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Notice of intent to prepare a Joint Environmental Impact Statement and To Conduct Public Scoping

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of intent to prepare a Joint Environmental Impact Statement and To Conduct Public Scoping

Karl H. Calvo
Department of Homeland Security
Shanda Fallau Dekome
Department of Agriculture
27 April 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 81 (Wednesday, April 27, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24839-24842]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-09790]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Notice of intent to prepare a Joint Environmental Impact 
Statement and To Conduct Public Scoping

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland 
Security and Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a Joint Environmental Impact 
Statement concerning the repair and maintenance of Bog Creek Road and 
closure of certain roads within the Blue-Grass Bear Management Unit in 
the Selkirk Mountains in Boundary County, Idaho; request for comments; 
and notice of public scoping.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces that U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
(CBP) and the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) Idaho Panhandle 
National Forests (IPNF) (collectively the ``Agencies'') intend to 
prepare a joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify and 
assess potential impacts upon the environment of: Repairing and 
maintaining an approximately 5.6-mile section of the existing Bog Creek 
Road, which is located in the Selkirk Mountains in Boundary County, 
Idaho, within approximately two miles of the Canadian border, on land 
within the Blue-Grass Bear Management Unit (BMU) that is managed by the 
IPNF; and closing for motorized use additional roads within the Blue-
Grass BMU to comply with the IPNF Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized 
Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Zones (Access Amendment) and reduce road density in the Blue-
Grass BMU. This notice initiates the public scoping process for the 
preparation of the EIS. The purpose of the public scoping process is to 
solicit public comments regarding the potential environmental impacts 
that may be addressed. This notice commences the public scoping period 
for which CBP and IPNF are requesting written comments. This process is 
being conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for 
Implementing the NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and CBP and Forest 
Service NEPA guidelines. Additionally, pursuant to Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, the public scoping

[[Page 24840]]

process will allow members of the general public to provide CBP and 
IPNF comments on potential impacts to historic and cultural resources 
for the proposed action.

DATES: The scoping comment period will be 30 days. To ensure 
consideration, comments must be received by May 27, 2016.
    Comments may be submitted as set forth in the ADDRESSES section of 
this document. This project implements a land management plan and is 
subject to 36 CFR part 218, subparts A and B of the Forest Service's 
Project-level Predecisional Administrative Review Process. Pursuant to 
36 CFR part 218, only those who provide specific, written comments 
regarding the proposed project will be eligible to file an objection.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted either by mail or by email at the 
addresses indicated below. To avoid duplication, please use only one of 
the following methods to provide written comments:
    (a) Via mail: Bog Creek Road EIS, P.O. Box 643, Flagstaff, Arizona, 
86002-0643.
    (b) Via email: SPWBogCreekEIS@cbp.dhs.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Enriquez, CBP, Border Patrol 
Facilities & Tactical Infrastructure Program Management Office, by 
telephone at (949) 643-6365, or by email at Paul.Enriquez@cbp.dhs.gov. 
You may also visit the CBP public Web site for more information at: 
http://www.cbp.gov/about/environmental-cultural-stewardship/nepa-documents/docs-review. Individuals who use telecommunication devices 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, 
Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

Repairs and Maintenance to Bog Creek Road

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) protects the nation's 
borders from terrorism, human and drug smuggling, illegal migration, 
and agricultural pests while facilitating the flow of legitimate travel 
and trade. CBP does so by integrating modern technology, deploying 
highly trained law enforcement personnel, and developing public and 
private sector partnerships that advance its overall mission.
    At 5,500 miles in length, the Northern Border of the United States 
stands as the longest common border in the world. The terrain ranges 
from densely forested lands on the west and east coasts to open plains 
in the middle of the country. To complement its efforts, CBP uses 
partnerships with other Federal, state, and local law enforcement 
agencies to meet the challenges of ensuring security while facilitating 
legitimate trade and travel along this expansive and complex border 
area.
    The primary road that provides east-west access to the Northern 
Border in the Selkirk Mountains of Northern Idaho is Bog Creek Road. 
Bog Creek Road is situated on National Forest System lands that are a 
part of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF). The area is 
managed by the IPNF unit of the Forest Service (also referred to as 
IPNF). The road is currently impassable to most vehicles.
    Bog Creek Road was closed on both ends in the late 1980s, to meet 
grizzly bear habitat requirements. As a result of the closure, the road 
has only been maintained on a limited basis. By the mid-1990s, the road 
had experienced minor failures. Around the year 2000, a large failure 
occurred when a large culvert failed due to heavy surface water runoff. 
At that time, the road became impassable to most vehicles. Currently, 
the road is gated at the east end and barricaded at the west end. In 
recent years, the road has been infrequently used by Forest Service and 
CBP personnel traveling on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and horseback, 
but using ATVs requires a winch system to traverse the large culvert 
failure. Nearly the entire length of Bog Creek Road is now overgrown 
with alder brush, small trees, and other vegetation.
    Without access to the Northern Border area via Bog Creek Road, CBP 
must use a lengthy detour to get to the border, including using state 
highways in Washington and Idaho and other forest roads. This 
alternative route is approximately 180 miles and adds approximately 
four hours one way (eight hours total) to CBP patrol response times.

