. .

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Survey and Manage

Survey and Manage History and Update

Mount Hood. Photo by Lara Drizd.
Mount Hood. Photo by Lara Drizd.

What is Survey and Manage?
The 1994 Record of Decision (ROD) for Amendments to Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Planning Documents within the Range of the Northwest Spotted Owl (PDF) (called the Northwest Forest Plan) includes Standards and Guidelines for Management of Habitat for Late Successional and Old Growth Forest Related Species within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl (PDF). At that time, one set of standards and guidelines, called Survey and Manage, provided measures to mitigate potential effects to approximately 400 species. These species include mosses, liverworts, fungi, lichens, vascular plants, slugs, snails, salamanders, and red tree voles. Scientists considered most of the species to be rare or knew little about them. The Survey and Manage standards and guidelines were added late in the development of the Northwest Forest Plan to help assure persistence of species thought to be closely associated with late-successional and old growth forests. In 1994, it was unknown whether the reserve network and other standards and guidelines would offer a reasonable assurance of persistence for these species.

White Rock Forest. Photo by Terry Fennell.
White Rock Forest. Photo by Terry Fennell.

How is Survey and Manage different from Special Status and Sensitive Species programs?
The Survey and Manage standards and guidelines are a mitigation measure to the Northwest Forest Plan adopted in 1994. Survey and Manage applies to the Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands within the range of the northern spotted owl (western OR & WA and northern CA). The agencies adopted the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines to conserve rare and little known species thought to be associated with late-successional and old growth forests in the Northwest Forest Plan area. Some species require pre-project surveys and prescribed management actions if found.

Special Status Species Programs (BLM) and Sensitive Species Programs (FS) are designed to meet national policies adopted in the 1980s to ensure that projects are designed such that they will not contribute to the need to list species under the Endangered Species Act. Special Status and Sensitive Species programs apply to all lands managed by the agencies, not just within the Northwest Forest Plan area, and include any species that meet established agency criteria, not just those associated with late-successional and old growth forests.

When did the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines first change?
The FS and BLM ("the agencies") first amended the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines in January 2001 through the signing of a Record of Decision and Standards and Guidelines for Amendments to the Survey and Manage, Protection Buffer, and other Mitigation Measures Standards and Guidelines (2001 ROD) (PDF).

Photo by Lara Drizd.
Photo by Lara Drizd.

The 2001 amendment added clarity, removed duplication, and increased or decreased levels of management for specific species based on new information affecting the level of concern for their persistence. It also established an adaptive management process for making changes to management for individual species in the future. The adaptive management process for removing or adding species and changing management categories is called the Annual Species Review. Application of that process, through the 2001 ROD, reduced the number of Survey and Manage species to 337.

As outlined in the 2001 ROD, there are six categories of Survey and Manage species. These categories are based upon the relative rarity of the species, the practicality of conducting pre-disturbance surveys, and our understanding of their level of association with late-successional or old growth forests (S&Gs p. 7).

Relative Rarity

Pre-Disturbance Surveys - Practical

Pre-Disturbance Surveys - Not Practical

Status Undetermined

Rare

Category A
- Manage All Known Sites
- Pre-Disturbance Surveys
- Strategic Surveys

Category B
- Manage All Known Sites
- N/A
- Strategic Surveys

Category E
- Manage All Known Sites
- N/A
- Strategic Surveys

Uncommon

Category C
- Manage High-Priority Sites
- Pre-Disturbance Surveys
- Strategic Surveys

Category D
- Manage High-Priority Sites
- N/A
- Strategic Surveys

Category F
- N/A
- N/A
- Strategic Surveys

What happened after the 2001 amendment to Survey and Manage?
In March 2004, the agencies signed a Record of Decision (PDF) (2004 ROD) which removed the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines from the Northwest Forest Plan. The agencies proposed to remove Survey and Manage to reduce the cost and effort to conserve these rare and little known species while providing for healthy forest management and timber outputs as predicted under the Northwest Forest Plan.

The agencies added the Survey and Manage species that qualified to the existing FS Sensitive Species list and the BLM Special Status Species list, where agency policies and management direction intend to prevent listing of these species under the Endangered Species Act.

What happened after the 2004 Survey and Manage Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) and associated Record of Decision (ROD) was signed?
In April 2004, 11 conservation groups filed their complaint challenging the adequacy of the 2004 FSEIS (PDF) and associated ROD (PDF). The complaint also challenged a 2004 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biological opinion evaluating how the removal of the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines would affect the northern spotted owl.

