategies, and made available large databases and maps for the Sierra Nevada.
The Federal Advisory Committee concluded that the revised draft EIS was inadequate in its current form as
either an owl or ecosystem management EIS ("Final Report of the California Spotted Owl Federal Advisory
Committee", USDA, December 1997). The FAC report identified specific critical shortcomings and offered
recommendations to address inconsistencies with scientific information, flaws in some key elements of the
analysis process, and the need for a more collaborative planning process. The Forest Service has redirected the
EIS effort in response to the FAC report and other information.
On July 24, 1998, a team of scientists from the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station,
produced the Sierra Nevada Science Review (USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, July
24, 1998), a review of current scientific information with attention to issues of urgent priority at Sierra Nevada
Range-wide scale. A companion document, the Summary of Existing Management Direction, released on
August 11, 1998, summarized existing management direction related to issues brought forward in the Science
Review. This new scientific information has implications for existing forest plans, social values, and
environmental trends in the Sierra Nevada.
The report of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project concludes: "Most of the problems of the Sierra can be
solved, although the timeframe and degree of solution will differ depending on the problem." ("Sierra Nevada
Ecosystem Project, Final Report to Congress", Davis: University of California, Centers for Water and
Wildland Resources, 1996.) For many of these problems, a range-wide or multi-forest planning approach is
The Land and Resource Management Plans for the eleven national forests in the Sierra Nevada Range and
Modoc Plateau were developed in the 1980's and early 1990's. These plans were independently prepared and
adopted in response to concerns at the scale appropriate for each forest. Given the science that recently emerged
concerning issues that go beyond the individual forest and ownership boundaries, there is an urgent need to
amend the plans to reflect this new information and achieve range-wide consistency. In response to this need,
on July 10, 1998 Regional Forester G. Lynn Sprague, in cooperation with Region 4, committed to developing
new management direction, where necessary, to address concerns on the Sierra Nevada national forests (63 FR
37314). This EIS is part of the overall Sierra Nevada Framework for Conservation and Collaboration, which
will continue to develop solutions to interagency issues and encourage communication on management of
wildlands in the Sierra Nevada Range.
During 1998, nearly 1,000 people participated in 37 community based workshops to provide their perspectives
on the Science Review, the Summary of Existing Management Direction, and other information relevant to the
EIS. The majority of the workshops took place in Sierra Nevada communities. A Tribal Summit was held in
Tahoe City and a state-wide workshop was held in Davis. Other meetings were held in San Francisco, Los
Angeles, and Carson City, Nevada. Written comments were submitted at the workshops, on the Internet, and
People attending the September and October workshops were asked to respond to two questions: (1) is there
other new science relevant to Sierra Nevada national forest management that would cause us to add to or
modify the findings in the Science Review, and (2) in light of the Science Review and other new information,
what changes would you suggest for management direction in the Sierra Nevada national forests? Responses to
these questions, together with the agency's analysis of the new science, information, and legal requirements,
were used in framing the proposed action and possible alternatives presented in this Notice of Intent.
In addition to problems or concerns to be addressed in the EIS, many additional concerns surfaced in
September and October that are not appropriate to address in the proposed action. Concurrent with this Notice
of Intent, the Forest Service has produced a "Design Paper" that documents the agency's proposal for
addressing concerns outside the scope of the proposed action. The Design Paper is available on the Internet at
www.r5.fs.fed.us or by request to the Sierra Nevada Framework Project at the address given in the For
Further Information section.
Public comments received during this period reflected a wide range of social perspectives. Participants largely
agreed on broad conservation principles. There were, however, many different perspectives on how the
principles might be implemented. The wide variation in community responses confirmed the need to include
local residents, as well as regional and national interests, in the design and refinement of alternatives.
Numerous suggestions were made encouraging the Forest Service to work with other federal agencies, Indian
Tribes, state and local governments, and organizations to solve Sierra Nevada-wide problems. The
recommendations and suggestions received during meetings will be reviewed again during the scoping period.