Closing Additional Roads for Motorized Use

    Bog Creek Road is located within the Blue-Grass Bear Management 
Unit (BMU) of the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone (SRZ) of the IPNF. 
The IPNF has been working since the late 1980s to create secure habitat 
for grizzly bears. For example, Bog Creek Road was closed in the late 
1980s to allow for more effective management of grizzly bear habitat. 
The IPNF continues to manage habitat conditions of the SRZ. To further 
manage grizzly bear habitat conditions, in 2011, the IPNF issued a 
Record of Decision (ROD) for the Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized 
Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Zones (Access Amendment). The Access Amendment set motorized 
vehicle access and security standards in the zones to conserve and 
contribute to the recovery of grizzly bears, and to meet the agency's 
responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These 
standards limit the use of motorized vehicles within the Blue-Grass BMU 
area to a specified percentage of the land. By limiting high levels of 
human activity in the area, effective habitat can be created for 
grizzly bears. The ROD and accompanying biological opinion from the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service require the standards in the Access 
Amendment to be met by 2019. Currently, the BMU is not meeting the 
motorized access standards set forth in the Access Amendment.
    The status of all roads in the BMU area is of great interest to CBP 
since the entire Blue-Grass BMU is within 10 miles of the Northern 
Border. CBP needs good access to this area to execute its mission to 
protect the Northern Border. Because there are limited options 
regarding which roads to close for motorized use that meet the Access 
Amendment standards and the ESA, and which provide border access to 
CBP, the Agencies are working together to determine acceptable 
alternatives.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose and need of the proposed action is to provide improved 
east-west access across the Selkirk Mountains on National Forest System 
lands that would: (1) Enable CBP to execute its statutory mission to 
protect the U.S. Northern Border and provide for the safety of CBP and 
other law enforcement officers in carrying out their duties and (2) 
meet Access Amendment standards for motorized access in a grizzly bear 
habitat in the Blue-Grass BMU area.

Proposed Action

Repairs and Maintenance to Bog Creek Road

    One aspect of the proposed action would involve the repair and 
maintenance of an approximately 5.6-mile section of the existing Bog 
Creek Road between Forest Road (FR) 1013 and FR 2450 within the Blue-
Grass BMU of the SRZ of the IPNF. The road is located in the Selkirk 
Mountains in Boundary County, Idaho, within approximately two miles of 
the Canadian border.

[[Page 24841]]

    The Agencies anticipate that the proposed action would likely 
involve replacing or repairing damaged culverts, grading and 
resurfacing areas that have been heavily eroded by surface water flows, 
infilling potholes, and removing protruding boulders. Although widening 
Bog Creek Road is not a part of the proposed action, there may be areas 
which no longer meet minimum width requirements and may require cut and 
fill work to achieve the desired road operating and safety standards. 
Trees and other vegetation within the roadway and to either side would 
likely be grubbed or cut back to facilitate safe vehicle passage.
    The proposed action would also likely include gathering and 
transporting fill materials (riprap, mixed soil/rock, and crushed 
aggregate) from ``borrow'' pits to use in general resurfacing/fill and 
in installation of the culvert replacements. Some equipment would be 
needed to perform the repairs and maintenance, including a dozer, a 
grader, a hydraulic excavator, and a dump truck. In addition, several 
pickup trucks or SUVs would be needed to transport construction 
personnel to and from the area. The Agencies anticipate that upon 
completion of the proposed repairs and maintenance, the 5.6-mile 
section of Bog Creek Road would remain closed for public motorized use 
and would be limited to administrative use only.

