Ranch Creek Watershed Improvement Projecta123.g. Creek Watershed Improvement Project. ... To file a program discrimination complaint, ... certification samples in 2015 showed that Ranch Creek has recently ...

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<ul><li><p>United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Intermountain Region Dixie National Forest Escalante Ranger District August 2016 </p><p>Ranch Creek Watershed Improvement Project </p><p>Scoping Notice </p></li><li><p>Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project </p><p>Page 1 </p><p>For More Information Contact: Terry DeLay </p><p>Escalante Ranger District P.O. Box 246 Escalante, UT </p><p>84726 Phone: (435) 826-5401 Email: tdelay@fs.fed.us </p><p>Fax: (435) 826-5491 </p><p>In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. </p><p>Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDAs TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. </p><p>To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: </p><p>(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights </p><p>1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; </p><p>(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov. </p><p>USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. </p><p>mailto:program.intake@usda.gov</p></li><li><p>Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project </p><p>Page 2 </p><p>TABLE OF CONTENTS BACKGROUND .............................................................................................................................. 3 </p><p>Project Location .................................................................................................................... 3 Relationship to the Forest Plan ............................................................................................. 4 Existing and Desired Conditions ........................................................................................ 10 </p><p>PURPOSE AND NEED FOR ACTION ......................................................................................... 28 PROPOSED ACTION .................................................................................................................... 29 PROJECT DESIGN FEATURES ................................................................................................... 31 DECISION FRAMEWORK ........................................................................................................... 35 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT ............................................................................................................ 35 COMMENTS REQUESTED.......................................................................................................... 36 MAPS .............................................................................................................................................. 37 BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................................... 41 </p><p>LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Management area and acres within the Ranch Creek project area ..................................... 4 Table 2. Existing and desired conditions for riparian areas ............................................................ 14 Table 3. Species Composition of Shrublands in Project Area ....................................................... 16 Table 4. Existing and desired condition for shrublands .................................................................. 18 Table 5. Existing and desired conditions for woodlands* .............................................................. 20 Table 6. Existing and desired condition for forests ......................................................................... 22 Table 7: Current VSS Distribution by Northern Goshawk Home Range ....................................... 26 Table 8. Existing and desired conditions for the wildland urban interface ..................................... 27 Table 9. Project design features for all action alternatives ............................................................. 31 </p><p>LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Junipers and other coniferous species underlying and growing into the crowns of legacy cottonwoods and other deciduous riparian species on Horse Creek. .............................................. 11 Figure 2. Junipers and other coniferous species underlying and growing into the crowns of legacy cottonwoods and other deciduous riparian species on Birch Creek. .............................................. 11 Figure 3. Junipers and other coniferous species underlying and growing into the crowns of aspen and other deciduous riparian species on Ranch Creek. ................................................................... 11 Figure 4. Close up view of Ranch Creek stream channel showing the trampling of the stream bank during October. ............................................................................................................................... 12 Figure 5. Looking downstream on Ranch Creek stream channel showing the trampling of the stream bank during October. ........................................................................................................... 12 Figure 6. Extended view of Ranch Creek stream channel showing the trampling of the stream bank during October. ...................................................................................................................... 12 Figure 7. Close up view of the Horse Creek GDE showing the hoof sheer and vegetative damage.......................................................................................................................................................... 13 Figure 8. Extended view of the Horse Creek GDE showing the hoof sheer, vegetative damage, and fecal matter that is impacting the water quality. ...................................................................... 13 Figure 9. Management Areas and Vicinity Map ............................................................................. 37 Figure 10. Vegetation Cover Types Map ........................................................................................ 38 Figure 11. Vegetation Treatments Map .......................................................................................... 39 Figure 12. Other Treatments Map .................................................................................................. 