Proposed Action and Purpose and Need Recreation Residence Buidling and the Issuance of New 20-Year Permits

NORTH FORK SAN GABRIEL RIVER RECREATION RESIDENCE TRACT SAN DIMAS CANYON RECREATION RESIDENCE TRACT

SAN GABRIEL RIVER RANGER DISTRICT

Introduction

The Curve Fire on the Angeles National Forest (ANF) started on September 1, 2002 and destroyed 50 recreation residences in the North Fork San Gabriel River Recreation Residence tract, located between Rincon and Crystal Lake Recreation Area. The North Fork San Gabriel River Recreation Residence tract encompassed sixty-five (65) privately owned cabins under special use authorizations (SUA). Four cabins remain intact within the fire area and 11 cabins remain intact outside of the fire area.

The Williams Fire started on September 22, 2002 and destroyed 60 cabins, 34 in the Main Fork and 26 in the West Fork of the San Dimas Recreation Residence tract. The San Dimas Recreation Residence tract encompassed seventy-seven (77) privately owned cabins under special use authorizations (SUA). The fire did not destroy seventeen cabins, 5 in the Main Fork and 12 in the West Fork.

Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, R5 Supplement No. 2709.11-2000-1, Section 41.23 (6) provides the following direction: “Following destruction or substantial damage (greater than 50 percent) of a recreation residence by catastrophic events or natural causes, allow rebuilding if the lot can be occupied safely and the use remains consistent with the Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.”

A consistency review will be completed for the affected lots as well as those residences that were not destroyed in each tract to determine if recreation residence use should continue. Continuation of recreation residence use is addressed on a tract or group of tracts basis, not on individual lots. By evaluating the entire tracts, this will allow us to complete the continuation determination for each tract. Since the environmental analysis will be completed within 5 years of the 2008 expiration date of the current permits, it can address issuing a new authorization for 20 years. Many permittees had asked this question because they felt that banks would not loan money for rebuilding when a permit will expire within 5 years and there is no assurance of a new permit being issued.

When recreation residence use remains consistent with management direction given in the Forest Plan, Forest Service Handbook (FSH 2709.11, 41.23a) direction is to issue a new permit to the same holder in accordance with the following:

  1. Since recreation residences have been in place for many years, and experience in administering this use has shown that continuing the use does not cause significant environmental impacts, issuance of a new permit can be made without further environmental documentation, except when the following situations are present:
     

    1. If the use has not been analyzed sufficiently as part of an EA or EIS completed within 5 years of permit expiration, complete the appropriate environmental analysis and documentation.
       

  2. Ensure the current use is in full compliance with the terms of the permit before issuing the new term permit.
     

  3. Review and update the term permit provisions to ensure that the new permit contains those clauses necessary to comply with all current regulations of the Secretary of Agriculture and all present Federal, State, or county laws, regulations, or ordinances which are applicable to the area covered by the permit.
    It was decided to complete the consistency review, continuation determination, and environmental analysis concurrently because of the large number of cabins that were destroyed by the wildfires and because all permits within each tract would be expiring on December 31, 2008. The proposed action was developed based on the assumptions that rebuilding on the lots would be allowed, and a new 20 year permit would be issued upon expiration in 2008 because continued use is consistent with the Forest Plan. These assumptions are based on the fact that the lots within these tracts have been in use for approximately 80 years.

Top
Purpose and Need

The purpose for the Proposed Action is to analyze whether rebuilding the 50 recreation residences destroyed by the Curve wildfire in the North Fork San Gabriel River tract and the 60 recreation residences destroyed by the Williams wildfire in the San Dimas Canyon tract should be allowed. Additional and related purposes are to determine whether recreation residence use is consistent with the Forest Plan and whether new 20-year permits should be issued in 2008 when the current permits for all of the recreation residences in these two tracts terminate.

The need for the Proposed Action arises from the destruction of the recreation residences on the San Gabriel River Ranger District by wildfires. The Forest Service Manual (FSM) recognizes that recreation residences are a valid use of National Forest System lands, and an important component of the overall National Forest recreation program. It is Forest Service policy to continue recreation residence use and to work in partnership with holders of these permits to maximize the recreational benefits of these residences (FSM 2347.1).

A consistency review must be completed because all uses on National Forest System lands must be consistent with the Angeles Forest Plan. The permits for the recreation residences that were destroyed by the wildfires as well as those recreation residences in the tracts that were not affected by the wildfires are valid only until December 31, 2008. To assist permit holders who want to rebuild to obtain loans and for efficiency, a continuation determination will be conducted on the entire tract.

