+ All Categories
Home > Documents > Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 ·...

Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 ·...

Date post: 02-Jun-2020
Category:
Upload: others
View: 4 times
Download: 0 times
Share this document with a friend
5
Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest Project Update and Opportunity for Comment October 11. 2017 Project Status No decision has been made yet on whether or not to authorize guided bank fishing on the Blackrock Ranger District. A draft decision is expected to be released in November or December 2017. Phase 1: Proposal. The Forest Service released an initial proposal on March 3, 2016 seeking public input regarding guided day-use bank fishing on four rivers located on the Blackrock Ranger District. An update summarizing public concerns and modifications to the proposal was released October 4, 2016. Phase 2: Prospectus. The prospectus process is used when the demand to offer a particular service is higher than the available supply (i.e. the resource is limited). A prospectus inviting applications was released January 17, 2017 with applications due March 14, 2017. Public concerns regarding the proposal were built into the prospectus, helping to define what it means to provide exceptional public service. Five applicants were selected by an independent panel of reviewers. The applicants are required to share the cost of conducting the analysis. Phase 4: Final Decision and Implementation. At the end of the objection period the reviewing officer will issue a written response to each objection that may contain instructions to District Ranger Todd Stiles. After following any instructions contained in the written response, Ranger Stiles may make the final decision regarding whether or not guided bank fishing should be authorized and, if so, under what conditions. If the decision is made to authorize the guided service, special use permits will be issued or amended (for existing outfitters) to the five selected applicants. The special use permits and operating plans will incorporate commitments applicants made in response to the prospectus and any conditions that are made as part of the decision. Project Purpose and Need Fishing is a growing activity within the Jackson Hole region, attracting passionate devotees. Like many full-time locals, more visitors and part-time residents are seeking opportunities to fish smaller streams in backcountry settings. As our country becomes more urbanized, fewer people are growing up with a connection to nature and, as a result, are not sure where to go and are not comfortable exploring wild country on their own. This is particularly true in places like the Blackrock Ranger District where grizzly bears may be encountered. Others may be new to the sport of fly-fishing and want to learn from professional guides who can not only introduce them to new fishing locations but can also enhance the experience by teaching skills and sharing information about the area. To provide exceptional public service, guides need to be able to go beyond simply helping customers catch fish to act as a partner with the Forest Service to care for the land, wildlife, fish, and river resources. To further this public need, the project objectives are to: 1) provide a quality visitor experience that helps people improve fishing skills including proper fish handling techniques and improves people’s “leave no trace” skills including preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species; 2) promote visitor safety through the use of proper equipment and practices to handle moving water and avoid encounters with bears; 3) advance resource stewardship by increasing visitor understanding and appreciation of public lands and their stewardship with focus on wild and scenic river values, reducing disturbance of wildlife including eagles and raptors, and Where we are now Phase 3: Environmental analysis. An environmental assessment (EA) has been completed and is available for review at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48886. The EA presents two alternatives (a no action alternative and the modified proposed action) and discloses the effects of guided bank fishing on the natural and human environment. This project update provides a summary of the information contained in the EA and informs interested parties about an opportunity for public comment. After considering the comments received, a draft decision will be released. This triggers an opportunity for those who have submitted timely and specific written comments to object to the decision.
Transcript
Page 1: Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 · Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

Project Update and Opportunity for Comment

October 11. 2017

Project Status No decision has been made yet on whether or not to authorize guided bank fishing on the Blackrock Ranger District. A draft decision is expected to be released in November or December 2017. Phase 1: Proposal. The Forest Service released an initial proposal on March 3, 2016 seeking public input regarding guided day-use bank fishing on four rivers located on the Blackrock Ranger District. An update summarizing public concerns and modifications to the proposal was released October 4, 2016. Phase 2: Prospectus. The prospectus process is used when the demand to offer a particular service is higher than the available supply (i.e. the resource is limited). A prospectus inviting applications was released January 17, 2017 with applications due March 14, 2017. Public concerns regarding the proposal were built into the prospectus, helping to define what it means to provide exceptional public service. Five applicants were selected by an independent panel of reviewers. The applicants are required to share the cost of conducting the analysis.