Each Sierra Nevada national forest will continue dialogues with interested members of the public and other
agencies throughout the environmental analysis process. Each forest will host community discussions to
explain and hear responses to this Notice of Intent. Workshops will be designed to receive suggestions and
recommendations regarding the proposed action as well as information that could help frame alternatives.
Specific locations and dates of the meetings will be posted on the Internet at www.r5.fs.fed.us and in the
newspaper of record for each Sierra Nevada national forest.
The selection of problems for inclusion in the EIS was based on the following criteria: (1) new scientific
information is available about the extent, intensity, or duration of the problem, (2) geographic scale is broad,
(3) public perception or environmental risk, as judged by the science community, indicates action should be
taken now, and (4) the problem is not well addressed elsewhere.
A single EIS amending the eleven forest plans is proposed because: (1) some problems may only be treatable at
a range-wide scale, (2) the public, Indian Tribes, other governmental agencies, and the Forest Service need to
consider ways to meet environmental goals common to the eleven forests economically and efficiently, and (3)
implementation can be made more accountable and consistent.
Problems that did not meet these criteria will be addressed in the associated activities of the Sierra Nevada
Framework. For example, concerns surrounding the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep can be more immediately
resolved within the scope of the existing forest plans by increased attention from the five affected national
forests in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Problems identified for action in this EIS are:
1.Old forest ecosystems and associated species. Old forest ecosystems have declined in quality, amount
and connectivity throughout the Sierra Nevada over the past hundred years. Habitats and/or
populations of some animals associated with old-forests, including forest carnivores and the California
spotted owl, have declined. No regionally consistent direction for old-forest conservation exists.
2.Aquatic, riparian, and meadow ecosystems. These ecosystems are the most degraded of all habitats in
the Sierra Nevada. Many aquatic and riparian-dependent species (willow flycatcher and amphibians in
particular) and communities are at risk. No regionally consistent direction exists to deal with this urgent
3.Fire and Fuels. Wildland fire is both a major threat to life, property and natural resources and a critical
natural process in the Sierra Nevada. Fire management planning is outdated and not integrated into
4.Noxious weeds. There is a rapid spread of invasive, exotic plant species that threaten to crowd out
native plants and compromise wildland values. Noxious weeds are spreading throughout California
and gaining ground at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada.
5.Lower westside hardwood forest ecosystems. Increasing urban development in lower elevations in
the Sierra Nevada has fragmented and decreased the amount of hardwood forests. The public has
expressed a desire to maintain the remaining extent of hardwood forests for their ecological roles,
biodiversity, aesthetics, cultural resources, and for resource uses such as firewood and forage.
Purpose and Need for Action
The purpose of the proposed action is to improve national forest management direction for five broad problems:
(1) conservation of old-forest ecosystems, (2) conservation of aquatic, riparian, and meadow ecosystems, (3)
increased risk of fire and fuels buildup, (4) introduction of noxious weeds, and (5) sustaining hardwood
forests. Resolution of these problems will influence and be influenced by social, cultural and economic values.
The need is to ensure that national forest management direction accounts for current scientific thinking and
public expectations, and is consistent among the eleven national forests in practices, procedures, definitions,
standards and guidelines.
Current forest plan direction does not reflect the shift in public values and expectations for goods and services
from the Sierra Nevada national forests. As the five problem areas are addressed, there is a need to ensure that
changes in the level of natural resource products, services, and values, e.g. forage, timber, wildlife, fish,
recreation, wilderness, or water, are identified to respond to public concerns with the certainty of future forest
management products and services. In some cases, the lack of certainty has contributed to false expectations
about the capability to provide products and services without diminishing long-term productive capability and
without violating legal requirements for clean water, clean air, biological diversity, and endangered species.
Three processes are needed to address the problems identified above: adaptive management, landscape analysis,
and collaborative interaction with the public.
Adaptive Management. The purpose is to adjust management direction based on results gained through
experience. The need is for monitoring protocols that provide timely, accurate information on outcomes
achieved by implementing current management direction. As stated in the report of the Sierra Nevada
Ecosystem Project: "All strategies for improvement are in some ways experiments. Learning as we go and
adjusting as necessary work best when we give as much care and planning to measuring the response to new
management strategies as we do to implementing them."
