Requirement for Further Environmental Analysis
Site-specific planning by Interdisciplinary Teams (IDTs) would precede most on-the-ground management activities. IDTs are comprised of relevant resource management disciplines. The IDT process includes field examination of resources, identification of alternative management actions, and analysis. Adjacent land uses would be considered during site-specific land management planning.
Site-specific environmental analysis and documentation (including environmental assessments (EAs), categorical exclusions, or administrative determinations where appropriate, and RMP conformance determination) will be accomplished for each action or type of treatment under consideration. Where the action is to be accomplished by a contractor or timber sale purchaser, the EA or other environmental analysis is a primary means for determining appropriate contract stipulations. Where the action is to be accomplished by BLM personnel, the environmental analysis is a primary means for determining how the action will be conducted. When determining whether activities retard or prevent attainment of Aquatic Conservation Strategy objectives, the scale of analysis typically will be BLM analytical watersheds or similar units.
Watershed analysis or province analysis will often precede environmental analysis of specific proposals, and the findings of such preceding analyses will be addressed in documentation of the environmental analyses. Similarly, late-successional reserve assessments will precede activities in those reserves and their findings will be addressed in environmental analysis of those activities. Ultimately, watershed analysis will serve as the basis for developing project-specific proposals and determining monitoring and restoration needs for a watershed. Project-specific NEPA planning will use information developed from watershed analysis. By improving understanding of the ecological structures, functions, processes, and interactions occurring within a watershed, watershed analysis will enhance the ability to predict direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of specific proposals in that watershed.
Analyses of proposals for the use of prescribed fire will adhere to the requirements of the Clean Air Act and the State Implementation Plan (including the Visibility Protection Plan and Smoke Management Plan). To evaluate whether BLM actions comply with the State Implementation Plan, conformity determinations will be conducted in association with site-specific environmental analysis where emissions can be most reasonably forecasted in quantified terms. These analyses will specifically evaluate the effects of project-specific prescribed burning on nonattainment areas.
Accurate assessment of local and airshed-level air quality effects of ecosystem management may require cumulative effects analysis, reflecting all relevant BLM actions, as well as expected actions of other parties. Coordination with other agencies is implicit. Cumulative effects analysis will include consideration of the effects on visibility and regional haze. Where extensive fuel hazard reduction by prescribed burning is considered, the analysis also will consider the impact of burning on wildfire emissions. This will be done in a quantified tradeoff analysis, comparing emissions from prescribed fire with potential emissions from wildfires if prescribed burning is not accomplished. Factors considered when establishing the geographic boundaries for a cumulative effects analysis include whether the action will result in impacts that cross administrative boundaries, and whether the action will affect sensitive air quality regions (e.g., Class I areas and nonattainment areas). Resultant analysis may be based on airsheds.
Interdisciplinary impact analysis will be tiered within the framework of applicable environmental analysis. Tiering is used to prepare more specific documents without duplicating relevant parts of previously-prepared general documents. The more specific EA or other environmental analysis cannot lead directly to a change in the decisions based on the more general EIS to which it is tiered. It could, however, result in some interim management direction pending plan revision, or a proposal to amend the plan. If an EA indicates potential for significant impacts that are seriously different from those described in an existing EIS, a new EIS (or supplement to an existing EIS) may be required.
Specific proposals for treatment to manage competing vegetation and for control of noxious weeds will be addressed in site-specific EAs.
Availability of EAs for public review will be announced in a minimum of one, and generally all, of the following ways: