The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires in Section 7 that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when land use planning to ensure the Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) does not jeopardize the recovery of threatened and endangered species or adversely modify their critical habitats. The FWS and NMFS, collectively referred to as "the Services," participated in early coordination with the BLM to increase cooperation and avoid a potential jeopardy or adverse modification determination.
To accomplish this work, officially known as a "consultation," the BLM and the Services have worked closely during the planning process, during the preparation of Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), and during the preparation of Biological Assessments (BAs). This consultation process has occur in parallel with the evaluation of RMP alternatives and the Proposed RMP.
The information in the BAs will be used by the Services to determine effects of the Proposed RMP on threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats. The Services will each publish their results in a Biological Opinion (BiOp) for aquatic and terrestrial species and critical habitat under their respective jurisdictions.
The BLM, FWS, and NMFS have met and determined how the consultation process will achieve its conceptual timeline and articulated goals with rigor and expediency. The first of these meetings occurred in September 2012. The organizational structure for the consultation was finalized in an ESA Consultation Agreement, which outlines the agreements made between the BLM, the FWS, and NMFS and signed June 18, 2013. Consultation meetings among the agencies have continued throughout the RMP revision process so the BAs and the BiOps can be completed soon after the Final EIS/Proposed RMP. The U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are also participating in the meetings to provide insight, and to integrate the work of this consultation effort with those aspects of the RMPs revision process that directly involves them.
The BLM is revising the existing RMPs for Western Oregon. These plans will determine how these BLM-administered lands will be managed to produce a sustained yield of timber products, to further the recovery of threatened and endangered species, to provide for clean water, to restore fire-adapted ecosystems, to provide for recreation opportunities, and to coordinate management of lands surrounding the Coquille Forest with the Coqulle Tribe. The Draft RMP, accompanied by a Draft EIS, was released in April 2015. The Proposed RMP/Final EIS will be released in Spring 2016.
For more information, the signed ESA Consultation Agreement is available to be read here (PDF). To learn more about the intersection between the NEPA planning and ESA Consultation processes, check out the Integrated NEPA and ESA Timeline (PDF).
Below are the comments received from our federal consulting agencies on the Draft RMP/EIS, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Responses to substantive comments included in these letters will be published in the BLM's Proposed RMP/Final EIS.