[Federal Register: January 27, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 17)]
[Notices]               
[Page 4340-4342]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr27ja10-38]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Plan Revision for the Coronado National Forest, Cochise, Graham, 
Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz Counties, AZ; and Hidalgo County, NM

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to revise the forest plan.

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SUMMARY: As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA 
Forest Service is preparing the Coronado National Forest revised land 
management plan (Forest Plan) and will also prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) for this revised Forest Plan. This notice 
briefly describes the nature of the decision to be made, the proposed 
action and need for change, and information concerning public 
participation. It also provides estimated dates for filing the EIS and 
the names and addresses of the responsible agency official and the 
individuals who can provide additional information. Finally, this 
notice briefly describes the applicable planning rule and how work done 
on the plan revision under the 2008 planning rule will be used or 
modified for completing this plan revision.
    The revised Forest Plan will supersede the current Forest Plan 
previously approved by the Regional Forester on August 4, 1986. The 
current Forest Plan has been modified through eleven amendments and 
three change notices since its approval. Amendments included: 
Establishing new management areas, adding and modifying management 
direction for fire, caves, cultural resources, roads, and trails, and 
adding direction for the Mexican spotted owl, the northern goshawk, and 
old growth. This current amended Forest Plan will remain in effect 
until the revised Forest Plan takes effect.

DATES: Comments concerning the need for change provided in this notice 
will be most useful in the development of the draft revised Forest Plan 
and draft environmental impact statement if received by February 19, 
2010. The agency expects to release a draft revised Forest Plan and 
draft environmental impact statement for formal comment by fall, 2010 
and a final revised Plan and final environmental impact statement by 
fall, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Coronado National Forest, Forest 
Plan Revision Team, 300 W. Congress, Tucson, Arizona 85701. Comments 
may also be sent via e-mail to: coronado-plan@fs.fed.us.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Ruyle, Forest Planner, 
Coronado National Forest, 300 W. Congress, Tucson, AZ 85701, (520) 388-
8351, coronado-plan@fs.fed.us. Information on this revision is also 
available at Coronado National Forest revision Web site, http://
www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/plan-revision/index.shtmi. 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:

Name and Address of the Responsible Official

    Corbin Newman, Regional Forester, Southwestern Region, 333 
Broadway, SE., Albuquerque, NM 87102.

[[Page 4341]]

Nature of the Decision To Be Made

    The Coronado National Forest (Forest) is preparing an ETS to revise 
the current Forest Plan. The EIS process is meant to inform the 
Regional Forester so that he can decide which alternative best meets 
the need to achieve quality land and resource management under a 
sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs 
of people while protecting the Forests' resources, as required by the 
National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the Multiple Use Sustained 
Yield Act (MUYSA).
    The revised Forest Plan will describe the strategic intent of 
managing the Forest into the next 10 to 15 years, and will address the 
need for change described below. The revised Forest Plan will provide 
management direction in the form of goals (desired conditions), 
objectives, suitability determinations, standards, guidelines, and a 
monitoring plan. It may also make new special area recommendations for 
wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, research natural areas, and other 
special areas.
    For clarification of the decisions to be made in a Forest Plan, it 
is useful to identify of the types of decisions that will not be made 
within it. Authorizations of project level activities are not decisions 
that are made in the Forest Plan. Project level activities are approved 
through subsequent project specific decisionmaking.

Need for Change and Proposed Action

    The needs for change and proposed actions are organized into five 
revision topics: 1. Ecosystem Restoration, 2. Safety and Information, 
3. Public Access and Travel Patterns, 4. Preservation of Open Space, 
and 5. Collaboration and Partnerships. For each of the revision topics, 
there are proposals for the revised Forest Plan to make changes in plan 
components, as described below:

Revision Topic 1. Ecosystem Restoration

Need for Change

    Current Forest Plan direction recognizes and supports the need for 
species diversity, ecosystem sustainability, and restoration of desired 
ecosystem characteristics. However, rates and effectiveness of 
treatments will need to increase if vegetation communities and species 
diversity are to be sustained. Management direction is needed that 
integrates restoration of degraded ecosystems, wildlife habitat 
conservation, fire ecology, hazardous fuels reduction, and current 
ecological threats, including invasive species and climate change.