Landscape Analysis. The purpose is to consider how management direction at the scale of the forest plan or
higher can be applied given landscape conditions at the watershed or subwatershed scale. The need is to
identify a suitable set of landscape analysis protocols so that treatment needs can be identified and project
Public Interaction and Collaboration. The purpose is to ensure that citizens can meaningfully participate in the
design, implementation and monitoring of management direction. Past planning efforts have followed a
traditional model that has public input to the planning process only at prescribed intervals with little
collaboration. As the report of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project concludes: "Collaboration among various
agencies, private interests, and public at large in the Sierra is the most significant principle that emerges from
the SNEP strategies."
The following are the specific purposes, by problem area, for taking action.
Old Forest Ecosystems and Associated Species. The purpose of the proposed action is to protect, increase,
and perpetuate old forest and hardwood ecosystem conditions including their structure, composition, function,
and to ensure the maintenance of biological diversity of these ecosystems including the viability of associated
species while meeting people's needs and concerns. This will include reversing the declining trends in
abundance of old-forest ecosystems and habitats for species that use old-forests.
Aquatic, Riparian, and Meadow Ecosystems. The purpose of the proposed action is to protect and restore
aquatic, riparian and meadow ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada national forests. This direction will ensure the
proper functioning, such as stable streambanks and shorelines, of key ecosystem processes, such as nutrient
cycling, and continued supplies of high quality water and will ensure the maintenance of biological diversity
and the viability of species associated with these ecosystems. The purpose is to: (1) improve consistency of
existing conservation programs, strategies and practices, and (2) establish through landscape analysis, a
consistent assessment of watershed condition to determine priorities for the allocation of limited personnel and
Fire and Fuels. The purposes are to: (1) bring greater consistency in fire and fuels management across the
national forests and coordinate management strategies with other ownerships and with objectives for Forest
Service management of other resources, (2) adjust the goals and objectives in the national forest land
management plan direction to reflect the role and consequence of wildland fire, and (3) set priorities for fire
management actions to balance the need to restore fire regimes while minimizing the threat fire poses to
structures, lives and resources.
Noxious Weeds. The purpose is to provide a strategy to control the rapid spread of invasive exotic plant
species, to contain existing weed populations and, where possible, to eradicate them.
Lower Westside Hardwood Forest Ecosystems. The purpose of the proposed action is to provide a
management strategy that will result in a sustainable hardwood forest ecosystem in the lower westside of the
Sierra Nevada, including the structure, composition, and function to ensure maintenance of biological diversity.
The proposed action responds to the needs identified above, the reports of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project
and the Sierra Nevada Science Review, and concerns raised during public workshops held earlier this year. It
also responds to the USDA Forest Service Natural Resource Agenda (on the Internet at
www.fs.fed.us/news/agenda), the Final Report of the California Spotted Owl Federal Advisory Committee and
the Clean Water Action Plan (delivered to Vice President Gore by EPA and USDA on February 19, 1998).
The proposed action, while addressing the five problem areas, integrates multiple uses such as recreation,
grazing, timber harvesting, and public access to the national forest into the actions. Sustainable levels of
products and services, reflective of shifting public values and expectations, are an integral part of the proposed
action. Employment, economic prosperity, community vitality, and the health of resource-based industries were
concerns voiced during public comment. They are relevant to all aspects of the proposed action and will be
evaluated as alternatives are prepared.
The proposed action calls for application of adaptive management principles to adjust management direction to
future events, changing knowledge, or dynamic social views. Adaptive management involves: (1) establishing
desired outcomes and steps towards achieving them, (2) monitoring to generate new information, (3) adjusting
management objectives, and (4) adjusting strategies in response to the new information. The proposed action
will contain a monitoring strategy to provide the critical information needed to trigger management adaptations.
