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Old 04-01-2009, 10:47 PM
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REASONS FOR CATEGORICALLY EXCLUDING THE DECISION

These actions do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment, and therefore, are categorically excluded from documentation in an environmental impact statement (EIS) or an environmental assessment (EA). The specific category, identified in Forest Service Handbook 1909.15 “Environmental Policy and Procedures” is Section 31.12 Category 1: Orders pursuant to 36 CFR Part 261 – Prohibitions to provide short-term resource protection or to protect public health and safety.



FINDING OF NO EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES


No extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant further analysis and documentation in an EA or EIS. The District interdisciplinary team screened these actions for the presence of any one of the extraordinary circumstances identified in Amendment No. 1909.15-2008-1 to Forest Service Handbook 1909.15. Section 30.4 lists the following resource conditions that were considered:
  • Federally listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat, species proposed for Federal listing or proposed critical habitat, or Forest Service sensitive species;
  • Flood plains, wetlands, or municipal watersheds;
  • Congressionally designated areas, such as wilderness, wilderness study areas, or national recreation areas;
  • Inventoried roadless areas;
  • Research natural areas;
  • American Indians and Alaska Native religious or cultural sites;
  • Archaeological sites, or historic properties or areas.
SCOPING AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

The purpose of scoping is to determine the issues and concerns related to the proposal. Public involvement on theproposed action for long termmanagement of the Upper Tellico OHV System began on June 9, 2008 when a letter was mailed and emailed to groups and individuals known to be interested in management of the Upper Tellico OHV Area. On June 28, 2008, during the scoping period, a public open house was held in Murphy, NC, with approximately 87 participants. Approximately 1500 responses from individuals, groups, organizations and other government agencies were received by mail, emailed, phoned in or by personal visit to the District office. These responses conveyed numerous issues, and are summarized in the Response to Public Comments, in the Upper Tellico OHV Project file.
In the 30 day scoping period, newspaper articles were published in the Asheville Citizen-Times, The Cherokee Scout, and the Clay County Progress.
A draft of this Closure Order was released to the public on February 27, 2009, concurrent with the Notice and Comment Period for the Environmental Assessment for the Upper Tellico OHV Project. The public was invited to submit comments concerning the Closure Order. Numerouscomments specifically addressing the proposed closure order were received. Most were submitted with comments related to the preferred alternative for long term management. Those supporting the Forest Supervisor’s preferred alternative for long term management tended to be supportive of the temporary closure as a necessary step toward restoration of the area. Those opposing the preferred alternative tended to be critical of the temporary closure. Primary concerns included the impact on the local economy, the potential need for individuals to cancel planned trips to the area, and cancellation of scheduled events in the Upper Tellico OHV System (for which the agency had not issued event permits). Few (less than ten) comments were received from local area businesses. Some comments expressed a concern that the emergency temporary closure indicated a predecisional selection of alternative for the long term management of the OHV System.
This decision is independent of any future decisions related to long term management of the OHV System. This decision may impact specific individuals who plan to visit the Upper Tellico OHV System vicinity; however, I have determined that the findings in the “Purpose and Need”section of this document compel implementation of this order.


FINDINGS REQUIRED BY OTHER LAWS


Forest Plan Consistency – The actions in this decision are consistent with the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests (Forest Plan) and all Amendments to the Forest Plan.

Endangered Species – Implementing the actions in this decision will not adversely affect threatened or endangered species, or result in loss of any other species’ viability, or create significant trends towards Federal listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act.

Cultural Resources – The actions in this decision will not adversely affect any sites listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, nor will they cause the loss or destruction of significant scientific, cultural or historic resources.


NOTICE, COMMENT AND APPEAL OPPORTUNITIES

These actions are not subject to legal notice and opportunity to comment (36 CFR 215.4(a)). This decision is not appealable (36 CFR 215.12(f)).




______/s/ Marisue Hilliard__________________ 3/31/09__ __

MARISUE HILLIARD DATE
Forest Supervisor
National Forests in North Carolina



I also have a map of the closed trails if anyone wants to see it let me know.
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