USDI BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
To Change the Implementation Schedule for Survey and Manage and Protection Buffer Species
Bureau of Land Management Districts and Field Offices in Oregon and California within the range of the northern spotted owl
The EA was made available for public review and comment in October 1998. Public comments did not indicate that any changes to the EA were warranted, but the EA has been appended with a summary of public comments and the Agencies' responses. These appendices are attached to this document. Twelve substantive issues were raised during the development of the EA. Some of these comments provided additional information concerning the species. Many comments questioned the sufficiency of the EA process to change the survey schedule originally described in the Northwest Forest Plan. Several commentors questioned the Agencies' assessment of risk to species and a few suggested an additional alternative that would postpone surveys for a longer period of time, or only survey for the 12 species considered to be at "high risk" from a further delay. These comments and responses are found in Appendix G.
Other related environmental documents which were taken into account include: the Resource Management Plans (RMPs) for the BLM Districts and Field Offices listed below, and their supporting National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents; the Record of Decision (ROD) for Amendments to Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Planning Documents Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl, also known as the Northwest Forest Plan, and the supporting Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Management of Habitat for Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forest Related Species Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl (FSEIS). The existing RMPs incorporated the Northwest Forest Plan ROD into their decisions, and the environmental impact statements supporting the RMPs incorporated by reference the analysis in the FSEIS.
In addition to the schedule change proposed in this EA, the Agencies will consider in the future other changes to the Survey and Manage and Protection Buffer provisions (EA, pp. 4, 8), which will be analyzed under a separate environmental document. On November 25, 1998, a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS for these changes was filed in the Federal Register. The proposed action in the planned EIS would alter Survey and Manage provisions based on new information; would merge the Protection Buffer species into the Survey and Manage provisions; and would make some changes to species' Survey and Manage categorization (63 Fed. Reg. 65167-65158).
BLM will implement this plan maintenance for existing RMPs for the Salem, Eugene, Coos Bay, Roseburg, and Medford Districts, and the Klamath Falls Field Office of the Lakeview District in Oregon, as well as the Redding Field Office, Arcata Field Office, King Range National Conservation Area, and Ukiah Field Office within the grouping of independent Northern California Field Offices known as NORCAL. This change in survey schedule will refine the previously approved decisions in these plans based on a minor change in data (43 CFR 1610.5-4). Such a change in survey schedule is provided for in the Northwest Forest Plan ROD and the existing RMPs. The change in survey schedule will not result in a change in the scope of resource uses or a change in the terms, conditions, and decisions of the existing RMPs, and therefore a plan amendment is not required (43 CFR 1610.5-5). As explained below, the purpose of this action is to maintain the scope of resource uses identified in the existing RMPs.
Besides the selected alternative, a "no action" alternative, Alternative 1 (EA, p. 11), was analyzed in detail. Under this alternative, the Agencies would continue to implement the Survey and Manage and Protection Buffer species Standards and Guidelines according to the schedule defined by the Northwest Forest Plan ROD. Under the Standards and Guidelines for Alternative 1, surveys for 80 Component 2 species "must be completed prior to ground disturbing activities that will be implemented in F.Y. 1999 or later." (ROD, p. C-5).
Alternatives which would change the schedule from FY 1999 to FY 2000 for all 80 Component 2 species were not analyzed in detail because these alternatives did not meet the need for species protection under the Northwest Forest Plan, and the purpose of and need for this action, established in the EA, which specifically regards the unanticipated infeasibility of surveys (EA, p. 2).
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION:
Agency officials considered the ability of the alternatives to meet the stated purpose and need of the action; to comply with applicable laws, regulations, and policies; and to respond to issues and public comments about the proposed action. Three principal issues were identified in this assessment: risk to species, feasibility of surveys, and risk to other resources.
The alternatives were analyzed in the EA based on the most current scientific data available at the time the EA was prepared. New information related to species and survey requirements was obtained from field observations following four years of implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan, consultation with agency experts for the taxonomic groups, and materials obtained from herbaria and museums. The effects to other resource programs were analyzed on the basis of field unit estimates of program outputs.
Alternative 1 ("no action") was not selected because the best available information indicates that it is not feasible to survey for these species, and this alternative would not achieve the two primary goals of the Northwest Forest Plan in that it would not meet the need to provide sustainable forest products. Alternative 1 would not permit most planned ground-disturbing activities to proceed for FY 1999, including beneficial activities such as prescribed burning or watershed restoration, and would provide little corresponding benefit to the species that the standards and guidelines were designed to protect (EA, pp. 12 -14). The Agencies considered the "continuation of the programs authorized and anticipated in their respective land management plans" (EA, p. 2) which defines the need for this action.
Alternative 2 was selected because it better meets the purpose of and need for the action: it provides for the continuation of planned resource management activities for the remainder of FY 1999 without making significant changes to the Survey and Manage Component 2 program. Selection of this alternative affects only the 32 species in question and would have no effect on the 48 other Component 2 and Protection Buffer species. Changing the schedule for 32 species could allow loss of some individuals and localized populations that would otherwise be protected (EA, p. 14). The proposed schedule change is of limited duration and would affect, at most, 0.16% of the federal land in the Northwest Forest Plan area (EA, p. 15). Therefore the risk to species was found to be insignificant (FONSI, pp. 2-3). This alternative would involve little, if any, risk to other resources (EA, pp. 16-17). This alternative would allow the continuation of most timber harvest, prescribed burning, and other actions necessary to meet multiple-use objectives for public lands and achieve the dual goals of the Northwest Forest Plan. These objectives could not be met under Alternative 1, which would not permit a major portion of the planned management actions to continue.
APPLICABLE LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND POLICIES:
The implementation of this plan maintenance is provided for by BLM planning regulations (43 CFR 1610.5-4). The Forest Service will implement this change in survey schedule as a non-significant plan amendment, in accordance with the National Forest Management Act. The two different implementation mechanisms result from the differences in the Agencies' planning regulations regarding minor changes to existing plans.
The EA was issued for a 30-day formal comment period beginning October 7, 1998. A total of 72 individuals and representatives of organizations, agencies and governments commented during this period. Their comments and Agencies' responses were categorized in 12 substantive issues. The summary of comments and responses is attached as Appendix G of the EA. A list of the individuals and organizations submitting comments on the EA is found in Appendix H.
FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS:
ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW OPPORTUNITIES:
PUBLIC NOTICE OF THIS PLAN MAINTENANCE:
ADMINISTRATIVE OR SUPPORTING RECORD:
For further information, please contact: Cynthia Henchell, EA Team Leader, c/o Regional Ecosystem Office, PO Box 3623, Portland, OR 97208-3623, Ph: (503) 808-2493.
Last Updated: January 04, 2005 11:56 PM