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Notice of Availability of the Bog Creek Road Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Records of Decision

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Availability of the Bog Creek Road Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Records of Decision

Karl H. Calvo
Department of Homeland Security
Jeanne Higgins
Department of Agriculture
15 February 2019


[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 32 (Friday, February 15, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4509-4513]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02282]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Notice of Availability of the Bog Creek Road Project Final 
Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Records of Decision

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement 
and Draft Records of Decision 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; 
public review.

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SUMMARY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Forest 
Service (Forest Service) Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) 
announce the availability of the Bog Creek Road Project Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the agencies' respective Draft 
Records of Decision (ROD). The Final EIS identifies and assesses 
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 Forest 
Service; and closing for motorized use additional roads within the 
Blue-Grass BMU to comply with the Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized 
Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Zones (Access Amendment) and to reduce road density in the 
Blue-Grass BMU.
    The CBP Draft ROD addresses the decision to approve the funding for 
and implement the repair and maintenance of the Bog Creek Road. The 
Forest Service Draft ROD addresses the decisions to: Approve CBP's 
repair and maintenance of Bog Creek Road for administrative use by CBP, 
the Forest Service, and others; implement the motorized closure of 
seasonally restricted Forest Service roads to establish grizzly bear 
core area habitat and meet Access Amendment standards for the Blue-
Grass BMU; and implement

[[Page 4510]]

changes in the seasonally restricted designation of roads in the Blue-
Grass BMU. This document provides instructions for filing objections to 
the Forest Service's Draft ROD.

DATES: The CBP Draft ROD will be available until April 1, 2019. CBP 
will issue a Final ROD at about the same time the Forest Service issues 
a Final ROD but no sooner than April 1, 2019.
    The Forest Service Draft ROD will be available for 45 days after 
the date of publication in the newspaper of record, the Coeur d'Alene 
Press. Objections to the Forest Service Draft ROD must be filed within 
45 days of such publication and filed in the manner specified in the 
ADDRESSES section of this document. After the 45-day objection period 
ends and after the Forest Service responds in writing to and addresses 
any objections, the Forest Service will issue a Final ROD. For detailed 
instructions on how to file an objection, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below.

ADDRESSES: 
    For Obtaining Copies of the Final EIS and Draft Records of 
Decision: Electronic copies of the Final EIS, CBP Draft ROD, and Forest 
Service Draft ROD are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41296 and https://www.cbp.gov/document/environmental-assessments/bog-creek-road-project-environmental-impact-statement.
    CD-ROM and print copies are available by sending a request to Joe 
Zidron at Joseph.Zidron@cbp.dhs.gov or 949-643-6392 or at the following 
Forest Service locations:
     The IPNF Supervisor's Office, 3815 Schreiber Way, Coeur 
d'Alene, Idaho;
     Sandpoint Ranger District, 1602 Ontario Street, Sandpoint, 
Idaho;
     Bonners Ferry Ranger District, 6286 Main Street, Bonners 
Ferry, Idaho; and
     Priest Lake Ranger District, 32203 Highway 57, Priest 
River, Idaho.
    For Filing Objections to the Forest Service Draft ROD: Objections 
to the Forest Service Draft ROD, including attachments, must be filed 
via fax, mail, express delivery, messenger service, email, or hand-
delivery to: Objection Reviewing Officer, USDA Forest Service, Northern 
Region, 26 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804. Hand-delivery hours 
are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. 
FAX to (406) 329-3411, Email: appeals-northern-regional-office@fs.fed.us. For fax and email, include ``Bog Creek Road Project 
Objection'' in the subject line. Acceptable formats for electronic 
objections are text or html email, Adobe portable document format 
(pdf), and formats viewable in Microsoft Office applications.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joe Zidron, CBP, Border Patrol and Air 
and Marine Program Management Office, by telephone at 949-643-6392, or 
email at joseph.zidron@cbp.dhs.gov or Kim Pierson, Deputy Forest 
Supervisor, Forest Service, IPNF, by telephone at 208-765-7220, or 
email at kpierson@fs.fed.us. Persons who require assistance accessing 
information should contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 
Target Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD) or contact USDA through 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Proposed Action