Closing Additional Roads for Motorized Use

    Another aspect of the proposed action would involve the closure of 
certain roads within the Blue-Grass BMU. Bog Creek Road is located in 
the Blue-Grass BMU within the SRZ. This BMU area is currently not 
meeting Access Amendment standards for motorized access in a grizzly 
bear habitat. The Agencies anticipate that other roads within the Blue-
Grass BMU area would need to be closed for motorized use under this 
proposed action. The road closures would be necessary to mitigate the 
potential impacts to grizzly bear habitats associated with the repair 
and subsequent use of Bog Creek Road and to allow the Forest Service to 
meet the Access Amendment standards and its statutory obligations under 
the ESA. Because there are limited options regarding roads to close for 
motorized use to meet the Access Amendment standards, the Agencies are 
working together to determine alternatives that would meet CBP's 
requirements for border access as well as the Forest Service's 
requirements to comply with the Access Amendment standards and the ESA.
    The Agencies have identified a preliminary list of roads that could 
be closed for motorized use. All of these roads are currently closed to 
public use and only open for limited administrative use. Roads that 
have been preliminarily identified for possible motorized closure 
include FR 2464 Upper, 2464 Lower, 1322, 1322A, 1013D, 1013C, 1388, 
1388A, 2252, 636, and 2253. Approximately 26 miles of IPNF roads could 
be closed under the proposed action. As a part of the scoping process 
(discussed below), the Agencies are seeking further input on possible 
motorized road closure alternatives.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    CBP and the Forest Service will work together as joint lead 
agencies on the EIS.

Responsible Official

    The Executive Director, Facilities Management & Engineering, CBP, 
is the deciding official for CBP and the Forest Supervisor, IPNF, 
Forest Service, is the deciding official for the Forest Service.

Public Scoping Process

    Public scoping for the Bog Creek Road repair and maintenance 
proposal was initially conducted by CBP in February and March of 2013. 
Information gathered from the previous scoping effort was used to 
inform the Agencies about what level of NEPA analysis was necessary to 
evaluate the proposed project. The initial scoping information included 
the possibility that road closures may become part of the proposed 
action, but did not include specific motorized road closure 
information. Using initial scoping information, the Agencies determined 
that the NEPA analysis would be conducted through an EIS process. All 
scoping comments submitted during the initial scoping will be included 
in issue development for the current EIS process. A Scoping Report that 
summarizes the initial scoping effort is available for review at http://www.cbp.gov/about/environmental-cultural-stewardship/nepa-documents/docs-review.
    This Notice of Intent (NOI) initiates the public scoping process 
which will guide the development of the EIS. All interested parties are 
invited to participate in the scoping process. CBP and the Forest 
Service invite agencies, organizations, and the general public to 
provide input to this process of scoping environmental issues for 
consideration in the EIS. Written comments may be submitted as 
described in the ADDRESSES section of this document. When submitting 
comments, please include your name and address. Comments received in 
response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those 
who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed 
action. Comments submitted anonymously will also be accepted and 
considered.
    After the public scoping period is complete and the Agencies have 
reviewed the results, a compilation list of comments will be included 
in an amendment to the initial Scoping Report (described above). The 
amended Scoping Report will be made available on the CBP public Web 
site: http://www.cbp.gov/about/environmental-cultural-stewardship/nepa-documents/docs-review.

Public Involvement in Historic Preservation Activities Under Section 
106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

    Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. 
306108) requires Federal agencies to review all actions which may 
affect resources listed on, or eligible for, the National Register of 
Historic Places in order to take into account the effects of their 
undertakings on historic properties, and to afford the Idaho State 
Historic Preservation Officer and tribal governments a reasonable 
opportunity to comment on such undertakings. During the process of 
public scoping and preparation of the EIS, the Agencies seek to 
identify interested parties and obtain public comments on historic 
preservation issues related to the road repair and closure of roads for 
motorized use.

Preliminary Issues

    Based upon the initial project scoping, some preliminary issues 
have been identified as potential effects of the proposed project. 
These include effects on:
     Border security;
     threatened and endangered species including grizzly bear, 
caribou, lynx, and bull trout;
     Blue-Grass BMU grizzly bear core habitat requirement;
     National Forest access; and
     biological resources including fisheries, wildlife, 
sensitive plants, and noxious weeds.

Permits and Licenses Required

    The proposed project would likely require a Clean Water Act Section 
404 Permit. The Agencies will work with the Idaho Department of 
Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine 
the necessary

[[Page 24842]]

permit process. All required permits would be obtained prior to project 
implementation.

Next Steps

    In accordance with NEPA, the draft EIS will be made available to 
the public for review and comment through a Notice of Availability 
(NOA) in the Federal Register. The NOA will provide directions for 
obtaining copies of the draft EIS as well as dates and locations for 
any associated public participation meetings. After a public comment 
period on the draft EIS, CBP and the Forest Service will complete a 
final EIS.

    Dated: April 21, 2016.
Karl H. Calvo,
Executive Director, Facilities Management and Engineering, Office of 
Administration.
Shanda Fallau Dekome,
Acting Forest Supervisor, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, U.S. Forest 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-09790 Filed 4-26-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 9111-14-P



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