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CURRENT ANNOUNCEMENTS AND NEWS RELEASES
SOURCE: Federal Register, January 25, 2005
Commercial Pack Stock Use Authorizations for the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses;
Inyo and Sierra National Forests; Inyo, Fresno, Madera, and Mono Counties, CA
ACTION: Revised notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.
SUMMARY: The USDA Forest Service published a notice of intent to
prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Commercial Pack
Stock Use Authorizations for the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses
Project in the Federal Register on June 15, 2004 (Volume 69, Number
114, pages 33346-33348). A revised notice of intent is being issued for
several reasons. A Trail Management Plan for the Ansel Adams and John
Muir Wildernesses, previously under analysis in a separate
environmental document, has been combined into this project. The Dinkey
Lakes portion of the Trail Management Plan will be conducted in a
future analysis. To incorporate the Trail Management Plan, the Purpose
and Need and Proposed Action for the project have been revised only to
reflect the combination of the two proposals into one. This is
described in more detail below.
In addition, the decision to be made reflects a change that this
proposal will only amend the Ansel Adams and John Muir portions of the
2001 Wilderness Management Plan. No commercial pack stock use will be
authorized under this proposal. Finally, the name of the project has
been changed to better describe the proposed action and is now ``Trail
and Commercial Pack Stock Management in the Ansel Adams and John Muir
DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis and revised notice
of intent should be received within 30 days following the publication
of this notice in Federal Register. Comments previously submitted for
the scoping of the proposed action as described in the June 15, 2004,
Federal Register are part of the project record and will be considered
in the Draft EIS. There is no need for these comments, or comments made
to the Trail Management Plan to be resubmitted as the proposed actions
have not changed, just combined into one proposal.
A draft environmental impact statement is expected to be filed with
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and available for public
review in April 2005. At that time the EPA will publish a Notice of
Availability in the Federal Register. The comment period on the draft
EIS will be 45 days from the date the EPA published the Notice of
Availability. The final EIS is scheduled to be completed in December
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Forest Supervisor, Attention:
Wilderness Planning, Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200,
Bishop, CA 93514. Comments may be sent electronically to
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Beth Hennessy, Wilderness
Specialist, Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA
93514, (760) 873-2448.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: To better reflect the purpose and need for
the project, the name of the project has been changed to ``Trail and
Commercial Pack Stock Management in the Ansel Adams and John Muir
Wildernesses.'' Publication of the Draft and Final Environmental Impact
Statements will be under this name.
Comments previously submitted for the scoping of the proposed
action for this project as described in the June 15, 2004, Federal
Register are part of the project record and will be considered in the
Draft EIS. Comments previously submitted for the Trail Management Plan
Environmental Assessment Proposed Action are also a part of the record
and will be considered in the Draft EIS. There is not a need for these
comments to be resubmitted.
Nature of Decision to Be Made: The decision to be made is whether
or not to continue commercial pack stock operations in the John Muir
and Ansel Adams Wildernesses and, if so, to determine the amount, type,
and locations where these activities would occur. The decision will
also establish a Trail Management Plan for both wildernesses which
determines the trails that will be maintained on the Forests'
inventories and how they will be managed. This Trail Management Plan
was originally under analysis in a separate proposal, but due to public
comments and the apparent connected nature of the two proposals, the
trail plan and commercial pack stock proposals were combined into a
single analysis. The incorporation of the Trail Plan into the overall
Wilderness planning effort will better disclose the cumulative effects
of commercial pack stock use in the two wildernesses.
Purpose and Need for Action: These actions are needed for several
reasons. While the Wilderness Act does contain provisions for
commercial activities in wilderness areas, these activities are
permitted ``to the extent necessary for activities which are proper for
realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas.''
There is a need, therefore, to clearly articulate the extent necessary,
including the locations and the amount and type of use, that commercial
pack stock is necessary in the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses.
There is a need for limits on commercial pack stock operations in order
to maintain desired resource and experiential conditions identified in
the 2001 Wilderness Plan and Record of Decision. There is also a need
for a trail management plan that establishes a
system of trails that provides access to the Ansel Adams and John Muir
Wildernesses and identifies the appropriate maintenance and management
levels of the trail system such that the wilderness values are
This proposal responds in part to the Court Order of November 1,
2001, (and modified January 10, 2002) which requires that the Forest
Service complete a cumulative impacts analysis within the NEPA process,
and that it consider limits on numbers of stock animals used in
conjunction with commercial operators, limits on the group size (both
people and number of stock both on and off trail), trail suitability
for various use types, and designation of campsites for use by
commercial pack stations.
Proposed Action: To meet the purpose and need, the Forest Service
proposes to amend the 2001 Ansel Adams, John Muir, and Dinkey Lakes
Wildernesses Management Plan to provide further standards and
guidelines for commercial pack stock activities. The standards and
guidelines proposed for modification from existing Wilderness Plan
direction relate to use levels; trail suitability for commercial pack
stock operations; grazing suitability and utilization levels; and, use
of campsites and campfires. Currently, commercial pack stock use
accounts for approximately 15% of total use in these two wildernesses,
with around 3500 people a year being serviced to over 400 destinations.
The proposed action will also establish a system of trails and trail
management levels for each system trail, consistent with the desired
condition of areas within the two wildernesses as identified in the
2001 Wilderness Plan and Record of Decision. Approximately 960 miles of
trails are being proposed to be managed as a system trail.
Responsible Official: The responsible officials are Jeffrey E.
Bailey, Forest Supervisor, Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite
200, Bishop, CA 93514 and Edward C. Cole, Forest Supervisor, Sierra
National Forest, 1600 Tollhouse Road, Clovis, CA 93611.
Early Notice of Importance of Public Participation in Subsequent
Environmental Review: 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 but
that are not raised until after completion of the final environmental
impact 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
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
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 points.
Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who
comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal
and will be available for public inspection.
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