In August 2005, Judge Pechman, presiding, concluded that the agencies' decision to eliminate the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines in 2004 was based on an analysis that did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court found that the agencies failed to:

  • analyze potential impacts to Survey and Manage species if they are not added to or are removed from the Forest Service's and BLM's respective programs for special status species;
  • provide a thorough analysis of their assumption that the late-successional reserves would adequately protect species that the Survey and Manage standard was introduced to protect, particularly in light of their previous positions in earlier environmental impact statements; and
  • disclose and analyze flaws in their methodology for calculating the acreage in need of hazardous fuel treatments. Part of the cost analysis was similarly flawed because it relied on these calculations to determine the cost of the Survey and Manage standard.

On January 9, 2006, the Court issued an Order on Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, which set aside the 2004 ROD (PDF), reinstated the 2001 ROD (PDF), and prohibited the BLM and FS from authorizing projects, unless those projects were in compliance with the 2001 ROD.

The Court later modified the Order (October 2006) to allow habitat-disturbing activities in areas where the 2004 ROD applied, so long as the project fell into one of four limited categories (the "Pechman Exemptions"):

  1. thinning in forest stands younger than 80 years of age
  2. culvert replacement/removal
  3. riparian and stream improvement projects, and
  4. hazardous fuels treatments which apply prescribed fire.

In order to address the inadequacies raised by the Court, the agencies developed a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) in 2006. The 2006 DSEIS (PDF) provided information on revised wildland and prescribed fire analysis, new information about the status of late-successional and other reserves, as well as a discussion of the likely role of Survey and Manage species on ecosystem function. The agencies released the DSEIS in July 2006 for a 90-day public comment period.

What happened in 2007?
The agencies prepared a Supplement to the DSEIS (PDF) to address potential implications of a separate November 2006 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court. The agencies released the document for an additional 90-day public comment period in January 2007. This draft added information on Survey and Manage species that were previously removed or had category changes during three separate Annual Species Reviews conducted after issuance of the 2001 ROD.

The agencies released the Final Supplement to the 2004 FSEIS to Remove or Modify the Survey and Manage Mitigation Measure Standards and Guidelines (PDF) in June 2007 (2007 FSEIS). The FS and BLM signed separate Records of Decision in July 2007 which removed the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines from the Northwest Forest Plan.

What happened after the 2007 Survey and Manage Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) and associated Record of Decisions (ROD) were signed?
In January 2008, the agencies received a notice of intent to sue for Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations arising from the FS and BLM failure to comply with the substantive and procedural requirements imposed by the ESA in regard to the northern spotted owl. Ten environmental organizations filed their complaint on July 11, 2008, against the FS, BLM, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Plaintiffs alleged agencies violated National Environmental Policy Action (NEPA), National Forest Management Act (NFMA), Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and ESA in issuing the Final Supplement to the 2004 FSEIS to Remove or Modify the Survey and Manage Mitigation Measure Standards and Guidelines (PDF) (2007 FSEIS) and related biological opinion.

In December 2009, Judge Coughenour, presiding, issued an Order granting Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment finding the 2007 FSEIS:

  • lacked a true no action alternative,
  • did not disclose enough new information to ensure the public that elimination of Survey and Manage is warranted, and
  • violated NEPA by not providing high quality information and accurate data.
  • Also, substantive NFMA, FLPMA, ESA claims are not abandoned and remain open.

Plaintiffs and Defendants met in person throughout 2010 to identify principles for a settlement agreement. The parties filed a final Settlement Agreement in March 2011.

D.R. Johnson Lumber Company, Defendant-Intervenor, filed an objection to the settlement agreement in April 2011, urging the Court to require that the terms of the settlement agreement between federal defendants and plaintiffs be adopted through the plan amendment process of the NFMA and the FLPMA and the public participation procedures of the NEPA. Plaintiffs and Federal defendants filed separate responses to the Defendant-Intervenor's objection.

On July 6, 2011, the Court issued an Order approving the settlement agreement and overruling the Defendant- Intervenor's objection.

On August 31, 2011, DR Johnson filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit raising the issue of the legal adequacy of the settlement agreement.

On April 25, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court issued an Opinion that reversed the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington's order approving the Survey & Manage Settlement Agreement (Conservation Northwest, et al v. Sherman, et al., July 6, 2011 Order (W.D. Wash.)). The 9th Circuit remanded the case back to the district court for further remedy proceedings consistent with its Opinion.

What is the current status of the Survey and Manage standards and guidelines?
On June 19, 2013 the Ninth Circuit Court issued its formal mandate, such that their April 2013 ruling takes effect. The case was remanded back to the District Court. The parties are presently briefing the issue of remedy following the NEPA violations found by the District Court in December 2009.

Page last updated: September 2013