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rebecca mountain 1.
This is a public record document from the
Alabama USDA Forest Service Website
concerning Section 3 of the Pinhoti Trail
Hiking Trail Construction
USDA Forest Service
National Forests in Alabama
Talladega National Forest- Talladega Ranger District
Talladega and Clay Counties, Alabama
The Talladega Ranger District is going to construct approximately 10 miles of hiking trail
that may eventually become a section of the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail (NRT). The
Talladega Ranger District has the goal of completing the Pinhoti NRT through the length
of the Talladega National Forest. The best placement of the trail extension was
determined and laid out by a Forest Service trail specialist according to topography,
scenic views, and cost analysis. After a Forest Service interdisciplinary team reviewed
the project location, the District Ranger decided not to construct the entire extension
proposed by trail specialist based on private land in-holdings and availability of current
Depending on future funding and land acquisition progress, this trail may eventually be
designated as part of the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail (NRT). If completed, the
Pinhoti NRT will provide the southern route to the final piece of a planned hiking corridor
running the length of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States from the
Everglades in Florida to Cape Gaspe in the Quebec Province of Canada. Additionally, this
extension will provide an important piece of the effort to link the Pinhoti Trail to the
Conecuh National Forest and the Florida National Scenic Trail.
I have decided to use available funding to build approximately 10 miles of new hiking trail
in Talladega and Clay Counties (Figure A). This trail will be built in two sections. The first
section will begin at Bull’s Gap, just south of Highway 148 and extend approximately 7
miles stopping in section 27 of township 21S range 5E. The second section will begin
approximately 4 miles southeast of Sylacauga at the south boundary of the Talladega
Ranger District and approximately 3 miles of hiking trail will be constructed. The trail
will be constructed using Sweco type equipment (small dozer) and hand-tools. The
construction and clearing of the trail will be approximately 48 inches wide with a finished
width of around 30 inches. Tread grade will average 5 to 8% built along hillside contour
slopes from 10 to 30%. Design criteria include avoiding large diameter trees so that no
merchantable timber will be harvested or sold as a result of trail construction. Arched
culverts would be installed for crossing significant drainages to prevent the hiking trail
from causing sedimentation. The trail will be signed following appropriate Forest Service
direction. A small parking lot suitable for 8 to 10 vehicles will be developed at the west
end of this trail just off FS Road 603-B. No cutting of merchantable timber is proposed
for this project. The trail construction is proposed inside the Hollins Wildlife
Management Area (WMA). These lands are co-managed by the US Forest Service and the
State of Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. It is anticipated that
trails in this area will be used by hunters and various other forest users. Hunter camps
will be established outside of the trail corridor to reduce conflicts between forest
users. Portions of the trail (approx ½ mile) may occupy a currently designated horse riding
route. This action is categorically excluded from documentation in an EIS or EA because
it is consistent with Forest Service Handbook 1909.15-2004-3, Section 31.2, Category 1:
“Construction and reconstruction of trails”.
The action is constructing a trail. I find that no extraordinary circumstances exist as
defined in FSH 1909.15, 30.3.2.
1. Federally listed Threatened and Endangered Species or designated critical habitat,
species proposed for Federal listing or proposed critical habitat, or Forest Service
sensitive species - No federally listed threatened or endangered species, designated
critical habitat, species proposed for federal listing or proposed critical habitat, or
Forest Service sensitive species are present on the project area. In accordance with
FSM 2672.4, a Biological Evaluation (BE) was prepared to evaluate the effect of the
planned activities on proposed, endangered and threatened (PET) species and designated
critical habitat. The proposed actions would have “no effect” and “not likely to adversely
affect” PET species or designated critical habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service
concurred with the findings on BE findings in an email dated October 2, 2007. The BE
determined proposed actions will have “no impact” or “may impact individuals but not
likely to cause a trend to federal listing or a loss of viability” for regional forester’s
2. Flood plains, wetlands, or municipal watersheds – The proposed action is not in a
floodplain, or wetland. Forest plan standards will be implemented so that no impacts to
the municipal watershed will occur.
3. Congressionally Designated Areas – No congressionally designated areas are within the
4. Inventoried Roadless areas, Research natural Areas – No part of the project area is
designated as inventoried roadless area or research natural area.
5. Research natural areas - There are no research natural areas on the Talladega Ranger
6. American Indians and Alaska native religious or cultural sites/Archaeological sites or
historic areas – In consultation with the Alabama State Historic Preservation Officer,
(SHPO) and interested Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPO), a heritage
resource survey of the project area was conducted. No American Indian or Alaska Native
religious or cultural sites were on record or found. My decision is based on an analysis of
the situation and this action is consistent with these goals and objectives and a
determination that the cited categorical exclusion was applicable in the absence of
adverse impacts or extraordinary circumstances.
public involvment and scoping.
A public notice was published in the paper of record, the Talladega Daily Home, on July13,
2007. A pre-decisional memo was mailed to the District mailing list on July 6, 2007. The
State of Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Area Manager had
concerns over using an old road as a portion of the trail and hunter/hiker conflicts in the
WMA. On August 30, 2007 the state area manager and District staff met and worked
through the concerns. The decision was made to allow hunter camps just outside of the
trail corridor and gate the road to allow official vehicle traffic only. Scoping also revealed
that horse back riders utilize a portion of the proposed hiking trail route. The District
Ranger made the decision to allow for multi-use horse and hiking along those portions of
the trail that overlap (see Figure B). As future funding becomes available the hiking trail
will be moved off of the road and rerouted around the horse riding route.
finding required by other laws.
Revised Land and Resource Management Plan - The actions of this project are consistent
with the direction outlined in the Revised Forest Land and Resource Management Plan
(LRMP), which provides standards to provide a wide variety of dispersed and developed
recreation opportunities within the capabilities of the land; annually evaluate existing
opportunities to determine if they meet carrying capacity, demand, and financial ability to
maintain in the future for maintenance, expansion or closure; and recreation induced
impacts to highly sensitive components of the ecosystem will be analyzed and mitigated as
needed. The forest wide goals, objectives and standards are outlined in Chapter II, Goals
22, 23 & 24. Planned trail grades, width and drainage crossings are within the limitations
specified in the LRMP, it provides for adequate protection of soil, water and other
physical resources, and it utilizes best science to protect and ensure habitat for wildlife
and plant species. This proposed trail is located within the area managed under
Management Prescription 8.D.1, Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) Management Area as
outlined in the Revised Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. This management
prescription (8.D.1) is designed to provide habitat conditions for the endangered RCW.
RCW management will be evident along this section of the trail and will include activities
such as timber harvests and prescribed burning. These activities will occur along the
trail, within the trail corridor and in the foreground and are compatible with management
of this section of the trail.
implementation and review.
This decision is subject to appeal by those who provided comments or otherwise
expressed interest in this particular proposal prior to the close of the 30-day notice and
comment period. Written notice of appeal of this decision must be fully consistent with
36 CFR 215.14, “Content of an Appeal” and mailed to: Regional Forester, USDA Forest
Service, 1720 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30367-9102. Appeals must be
postmarked and submitted within 45 days of publication of the legal notice in the
Talladega Daily Home newspaper. This decision will not be implemented until at least five
business days after the close of the 45- day appeal period, or 15 days after disposition of
the last appeal, whichever comes later.
For additional information concerning this decision or the Forest Service appeal process,
contact Lesley Hodge, 45 Highway 281, Heflin, AL; phone (256) 463-2273. /s/ Kent
Talladega Ranger District
National Forests in Alabama
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