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Forest 
Service (Forest Service) Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) 
(collectively the Agencies) are proposing a road repair, maintenance, 
and motorized closure project in the Continental Mountain area of the 
Idaho Panhandle National Forests within the Bonners Ferry and Priest 
Lake Ranger Districts.\1\ The project has two objectives: (1) To 
provide safe east-west access for administrative use (as explained 
below) to this section of the U.S.-Canada border across the Selkirk 
Mountains, and (2) to meet grizzly bear motorized access standards 
within the Blue-Grass Bear Management Unit (BMU) of the Selkirk Grizzly 
Bear Recovery Zone in order to comply with the Forest Plan Amendments 
for Motorized Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones (Access Amendment).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ This proposal is being made pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., the 
President's Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for 
Implementing the NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), DHS Directive 023-
01, Revision 01, and Instruction 023-01-001-01, Revision 01, and CBP 
and Forest Service NEPA guidelines.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Bog Creek Road Project Final EIS has been prepared to identify 
and assess potential impacts from the Proposed Action on the 
environment. The Proposed Action was developed through collaborative 
efforts between CBP, the Forest Service, and the public, and was 
designed to meet the goals and objectives established for the project 
while meeting as many other resource needs as possible. The Proposed 
Action consists of three components: (1) Road repair and maintenance of 
Bog Creek Road and change in motorized use designation; (2) change in 
motorized use designation for Blue Joe Creek Road; and (3) motorized 
closure of selected seasonally restricted Forest Service roads. The 
Proposed Action is described below.
    The first component is the repair and maintenance of an 
approximately 5.6-mile section of Bog Creek Road (Forest Service Road 
[FSR] 1013), which would be conducted to allow the road to meet Forest 
Service road maintenance level 2 standards and would generally allow 
access for high-clearance vehicles. Maintenance level 2 roads are 
described in Forest Service Handbook 7709.58. Bog Creek Road is 
currently designated as a seasonally restricted road. Motorized use by 
the Forest Service, CBP, law enforcement, and other administrative 
agencies is permitted between April 1 and November 15 (active bear 
year) but is limited to 57 administrative vehicle round trips per 
active bear year. After road repair activities, the road designation 
would change to administrative open (as-needed administrative motorized 
access). Under the administrative open road designation, Bog Creek Road 
would be open to as-needed administrative motorized access but not open 
to the public for motorized travel.
    Repair and maintenance would consist of grading and resurfacing 
areas of the road that have been heavily eroded by surface water flows, 
filling potholes, and removing protruding boulders. Repair would also 
include installation of six new culverts and replacement of six of the 
existing 67 corrugated metal pipe culverts located along the length of 
the roadway because they have partially rusted through, otherwise 
exceeded their usable life, or do not meet current design standards for 
width and capacity. The most intensive repair would occur at Spread 
Creek, where a culvert failure and road washout have made the road 
completely impassable. The road would not be widened, but limited areas 
that no longer meet minimum width requirements 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 be 
grubbed or cut back to facilitate safe vehicle passage.
    The second component is the change in motorized designation of Blue 
Joe Creek Road (FSR 2546). Blue Joe Creek Road extends from the eastern 
terminus of the Bog Creek Road, running 5.5 miles alongside Blue Joe 
Creek, to the Continental Mine property. Blue Joe Creek Road is 
currently designated as seasonally restricted, and motorized access is 
limited to 57 vehicle round trips per active bear year. Under the

[[Page 4511]]

Proposed Action, the current seasonal restrictions that limit the 
number of motorized administrative trips along Blue Joe Creek Road 
would be removed. The road would be designated as administrative open, 
which would allow for as-needed administrative motorized trips. This 
change in designation, when combined with the Bog Creek Road 
designation change, would allow for administrative trips by private 
property owners to access their property within the Blue-Grass BMU.
    The final component is the motorized closure of selected seasonally 
restricted Forest Service roads. Under the Proposed Action, 
approximately 26 miles of seasonally restricted Forest Service roads 
would be closed to all wheeled motorized use within the Blue-Grass BMU. 
Closing the roads would allow the Forest Service to meet the 
requirements of at least 55 percent of the BMU as core area habitat, 
and no more than 26 percent of the BMU having a total motorized route 
density (TMRD) greater than 2 miles per square mile, as specified in 
the Access Amendment. The means by which motorized road closure would 
take place would vary by site and would include both decommissioning 
and long-term storage. Decommissioning involves permanently removing a 
road from the Forest Service transportation system. Long-term storage 
involves rendering a road undrivable. Roads stored for creation of 
grizzly bear core habitat would remain stored for a minimum of ten 
years. On-the-ground road work is typically the same or very similar 
for decommissioning and long-term storage, as both are intended to 
prevent future failures and erosion hazards. Both methods may involve 
one or a combination of the following treatments: Fully or partially 
recontouring the road prism, ripping the road surface, removing 
culverts and recontouring stream crossings, planting and seeding, 
mulching, or slashing disturbed areas.
    All roads proposed for motorized closure under the Proposed Action 
are currently classified as seasonally restricted Forest Service roads. 
Administrative motorized use of these roads is permitted between April 
1 and November 15; non-motorized public access on these roads is 
permitted year-round.

