Eugene Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Eugene Record of Decision

Eugene District Resource Management Plan Table of Contents:

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- Appendices

EUGENE DISTRICT

RECORD OF DECISION

Record of Decision
for the
Eugene District
Resource
Management Plan

Prepared by the
Bureau of Land Management
Eugene District
Eugene, Oregon

Introduction

In this Record of Decision we adopt and approve for immediate implementation the following Eugene District Resource Management Plan (RMP), based on the combination of this office's August 1992 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the November 1994 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). It is also supported by and consistent with the July 1993 Draft and February 1994 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Management of Habitat of Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forest Related Species Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl and the April 1994 interagency Record of Decision for Amendments to Forest Service And Bureau of Land Management Planning Documents Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl (ROD). The RMP addresses resource management on 318,039 acres of Federal Land and 1,299 acres of reserved mineral estate administered by Bureau of Land Management in the Eugene District, which is primarily in Lane, Douglas, Linn, and Benton counties, Oregon.

The approved Resource Management Plan responds to the need for a healthy forest ecosystem with habitat that will support populations of native species (particularly those associated with late successional and old growth forests). It also responds to the need for a sustainable supply of timber and other forest products that will help maintain the stability of local and regional economies, and contribute valuable resources to the national economy on a predictable and long-term basis. As guided by the April 1994 interagency Record of Decision, BLM managed lands are primarily allocated to Riparian Reserves, Late-Successional Reserves, Adaptive Management Area(s), Connectivity/Diversity Blocks and General Forest Management Areas (GFMA). An Aquatic Conservation Strategy will be applied to all lands and waters under BLM jurisdiction. Major land and resource allocations of the approved Resource Management Plan are displayed in Table 1, which may be found at the end of this Record of Decision.

Alternatives Considered and Rationale for Decision

Seven alternatives for management of the Bureau administered lands and resources in the District were analyzed in the final EIS, and 9 other alternatives in the final SEIS.

No Action: This alternative would not change the BLM management direction established in the current Eugene Management Framework Plans and associated timber management EIS.

Alternative A: This alternative would emphasize a high production of timber and other economically important values on all lands to contribute to community stability.

Alternative B: This alternative would emphasize the contribution of timber production on Oregon and California Revested Railroad (O&C) lands to community stability, consistent with a variety of other land uses. Public Domain (PD) lands with nontimber values and uses of greater importance than timber production would be managed primarily for those values and uses.

Alternative C: This alternative would emphasize retention and improvement of biological diversity while providing a sustained yield of timber to contribute to economic stability.

Alternative D: This alternative would emphasize management for plant and animal habitat diversity, dispersed nonmotorized recreation opportunities, and scenic resources. It would include a variety of other resource values or use including some timber production.

Alternative E: This alternative would emphasize protection of older forests and management and enhancement of values or uses such as dispersed, nonmotorized recreation activities and scenic resources.

Proposed Resource Management Plan: This alternative would emphasize ecosystem management. It would also respond to public comments, incorporate land use allocations and management direction from the interagency Record of Decision noted above, and allow the BLM to manage the natural resources under its jurisdiction to maintain healthy, diverse, and productive ecosystems.

The proposed action responds to multiple needs, the two primary ones being the need for forest habitat and the need for forest products. As stated in the Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (PRMP/FEIS), on page 1-4:

"The requirement for forest habitat is the need for a healthy forest ecosystem with habitat that will support populations of native species and include protection for riparian areas and waters. This need was emphasized by President Clinton at the April 2, 1993, Forest Conference in Portland, Oregon.
 
"The need for forest products from forest ecosystems is the requirement for a sustainable supply of timber and other forest products that will help maintain the stability of local and regional economies and contribute valuable resources to the national economy on a predictable and long-term basis. This need also was stated by President Clinton at the Forest Conference."

The Congressionally directed purposes for managing the Bureau of Land Management administered lands include both conserving the ecosystems upon which species depend and, at the same time, providing raw materials and other resources that are needed to sustain the health and economic well-being of the people of this country. To balance these sometimes conflicting purposes, we adopted the alternative that will both maintain the late-successional and old growth forest ecosystem and provide a predictable and sustainable supply of timber, recreational opportunities, and other resources at the highest level possible. The Proposed Resource Management Plan Alternative (PRMP Alternative) best meets these criteria.