Phase 4: Final Decision and Implementation. At the end of the objection period the reviewing officer will issue a written response to each objection that may contain instructions to District Ranger Todd Stiles. After following any instructions contained in the written response, Ranger Stiles may make the final decision regarding whether or not guided bank fishing should be authorized and, if so, under what conditions. If the decision is made to authorize the guided service, special use permits will be issued or amended (for existing outfitters) to the five selected applicants. The special use permits and operating plans will incorporate commitments applicants made in response to the prospectus and any conditions that are made as part of the decision.

Project Purpose and Need Fishing is a growing activity within the Jackson Hole region, attracting passionate devotees. Like many full-time locals, more visitors and part-time residents are seeking opportunities to fish smaller streams in backcountry settings. As our country becomes more urbanized, fewer people are growing up with a connection to nature and, as a result, are not sure where to go and are not comfortable exploring wild country on their own. This is particularly true in places like the Blackrock Ranger District where grizzly bears may be encountered. Others may be new to the sport of fly-fishing and want to learn from professional guides who can not only introduce them to new fishing locations but can also enhance the experience by teaching skills and sharing information about the area. To provide exceptional public service, guides need to be able to go beyond simply helping customers catch fish to act as a partner with the Forest Service to care for the land, wildlife, fish, and river resources. To further this public need, the project objectives are to: 1) provide a quality visitor experience that helps people improve fishing skills including proper fish handling techniques and improves people’s “leave no trace” skills including preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species; 2) promote visitor safety through the use of proper equipment and practices to handle moving water and avoid encounters with bears; 3) advance resource stewardship by increasing visitor understanding and appreciation of public lands and their stewardship with focus on wild and scenic river values, reducing disturbance of wildlife including eagles and raptors, and

Wh

ere

we

are

no

w Phase 3: Environmental analysis. An environmental assessment (EA) has been completed and is available for

review at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48886. The EA presents two alternatives (a no action alternative and the modified proposed action) and discloses the effects of guided bank fishing on the natural and human environment. This project update provides a summary of the information contained in the EA and informs interested parties about an opportunity for public comment. After considering the comments received, a draft decision will be released. This triggers an opportunity for those who have submitted timely and specific written comments to object to the decision.

Page 2: Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 · Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

assisting with projects that help sustain the native fishery and river corridors; 4) reduce illegal outfitting and resource violations through active monitoring and reporting of observations.

Alternatives Alternative 1: No Action No special use permits for guided day-use bank fishing would be issued; therefore, such opportunities in the Ranger District would continue to be limited to ancillary service offered by two existing outfitter-guides. This ancillary service has offered 15 or less service days in past years and would likely remain at very low use levels. Alternative 2: Modified Proposed Action The Blackrock Ranger District would issue special use permits for guided day-use bank fishing with a 10-year authorization. The authorized river segments and service days, as well as additional restrictions and terms and conditions with the special use permits, are described below.

River Segments

Blackrock Creek, from the Blackrock Ranger Station upstream to where it is crossed by Flagstaff Road (#30100), 10.8 river miles

Buffalo Fork, from the west end of Burro Hill upstream to the Teton Wilderness boundary, 10.9 river miles

Pacific Creek, from the cut-bank located north of the private inholding upstream to the Teton Wilderness boundary, 4.2 river miles

Spread Creek, in the Sagebrush Flat area from Skull Creek Trail downstream to the mouth of the canyon, 5.6 river miles

In total, 31.5 miles of river would be authorized for guided day-use bank fishing under Alternative 2. Service Days A total of 600 service days per year would be authorized under the following conditions:

100 service days would be allocated to each of the five selected outfitter-guide companies

100 service days would be reserved in a common pool. Reserved days may be distributed to outfitter-guides at the District Ranger’s sole discretion based on the following factors: (1) Outfitters’ demonstrated need for additional service days, (2) Outfitters’ compliance with permit requirements, (3) Existing resource conditions