The proposed action also calls for analysis of environmental conditions and management possibilities at the
watershed and sub-watershed scale to: (1) link decisions at the project scale to larger scale decisions, (2) link
forest plans to the efforts of other agencies, (3) prioritize treatments within the watershed or sub-watershed,
and (4) facilitate local collaborative stewardship.
The proposed action will be implemented using a collaborative process to ensure coordination and consideration
of the needs of other federal agencies, Indian Tribes, state and local governments and individuals. This
involvement will help shape national forest land management direction so that ecosystems are restored and
maintained while providing the management consistency that allows for a sustainable level of multiple uses,
including recreation, grazing, timber, water, mining, and others.
This process will also assure redemption of the government's trust responsibilities with Indian Tribes and
consideration of their expertise, cultural needs; and traditional and contemporary uses.
Section 401 of the 1999 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (the
Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act), 112 Stat.2681, directs the Secretary to
implement a pilot project on certain federal lands within the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe National forests. The
Forest service will be issueing a Notice of intent for an environmental impact statement to begin implementation
of section 401. We will coordinate the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment Project Environmental Impact
Statement with the environmental impact statement to implement section 401. We would like comments from
the public and interested groups concerning the relationship between the two environmental impact statements.
The description of the proposed action for each problem area includes alternative strategies, where they have
been identified, that could accomplish the purpose and need for action.
1. Old Forest Ecosystems and Associated Species (including forest carnivores and
California spotted owl)
The desired condition for Sierra Nevada national forests is to support old forests, which vary by vegetation
type at a variety of scales, from individual old conifer or hardwood trees and snags to entire landscapes. Old
forest habitat is present in sufficient locations, connectivity, quantities, and quality to sustain viable populations
of old forest associated species and allow for seasonal migration of animals. Old forest ecosystems, including
associated wildlife, fish, and plant populations, will be resilient to natural disturbance processes such as fire,
which serve to sustain ecosystem composition, structure, and function. Management of old forest ecosystems
integrates hardwoods and complements the aquatic conservation, fire and fuels, and noxious weeds strategies.
Human uses of forests, e.g. recreation, resource uses, and Native American uses, are retained as important
considerations for management of old forest ecosystems.
The proposed action is to develop both processes and management standards and guidelines for the California
spotted owl and forest carnivores to be integrated with strategies for old forests, aquatic ecosystems, and fire
and fuels. These processes, standards, and guidelines would address habitat conservation, modeling, mapping
and assessment; and analysis of effects of management actions.
;The proposed action is to: (1) develop consistent old forest definitions by forest type, (2) set mapping
standards, (3) adapt management to changing conditions, and (4) standardize large-scale monitoring of old
forest ecosystems. The expected result of this action is to increase the acreage supporting old forests and habitat
for species that occur there. Two contrasting approaches may be applied to achieve the desired condition.
Landscape Reserve Alternative. The landscape reserve alternative would allocate land as old forest emphasis
areas. These reserves would occur over all forest types and include hardwoods as well as conifer-dominated
communities. Little to no entry for commercial timber harvest or road building would be allowed in these areas.
Prescribed fire would be the primary tool to attain protection and restoration goals. The old forest emphasis
areas would be large enough to absorb large-scale natural disturbances, and geographically connected by
riparian areas protected in the Aquatic Conservation Strategy to facilitate animal dispersal and contribute toward
the continued existence of wide-ranging animals.
Old forest emphasis areas would be selected based upon the following criteria: existing concentrations of old
trees; known locations of wildlife, fish and plant populations that require these habitats; low road density;
habitat for riparian/aquatic species; representativeness of soils, geology, climatic and vegetation conditions;
existing wilderness and wild and scenic rivers; likelihood of long-term sustainability given estimated fire
Outside the old forest emphasis areas, individual large old conifer and hardwood trees, large snags, and
concentrations of old trees would be protected wherever they occur in the landscape, except where they pose a
safety hazard. Lands would be available for commercial timber harvest and other uses.