Alternatives

    The Agencies developed alternatives to the Proposed Action 
described above and disclose the environmental impacts of these 
alternatives in the Final EIS. In addition to the No-Action Alternative 
(Alternative 1) and the Proposed Action (Alternative 2), there are 
three other action alternatives analyzed: Modified Proposed Action 
(Alternative 3--Preferred Alternative), Blue-Grass BMU West-East Open 
Access (Alternative 4), and Alternative 4 Modified. Alternative 4 
Modified was developed for inclusion in the Final EIS in response to 
collaborative stakeholder alternative suggestions received during the 
Draft EIS public comment period.
    Alternative 1, the No-Action Alternative, represents the effects of 
not implementing the proposed repair and maintenance of Bog Creek Road 
and motorized closure of seasonally restricted Forest Service roads, 
while taking into account the effects of other past, ongoing, and 
reasonably foreseeable activities occurring in the area. This 
alternative proposes that no repair and maintenance activities would 
occur on the 5.6-mile section of Bog Creek Road and that the 26 miles 
of seasonally restricted Forest Service roads would continue to be 
available for motorized use in accordance with seasonal access 
restrictions. There would be no change in Forest Service management of 
the roads and CBP activities in the Blue-Grass BMU. Although the Forest 
Service would continue to examine road closure options to meet Access 
Amendment requirements within the Blue-Grass BMU under the No-Action 
Alternative, compliance with the Access Amendment standards would not 
change until currently unidentified other viable road closure options 
are implemented.
    Alternative 3 is a modified version of the Proposed Action that 
would close a different set of seasonally restricted Forest Service 
roads to motorized access. It is the Agencies' preferred alternative. 
The repair and maintenance activities proposed for Bog Creek Road and 
the administrative open designation for Bog Creek Road and Blue Joe 
Creek Road are the same as described under the Proposed Action. Under 
Alternative 3, approximately 25 miles of Forest Service roads would be 
closed to all motorized use by the Forest Service within the Blue-Grass 
BMU. This would allow the Forest Service to meet the Access Amendment 
grizzly bear core area habitat requirement of 55 percent and the TMRD 
requirement of 26 percent. Two of the nine roads proposed for motorized 
road closure under Alternative 3 would be different from the roads 
proposed for closure under the Proposed Action. These roads were 
included in this alternative because closing these roads would create 
more grizzly bear core area habitat in upper Grass Creek, a place that 
has been heavily and continuously used by grizzly bears since at least 
the 1980s. All roads proposed for motorized closure under Alternative 3 
are classified as seasonally restricted Forest Service roads. 
Administrative motorized use of these roads is permitted between April 
1 and November 15. Non-motorized public access on these roads is 
permitted year-round.
    Alternative 4 is a modified version of the Proposed Action that 
would open Bog Creek Road and roads along the eastern approach to Bog 
Creek Road to public motorized access. Under Alternative 4, Bog Creek 
Road repair and maintenance and the motorized closure of seasonally 
restricted Forest Service roads would be identical to the Proposed 
Action. After repair of Bog Creek Road is completed, Alternative 4 
would designate the 5.6 miles of the repaired Bog Creek Road as open 
for public motorized access year-round. However, winter motorized 
snowmobile use by the public is currently not allowed on Bog Creek Road 
as a result of rulings by the United States District Court of the 
Eastern District of Washington on November 7, 2006, and February 27, 
2007, relating to recovery of Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou and the 
potential impacts of snowmobile use within the recovery area. 
Approximately 4.5 miles of Blue Joe Creek Road would change to an 
administrative open designation (as-needed administrative motorized 
access). Additionally, the designation of roads along the eastern 
approach to Bog Creek Road (1 mile of FSR 2546 and FSRs 1011, 636, and 
1009) would also change from the current seasonally restricted 
designation (limited motorized access) to an open road designation 
(public motorized access) to allow for continuous public motorized 
travel across the Blue-Grass BMU. Under Alternative 4, the same 26 
miles of seasonally restricted Forest Service roads as identified in 
the Proposed Action would be closed to all wheeled motorized use within 
the Blue-Grass BMU.
    Alternative 4 Modified was developed for inclusion in the Final EIS 
in response to collaborative stakeholder alternative suggestions 
received during the Draft EIS public comment period. As described 
below, Alternative 4 Modified is similar in many respects to 
Alternative 4, but includes a few variations. Alternative 4 Modified 
incorporates the same road repair and maintenance activities, the same 
eastern approach roads to Bog Creek Road, and the same administrative 
motorized use and winter motorized snowmobile use that are described in 
Alternative 4.