The PRMP Alternative, unlike all of the other action alternatives, applies the same criteria for management of habitat on both Forest Service and BLM lands. This was done in order to accomplish most efficiently the dual objectives discussed above, that is, achieving the biological results required by law, while minimizing adverse impact on timber harvests and jobs. The inefficiencies involved in applying different criteria on Forest Service and BLM land have been noted in previous analyses. For example, in the Report of the Scientific Analysis Team ("SAT Report"), the team found that BLM's plans were relatively high-risk, when compared to the plans of the Forest Service, in terms of conserving the northern spotted owl. As a result, the SAT found that in order for the Forest Service to "make up for significantly increased risks," it would have to dramatically increase the size of protected areas on Forest Service land (SAT Report, pp. 12-13).

We have reviewed the alternatives discussed in the PRMP/FEIS and their predicted environmental, economic, and social consequences and the risks and safeguards inherent in them. The PRMP Alternative in the PRMP/FEIS is the best alternative for providing a sustainable level of human use of the forest resource while still meeting the need to maintain and restore the late-successional and old growth forest ecosystem. We, therefore, selected the PRMP Alternative based on a number of factors indicating it best responds to the purpose and need for the proposed action as expressed in the PRMP/FEIS.

Although management under Alternatives A, B, or the No Action Alternative would provide higher levels of timber supply than the PRMP Alternative, they would not provide adequate assurance that the processes and functions of late-successional and old growth forest ecosystems would be maintained and restored, and would not provide adequate assurance that the riparian habitat essential for many aquatic and terrestrial species would be maintained and restored. All alternatives except Alternative E and the PRMP Alternative would have a negative long-term impact on the northern spotted owl. The PRMP Alternative would have a beneficial impact on more Special Status Animal Species than any other alternative (see PRMP/FEIS, p. 4-71). The PRMP Alternative "provides the greatest protection of aquatic habitat," since it provides for wider riparian reserves and more protective measures for perennial and intermittent streams than other alternatives (see PRMP/FEIS, p. 4-67).

As to the No Action Alternative, that alternative is based on plans that existed prior to the listing of both the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet, and it makes no specific provision for the recovery of those species. In addition, it reflects a relatively low level of riparian habitat protection. In view of these factors, BLM believes it is unlikely that Alternatives A and B and the No Action Alternative would be deemed to satisfy the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

According to the PRMP/FEIS:

Riparian zones also provide connectivity between blocks of suitable habitat when the uplands have been harvested. These links would be far less effective in Alternatives A, B, C, and the NA than they would be under Alternatives D, E, and the PRMP. The adverse effects of removing riparian zone habitat would be greatest under Alternative NA and slightly less under Alternatives A, B, and C (see PRMP/FEIS, p. 4-53).

The impacts to many species and groups of species of fish, wildlife, and plants are complex and difficult to summarize in this Record of Decision. They are described in detail in the Eugene PRMP/FEIS. Based upon this PRMP/FEIS and all of the information in the record, we have determined that the PRMP Alternative will continue to meet the needs of species influenced by Federal land management activities. We find it meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act for the conservation of listed species. It also meets the requirements of laws directing the management of these forests for sustainable multiple-use, including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Oregon and California Lands Act. Moreover, it meets the requirements of acts that protect elements of the environment, and requirements for coordinated planning and consultation.

In addition, the PRMP Alternative offers one advantage that the other alternatives do not -- inclusion of an Adaptive Management Area. (Adaptive management involves experimentation, identifying new information, evaluating it, accounting for it in discretionary decisions, and determining whether to adjust plan direction). The object is to improve the implementation and achieve the goals of the selected alternative. The PRMP Alternative is the only one that specifically allocates an Adaptive Management Area that may be used to develop and test new management approaches to achieve the desired ecological, economic, and other social objectives. This AMA offers the opportunity for creative, voluntary participation in forest management activities by willing participants. We recognize that this will take time, effort, and a good-faith commitment to the goal of improved forest management. Many of the potentially participating communities and agencies have different capabilities for joining this effort. The BLM approach to implementing this initiative will recognize and reflect these differences as we seek to encourage and support the broadest possible participation.