Whole Forest Alternative. The whole forest alternative designates the entire hardwood and conifer-dominated
forest landscape in the Sierra Nevada for succession toward old forests. Individual large old conifer and
hardwood trees and large snags would be protected wherever they occur in the landscape, except where they
pose a safety hazard. In roadless areas, concentrations of old trees would be protected by constructing no new
roads, and conducting no commercial timber harvest. In roaded areas, concentrations of old trees would
primarily be maintained using prescribed fire. Elsewhere in roaded areas, commercial timber harvest, other
mechanical treatments, and prescribed fire would be used to accelerate succession toward old forest conditions.
The main differences between the landscape reserve and whole forest alternatives are that under the landscape
reserve alternative the location of those reserves would not change over time and no commercial timber harvest
would be permitted within the reserves, regardless of current condition. Under the Whole Forest Strategy, no
timber harvest would be permitted in existing concentrations of old trees, regardless of location. Two points are
common to both strategies: (1) the goal is to increase acreages supporting old forest, and (2) concentrations of
old trees would move across the landscape over time in response to large-scale natural or human-generated
2. Aquatic, Riparian, and Meadow Ecosystems
The desired condition of the Sierra Nevada national forests will be to provide sustainable aquatic, riparian and
meadow ecosystem compositions, structures and functions. Structures include vegetation, flows and
stream/lake bottoms. Fire and flooding, and processes such as nutrient cycling, water and sediment flows are
within a desired range of variability. Land use activities, such as recreation, hydro-power, grazing, mining,
timber harvest, transportation system maintenance and fuels treatments will be managed to enhance and restore
the health of these ecosystems. Habitat to support populations of native and desired non-native plant,
invertebrate, and vertebrate species will be well-distributed. Watersheds will be connected to each other,
allowing fish and wildlife populations to move between them.
The proposed action is to implement an Aquatic Conservation Strategy. This includes a broad-scale assessment
to identify the highest quality watersheds, and rare and imperiled wildlife and plant habitats for protection.
Important components of the Aquatic Conservation Strategy will be the integration of existing management
practices (i.e., collaboration, restoration, existing watershed conservation practices, adaptive management,
monitoring and research), landscape analysis to assess watershed conditions, and establishment of emphasis
watersheds and habitats. Criteria for designation of emphasis watersheds and habitats include the presence of
native aquatic species; a low level or lack of exotic species; watershed condition; and distribution of, rarity of,
and risk to aquatic habitat.
The strategy will include specific standards and guidelines for at-risk frog and amphibian species. This group
includes both foothill (Rana boylii ) and mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), California red-legged
frog (Rana aurora draytoni), Cascade frog (Rana cascade ), northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), and
Yosemite toad ( Bufo canorus). The standards and guidelines will address protecting both occupied and
potential habitat from the adverse effects of grazing, mining, reservoir construction, urbanization and other
The willow flycatcher is currently listed by the State of California as an endangered species. Three subspecies
occur within California. Two of these subspecies occur in the Sierra Nevada (Empidonax traillii brewsteri and
E. t. adastus) and are listed as Region 5 Sensitive Species. Standards and guidelines for these species will be a
subject of the proposed action. A separate subspecies of willow flycatcher (E. t. extimus) is listed as federally
endangered, occurs at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, and is not expected to be addressed or affected by
this proposed action.
The proposed action is to protect known and potential willow flycatcher habitat from livestock grazing and
other management activities through habitat management guidelines. Specific guidelines could include
preventing cattle and sheep grazing in willow flycatcher habitat during the breeding season and managing
grazing intensity to avoid adverse impacts to vegetation needed for nesting and foraging.
Also included in the guidelines will be measures to: (1) promote the improvement and expansion of suitable
habitat, (2) minimize the likelihood of nest parasitism by brownheaded cowbirds, and (3) require annual
surveys to monitor breeding success and habitat conditions.
Two alternative approaches may be applied to implement the Aquatic Conservation Strategy, however both of
these approaches will include the strategy for amphibian species and willow flycatcher as described above.
Range-wide Standards. Under this approach, Sierra Nevada-wide standards and guidelines will be developed
to be consistent across the province, forest, watershed and project scales. These include delineation of riparian
reserves; location, maintenance and engineering of roads; design of timber harvest units; and grazing,
recreation, and fuels treatments.
Site Specific Standards. Under this approach, management activities will be determined only after a landscape
analysis identifies actions that are most appropriate and effective. In the absence of site specific standards,
range-wide standards and guidelines will apply.
3. Fire and Fuels
The desired condition is to have a cost-effective fire management program that protects natural resources, life,
and property from the effects of unwanted wildland fire. Fuels are maintained at levels commensurate with
minimizing resource loss from fire while meeting other requirements for overall ecosystem health. Fire, under
prescribed conditions, is one of the most important tools for restoration and sustainability of ecosystem
diversity and productivity. Fire management is coordinated with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land
Management, Indian Tribes, Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
and other agencies and jurisdictions.
The proposal is to implement a fire management plan for each of the eleven national forests that demonstrates
consistency with the Federal Wildland Fire Policy and coordinates with the California Fire Plan prepared by the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A fire management plan is a strategic plan that defines a
program to manage wildland and prescribed fires and documents implementation strategies for the fire
management program in the approved forest plan.
All fire plans will be supplemented by a range-wide, interagency assessment of flammability and fire risk. This
assessment will be based on existing interagency mapping of surface fuels and vegetation, on fire history
(location and size of historical fires), and will be adjusted using other factors that affect fire behavior such as
weather, climatology, slope and aspect. It displays the likelihood that fires will occur and suggests how large
and intense they could be under existing conditions.
This assessment will help guide the setting of priorities for wildland fire management and fire hazard reduction.
Priorities should include location of areas of high resource values, reintroduction of fire as an ecosystem
process, effects on local economies and impacts on air quality.
Two alternative strategies for priority setting are proposed.
Prescribed Fire and Natural Wildland Fire Use With Focused Use of Mechanical Treatments. Treat fuel
accumulations and restore ecosystems primarily through the use of prescribed and natural wildland fire. Use
mechanical treatments along the urban wildland interface and major transportation routes.
Prescribed Fire and Natural Wildland Fire with Extensive Use of Mechanical Treatments. Use prescribed and
natural wildland fire to maintain treated areas and to reintroduce fire. Where fuel accumulations, smoke
management restrictions, or other concerns preclude the use of prescribed fire as a means to deal with fuels
management or the risk of high intensity wildfire, use mechanical methods to create a network of interspersed
shaded fuelbreaks and area-wide treatments consistent with fire management priorities.
4. Noxious Weeds
The desired condition is for no new populations of noxious weeds. Existing populations are contained and,
where possible, eradicated. Employees, users of National Forest System lands, adjacent landowners, and State
agencies are aware and informed about noxious weed concerns.
The 1995 Forest Service Manual direction for noxious weed management will be incorporated into all
alternatives developed in the EIS. Also, because noxious weed control and eradication is a Region-wide effort,
management directions developed for the Sierra Nevada forests will be integrated at the Regional scale and
coordinated with other land management agencies in California.
Alternatives will contain management direction to minimize the spread of noxious weed by roadbuilding,
livestock use, vehicle use, equipment use and other carriers. California wildland fire fighting agencies would be
encouraged to inventory and adopt use of weed-free fire camps. Direction will also be included to ensure
weed-free administration sites and that materials brought onto the national forests (e.g., sand, gravel, and pack
animal's feed) will be weed-free. All alternatives will include direction to use State certified "noxious
weed-free" materials as soon as the State program is in place.
Monitoring and inventory programs for noxious weed populations will be tied to monitoring that triggers
shifting the nature and intensity of actions. Monitoring results and inventories will be shared across agencies
and national forests. The range-wide efficiency of the control program would be periodically evaluated.
5. Lower Westside Hardwood Forest Ecosystems
The desired condition is for the lower westside hardwood forests to be present in sufficient locations,
connectivity, quantities, and quality to provide for public uses, resident wildlife fish and aquatic species,
sensitive plant species and seasonal migrants including deer. Fire will be employed to maintain both old tree
dominated forests and a mosaic of hardwood stand ages across the landscape. Connectivity between lower
elevation hardwood and upper elevation conifer forests will be sufficient to allow for wildlife migration and for
natural processes, such as wildland fire, to occur. Collaboration with local land owners and governments, and
consultation with tribes and permittees, will be an integral part of managing these areas.