[[Page 4512]]

However, Alternative 4 Modified includes a variation of the open public 
access on the Bog Creek Road and eastern approach roads presented in 
Alternative 4. It also includes a different combination of roads 
proposed for motorized closure as compared to the alternatives analyzed 
in the Draft EIS. Specifically, the roads would only be open to 
unlimited public motorized access from July 15 to August 15. Outside of 
this period, motorized access to the roads would be available for 
administrative use only. The gate at the east end of FSR 1009 would be 
left open from July 15 to August 15, and gates would be constructed at 
closed roads that intersect the open eastern approach roads to prevent 
unauthorized access. Because there would be open public motorized 
access for this one-month period, the road would be designated as open.
    The Final EIS addresses the potential impacts from the Proposed 
Action and alternatives. Evaluations were conducted on various 
resources present in the Blue-Grass BMU, including: threatened and 
endangered species, wildlife, fish, special-status plants, water, 
soils, recreation, and heritage.

Forest Service Pre-decisional Administrative Review (``Objection'') 
Process

    This project is subject to 36 CFR part 218, subparts A and B of the 
Forest Service's Project-level Pre-decisional Administrative Review 
Process. Pursuant to these regulations, only those who provided timely 
and specific written comments regarding the proposed project during a 
comment period are eligible to file an objection with the Forest 
Service. Issues raised in an objection must be based on previously 
submitted specific written comments regarding the project and 
attributed to the objector unless the objection is based on new 
information that arose after the designated opportunities for comments.
    Objections to the Forest Service's Draft ROD, including 
attachments, must be filed by regular mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, 
express delivery, or messenger service with the reviewing officer 
within 45 days of the date of publication of the legal notice for the 
objection process. This Federal Register notice is not the legal notice 
for purposes of the Forest Service's objection process. Instead, a 
separate legal notice will be published in the newspaper of record, the 
Coeur d'Alene Press. The publication date of the legal notice in the 
newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the time to 
file an objection, and those wishing to object should not rely upon 
dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. It is the 
objector's responsibility to ensure timely filing of a written 
objection with the reviewing officer and to retain evidence of timely 
filing, as determined by the following indicators: The date of the U.S. 
Postal Service postmark for an objection received before the close of 
the fifth business day after the objection filing period; the agency's 
electronically generated posted date and time for email and facsimiles; 
the shipping date for delivery by private carrier for an objection 
received before the close of the fifth business day after the objection 
filing period; or the official agency date stamp showing receipt of 
hand delivery. For emailed objections, the sender should receive an 
automated electronic acknowledgement from the agency as confirmation of 
receipt. If the sender does not receive an automated acknowledgment of 
receipt of the objection, it is the sender's responsibility to ensure 
timely filing by other means.
    Objections to the Forest Service Draft ROD must be filed with the 
reviewing officer in writing. All objections are available for public 
inspection during and after the objection process. Incorporation of 
documents by reference is not allowed, except for the following list of 
items that may be referenced by including date, page, and section of 
the cited document, along with a description of its content and 
applicability to the objection: All or any part of a Federal law or 
regulation; Forest Service directives and land management plans; 
documents referenced by the Forest Service in the proposed project EA 
or EIS that is subject to objection; and comments previously provided 
to the Forest Service by the objector during public involvement 
opportunities for the proposed project where written comments were 
requested by the responsible official. All other documents must be 
included with the objection.
    At a minimum, an objection to the Forest Service Draft ROD must 
include the following: Objector's name and address as defined in 36 CFR 
218.2, with a telephone number, if available; signature or other 
verification of authorship upon request (a scanned signature for 
electronic mail may be filed with the objection); when multiple names 
are listed on an objection, identification of the lead objector; 
verification of the identity of the lead objector must be provided upon 
request or the reviewing officer will designate a lead objector; the 
name of the proposed project, the name and title of the responsible 
official, and the name(s) of the national forest(s) and/or ranger 
district(s) on which the proposed project will be implemented; a 
description of those aspects of the proposed project addressed by the 
objection, including specific issues related to the proposed project; 
if applicable, how the objector believes the environmental analysis or 
draft decision specifically violates law, regulation, or policy; 
suggested remedies that would resolve the objection; supporting reasons 
for the reviewing officer to consider; and a statement that 
demonstrates the connection between prior specific written comments on 
the particular proposed project or activity and the content of the 
objection, unless the objection concerns an issue that arose after the 
designated opportunities for comment.