40 </p></li><li><p>Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project </p><p>Page 3 </p><p>BACKGROUND </p><p>The Ranch Creek Watershed and Riparian Improvement Project is designed to maintain and improve riparian areas and stream and watershed function, as well as to benefit Bonneville cutthroat trout and other wildlife species. </p><p>Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii utah) (BCT) are the only native sport fish found in southwestern Utahs Bonneville basin. As with other subspecies of cutthroat trout throughout the Intermountain West, habitat alterations and introductions of non-native trout from the late 1880s until the 1970s caused large-scale losses of this native fish (Hadley and Golden 2016). Active management of BCT began in southern Utah after the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 (Hepworth et al. 2003). By the 1990s, interagency commitment to conserving, protecting, and expanding populations of BCT led to the development of a formal management strategy for the state of Utah (Lentsch et al. 1997), which was followed by a strategy and agreement for range-wide conservation (Lentsch et al. 2000). BCT are on the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service Regional Foresters Sensitive Species List and BCT conservation has also been identified as a primary objective for the East Fork Sevier River drainage (8th-level Hydrologic Unit Code [HUC] 16030002) by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) (Hepworth et al. 2003). </p><p>The BCT population in Ranch Creek was first identified in 1995 and has had a relatively stable distribution and standing crop since the 1990s (Hadley and Golden 2016). Individuals from this population have only been reintroduced into one other stream (Cottonwood Creek) in 2013 and the success of that reintroduction is still being evaluated (Hadley and Golden 2016). Disease certification samples in 2015 showed that Ranch Creek has recently become infected with whirling disease which could jeopardize this core, conservation population. </p><p>Birch Creek and Horse Creek both contain populations of nonnative brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Nonnative trout are a Management Indicator Species (MIS) for the Forest. MIS is a concept used by the Forest Service to serve as a barometer for species viability at the Forest level. Standing crop of brook trout in both Birch Creek and Horse Creek would be considered below average when compared to other trout populations across southern Utah (Golden 2013). Birch Creek and Horse Creek have been identified as candidates for future BCT restoration by the Bonneville cutthroat Southern Geographic Management Unit planning team of the Utah Conservation Agreement and Strategy for Cutthroat Trout. </p><p>Project Location </p><p>The Ranch Creek project is located within Garfield County, Utah on the Escalante Ranger District of the Dixie National Forest approximately 15 miles south of Antimony, Utah and encompasses approximately 14,071 acres. The project area is located within Township 33S Range 1W Sections 20-21, and 27-34, Township 33S Range 2W Sections 25 and 36, Township 34S Range 1W Sections 2-11, 15-18, and 20-22, and Township 34S Range 2W Section 1 and 12 (see </p></li><li><p>Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project </p><p>Page 4 </p><p>Management Areas and Vicinity Map, Figure 9). The project area is within the Ranch Creek-Sevier River and Sweetwater Creek sub-watersheds which includes the headwaters of Ranch Creek, Birch Creek, and Horse Creek. Access is by County Road 1660 (Johns Valley Highway, CR 1660), and FR 30234. There is approximately 191 acres of private land within the project area. There are no designated wilderness areas or inventoried roadless areas (IRA) within the project boundary. </p><p>Relationship to the Forest Plan </p><p>This analysis incorporates by reference the direction provided in the Dixie National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended (Forest Plan) (USDA 1986). All administrative activities affecting the National Forest must be based on the Forest Plan. The Forest Plan guides all natural resource management activities and provides the overall guidance for management activities by specifying goals and objectives, desired future conditions, management direction, and standards and guidelines. The management areas (MA) within the Ranch Creek project area include MA 1 (General Direction), MA 2B (Roaded Natural Recreation), MA 5A (Big-Game Winter Range), MA 6A (Livestock Grazing), MA 7A (Wood Production and Utilization) and MA 9A (Riparian Management) (see Management Areas and Vicinity Map, Figure 9 and Table 1). </p><p>Table 1. Management area and acres within the Ranch Creek project area </p><p>Management Area Description Management Area Code Acres </p><p>General Direction 1 2,125 Roaded Natural Recreation 2B 1,119 Big-Game Winter Range 5A 4,960 Livestock Grazing 6A 4,601 Wood Production and Utilization 7A 853 Riparian Management 9A 222 Total 14,071 </p><p>Guidance for development of the purpose and need for action came from the Forest Plan, as amended (USDA 1986), specifically the following goals and direction related to the management of soil, water, sensitive species, wildlife, fish, riparian areas, silviculture, fire, and fuels. </p><p>General Direction (1) (applies to all management areas) </p><p>Soil and Water </p><p>Goal No. 29: Provide water and soil guidance to other resource activities to protect or improve water quality and quantity and soil productivity (IV-8). </p></li><li><p>Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project </p><p>Page 5 </p><p>Goal No. 32: Design and implement practices on the ground that will reestablish acceptable soil, hydrologic, and vegetative conditions that are sufficient to secure and maintain favorable water flow (IV-9). </p><p>Goal No. 33: Increase water yields where possible through timber harvest program when consistent with other multiple-use goals (IV-9). </p><p>Desired Future Condition: Water quality and soil will be maintained. Condition of riparian areas will be maintained, or if necessary improved (IV-22). </p><p>Wildlife and Fish </p><p>Goal No. 14: Improve the quantity and quality of aquatic habitats through direct habitat improvement and increased coordination with other land use programs (IV-5). </p><p>Goal No. 15: Maintain or enhance the terrestrial habitat for all wildlife species that presently occur on the forest (IV-5). </p><p>Goal No. 16: Maintain or improve the current capacity of big game winter ranges on National Forest lands (IV-6). </p><p>Goal No. 17: Manage classified species (bald eagle (E), peregrine falcon (E), Utah prairie dog (T), Astragalus perianus (E), Bonneville cutthroat trout (S) and Colorado River cutthroat trout (S); (E = Endangered, T = Threatened, S = Sensitive)) habitat to maintain or enhance their status through direct habitat improvement and agency cooperation (IV -6). </p><p>Goal No. 17A: Restore or maintain forested landscapes in a properly functioning condition (PFC). Functioning forested landscapes provide habitat for the northern goshawk and its prey to support a viable population of goshawks in Utah (IV-6). </p><p>Desired Future Condition: Habitat will be improved for sensitive species, including aquatic species (IV-20). </p><p>Improve riparian ecosystems that are currently in an unacceptable condition (IV-20). </p><p>Standards and Guidelines: Maintain aquatic habitat capable of supporting self-sustaining trout populations to provide for those populations. Where natural geologic and biologic conditions will allow, maintain the following stream habitat conditions: A) Maintain 40% or more...</p></li></ul>

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