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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  • United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Intermountain Region Dixie National Forest Escalante Ranger District August 2016

    Ranch Creek Watershed Improvement Project

    Scoping Notice

  • Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project

    Page 1

    For More Information Contact: Terry DeLay

    Escalante Ranger District P.O. Box 246 Escalante, UT

    84726 Phone: (435) 826-5401 Email: tdelay@fs.fed.us

    Fax: (435) 826-5491

    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.

    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.

    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:

    (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

    1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

    (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

    mailto:program.intake@usda.gov

  • Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project

    Page 2

    TABLE OF CONTENTS BACKGROUND .............................................................................................................................. 3

    Project Location .................................................................................................................... 3 Relationship to the Forest Plan ............................................................................................. 4 Existing and Desired Conditions ........................................................................................ 10

    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

    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

    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

  • Ranch Creek Watershed and Scoping Notice Riparian Improvement Project

    Page 3

    BACKGROUND

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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. Standin

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