FOREST SERVICE HANDBOOK

Pueblo, Colorado

April, 1990

FSH 1909.15 - ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK

Pike & San Isabel/Cimarron & Comanche Supplement No. 2

Page Code Superseded New

21.1 - 21.2 6 -

31.1 - 31.4--6 - 14

Digest: Reissuance of recommended format and content for Environmental Assessments, Decision Notices, Decision Memos and Forest procedures for reviewing environmental documents. Revised appeals paragraph content. Establishes roles and responsibilities for those participating in the Forest Plan implementation and NEPA process. Places material into proper chapter.

JACK WEISSLING

Forest Supervisor

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CHAPTER 30 - ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS AND RELATED DOCUMENTS

31 - DOCUMENTATION OF ANALYSIS. (FSM 1952)

31.1 - Content. (40 CFR 1508.9). Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Notice.

Environmental Assessment. Each environmental assessment will include the following as a minimum:

A. Title Page.

1. The title page will include the following:

a. Type of document (Environmental Assessment).

b. Title of proposed action.

c.Identification of Ranger District, County, State, Department, Agency, and Forest (if appropriate, identify lead agency and cooperating agency or organization).

B. Sections.

1. Need For The Project.

a.Statement of need for the project (Note: Only an EIS has a "Purpose and Need" Section).

b. Identification of issues.

c. Location map (can be in appendix).

d.Describe management goals and objectives (opportunities) to be achieved (refer to Forest Plan, Chapter III and Forest Plan Management Area Prescription(s)).

2. Alternatives, including the Proposed Action.

a.Discussion of alternatives eliminated from detailed study, when applicable.

b.Identification and description of alternatives, including No Action and the Proposed Action.

c.Mitigation measures required by the Forest Service necessary to reduce or eliminate expected adverse environmental impacts associated with each alternative.

3. Environmental Consequences.

a.Discussion of estimated environmental consequences associated with each alternative.

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b.Evaluation and comparison of alternatives. Compare alternatives with each other on the basis of their estimated environmental effects (display where prescribed mitigation measures can reduce or eliminate anticipated adverse effects).

4. Agencies and Persons Consulted and Those Receiving Copies of the EA.

The EA pages must be numbered.

Ensure graphics are reproducible on a copier. Graphics in black produce more readable copy. Show boundary lines by solid line, dashed line, x-dash, etc., rather than by color. Map size should not exceed 12 x 17 inches. A legend of symbols used, north arrow, scale and title is required on all maps.

A summary, table of contents, description of the affected environment, bibliography, index and appendices may be included when necessary for an understanding of the discussions in the EA.

A listing of persons who prepared or contributed to the EA is optional.

A combined Environmental Assessment/Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) (See Section 33.1, Exhibit 1) may be prepared when the scope of the situation warrants. When a combined document is prepared, all minimum requirements must be met in the narrative form.

Decision Notice (see Section 33.1). Each Decision Notice will include the following as a minimum:

A. Title.

1.The title displayed on the Decision Notice will read the same as the title of the EA for which it is written.

a. Type of Document (Decision Notice).

b. Title of Proposed Action.

c.Identification of Ranger District, County, State, Department, Agency and Forest.

B.Refer to the existence of the EA and location(s) where it may be reviewed.

C. State clearly ("It is my decision to .....") what the decision is.

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D. Provide the rationale used in arriving at the decision.

E.Describe any modifications or additional mitigation and monitoring activities from those displayed in the EA (when applicable).

F.State when the proposed action will be implemented (see Section 51.1 and 51.22).

G.Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). A FONSI will be included as a part of the Decision Notice.

The FONSI will be supported by briefly presenting the reasons why the proposed action will not have a significant effect on the human environment.

The FONSI statement closes by saying, "Therefore, an environmental impact statement will not be prepared".

H.1. When the District Ranger's decision is subject to administrative review under 36 CFR Part 217 the following paragraphs will be in the NEPA Decision document:

"This decision is subject to appeal pursuant to 36 CFR Part 217 (Federal Register, Vol. 54, No. 13, January 23, 1989, pages 3357 to 3362). To initiate an appeal, a written notice of appeal must be submitted by (insert date, counting 1 the day following date of decision to 45) to:

Forest Supervisor

Pike and San Isabel National Forests

Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands

1920 Valley Drive

Pueblo, CO 81008

Any Notice of Appeal must include the specific information required in 36 CFR Part 217.9. A copy of the appeal must be concurrently submitted to: (insert appropriate District mailing address)."