Proposed Action

     Develop goal (desired condition) statements that provide 
adequate guidance for sustaining and restoring ecosystems using new 
scientific knowledge and updated language.
     Provide direction to guide future vegetation management 
activities, including burning and mechanical treatments, to move 
towards or maintain desired conditions.
     Include appropriate standards and guidelines to provide 
direction to ensure species diversity and viability across the planning 
area.
     Integrate plan components, where possible, to reflect the 
interconnectedness between physical and biological resources.
     Include objectives and guidelines that reflect systematic 
observation and analysis of treatment results, and adaptation of 
treatment methods based on those results.
     Address the emerging issue of climate change by 
incorporating adaptive management strategies and describing ecological 
conditions that are resilient to change.
     Develop Forest Plan components for sustaining aquatic 
habitats that are at risk.
     Facilitate the understanding of management needs for each 
mountain range by developing place-based geographic area Forest Plan 
components.
     Reevaluate and update the list of Management Indicator 
Species (MIS). MIS are species whose population changes are believed to 
indicate the effects of management activities.

Revision Topic 2. Safety and Information

Need for Change

    The social environment surrounding the Forest has changed 
significantly since the 1986 Forest Plan was completed. Although the 
current Forest Plan anticipates negative impacts associated with 
regional population growth and increased urbanization, it does not 
identify strategies for sustaining forest resources and experiences 
affected by these pressures. Impacts from illegal activity associated 
with the international border region are not addressed at all. Improved 
management direction is needed that leads to increased public awareness 
about the impacts of recreational activities, and of the hazards 
associated with the border region.

Proposed Action

     Develop Land Use Zones based on the suitability of various 
recreational uses to guide management that will sustain the Forest 
resources and experiences in the face of changes in population, 
behavior, and increased development.
     Develop place-based geographic area plan components to 
guide management to address the unique challenges in the international 
border region.

Revision Topic 3. Public Access and Travel Patterns

Need for Change

    Rapid growth of populations in Arizona and New Mexico has led to a 
much greater demand for public access to National Forest System lands. 
The need for additional permanent legal access to the Forest is 
identified as an issue in the current Forest Plan. Although progress 
has been made toward the goal of increasing the number of permanent 
legal access points, the issue has become more complicated. Updated 
management direction is needed that emphasizes a coordinated, 
collaborative approach to establishing adequate and appropriate 
permanent legal access for public and administrative use.

Proposed Action

     Update goals (desired conditions) and objectives to 
emphasize and prioritize the establishment of permanent legal access 
for public and administrative use.

Revision Topic 4. Preservation of Open Space

Need for Change

    Preservation of open space is a particularly important land use 
issue given both the public's desire to maintain the ``rural 
character'' of southern Arizona and New Mexico lands and the need to 
accommodate rapidly growing populations and municipalities. This issue 
is not addressed in the current Forest Plan. Management direction is 
needed that addresses the sustainability of undeveloped landscapes 
within the Forest boundary and emphasizes coordination with adjacent 
landowners to protect open space.

Proposed Action

     Develop desired condition statements that reflect the role 
of Forest management in preserving open space.
     Develop guidelines, based on the Scenery Management 
System, to protect scenic natural landscapes.
     Develop plan components that are reflective of county and 
community land use planning efforts.

[[Page 4342]]

Revision Topic 5. Collaboration and Partnerships

Need for Change

    In recent years the Forest Service has placed increasing priority 
on the social relationships between National Forest personnel and 
members of surrounding communities. The current Forest Plan does not 
reflect this priority. Management direction is needed that recognizes 
the importance of collaboration and partnerships as tools for achieving 
both Forest Plan and community goals.

Proposed Action

     Develop desired conditions that reflect outcomes defined 
through collaborative processes.
     Integrate management direction for traditional uses and 
cultural resources throughout the revised Forest Plan. Reference: 
Comprehensive Evaluation Report (http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/plan-
revision/plan-revision-documents.shtml)