Authorized reserved common pool days cannot be used on the Buffalo Fork No more than 400 service days may be used on the Buffalo Fork No more than three guided parties per day would be allowed on the Buffalo Fork River Access and Use Restrictions The mode of travel for guided parties while fishing would be via foot. The use of boats, including belly boats or similar flotation devices, would be prohibited. In order to avoid resource impacts, river access points and parking locations (collectively, “access points”) would be restricted to specific locations for each river. All selected river access and parking locations are currently existing sites, so there would be no new disturbance. Access to these points would be restricted to designated routes in accordance with the Blackrock District Motor Vehicle Use map. No parking or walking access is allowed within Grand Teton National Park. The attached map shows the access points. Blackrock Creek – three access points Buffalo Fork – seven access points Pacific Creek – nine access points Spread Creek – one access point

Other Terms and Conditions A requirement to use best practices for fishing would be incorporated into each of permitted outfitter-guide’s operation plan. Best practices are designed to reduce stress on fish, avoid the unintended deaths of fish to the maximum extent possible, and minimize any other resource impacts associated with the issuance of the permits.

Page 3: Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 · Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

Outfitter-guides were selected based in part on the best practices they identified in their applications; therefore, those individual recommendations would be incorporated as required terms in their operating plans under the special use permit. Although the practices vary by outfitter-guide, common best practices include:

Industry standard procedures for handling of fish (e.g., wetting hands prior to touching the fish, minimizing the duration the fish is out of the water, releasing fish with its head pointing into the current, etc.)

Industry standard protocols for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) (e.g., decontaminating boots, gaiters, and other fishing gear via recognized methods such as drying for multiple days, freezing, or use of disinfecting agents)

Use of barbless hooks

Catch and release only for native fine spotted Snake River cutthroat trout

Use of Leave No Trace practices In addition to these best practices, several additional terms and conditions would apply:

The annual operating season will last from May 1 through October 1.

Operating plans will incorporate a 400-meter buffer around active bald eagle or trumpeter swan nest sites.

Operating plans will specifically state that guided fishing is a day-use activity; camping is not permitted in association with the use of service days authorized by the special use permits.

Operating plans will specify that compliance with all applicable WGFD fishing regulations is required for both guides and clients.

Operating plans will specifically prohibit modifications to streambanks, creation of pools, or any other alterations to the river channels.

Operating plans will specifically note that compliance with the Bridger-Teton National Forest food storage order for operating in bear country is required.

Outfitter-guides will be required to carry a card identifying themselves, as well as display a readily identifiable sign or logo on their motor vehicle while operating under the special use permit.

Environmental Consequences The following is a brief summary of the key findings documented in the Environmental Assessment. Alternative 1: No Action Recreation: Competition between guided and non-guided parties would not increase. Illegal activity would likely slightly increase and monitoring and enforcement of this activity would continue to be difficult. Resource impacts would continue from non-guided and illegal day use activity but would be minimal. However, the potential threat of introducing aquatic invasive species would continue to be present and would be difficult to manage. There would not be an appreciable increase in overall use beyond current trends. Wild and Scenic Rivers: No direct or indirect impacts would occur on the free-flow, water quality, or outstandingly remarkable values of the river corridors. Fisheries: No direct or indirect impacts would occur on native cutthroat trout beyond current non-guided and illegal activity. Wildlife: No direct or indirect impacts would occur on threatened, endangered or sensitive wildlife species beyond current non-guided and illegal activity. Botany: Trampling of vegetation and the potential to introduce or spread noxious weeds would continue to occur from current non-guided and illegal activity but the effects would be minimal. Alternative 2: Modified Proposed Action Recreation: Competition between guided and non-guided parties would slightly increase. However, the opportunities for solitude would still be consistent with the existing roaded-natural recreation setting classification for the various corridors. Opportunities for non-guided fishers to avoid guided groups would still exist. Overall, the proposed river segments comprise 22% of the 142 miles of river in the non-wilderness portion of the Blackrock Ranger District.