2. When the Forest Supervisor signs the NEPA decision document, the appeal notification statement is the same as above, however, the Reviewing Officer is the Regional Forester. Therefore, insert the following address after the first paragraph:

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31.2

Regional Forester

USDA Forest Service

Rocky Mountain Region

11177 W. 8th Ave., P.O. Box 25127

Lakewood, CO 80225

Insert the mailing address of the Forest Supervisor following the second paragraph.

Only decisions documented in a Decision Memo, Decision Notice or a Record of Decision are subject to appeal under 36 CFR Part 217. Decisions not subject to appeal under this part are described at 36 CFR Part 217.4.

For actions not subject to administrative review, include the following statement: "This action is not subject to administrative review under 36 CFR Part 217."

I.Appeal of Decisions to Reoffer Returned or Defaulted Timber Sales.

Appeal rules found at 36 CFR Part 211.17 apply to reoffered returned or defaulted timber sales. Notices of appeal pursuant to 36 CFR Part 211.17 (h)(3) must be filed within 30 days of publication of the notice of decision, or from the date of the written decision for those parties entitled to receive the written decision. It is the District Ranger's responsibility to ensure that appropriate notice of appealable decisions under 36 CFR Part 211.17 be published in a local newspaper of general circulation and also shall be provided in writing to parties to written instruments issued by the Forest Service who are known to be affected by the decision, as well as to those who have requested notification.

Additional information to that described above for EA's and Decision Notices can be included when necessary to clearly document the environmental analysis conducted and the decision that has been made.

31.2 - Format and Content: Decision Memo.

Decision Memo. Each Decision Memo will include the following as a minimum.

A.Heading.

1.The heading consists of the following elements:

a. Title of document - "Decision Memo."

b. Title of the proposed action.

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c. Location of the proposed action (including Forest Service administrative unit, county and state). In some cases, including the legal land description is appropriate.

B.Proposed Action.

1. Describe the proposed action, the decision to be implemented and the reasons for making the decision.

C.Scoping and Public Involvement.

1. Describe the scoping process used and the issues identified.

D.Reasons For Categorically Excluding The Proposed Action.

1. This section includes:

a. Identification of the category into which the proposed action falls (see FSH 1909.15 Interim Directive No. 3, 01/12/90).

b. Finding that no extraordinary circumstances exist that might cause the action to have significant effects.

E.Finding Required by Other Laws.

1. Include any findings required by any other laws (e.g., consistency with the Forest Plan, suitability, vegetation management requirements of NFMA, Wetlands and Floodplains Executive Orders, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Clean Water Act of 1977, etc.).

F.Implementation Date.

1. Include the date when the responsible official intends to implement the decision.

G.Administrative Review or Appeal Opportunities.

1. State whether the decision is subject to review or appeal. If subject to review or appeal, cite the applicable regulations (see appeal paragraphs above).

H.Contact Person.

1. Include the name, address, and phone number of the Forest Service employee who can supply further information about the project environmental analysis and the decision.

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I.Signature and Date.

1. The responsible offical must sign and date the Decision Memo on the date the decision is made.

Distribute the Decision Memo (or notice of the decision) in a manner designed to inform agencies, organizations, and persons interested in or affected by the proposed action (see 40 CFR Part 1506.6 (b) and 36 CFR Parts 217.3 and 217.5).

31.3 - Preparation of and Reviewing Environmental Assessments and Decision Memos.

The following procedures pertain to preparation and Forest Supervisor review of Environmental Assessments and Decision Notices, and Decision Memos when the Forest Supervisor or higher official is the responsible official, or when the proposed activity is of an unprecedented nature. Routine and/or singular activity projects, such as reissuance of Forest Supervisor permits, are optional.

It is the District Ranger's responsibility to examine the situation and to recommend the scope of the study and depth of analysis necessary including the resource disciplines necessary for participation from the Forest Supervisor's Staff.

