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THREE LINKS BRIDGE REPLACEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL a123.g. · PDF file wetlands, park lands, wild and scenic rivers, floodplains, prime farm lands, old growth forests, range and forest land,

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Text of THREE LINKS BRIDGE REPLACEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL a123.g. · PDF file wetlands, park lands, wild...

  • Three Links Bridge Replacement Project Decision Notice/FONSI

    1

    THREE LINKS BRIDGE REPLACEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT DECISION NOTICE AND FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

    USDA Forest Service, Moose Creek Ranger District, Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho County, Idaho

    Background

    The Forest Service prepared the Three Links Bridge Replacement Environmental Assessment in

    compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other relevant Federal and

    State laws and regulations. The bridge is located approximately 15 miles from the Race Creek

    trailhead on the Selway River Trail #4, within the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness in Township 22

    north, Range 11 east, section 22, Idaho County, Idaho.

    The Three Links Bridge was constructed in 1964 in order to avoid a hazardous ford during high

    water conditions. The Bridge is integral for maintaining yearlong access on Selway River Trail,

    an opportunity class 4 trail. The trail is the main access and route used to supply the needs of the

    Moose Creek Ranger Station via packstring as well as serving as the primary public access trail

    for the western portion of the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.

    The Nez Perce National Forest Engineer determined that the structural rating for the bridge is

    low and that the bridge needs to be replaced or access closed across the bridge.

    Decision and Rationale

    I have decided to implement Alternative 2 actions as described in the Three Links Bridge

    Replacement Environmental Assessment (EA). The proposed action would utilize a helicopter

    and external sling load to transport materials to the site and position the stringers on the existing

    abutments. The old bridge would be dismantled and non-treated materials burned on-site.

    Treated materials would be backhauled via helicopter or packed out. Removal of the old bridge

    and construction of the new bridge would be accomplished using traditional, non-motorized tools

    and equipment.

    I have chosen to implement Alternative 2 because it best meets the purpose and need for

    providing access for future wilderness management, recreation and other administrative uses.

    The replacement would maintain yearlong access to the Moose Creek Ranger Station.

    Maintenance of a bridge at this site is the minimum requirement necessary for administration and

    protection of the wilderness resource as required by Forest Service Manual Direction, the

    Wilderness Act of 1964, the Forest Plan and the Selway Bitterroot GMD.

    Other Alternatives Considered

    The EA consider several additional alternatives that did not include motorized use. These

    alternatives included replacing the bridge with native materials, utilizing a packable bridge

    design, as well as removing the bridge and establishing a ford. The alternatives were carefully

    considered and analyzed during the development of the proposed action and during development

    of the Minimum Requirements Decision Guide; however these were not analyzed in detail in the

    EA. A rationale for why these alternatives were not carried forward for further analysis is found

    on pages 5-7 of the EA.

  • 2

    A no action alternative (Alternative 1) was also developed to display the effects and

    consequences of actions not taken.

    Public Involvement

    In August 2005 a public field trip was sponsored to review the bridge site and collaborate on

    project design with interested individuals. Nine individuals attended the field trip and provided

    input towards development of the proposed action.

    On August 17 th

    , 2009, 445 scoping letters asking for input on the proposal were sent to the Nez

    Perce Tribe and all interested individuals, businesses, organizations and agencies. A legal notice

    and request for public comment appeared in the Lewiston Tribune on August 18th, 2009.

    Comments received from 3 individuals, 4 organizations, and 1 agency were considered in the

    analysis. The final proposed action was determined based on public comment.

    The EA was sent out to 8 individuals and a legal ad appeared in the Lewiston Tribune on

    November 10th, 2010. A total of 4 comments were received at the end of the 30 day comment

    period.

    Consideration of Issues

    The issues addressed in the EA primarily involved potential impacts to wilderness character.

    One commenter / organization had concerns that maintaining a bridge at the Three Links Creek

    was inconsistent with the Wilderness Act and that a ford would be a better alternative. They also

    contended that helicopter use was not the minimum requirement for bridge reconstruction. The

    minimum activity was determined after a careful analysis of alternatives in the MRDG. It was

    determined that maintenance of a bridge at this site is the minimum requirement necessary for

    administration and protection of the wilderness resource as required by Forest Service Manual

    Direction, the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Forest Plan and the Selway Bitterroot GMD. (MRDG,

    pg 10). The effects to wilderness character were disclosed in the EA (pgs. 8-11. A rationale for

    why a ford was not considered was addressed in the EA (pgs. 6-7).

    Other concerns addressed in the EA were the impacts of treated materials being used for

    stringers. The proposed action would not use Penta and instead use an environmentally benign

    chemical treatment for stringers. Decking and other bridge materials would use untreated

    wood. (EA, pgs7-8 and pgs. 12-15)

    I believe the issues and concerns identified throughout the scoping and planning process were

    fully addressed during alternative development and analysis.

    Consideration of Public and Other Agency Comments

    A summary of the comments that were received for the bridge replacement proposal, and my

    response to those comments, is attached to his document as Appendix A. The original comment

    letters and all other comments received are included in the project file.

    The formal scoping period for this project ended September 16, 2009. Comments that were

    received during that time were used to develop the issues and alternatives that were included in

  • Three Links Bridge Replacement Project Decision Notice/FONSI

    3

    the EA, and to ensure that those issues and alternatives were adequately analyzed.

    The comment period for the EA ended on December 9, 2010. I considered these comments

    when making my Decision, and I find that the selected alternative responds to the issues and

    concerns that were brought forward by the public and other agencies.

    Finding of No Significant Impact I have determined through the Three Links Bridge Replacement Environmental Assessment that

    this is not a major federal action individually or cumulatively that will significantly affect the

    quality of the human environment; therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement is not needed.

    This determination is based on the analysis of the context and intensity of the environmental

    effects, including the following factors:

    (1) The analysis considered both beneficial and adverse effects. Beneficial and adverse direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impacts discussed in the Environmental

    Assessment have been disclosed within the appropriate context and intensity. No

    significant effects on the human environment have been identified. There will be no

    significant direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to threatened, endangered, MIS, or

    sensitive species, or other components of the environment (EA, pgs. 8-17).

    (2) No significant adverse effects to public health or safety were identified. None are unusual or unique to this project.

    (3) There will be no significant impacts to unique characteristics of the area such as wetlands, park lands, wild and scenic rivers, floodplains, prime farm lands, old growth

    forests, range and forest land, minority groups, civil rights or consumers. No effects are

    expected to historic properties or cultural resources (EA, pg. 16). There would be no

    significant effects to riparian areas, wetlands, and sensitive soil types and areas due to

    project design measures (EA, pgs.12-15). The Wild and Scenic River values of the

    Selway River would be protected (EA, pgs. 11, 12).

    (4) The effects of implementation of this decision are not likely to be highly controversial and therefore there has been no scientifically backed information that indicates

    substantial controversy about the effects disclosed in the Environmental Assessment.

    (5) Based on similar actions in the area and the resource professionals that worked on this project, the probable effects of this decision on the human environment, as described in

    the EA, are well known and do not involve unique or unknown risks. Activities approved

    in this decision notice are routine projects similar to those that have been implemented

    under the Nez Perce National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan over the past

    23 years.

    (6) This action does not establish precedence for future actions with significant effects, nor does it represent a decision in principle about a futu

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