Moreover, the PRMP Alternative allows silvicultural activities such as thinning young monoculture stands in Late-Successional Reserves when those activities will enhance late-successional conditions. Even when compared to Alternative E, the PRMP Alternative may in the future provide a better connected network of old growth forests. Furthermore, when compared to Alternative E, the PRMP Alternative provides nearly twice as much timber harvest to contribute to the long-term stability of the local and regional economies. (See Table 2, Summary of Environmental Consequences, Comparison of Alternatives.)

Environmental Preferability of the Alternatives

Environmental preferability is judged using the criteria suggested in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which is guided by the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ). CEQ has stated that "the environmentally preferable alternative is the alternative that will promote the national environmental policy as expressed in NEPA's Section 101. Generally this means the alternative that causes the least damage to the biological and physical environment: it also means the alternative that best protects, preserves and enhances historic, cultural and natural resources." (Council on Environmental Quality, "Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ's National Environmental Policy Act Regulations" (40 CFR 1500-1598), Federal Register Vol. 46, No. 55, 18026-18038, March 23, 1981: Question 6a.)

NEPA's Title 1, Section 101(b) establishes the following goals:

  1. Fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations (NEPA 101(b)(1)),

  2. Assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings (NEPA 101(b)(2)),

  3. Attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable or unintended consequences (NEPA 101(b)(3)),

  4. Preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment which supports a diversity and variety of individual choice (NEPA 101(b)(4)),

  5. Achieve a balance between population and resource use that will permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life's amenities (NEPA 101(b)(5)), and

  6. Enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources (NEPA 101(b)(6)).

The PRMP Alternative would allow for the smallest amount of directly human-induced effects on the physical environment. It would exclude timber management activity from old growth forest stands, preserving them from human management actions. It would set aside more existing older forest acres than any other alternative (78,000 acres). The PRMP Alternative would reserve for retention and development of older forest 224,400 acres of land, the most of any of the alternatives (see Eugene PRMP/FEIS, Table S-1, p. xix). The PRMP Alternative has more positive estimated effects on wildlife habitat than any other alternative (see Eugene PRMP/FEIS, Table 4-13, p. 4-55). In the long-term, the percentage of acres in riparian zones in good condition on BLM lands is expected to increase by 95 percent under the PRMP Alternative, compared to the existing condition (see Eugene PRMP/FEIS, p. 4-50). Based on the Probable Sale Quantity estimated, Bureau of Land Management forests in the planning area would produce about 6.1 million cubic feet (36 mmbf) of timber annually under the PRMP Alternative (see Eugene PRMP/FEIS, Table S-1, p. xxi). Based on these factors, we concluded that the PRMP Alternative is the "environmentally preferable alternative."

Implementation

Decisions in this plan will be implemented over a period of years. The rate of implementation is tied to the BLM's budgeting process. General priorities for overall management will be developed through long-term budgeting processes (and in consultation with other agencies, tribes and government units). Specific priorities for geographic sub-units or for individual programs or projects will be established, in large part, after local watershed analysis and further environmental analysis, as appropriate. Those priorities will be reviewed annually to help develop the work plan commitments for the coming years. The procedures to implement, called Management Actions/Direction, are shown in the approved plan by major land use allocation and by resource program. Although the RMP implementing actions are described by individual resources, most activities will be consolidated in interdisciplinary multi-resource activity plans and based on watershed analysis.

Valid Existing Rights

This plan will not repeal valid existing rights on public lands. Valid existing rights are those rights or claims to rights that take precedence over the actions contained in this plan. Valid existing rights may pertain to mining claims, mineral or energy leases, rights-of-way, reciprocal right-of-way agreements, leases, permits, and water rights.

Administrative Actions

Various types of administrative actions will require special attention beyond the scope of this plan. Administrative actions are the day-to-day transactions required to serve the public and to provide optimum use of the resources.