The District Ranger will prepare and send to the Forest Supervisor for approval, a scoping letter specifying environmental analysis necessary. The letter represents an agreement between the District Ranger and the Forest Supervisor on specific tasks to be accomplished in conducting environmental analysis and preparing necessary NEPA documentation. The letter will include the following:

a.Description of the proposed activity, its location and extent.

b.Identification of known issues.

c.Statement of management objectives to be achieved and associated targets.

d.Identification of which specialists (District and Supervisor's Office personnel) participation will be necessary to conduct the analysis and prepare the NEPA documentation.

e.Description of public involvement necessary.

f.Display of known alternatives to the proposal.

g.Time frame for completing the analysis and necessary NEPA documents.

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The Forest Supervisor will approve the letter or negotiate agreement where any task or time schedule is not acceptable. The seven steps described below represent the procedure to be followed when submitting an EA or Decision Memo for review.

Steps:

1.The District Ranger will transmit two copies of the Decision Memo or Environmental Assessment, Decision Notice and FONSI to the Supervisor's Office. The documents will be complete and ready to be signed. They will be accompanied by a transmittal letter with a file designation of 1950.

2.The Forest Planning Staff Officer will insure that the Decision Memo, EA, Decision Notice and FONSI are logged in. A copy of the Decision Memo, EA, Decision Notice and FONSI will be provided to the principal staff officer(s) (Timber, Resources, Engineering or Recreation and Lands) for review. The principal staff officer (primary subject of the NEPA documents) will be responsible for specialist review when necessary.

Duties of the Planning Staff Officer are as follows:

a.Ensure coordination with other resource staff when necessary.

b.Ensure that the NEPA and Forest Service Manual and Handbook requirements are met.

Each reviewer will:

a.Provide a technical review relative to his or her resource area.

b.Review for compliance with laws, regulations, and Forest Service policy.

c. Ensure that identified issues have been addressed.

3.The log shall list title of the Decision Memo or EA, District or Unit that prepared the document, date logged in and disposition status. Documents not in compliance with Section 21.1 will be so noted and forwarded to the appropriate staff officer for action. A cover log sheet will accompany review copies displaying the date the review period ends.

4.The Planning Staff Officer will coordinate the review and forward a recommendation to the Forest Supervisor within 15 working days. Districts may request faster service in an emergency. When lengthy complex EA's are submitted additional review time may be necessary. The submitting official will then be so notified.

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5.The Forest Supervisor will review and, if satisfactory, sign and date the Decision Memo or Decision Notice and FONSI. A copy of the approved Decision Memo, Decision Notice, FONSI and EA will be sent to the District Ranger. The second copy will be filed in the SO under 1950.

The Planning Staff Officer will ensure that approved decision documents and EAs are logged out. If the responsible official is the Regional Forester or Chief, the Planning Staff Officer or other appropriate staff officer will prepare a transmittal letter to that official recommending approval of the decision.

6.If the NEPA documents are not satisfactory, the Planning Staff Officer will return the unsigned documents to the appropriate SO staff for action. If the deficiencies are major, the Planning Staff Officer will notify the District stating deficiencies and how the deficiencies can be corrected. Minor deficiencies should be resolved by the appropriate staff officer in consultation with the District Ranger without undue delay or paper work.

NEPA documents returned to the District for additional work will re-enter the review process at Step 1.

31.4 - Roles and Responsibilities in the Forest Plan Implementation and NEPA Process.

Roles and responsibilities for Line Officers, Supervisor's Office and District personnel to achieve successful implementaion of NEPA and NFMA rules and regulations are:

A.Forest Roles and Responsibilities.

Interdisciplinary Team Members.

Forest Supervisor and District Rangers.

Interdisciplinary Team Leader.

Supervisor's Office IDT Coordinator.

Supervisor's Office Environmental Coordinator.

Supervisor's Office Primary Staff.

B.Interdisciplinary Team Members.

