August 25, 2007
The Tongass is moving forward with publishing this FEIS in large part to protect the financial and time investments made in producing the document. Depending upon the final decision of the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment, currently scheduled for release in October, 2007, a Record of Decision for the project may or may not be applicable based on the final outcome of the Land Use Designations (LUDs) of the area.Delaying planning and analysis regarding road building and timber harvest, even for a short time period, have a significant effect on the amount of timber available for sale in the next year, affect other projects "in line" for consideration, and ultimately affects the Forest's ability to continue to respond to ongoing timber demand in Southeast Alaska.
The public process for developing this EIS included public meetings, subsistence hearings, and a 45-day Draft EIS comment period. Key issues from public comments included: water quality and fish habitat; timber economics; the Forest Plan and pending litigation; effects on deer populations and subsistence users; and soil stability and risk of landslides. In response to these and other concerns, the Final EIS reflects several changes from the Draft. The complete list of changes may be found in Chapter 2 of the FEIS. Some of the noteworthy changes include:
As in the Draft version, the FEIS evaluated five alternatives. The analysis includes consideration of an alternative (Alternative 2) that does not directly affect any inventoried roadless areas. Any decision on the Kuiu Timber Sale project will be consistent with the pending Forest Plan Amendment decision, . due in late September.
The Notice of Availability will be published in the Federal Register in the next several days initiating the 30-day notice period as required in CFR 1506.10 (b). Again, a ROD for this project will not be issued until at least 30 days after the publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register for the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment FEIS and decision.
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