These actions are in conformance with the plan. They include, but are not limited to

  • permits or sales for traditional or special forest products

  • competitive and commercial recreation activities

  • lands and realty actions, including issuance of grants, leases, and permits and resolution of trespass

  • facility maintenance

  • law enforcement and hazardous material removal or mitigation

  • enforcement and monitoring of permit stipulations

  • cadastral surveys to determine legal land or mineral estate ownership

  • engineering support to assist in mapping, designing and implementing projects.

These and other administrative actions will be conducted at the Resource Area, District, or State level, sometimes in partnership with other landowners or agencies or entities. The degree to which these actions are carried out will depend upon BLM policies, available personnel, funding levels, and further environmental analysis and decision making, as appropriate.

Mitigation and Monitoring

All protective measures and other management direction identified in the plan will be taken to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts. These measures will be taken throughout implementation. All practical means to avoid or reduce environmental harm will be adopted, monitored, and evaluated, as appropriate. Monitoring will be conducted as identified in the approved plan. Monitoring and evaluations will be utilized to ensure that decisions and priorities conveyed by the plan are being implemented, that progress toward identified resource objectives is occurring, that mitigating measures and other management direction are effective in avoiding or reducing adverse environmental impacts, and that the plan is maintained and consistent with the ongoing development of BLM State Office, regional and national guidance.

Public Involvement

A notice announcing the formal start of the Eugene District RMP planning process was published in the Federal Register in August 1986, in the local news media, and through a mass mailer to all known interested parties. A long series of planning brochures and documents were distributed over the entire planning period to provide public input and feedback opportunities in the development of planning issues, goals, objectives, and data needs for the Eugene District planning effort.

In January 1991, copies of the Eugene District summary of the analysis of the management area and preliminary alternatives were mailed to interested agencies, organizations, and individuals. This document described a variety of alternatives, most of which had similar objectives to comparable alternatives in the other ongoing 5 BLM western Oregon RMP/EISs.

In August 1992, a Notice of Availability of the Draft RMP/EIS was published in the Federal Register by the BLM, in addition to an August 1992 notice by the Environmental Protection Agency. Newspaper and other media were also notified of the document availability, the length of the comment period, and the date, time and locations of public meetings. The DRMP/DEIS was sent to a list of individuals, organizations, and agencies. A total of 316 letters and 946 form letters or petitions signed by people were received by the end of the extended comment period.

A summary of public involvement associated with the July 1993 Draft and February 1994 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Management of Habitat of Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forest Related Species within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl is included on pages 58-73 of the April 1994 interagency Record of Decision for Amendments to Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Planning Documents Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl Record of Decision and is hereby incorporated by reference.

On November 18, 1994 a Notice of Availability of the Proposed RMP/FEIS was published in the Federal Register by the BLM. In addition a November 25, 1994 notice by the Environmental Protection Agency initiated the official protest and public comment period. Newspaper and other media were also notified of the document availability, the length of the protest period, and the dates, time, and locations of public meetings. The PRMP/FEIS was sent to a list of approximately 800 individuals, organizations, and agencies. A total of 13 letters or petitions signed by people were received by the District Manager. There were no objections or recommendations by the Governor on behalf of any State or local government entities. There are no known inconsistencies with officially approved or adopted natural resource related plans, policies, or programs of applicable State or local governments or Native American Tribes.

The official period to protest the proposed plan closed on December 27, 1994. A total of 9 valid protests were received, reviewed, and resolved by the Director. As a result of the protests and other comment letters, a number of (nonsubstantive) changes have been made in the text of the approved plan to reflect typographical corrections, improve clarity, or demonstrate consistency with various regulatory procedures or policies.

Recommendations

With full knowledge of the commitment to resource and ecosystem management represented by the plan, the Eugene District recommends the adoption of the Eugene Resource Management Plan.

/s/____________________________________________   May 4, 1995
Judy Ellen Nelson, Eugene District Manager   Date

State Director Approval

I approve the Eugene District Resource Management Plan as recommended and hereby declare that, effective October 1, 1994 the annual productive capacity (allowable harvest level) of the Siuslaw River and Upper Willamette Master Units is 6.1 million cubic feet. This document meets the requirements for a Record of Decision as provided in 40 CFR 1505.2.

/s/____________________________________________   May 22, 1995
Elaine Zielinski, State Director, Oregon/Washington   Date