Public Involvement

    Public involvement with the Plan revision process began in spring 
of 2005, when focus groups were conducted in locations across 
southeastern Arizona to quantify attitudes, values and beliefs toward 
Coronado NF lands. In April of 2006, Regional Forester hosted a 
question and answer session for the public in Tucson to initiate the 
plan revision process for the National Forests in Arizona. Then, in 
June 2006, six public workshops were held in communities around the 
Forest with the purpose of establishing relationships and determining 
the needs for changing the current Forest Plan. These were followed by 
workshops in September 2006, with the purpose of prioritizing the 
previously identified needs for change. In September and October 2007, 
seven workshops, again geographically distributed, were held to begin 
developing ``Desired Condition Statements'' based on the previously 
identified priority needs for change. Most recently, in November 2008, 
seven open house events were held in geographic locations across the 
Forest with the purpose of presenting initial draft Forest Plan 
products to the public, including draft Desired Condition Statements 
and draft Land Use Zone maps. Future public meetings are anticipated to 
provide a discussion forum for the draft revised Plan as it is 
developed. Future formal public comment opportunities will occur when a 
draft revised Plan is available for review (anticipated to be in the 
spring of 2010), and when a proposed Plan and Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement are available for review (anticipated to be in the 
fall of 2010).
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such a way that they are useful to the Agency's preparation of 
the revised plan and the EIS. Therefore, comments on the proposed 
action and need for change described in this notice will be most 
valuable if received by February 19, 2010, and they should clearly 
articulate the reviewers' concerns. The submission of timely and 
specific comments can affect a reviewer's ability to participate in 
subsequent administrative or judicial review. At this time, we 
anticipate using the 2000 planning rule pre-decisional objection 
process (36 CFR 219.32) for administrative review. Comments received in 
response to this solicitation, including the names and addresses of 
those who comment will be part of the public record. Comments submitted 
anonymously will be accepted and considered.

Applicable Planning Rule

    Preparation of the revised plan was underway when the 2008 National 
Forest System land management planning rule was enjoined on June 30, 
2009, by the United States District Court for the Northern District of 
California (Citizens for Better Forestry v. United States Department of 
Agriculture, 632 F. Supp. 2d 968 (N.D. Cal. June 30, 2009)). On 
December 18, 2009, the Department reinstated the previous planning 
rule, commonly known as the 2000 planning rule in the Federal Register 
(Federal Register, Volume 74, No. 242, Friday, December 18, 2009, pages 
67059 through 67075). The transition provisions of the reinstated rule 
(36 CFR 219.35 and appendices A and B) allow use of the provisions of 
the National Forest System land and resource management planning rule 
in effect prior to the effective date of the 2000 rule (November 9, 
2000), commonly known as the 1982 planning rule, to amend or revise 
Forest Plans. The Coronado National Forest has elected to use the 
provisions of the 1982 planning rule, including the requirement to 
prepare an EIS, to complete its plan revision.
    The Coronado National Forest commenced activities preparing for 
revising the Plan in the spring of 2005. Plan revision was formally 
initiated under the 2008 planning rule on June 22, 2009, with 
publication of a Notice of Initiation to Revise the Coronado National 
Forest's Land and Resource Management Plan (74 FR 29467, June 22, 
2009). Although the 2008 planning rule is no longer in effect, 
information gathered prior to the court's injunction is useful for 
completing the plan revision using the provisions of the 1982 planning 
rule. The Coronado National Forest has concluded that the following 
material developed during the plan revision process to date is 
appropriate for continued use in the revision process:
     The inventory and evaluation of potential wilderness areas 
that were previously underway, are consistent with appropriate 
provisions of the 1982 planning rule, and will be brought forward into 
this plan revision process.
     The Comprehensive Evaluation Report (CER) that was 
published in April of 2009 after substantial public collaboration forms 
the basis for need to change the existing Forest Plan and the proposed 
action for the plan revision.
     The CER Supplementary document, which augmented the CER 
with additional information to conform with the Analysis of Management 
Situation need for change provisions of the 1982 planning rule.
     The Ecological Sustainability Report that was completed in 
February 2009 and will continue to be used as a reference in the 
planning process as appropriate to those items in conformance with the 
2000 planning rule transition language and 1982 planning rule 
provisions. This is scientific information and is not affected by the 
change of planning rule. This information will be updated with any new 
available information.
     The Social and Economic Sustainability Report that was 
completed in November 2008 is not affected by the change in planning 
rule and will continue to be used as a reference in the planning 
process. This information will be updated with any new available 
information.
    All of these background documents, and more, can be found at http:/
/www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/plan-revision/plan-revision-documents.shtml. 
These documents are not affected by the change of planning rule. As 
necessary or appropriate, the above listed material will be further 
adjusted as part of the planning process using the provisions of the 
1982 planning rule.

(Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1600-1614; 36 CFR 219.35 (74 FR 67073-67074))

    Dated: January 11, 2010.
Jeanine Derby,
Forest Supervisor.
[FR Doc. 2010-1162 Filed 1-26-10; 8:45 am]
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