AGENCIES DEFER SURVEYS FOR ONE YEAR
The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service will defer surveys on 32 small woodland species such as snails, slugs, fungi, mosses and liverworts until October 1, 1999. Deferring these surveys will allow ground-disturbing activities, such as timber sales and recreation development, to continue through the rest of the FY 1999.
During the development of the Northwest Forest Plan, 400 species were identified as associated with old-growth forests. The Northwest Forest Plan directs agencies to survey for 80 of these species before any Federal ground-disturbing activities occur. However, biologists have not yet established methods to reliably identify 32 of these 80 species in the field. Requiring surveys for these species would mean stopping a "major portion of timber management, prescribed fire, recreation development, stream restoration and other projects of the managing agencies," officials stated in an environmental analysis released October 1998.
None of the 32 species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Officials expect that activities can continue on Federal land without substantially increasing risks to the 32 Survey and Manage species.
The Klamath pebblesnail is one example of a Survey and Manage specie that has been identified as difficult to survey. Scientists have not yet collected enough information about this small snail to enable biologists to identify it in the field. Identification requires laboratory work.
The Northwest Forest Plan anticipated that the Agencies would be able to accomplish surveys for these species within the existing schedule. However, the Plan's Record of Decision also explicitly anticipated the need to change the schedule, moving a species from one survey strategy to another, or dropping mitigation requirements for a species and provided for the Regional Interagency Executive Committee to make such changes (Record of Decision, p. C-6).
An Environmental Impact Statement, now being prepared, will more thoroughly address each of the 400 species and how they could be more efficiently and effectively managed and protected. "The decision we made today mostly concerns time," said Greg Cox, leader of the Environmental Assessment Survey and Manage project. "Larger and more complicated decisions concerning such topics as which species should be added to or dropped from our survey list, or how survey methods should change, will be addressed in an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]."
Web site: www.or.blm.gov/nwfp.htm
Last Updated: June 07, 2001 02:25 PM