1736 PFP (OR912)                                       Return to October 21, 2002, News Release


October 22, 2002


Greetings,


Thank you for your interest in the management of Federal forests. We want you to know that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service will be developing an environmental impact statement which will supplement the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Survey and Manage issued in November of 2000. The SEIS would amend land and resource management plans for National Forests and BLM Districts within the range of the northern spotted owl (generally western Oregon and Washington and northwestern California).


The Forest Service and BLM propose to discontinue the Survey and Manage mitigation measure standards and guidelines under the Northwest Forest Plan. The habitat needs of the affected rare or little-known species that had been addressed in the Survey & Manage mitigation measure would rely on other elements of the Northwest Forest Plan and existing Forest Service Sensitive Species and BLM Special Status Species programs as needed and appropriate. The effects of this action will be analyzed in the supplemental environmental impact statement.


The existing Forest Service Sensitive Species Program and the BLM Special Status Species programs also cover many of the current Survey and Manage species. This results in overlapping protection and extra costs. In other parts of the country, species such as those under the Survey and Manage mitigation measure are managed under the agencies’ existing Sensitive Species and Special Status Species Programs. Under these programs, species must be truly rare as certified by the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center or similar organizations in other states. Local units then have latitude in deciding how to meet the objective of the Sensitive Species and Special Status Species programs. The objective is to keep species from needing to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and to meet population and distribution requirements of the National Forest Management Act and other legislation.


The decision to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) and the Proposed Action came as a result of the settlement that was reached between the U.S. Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Douglas Timber Operators regarding a lawsuit. The Survey and Manage provisions were the subject of a lawsuit by Douglas Timber Operators (DTO) who claim the Agencies protection measures are excessive and unwarranted because they violate the Oregon and California Lands (O&C) Act and are beyond the authorities or intent of the National Forest Management Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Endangered Species Act. In particular DTO claimed that the protection of every species site amounted to the creation of additional eserves without going through the NEPA process and in violation of O&C Act.


The agencies are currently in the process of collecting scoping comments on this proposal to prepare a SEIS. Comments are sought that will help the agencies identify issues to be addressed in the SEIS and identify interested and affected persons. Preliminary issues identified include: the cost of implementing the Survey and Manage program, its effect on other Agency programs and priorities, and whether the proposed action meets all applicable laws and regulations including the Oregon and California Lands Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and their implementing regulations. Please send your written comments concerning this proposal to: Comments, SEIS for Survey and Manage, P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Oregon 97208. Comments are due by November 20, 2002. No public scoping meetings are planned.


The Forest Service and BLM will be joint lead agencies for this analysis. Because of potential indirect effects to threatened or endangered species, the two agencies will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, none of the species covered by the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines are listed under the ESA as threatened or endangered. Other involved Federal agencies will include the Forest Service Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest Research Stations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division, and the EPA Research Laboratory. Tribal, local, and state governments will also be involved in the process.


The draft SEIS is expected to be filed with the EPA in January 2003 and will be available for public review. It is expected that the final SEIS will be filed with the EPA in approximately June 2003. The agencies anticipate there will be a Record of Decision signed in July 2003.


Thank you for providing us with your comments on this proposal.


Sincerely,



Dick Prather

SEIS Team Leader