Richfield Ranger District

Fishlake National Forest
Fishlake National Forest & Boulder Mountain Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project


Public Notice
Scoping Document
Small Project Proposal
UDSA Forest Service
Fishlake National Forest
Beaver, Fillmore, Fremont River, and Richfield Ranger Districts

The Fishlake National Forest is proposing to treat Phase I and early Phase II pinyon-juniper stands. The selected stands are undergoing a successional transition from grassland or sage-steppe to a tree dominated environment. There are several hundred of these stands, adding up to approximately 75,000 acres across the Fishlake National Forest, and the old Teasdale Ranger District of the Dixie National Forest. The proposed treatments are within the following management areas: Big Game Winter Range-Non Forested, Fish Habitat Improvement, Habitat for Management Indicator Species, Improved Watershed, Intensive Livestock Management; Livestock Grazing, Municipal Watershed, Riparian Management, Rural and Roaded Natural Recreation, Semi Primitive Recreation opportunities, Semi Primitive Motorized Recreation, Semi Primitive Non-Motorized Recreation, Wood Fiber Non-Sawtimber, and Wood Fiber Products. Portions of the project area lie within Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA) totaling approximately 35,000 acres.
The purpose of this proposal is to implement the Fishlake and Dixie National Forests Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMP) by proposing vegetation treatment designed specifically to achieve the following goals: 1) Maintain species diversity; 2) Improve or maintain the quality of habitat on big game winter ranges; and 3) Reduce conifer and pinyon-juniper invasion, modification of existing timber and pinyon-juniper stands, improvement of riparian zone vegetation, and rejuvenation of aspen and mountain brush to improve conditions for Management Indicator Species (MIS).
The proposed management is needed because the current condition—the percent of conifer canopy cover in the grassland and sage steppe community—is to dense and not meeting the desired condition of less than 10% conifer canopy cover in current or former sage-steppe and grassland sites. The stands proposed for treatment currently contain between 10 and 30 percent conifer cover. These stands are transitioning away from important habitat types, thus reducing vegetative diversity at a landscape level. As a result, these areas are not meeting the desired condition. This discrepancy between the desired and current condition points to a need to remove post-settlement pinyon juniper trees from Phase I and early Phase II sites.
The proposed action consists of stand improvements or wildlife habitat improvements designed to remove undesirable conifer cover from encroached habitats: Treatment methods would include cutting conifers with handsaws or chainsaws, lopping with pruning shears, and/or using tracked or wheeled machinery fitted with a grinding implement (masticator) or shearing implement (large, powerful pruning shears). Trees would be cut as close to the ground as practicable and no live branches will remain on the stump. Within the entire project area, cut conifer would be lopped to ≤ 24” and left on site with no piles.
The proposal does not include the harvest of commercial timber, the use of herbicides, or the cutting of any old growth or persistent woodlands. Contractors or Forest Service crews would accomplish the proposed stand and habitat improvements. Under the LRMPs, wheeled or tracked mechanical treatments may only occur on slopes less than 40 percent. Within the IRA’s, hand-cutting is the only treatment to occur. Moreover, the proposal does not include the development of new roads.

During a preliminary assessment, Fishlake National Forest officials find this proposal lies within categories of actions listed in 36 CFR Part 220 (and Forest Service NEPA Handbook (FSH) 1909.15) that can be excluded from documentation in an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and that no known extraordinary circumstances exist that preclude exclusion. The proposed action is a routine activity as defined in FSH 1909.15 Section 32.2 and fits Category 6: “Timber stand and/or wildlife habitat improvement activities which do not include the use of herbicides or do not require more than one mile of low standard road construction.”

For maps and detailed information about the project visit: www.fs.usda.gov/projects/fishlake/landmanagement/projects

Public Involvement - The USDA Forest Service (USFS) is no longer required to offer notice, comment, and appeal opportunities pursuant to 36 CFR 215 or 36 CFR 218 for categorically excluded projects. However, such legislative ruling does not limit the public’s ability to comment on USFS projects and activities.

By soliciting public comments the USFS ensures that a wide range of interests and perspectives are considered and that site specific natural resource concerns are identified and meeting the NEPA requirements for public scoping with an opportunity to comment prior to a decision by the responsible official.

Comment Process - Please submit your detailed project specific comments within 14 days of the publication in The Beaver County Journal. The anticipated publication date is May 3, 2017. Comments received, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record for this project, and may be made available for public inspection.

Comments can be submitted to the Fishlake National Forest by facsimile, hand-delivery, post office mail delivery or email. Emailed comments need to be in Word (.doc or .docx), rich text format (.rtf), text (.txt), or portable document format (.pdf) and addressed to: comments-intermtn-fishlake@fs.fed.us. Include in the subject line: Pinyon Juniper Project. Please address post office mail comments to: Jason Kling, Fishlake National Forest, Richfield Ranger District, 115 E. 900 N., Richfield, Utah 84754. Hand delivered comments are welcomed at the Forest Supervisors Office front desk on weekdays, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, excluding holidays. If submitting comments via FAX send to: 435-896-9347.


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