Prior Public Involvement

    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 initial 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.
    The Notice of Intent (NOI) stating that CBP and the Forest Service 
planned to prepare an EIS for the Bog Creek Road Project was published 
in the Federal Register on April 27, 2016 (81 FR 24839). The NOI asked 
for public comment on the proposal from April 27 to May 27, 2016. The 
Proposed Action described in the NOI included both repair and 
maintenance of Bog Creek Road and motorized road closures of specific 
road segments in the Blue-Grass BMU. In total, 17 comment letters were 
received during the NOI scoping period.
    All scoping comments submitted during the initial scoping and NOI 
scoping were included in issue development for the current EIS process. 
A Scoping Report that summarizes both scoping efforts is available for 
review as part of the project record. The Scoping Report is available 
on the CBP public website: https://www.cbp.gov/document/environmental-
assessments/bog-creek-

[[Page 4513]]

road-project-environmental-impact-statement.
    The Draft EIS publication was announced in the Federal Register on 
June 1, 2018 (83 FR 25472). The 45-day public comment period started 
the day following publication and was extended 15 additional days. See 
notice published in the Federal Register on July 20, 2018 (83 FR 
34601). Interested parties submitted specific written comments by 
email, in person, and U.S. Postal Service mail. The Agencies also held 
public meetings in Bonners Ferry, Priest Lake, and Sandpoint, Idaho to 
provide opportunities for the public to understand the proposed action 
and alternatives. One hundred seven comment letters were received on 
the Draft EIS. More information on the public comment process and 
agency responses to Draft EIS public comments are presented in Appendix 
C of the Final EIS.

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

    Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) 
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. In the Federal Register notice published on 
June 1, 2018 (83 FR 25472), and in accordance with the NHPA, the 
Agencies requested public comments on historic preservation issues 
related to the road repair and closure of roads for motorized use. This 
process also afforded the Idaho State Historic Preservation Officer and 
tribal governments a reasonable opportunity to comment on such 
undertakings. The Agencies received one comment specific to historic 
preservation issues.

Next Steps

    After the Forest Service objection filing period is complete, the 
Forest Service reviewing officer will issue a written response to the 
objections. The written response will set forth the reasons for the 
response, and may include instructions to the Forest Service's 
responsible official. If more than one objection is filed, the 
reviewing officer may consolidate objections and issue one or more 
responses.
    The Forest Service's responsible official will then address all 
concerns and instructions identified in the written response. 
Thereafter, the Forest Service will issue the
    Forest Service Final ROD. CBP will issue the CBP Final ROD at about 
the same time but no sooner than April 1, 2019. The Forest Service 
Final ROD and the CBP Final ROD will be made available to the public 
through an NOA in the Federal Register.

    Dated: February 8, 2019.
Karl H. Calvo,
Assistant Commissioner, Office of Facilities and Asset Management, 
Office of Enterprise Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Jeanne Higgins,
Forest Supervisor, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, U.S. Forest 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-02282 Filed 2-14-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 9111-14-P

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