Page 4: Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 · Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

Wild and Scenic Rivers: No direct or indirect impacts would occur on the free-flow or water quality of designated rivers. The risk of introducing aquatic invasive species would be slightly greater due to increased fishing but would be mitigated by implementing best practices. The proposed authorized use would be well within the visitor capacity for Blackrock Creek. The visitor capacity for Pacific Creek is based on overnight use thus is not applicable to this project. Visitor capacity estimates for the Buffalo Fork are based on float fishing where put-in and take-out infrastructure is necessary and on campsite availability. Since this project does not involve floating or camping, it is considered to be within acceptable capacity limitations. Fisheries: There would be a slight increase in impacts to individual fish and cutthroat trout habitat but the effects would be minimized by use of best practices for handling fish. Angling pressure results in some hooking mortality estimated to be between 0.3 and 3% of all trout hooked however, populations are robust enough to handle the increased use. The amount of potential native cutthroat trout habitat affected is 4.7% of the 677 total named rivers located on the Blackrock Ranger District. Wildlife: With the implementation of best practices, there would either be “no effect” or “may effect but not likely to lead to a trend towards federal listing or loss of viability” for threatened, endangered and sensitive wildlife species present or potentially present in the project area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the analysis findings. Botany: With the implementation of best practices, there would either be “no effect” or “may effect but not likely to lead to a trend towards federal listing or loss of viability” for sensitive plant species present or potentially present in the project area. The Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the analysis findings.

How to Comment

Please send written comments to: Bridger-Teton National Forest, Blackrock Ranger District, P.O. Box 278, Moran, WY 83013 – attention Guided Fishing. Comments may be hand-delivered to the Blackrock Ranger Station at 20250 East Hwy 26/287 between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Electronic comments must be submitted via the form available at:

https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=48886

Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not allow the respondent to have standing in subsequent administrative or judicial reviews. Written, facsimile, hand-delivered, and electronic comments concerning this action will be accepted for 30 calendar days following the date that legal notice is published in the Casper Star Tribune. The legal notice publication date is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period. Those wishing to comment should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. The time period is computed using all calendar days. When the time period expires on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the time is extended to the end of the next Federal working day (11:59 PM Mountain Standard Time). Within four days of the legal notice publication, a copy of the notice, including the publication date, will be posted on the Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48886.

This opportunity to comment meets the Forest Service’s notice and comment requirements which are part of the pre-decisional objection process (36 CFR 218). Only those who submit timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project or activity during a public comment period established by the responsible official are eligible to file an objection. For objection eligibility each individual or representative from each entity must either sign the comments or verify identity upon request. This objection eligibility opportunity is in addition to the previous eligibility opportunity that was provided during the project scoping period (3/4 through 3/31/2016). Timely and specific comments submitted during that scoping period need not be resubmitted at this time to establish eligibility. The responsible official for this project decision is Blackrock District Ranger Todd Stiles. Ranger Stiles may be reached at (307) 543-3910 or by email: [email protected]

Page 5: Guided Bank Fishing Projecta123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic... · 2017-10-12 · Guided Bank Fishing Project Blackrock Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest

#*

#*

#*

#*#*#*

#*

#*

#*

#*

#*

#*#*#*#*#*

#*#*#*

#*

3014

430120

30166

30050

30160

30290

30309

30054

30065

30033

30050A

30014

30050B

30189

30055

30080

30155

30162

30185

30170

3011

3

3004

1

30166

30290A

30070

30115

30011

30083

30182

30071

30063 30040

3020030

069

30312

3016

1

30140

30069A

30090

30193

30310

30060

30100

£¤26

3004430035

Buffalo Fork

B lackrock Creek

Spread Cree k

Pacific Cre ekTeton Wilderness

Sources: Esri, USGS, NOAA

Moran Junction

Blackrock Ranger DistrictGuided Fishing Opportunities

#* Guided Access PointsStream Segments

0 1 20.5 Miles ±


Recommended