I would like to introduce a project proposal on the Naches Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, west of the town of Naches, Washington. The proposed project is to reissue one-year special use permits to whitewater rafting outfitter and guides to operate on the Tieton River. My letter summarizes the project proposal and invites you to comment on the proposed actions.
Need for proposal
The purpose and need of this project is to respond to requests from whitewater rafting outfitter and guides to reissue one-year special use permits allowing them to operate on the Tieton River.
The Wenatchee Forest Plan recognizes that outfitter and guides provide valuable recreation opportunities for a segment of the public who do not have the expertise, equipment, or physical capabilities to enjoy these experiences on their own. The Plan states that permits should be issued when there is a demonstrated public need or demand for the service, when permitted use is compatible with general public use, and when use can occur without exceeding carrying capacities, causing unacceptable impacts, or causing changes that approach limits of acceptable change.
The Forest Service proposes the following action to meet this purpose and need:
Whitewater Rafting Outfitter and Guide Reissuance of One-Year Permits (Up to 11 permits):
There are 10 or 11 companies that operate as whitewater rafting outfitter and guides during the “flip flop” on the Tieton River. The majority of these companies will reserve a staging/camping location and have personnel onsite for three to four weeks. These reserved sites are dispersed camping locations that have existing areas utilized for parking. These companies will offer the public equipment and trained guides in order to whitewater raft down the river. Portable toilets and dumpsters will be provided by each company for their customers. These permits will have less than one year duration.
Project Consistency and Environmental Protection
In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wenatchee National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, other national guidance, and Forest Service regulations, the Naches Ranger District is proposing to complete a Categorical Exclusion (CE) analysis for the projects.
The projects are being analyzed under categorical exclusion as described in 36 CFR 220.6(d)(8):
(8) Approval, modification, or continuation of minor, short-term (1 year or less) special uses of National Forest System lands. Examples include but are not limited to:
(i) Approving, on an annual basis, the intermittent use and occupancy by a State-licensed outfitter or guide;
(ii) Approving the use of National Forest System land for apiaries; and
(iii) Approving the gathering of forest products for personal use.
The CE analysis is in a category which will not require a Decision Memo and will not require an Official Comment Period, or Appeal Period (36 CFR 215.12(f). The projects are not subject to objection as per 36 CFR 218.12.
How to Provide Feedback and Be Involved
Electronic comments must be submitted through the web-based Comment and Analysis Response Application (CARA). The project web page can be located at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=47402. Attachments to comments must be submitted only in one of the following three formats: Microsoft Word, rich text format (rtf), or Adobe Portable Document format (pdf). Emails submitted to email addresses other than the one listed above or in other formats than those listed or containing viruses will be rejected. Comments received in response to this initial request, including names, addresses, and any other information provided with the comments, will be considered a part of the public record and will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and released if requested. If we do not hear from you during this scoping period, you will not continue to be notified of the status of this project.
If you do not have computer access, you may also mail your comments to: Naches Ranger District, 10237 US Hwy 12 Naches, WA 98937, ATTN: Darren Goodding. Feedback during this scoping period would be most helpful if received by August 19th, 2015.
Questions or other inquiries regarding this project should be directed to Darren Goodding, Interdisciplinary Team Leader at the Naches Ranger District, (509) 653-1422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in the management of your National Forest lands. We look forward to hearing from you.
KELLY D. LAWRENCE