The proposed action is a management strategy that will ensure lower westside hardwood forests are sustained.
This strategy complements the old-forest, aquatic conservation, fire and fuels, and noxious weeds strategies.
Individual large trees and snags, and concentrations of old trees will be protected consistent with the old-forest
ecosystem strategy. A mosaic of hardwood stand ages will be provided through reintroduction of fire, where
possible, or through other fuels reduction techniques in compliance with the fire and fuels strategy.
Management practices for improving connectivity between hardwood and conifer forests and for reducing the
impacts of urban development to hardwood ecosystems will also be included. Viable populations of plants and
animals associated with hardwood forests would be sustained, to the extent feasible in light of the
fragmentation of these forests. The monitoring strategy will be designed to ensure the management strategy is
effective in sustaining lower westside hardwood forests.
Proposed Scoping Process
This Notice of Intent initiates the scoping process whereby the Forest Service will identify the scope of issues
to be addressed in the EIS and identify the significant environmental issues related to the proposed action.
Public comment is invited on the proposal to prepare the EIS. Comment is also invited on the relationship
between the EIS and section 401 of the 1999 Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
(the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act), 112 Stat. 2681.
Community meetings with interested publics will be hosted by each Sierra Nevada national forest during
scoping, after release of the Draft EIS, and after release of the Final EIS. Coordination with Federal and State
agencies, Tribal governments, and local governments will occur throughout the scoping process.
During December 1998, the eleven national forests will each host workshops designed to explain the Notice of
Intent. In January 1999, community workshops will be held to solicit suggestions, recommendations, and
comments to help frame alternatives to the proposed action. Workshops will also be held in Los Angeles and
San Francisco. Specific locations and dates of the meetings will be posted on the Internet at www.r5.fs.fed.us
and in the newspaper of record for each Sierra Nevada national forest.
Decision To Be Made and Responsible Official
The Regional Foresters of Regions 4 and 5 will decide, for their respective Regions, whether or not, and in
what manner, to amend the Land and Resource Management Plans for the eleven Sierra national forests;
Humboldt-Toiyabe, Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, Sierra, Sequoia, Inyo, and Lake
Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Also, the decision could include a non-significant amendment to the Regional
Guides for the Intermountain and Pacific Southwest Regions. The responsible officials are Regional Foresters
Jack A. Blackwell, Region 4, USDA Forest Service, Federal Building 324, 25th Street, Ogden, UT 84401 and
G. Lynn Sprague, Region 5, USDA Forest Service, 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94111.
Coordination With Other Agencies
While the Forest Service is the lead agency with responsibility to prepare this EIS, requests have been made of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Forestry
and Fire Protection, and California Department of Fish and Game to participate as cooperating agencies (40
CFR Part 1501.6). The Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife Service have regulatory
responsibilities that could not efficiently be considered without direct involvement; formal consultation
responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act will be carried out by having a Fish and Wildlife Service
specialist participate as a member of the interdisciplinary team. Cooperation by the National Marine Fisheries
Service is being sought. Coordination with the California Department of Fish and Game and the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is necessary because some mission responsibilities overlap or are
closely aligned with the conservation activities of the Forest Service. Negotiations with the California
Department of Parks and Recreation to seek their cooperation is also underway. Each agency will continue to
participate as resources and competing demands permit. Other agencies, local and county governments will be
invited to comment, as appropriate.
A draft environmental impact statement is expected to be available for public review and comment in February
1999; and a final environmental impact statement in July 1999. The comment period on the draft environmental
impact statement will be 90 days from the date of availability published in the Federal Register by the
Environmental Protection Agency.
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. 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 (FOIA) permits such confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be
aware that, under the FOIA, 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.
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 the 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 but that are not raised until after completion of the final environmental
stage 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 (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 90
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
Date: November 16,
Deputy Regional Forester
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