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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment Tule River Tribe Fuels Reduction Project



The Tule River Indian Tribe has applied for funding assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), for a wildfire hazard reduction project in Tulare County, California. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), FEMA has prepared a draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the proposed project

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to reduce hazards related to erosion and wildfire on the Tule River Indian Tribe Reservation. The 2017 Pier Fire burned over 36,000 acres in the Sequoia National Forest, in California, including almost 9,000 acres within the Tule River Indian Tribe Reservation. The loss of vegetation from the wildfire and prior drought and insect damage combined with the spread of invasive species has led to an increased risk of erosion and wildfire. These areas also experience greater runoff volumes that have plugged and damaged many culverts; the changed landscape has resulted in the need for additional culverts in some places to protect existing road networks. Therefore, the Proposed Action would remove dead standing trees; plant seedlings of indigenous species; remove hazardous fuels; reduce soil erosion on steep slopes through contour log felling, installation of water breaks, and mulching; and remove noxious weeds with the herbicide Milestone. In addition, damaged roads would be repaired by regrading and installing new drainage dips or spillways where needed; removing debris from culverts; replacing damaged culverts and installing new culverts where needed; installing warning signs about hazardous conditions; and installing erosion control Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the edge of roads, trails, and bridges to prevent further soil erosion. The alternatives evaluated in the draft SEA include the No Action alternative and the Proposed Action.

Some activities included in the Proposed Action were previously evaluated in FEMA’s December 2014 Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Recurring Actions in Arizona, California, and Nevada (PEA). However, other post-fire activities in the Proposed Action have been authorized since the PEA was published. Proposed activities not included in the PEA include revegetation by seeding or by planting seedlings with mechanical equipment, contour log felling for soil erosion control following a burn, the use of large burn piles with material more than 8 inches in diameter, and the use of the herbicide Milestone within 200 feet of waterbodies. FEMA prepared the Draft SEA to evaluate those impacts of the Proposed Action that have not been previously described in the PEA.

The Draft SEA has been prepared in accordance with all requirements of NEPA, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Executive Order 11988 (“Floodplain Management”), Executive Order 11990 (“Protection of Wetlands”), and the implementing regulations of FEMA, for the purpose of assessing the potential impacts of the Proposed Action on the human and natural environment. The Draft SEA summarizes the purpose of and need for the project, the affected environment, and potential environmental consequences of the proposed activities.

The Draft SEA is available for review and comment and can be viewed on and/or downloaded from FEMA’s website at the following:

FEMA: https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/practitioners/environmental- historic/nepa-repository

The Tule River Tribe’s website: https://tulerivertribe-nsn.gov/news/.

A printed copy is also available for viewing or photocopying at the following locations:

  • Tule River Tribal Office, at 340 North Reservation Road, Porterville
  • Tule River Tribal Justice Center, at 129 Sout Reservation Road, Porterville

The comment period will conclude 30 days after the initial publication of this Public Notice on December 13, 2023. Written comments on the Draft SEA can be mailed or emailed to the contact listed below. If emailing, please remember to include “Tule River Tribe Fuels Reduction” in your subject line. If no substantive comments are received, the Draft SEA and associated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will become final. Substantive comments received will be addressed as appropriate in the Final SEA/FONSI.


FEMA Region 9 EHP 1111 Broadway, Suite 1200

Oakland, CA 94607-4052

Email: fema-rix-ehp-document@fema.dhs.gov


FEMA works to ensure that information is accessible for all our customers. If you are having issues with accessing any information presented in the document, please contact us by email at fema-rix-ehp-documents@fema.dhs.gov.


Tule River Tribe Fuels Reduction Project HMGP-5205-001-001







Notice is hereby given that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Pacific Regional Office, has received an Environmental Assessment (EA), dated March 2023, to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended by Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40, Section 1500; Department of the Interior (DOI) NEPA regulations (43 CFR Part 46); and the United States DOI, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) 59 IAM 3-H NEPA Guidebook Instructions. The EA analyzes the potential effects of a proposal by the Tule River Tribal Council. The Windy Fire was started by a lightning strike on the Tule Indian Reservation on September 9, 2021. The fire spread onto adjacent federal lands, ultimately burning 97,528 of Tribal, Forest Service, BLM, and private lands. Approximately 19,461 acres of trust lands located on the Tule River Indian Reservation (TRIR) burned at varying intensities. The fire burned through much of the higher-elevation mixed conifer stands and sequoia groves on the TRIR. Prior to the Windy Fire, the TRIR forest had experienced high levels of forest insect activity that coincided with severe drought conditions in central California. Beginning in 2013 conifer tree mortality began to rise. Tree mortality intensified during the next several years, continuing through 2021. Over the past decade the southern Sierra Nevada region has had the highest tree mortality rate in the state.

As a result of these events, the Tule River Tribal Council (TRTC) desires to mitigate identified land management, public safety, and forest health concerns by implementing a series of projects located within the east portion of the Windy Fire and on adjoining forest lands affected by the drought. The proposed activities are planned entirely on Tribal trust lands administered by the TRTC through the Tribal Natural Resources Department, with oversight provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). There are no Indian allotments or land assignments included in the project area. These are intended to be multi-year projects proposed for implementation beginning in 2023 and continuing for more than ten years.

This report, titled Environmental Assessment Report for the Windy Fire Emergency Stabilization and Salvage Sale Projects (referred to as the Windy Fire EA), analyzes the potential effects of implementing proposed activities on the biological, physical, cultural, and socioeconomic resources of the TRIR. The intent of this report is to explore options for mitigating identified concerns and to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Based on the analysis and impacts in the EA, any input received during this public review period, and the entire administrative record, the BIA will decide whether to reach a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), direct further work on the EA, or initiate the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. A draft, unsigned FONSI has been prepared and is available for review along with the EA.


The EA and unsigned FONSI are available for review as of May 15 thru June 14, 2023 on the Tule River Indian Tribe Website: https://tulerivertribe-nsn.gov/news/. More information on how to comment, including a planning map of the Cold Spring – Parker Peak, forest management area, can be obtained by contacting the Tribal Forestry Office at 559-853-6163 Ext. 5 or the Natural Resources Office at 559-853-6163.


No further action will be taken on the environmental process for at least 30 days after the publication of this notice. For more information, please contact Eddie Dominguez, Environmental Protection Specialist, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Central California Agency, 650 Capitol Mall Suite 8-500, telephone (916) 517-6340. Written comments should be emailed to eddie.dominguez@bia.gov and harley.long@bia.gov, Superintendent, Central California Agency.


Windy Fire EA 20230306 FINAL