The Interdisciplinary Team for each scheduled project analysis will be assigned by the Forest Supervisor and/or the District Ranger. Each member of the team has the responsibility to:

1. Provide professional expertise in his or her resource area regarding the proposed project.

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2. Participate with the team during all phases of the interdisciplinary approach in planning. This includes:

SCOPING

- Assist in Providing Public Notice of the Planning Activity

- Identify Issues

- Determine Forest Plan Consistency

- Assist in Developing Analysis Criteria

- Involve Interested Publics, Affected Persons and Agencies

COLLECT/INTERPRET DATA

- Identify Existing Data

- Conduct Field Inventory

- Determine the Ability of the Planning Area to Supply the Goods

and Services Required by the Proposal

- Describe the Affected Environment

DEVELOP ALTERNATIVES

- No Action (Provides Baseline For Estimating Effects of Other

Alternatives)

- Different Responses to Important Issues Identified

- Preferred Alternative (when requested or necessary)

- Identify Necessary Mitigation Measures

ESTIMATE EFFECTS OF ALTERNATIVES

- Direct/Indirect Affects

- Affects of Cumulative Actions

- Anticipated Changes

Physical

Biological

Economic

Social

- Consider in Detail, Those Effects Important to the Issues

Identified

COMPARE/EVALUATE ALTERNATIVES

- Compare Each Alternative Based on Anticipated Effects

- Compare Each Alternative Against Each Other/Criteria

- Evaluate All Alternatives

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IDENTIFY ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE ALTERNATIVE (When Requested)

- Alternative That Best Addresses Issues

- Environmentally Preferable Alternative

PROVIDE PUBLIC NOTICE OF THE DECISION

- Assist in Informing Interested Publics, Affected Persons and

Agencies of the Decision (when requested)

IMPLEMENT AND MONITOR

- Monitor Project Implementation

Implementation Monitoring

Effectiveness Monitoring

Validation Monitoring (see FSH 1909.12, Chap. 6). "Test" Standards and Guidelines

- Contribute to Documentation

- Prepare Suggested Standards and Guidlines Modification When

Necessary

- Assist District and Primary Staff Upon Request

3. Participate with the team to develop a recommendation regarding the appropriate NEPA documentation.

4. Write sections of the EA, EIS or Decision Memo that address her or his resource area or activity analysis; including the description of the affected environment, description of the alternatives, anticipated environmental consequences of each alternative, cumulative actions discussions and any necessary mitigation requirements (specific mitigation measures) to reduce or avoid expected adverse environmental impacts.

5. Provide the IDT Leader a record of all contacts made with the public or other agencies during the project analysis. Provide the IDT Leader a description of all reference materials used. Assist the IDT Leader when requested in preparing any other documentation (e.g. project plan, administrative record) necessary.

6. Assist in preparation of planning record, footnoting, and administrative record when necessary.

7. Provide encouragement and assistance to other IDT members at all times.

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C.Forest Supervisor and District Rangers.

District Rangers have responsibility to:

1. Identify District projects where Supervisor's Office IDT Members assistance will be necessary.

2. Assign the IDT Leader.

3. Forward to the Forest Supervisor, a scoping letter for projects where the Forest Supervisor or higher officer is the responsible official. Include criteria to formulate and compare project alternatives in addition to those necessary to meet Forest Plan management requirments.

Provide project scoping letters to allow suitable time for review and Forest Supervisor approval.

4. Participate with the Management Team in prioritizing District requests for Supervisor's Office IDT Members to develop the annual Forest IDT Field Schedule.

5. Ensure that identified public, private landowner, permittee and other agency contact and involvement is carried out early in the planning process.

6. Monitor IDT progress to ensure that issues identified in approved scoping letters and as a result of public scoping activities are addressed and that project design will meet Forest Plan management requirements.

Involve appropriate Forest Supervisor's primary staff when necessary to resolve obvious deficiencies in project analysis or NEPA documentation.

7. Provide support, council and encouragement to the IDT to facilitate an orderly and efficient planning process.

8. Ensure that the IDT completes their assigned tasks in a timely manner, including preparation of any necessary NEPA documentation.

9. Prepare necessary NEPA documentation for Forest Supervisor review and approval when the Forest Supervisor or higher officer is the responsible official (FSM 1950).

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When the Forest Supervisor or higher officer is the responsible official, send the appropriate NEPA document(s) to the Forest Supervisor for review and approval.

D.Interdisciplinary Team Leader.

