FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Agencies Release Final Environmental Impact Statement on Changes to Survey and Manage Measures in the Northwest Forest Plan
PORTLAND, November 20, 2000 -- Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service managers today announced the release of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) to amend the "Survey and Manage" mitigation measures of the Northwest Forest Plan. A Record of Decision is expected in January 2001.
The document incorporates what has been learned during the last six years about implementing the "Survey and Manage" provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan. This mitigation measure in conjunction with other elements of the Northwest Forest Plan provide direction for management of 346 rare and little-known species closely associated with late-successional or old-growth forests. The species are primarily bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), fungi, lichens, mollusks (snails and slugs), amphibians (salamanders), and vascular plants (plants with stems).
"We have learned a lot about Survey and Manage since we adopted the Northwest Forest Plan," said Dick Prather, FSEIS Team Leader. "Changes to the Survey and Manage requirement are designed to incorporate up-to-date science, continue to provide an appropriate level of protection for rare and little known species, and use the agencies' resources more efficiently."
The FSEIS identifies Alternative 1 as being preferred. While providing approximately the same level of protection intended in the Northwest Forest Plan, Alternative 1: better identifies species needs; sets survey priorities; clarifies Survey and Manage language by eliminating inconsistent or redundant direction; and establishes a process for adding or removing species when new information becomes available. The changes should increase the efficiency of the survey and manage program and reduce unnecessary impacts to forest management activities.
Survey and Manage requirements apply to all forest management activities, such as timber harvesting, prescribed burning, trail construction, and road reconstruction and maintenance, that could disturb the habitat of the species covered by the requirements. Under Alternative 1, surveys would be required for 67 species prior to conducting an activity that would disturb their habitat, and appropriate protection would be provided based on any species found in the area. The preferred alternative also would direct the agencies to conduct strategic surveys to better determine the abundance, distribution, and habitat relationships of the rare or little known late-successional or old-growth related species within the Northwest Forest Plan area.
Copies of the FSEIS can be obtained by writing the Regional Ecosystem Office at P.O. Box 3623, Portland, OR 97208. It can also be accessed directly on the Internet at www.blm.gov/or/plans/nwfpnepa.
ABOUT THE NORTHWEST FOREST PLAN
The Northwest Forest Plan (adopted in 1994) responds to dual needs: the need for protecting habitat for more than 1000 species associated with late-successional and old-growth forests; and the need for forest products.
The Northwest Forest Plan is a comprehensive ecosystem management strategy the core components of which include:
The Plan area covers about 24.4 million acres of Federal land in western Oregon, western Washington, and northern California. Approximately 78% of the area is in a reserve status. The area can be broken into the following categories:
Although no scheduled harvest is allowed in the reserves, certain thinning and salvage sales and other multiple use activities may be permitted, provided they maintain or improve the characteristics and purposes of the reserves.
Scheduled timber harvest is allowed in the matrix and adaptive management areas.
A more in-depth description of the land areas in the Northwest Forest Plan is available in the FSEIS located at the website listed above.