The Forest Service must analyze rebuilding in an environmental analysis to assure, as far as possible that effects to the environment are prevented or minimized and that the lot can be occupied safely. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) direction in FSH 1909.15, 41 requires that an environmental analysis be conducted to determine the effects of issuing new term recreation residence special use permits. The recreation residence term special use permits will expire on December 31, 2008. It has been more than 5 years since the Forest Plan analyzed recreation residence use, so additional environmental review and documentation is necessary.

Top

Proposed Action

The Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel River Ranger District proposes to allow rebuilding of the 50 recreation residences destroyed by the Curve wildfire in the North Fork San Gabriel River tract and the 60 recreation residences destroyed by the Williams wildfire in the San Dimas Canyon tract. In addition, the Proposed Action will analyze issuing new 20-year permits to every permittee in each tract upon expiration of the current permits on December 31, 2008.

The Proposed Action will also identify and analyze the use of any vacant lots within these two tracts as in-lieu lots should the existing lots not be available for rebuilding. Appropriate lots for consideration are undeveloped, formerly developed, and withdrawn lots in established recreation residence tracts. Lots that are vacant because of noncompliance or other factors may also be considered as in-lieu lots.

The North Fork San Gabriel River tract totals approximately 45 acres and is located in T2N, R9W, Sections 4, 5, 8, 17, 18, 19 and T3N, R9W, Sections 32 and 33. This tract had 166 lots when it was originally designated in 1916. There were 65 lots occupied at the time that the Curve Fire occurred. The San Dimas Canyon tracts total approximately 50 acres (25 acres in the Main Fork and 25 acres in the West Fork). The Main Fork is located in T1N, R8W, Sections 17 and 18 and in T1N, R9W, Section 13. This tract was originally designated in 1916 and had as many as 95 lots. There were 39 lots occupied at the time that the Williams Fire occurred. The West Fork is located in T1N, R9W, Sections 12 and 13. This tract was originally designated in 1916 and had as many as 89 lots. There were 38 lots occupied at the time that the Williams Fire occurred. Location maps of the general area and these tracts can be found in Appendix A. Note: Not included in this document. Contact the Forest Service, 110 N. Wabash Ave., Glendora, CA 91741 (626) 335-1251 for more information.

The following are a list of the conditions for rebuilding and issuance of a new 20-year permit if the Recreation Residence tracts are determined to be consistent with the Forest Plan (FSM 2721.23e[1]):

  • If a threatened, endangered, or sensitive species is found that affects any tract for the duration of the permit, the forest biologist will be notified to determine mitigation measures for protection of the species (Term Special Use Permit for Recreation Residences, Clause IV.A).
     

  • Permit holders must be in compliance with the terms and conditions of their current term permit prior to the issuance of the new term permit (FSH 2709.11, 41.23a, 3). 

  • Rebuilding of the recreation residences will comply with Los Angeles County building, environmental health, and fire codes. Permit holders of the recreation residences unaffected by the wildfire must be in compliance with Los Angeles County codes for water systems and sanitation prior to the issuance of the new term permit (Term Special Use Permit for Recreation Residences, Clause IV.A). 

  • Issuance of permits allows for use, occupancy, and maintenance of recreation residences. These structures are maintained for the use and enjoyment of holders and their guests. Cabins must be used at least 15 days per year, but cannot be used as a principal residence. (Term Special Use Permit for Recreation Residences, Page 1 and Clause I.C.) 

  • Any ground-disturbing activities involved with rebuilding will be addressed in this analysis. Existing off-lot improvements that are owned and managed by homeowners associations (such as footbridges, water systems, roads, etc.) are authorized separately, and permit issuance for them is included in this analysis.

The following are a list of the conditions if the Recreation Residence tracts are determined to not be consistent with the Forest Plan (FSM 2721.23e[2]):

  • The project analysis shall consider continuation of existing recreation residence use through appropriate modification of the term permit provisions or amendment of the Forest Plan to accommodate the use, or discontinuation of the use. If the analysis results in a decision to amend the Forest Plan so that recreation residence use may continue, modify the provisions of the current term permits as appropriate. (FSM 2721.23e[2]a) 

  • If the project analysis results in a decision to convert a lot to an alternative public use at some point in the future, grant the holder at least 10 years continued use from the date of the decision, unless the continued use conflicts with law and regulation, and identify the specific alternative public use(s) for which the land is being recovered. 

  • When new permits will not be issued following expiration of the present permit, make a reasonable effort to provide an in-lieu lot, if available, at locations not needed in the foreseeable future, generally, the period covered by the Forest Plan. (FSM 2721.23f)





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/angeles/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5172088