The IDT Leader has the responsibility to:

1. Assist District Ranger in identifying projects that may require Supervisor's Office IDT Member assistance.

2. Review Forest Plan management requirements and Management Area Prescriptions to determine if proposed projects are in conformance with the Forest Plan, or if it will be feasible to redesign or relocate proposed projects that are not in conformance or if amendment of the Forest Plan to accomodate the proposal is appropriate.

3. Prepare a draft scoping letter for the District Ranger when requested.

4. Initiate contact with IDT members (identified in approved scoping letter) to:

a. Obtain available resource inventory reports in the project area;

b. Review the scoping letter with all IDT members and discuss Forest Plan management requirements pertinent to the project and Management Area Prescription(s) affected.

c. Inform IDT members of District and Forest goals and objectives to be achieved through design and implementation of the project.

5. Ensure that District facilities, including transportation, are available to the IDT.

6. Ensure that identified public, private landowner, permittee and other agency contact and involvement is carried out early in the planning process.

7. Provide leadership and guidance throughout the planning process.

8. Identify as early as possible those IDT members that may be needed in assisting the IDT Leader in preparing necessary NEPA documents.

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9. Recommend appropriate NEPA documentation for the proposed project, based on concurrence of the team.

10. Finalize necessary NEPA (project plan and administrative record) documents.

11. Periodically inform Supervisor's Office Environmental Coordinator of IDT project analysis progress and facilitate scheduling of presentation for Forest Supervisor and Primary Staff review when the Team has developed the range of alternatives and completed their analysis of anticipated effects.

E.Forest Supervisor's Office IDT Coordinator.

The Forest Supervisor's Office IDT Coordinator will be designated by the appropriate primary staff officer for each scheduled project. The IDT Coordinator has the responsibility to:

1. Provide a contact in the Supervisor's Office for the IDT Leader to facilitate timely dissemination of information to the IDT.

2. Inform the IDT Leader, appropriate primary staff, or Supervisor's Office Environmental Coordinator of any circumstances that may be causing delays in project analysis.

3. Periodically apprise primary staff officer(s) of IDT activities during the field season.

4. Coordinate arrangements for travel accommodations for the IDT.

5. Provide assistance to the IDT Leader and IDT when necessary.

F.Supervisor's Office Environmental Coordinator.

The Forest Environmental Coordinator has the responsibility to:

1. Act in an oversight role in NEPA documentation preparation where the Forest Supervisor or higher official is the responsible official.

2. Provide advice and guidance to District Rangers, Primary Staff and Interdisciplinary Team members regarding the Forest Service NEPA planning process.

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3. Coordinate preparation of the annual Forest IDT Field Schedule for District projects and Supervisor's Office Team member assignments. The Forest IDT Field Schedule will contain, by District: (1) the project name; (2) IDT members assigned; (3) initial scoping meeting date; (4) IDT analysis completion date; (5) timber sale sell date when appropriate; (6) dates for field examination; and (7) assigned IDT Leader. The field schedule will be compiled from information contained in project scoping letters and/or position statements.

4. Provide assistance to Forest interdisciplinary teams when requested. This may include facilitating IDT meetings, preparing NEPA documents, and on occasion, assisting in conducting field inventories.

5. Prepare periodic IDT project analysis progress report for Forest Supervisor, Primary Staff and District Rangers.

6. Schedule IDT presentation of project analysis and recommendations for Forest Supervisor and Primary Staff review and evaluation when the IDT has completed analysis of expected effects of the alternatives and prior to identification of the preferred alternative.

G.Supervisor's Office Primary Staff.

The Forest Supervisor's Primary Staff have the responsibility to:

1. Assign appropriate staff in their program area as the IDT Member to meet the requested skill for project analysis.

2. Review all scoping letters prior to Forest Supervisor approval to determine if additional issues need to be identified or additional skills need to be included on the IDT; and, to evaluate the suitability of project analysis and evaluation criteria.

3. Facilitate scheduled IDT analysis planning activities through timely staff supervision and personal involvement. Communicate with Forest Environmental Coordinator, District Ranger, IDT Leader and IDT Members to monitor project analysis progress during the field season. Promptly inform the appropriate person when it is apparent that a problem is eminent or has developed that will impede the teams progress.

4. Participate in evaluation of project alternatives. This will occur at scheduled meetings when the IDT is prepared to present predicted environmental impacts of alternatives and provide a clear basis of choice.

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