Retain existing Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), including Research Natural Areas (RNA) that meet the criteria for designation. Retain other Special Areas including Environmental Education Areas (EEA). Provide new Special Areas where needed to maintain or protect important values.
Maintain, protect, or restore relevant and important value(s) of ACEC and other Special Areas, including EEA.
Preserve, protect, or restore native species composition and ecological processes of biological communities (including Oregon Natural Heritage Plan terrestrial and aquatic cells) in ACEC. ACEC, especially RNA (Research Natural Areas), will be available for short or long-term scientific study, research, and education, and will serve as a baseline against which human impacts on natural systems can be measured.
Provide for recreation uses and environmental education in ACEC/Outstanding Natural Areas (ONA). Manage uses to prevent loss of outstanding values.
Provide and maintain environmental education opportunities in EEA. Control uses to minimize disturbance of educational values.
Provide management guidelines to protect human life and safety in those areas identified as safety or hazard ACEC.
Land Use Allocations
Identification of new Special Areas and the management of known Special Areas would occur in all land use allocations.
See Map 3 for locations of the Special Areas.
Descriptions of Special Areas
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern
Coburg Hills, Cottage Grove Lake and Dorena Lake Relict Forest Islands (RFI) ACEC (876) Acres
Relict Forest Islands provide examples of old growth and mature forest ecosystems on the fringes of the Willamette Valley. The areas provide representative examples of mature and old growth plant communities found in low elevation forests adjacent to the Valley. The areas also provide late-successional refugia for species that may later recolonize adjacent lands managed for timber. The areas are also important habitats for various wildlife species, including several species of raptors.
Cougar Mountain Yew Grove ACEC (10 Acres)
Cougar Mountain Yew Grove exhibits a population of large Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) trees on the Eugene District. Because of the high interest in Pacific yew as a pharmaceutical, this area was identified as an important reserve for this species.
Grassy Mountain ACEC (74 Acres)
Grassy Mountain ACEC is one of the finest representative examples of a grassy bald on the western margin of the Cascades that remains today. The site has had very little disturbance, and is a fine example of a native Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue) grassland community with a variety of herb species adapted to seasonal moisture fluctuations. The ACEC also includes a Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) forest with mixed Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) and associated shrubs and herbs.
Hult Marsh ACEC (167 Acres)
Hult Marsh ACEC, an old log pond, now exhibits a botanically rich assemblage of aquatic, bog, marsh, and riparian vegetation, including habitat for 2 BLM Assessment plant species. Such uncommon aquatic plant species were probably transported into the lake by waterfowl, which utilize the area. The wetland supports a number of fish and wildlife species. Portions of Lake Creek within the ACEC are spawning areas for coho salmon and cutthroat trout. Osprey have nested in the area and bald eagles have also been observed in the area.
Long Tom ACEC (7 Acres)
The Long Tom ACEC was designated an ACEC in 1984. The ACEC occurs within the Willamette Valley Physiographic Province. The area exhibits a small remnant of presettlement native plant community. Less than 1 percent of this plant community exists today. Three different native plant communities are present:
The site has had extensive research on the use of prescribed fire for management of the native grassland and the associated special status plant species, which occur on this tract.
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern/Research Natural Areas
Camas Swale ACEC/RNA (314 Acres)
The Camas Swale ACEC/RNA was first established in 1984 as a Research Natural Area to provide an example of a dry-site, mature Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) forest in the Willamette Valley foothills. This site also incorporates a small, xeric, meadow community that, in the absence of fire, is slowly being invaded by several shrub and tree species.
The site is dominated by Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir). On north slopes, the forest has a closed canopy; on south and west slopes, the forest is more open, and trees of all age classes are present.
The major associate in this forest is Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar). Scattered large individuals occur on south and west exposures. A few individuals of Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) are found at the driest sites in the northwest corner of the RNA. At the wettest sites a few Abies grandis (grand fir) are present. There is one gentle, wet slope where Fraxinus latifolia (Oregon ash) occurs (Curtis, 1986).
Fox Hollow ACEC/RNA (160 Acres)
Fox Hollow ACEC/RNA was established as a Research Natural Area in 1984 to provide an example of dry-site, mature Pseudotsuga menziesii/Pinus ponderosa (Douglas-fir/ponderosa pine) forest in the Willamette Valley foothills.
The mature forest at Fox Hollow ACEC/RNA is dominated by large Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir). East-west ridges cross the ACEC/RNA, produce an alternation of forest stands on south and north aspects. A mixed stand of Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) and Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) occurs on the south slopes and ridge tops, with minor amounts of Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar) and Quercus garryana (Garry oak). This forest was originally more open as illustrated by the scattered, open-grown old trees (Curtis, 1986).
Horse Rock Ridge ACEC/RNA (378 Acres)
Horse Rock Ridge ACEC/RNA was designated as an ACEC in 1984. The site has recently been nominated for RNA status. The area is located on a steep, south-facing slope in the Coburg Hills, which lies on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley.
There are 2 primary natural communities recognized at the ACEC/RNA, the grassland community and the forest community. Within each of these broadly defined communities, there exist a number of plant associations:
Mohawk ACEC/RNA (292 Acres)
Mohawk ACEC/RNA was established in 1984 as a Research Natural Area to provide an example of old growth Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) and Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock) forest in the Willamette Valley foothills. The site also incorporates several small marsh communities and areas that were previously logged, and now support a younger forest.
The northern and eastern portions of the ACEC/RNA consist of moderately sloping benches. Several intermittent streams and tributaries of McGowan Creek flow through or originate in the ACEC/RNA. West of the benches is a steep slope with a small rock outcrop.
The ACEC/RNA is uniformly forested with large, old growth conifers and few deciduous trees (Curtis, 1986).
Upper Elk Meadows ACEC/RNA (223 Acres)
Upper Elk Meadows ACEC/RNA was established in 1984 as a Research Natural Area to exemplify the diversity of species in the valleys and mountains of the Cascade Range and the Coast Range. The ACEC/RNA incorporates a remnant of the old growth forest that once was prevalent west of the Cascade Range in Oregon.
The ACEC/RNA is a mosaic of open and shrub covered wetlands surrounded by old growth forest. Open wet Carex (sedge) meadows occupy approximately 11 acres; wet Alnus sinuata/Salix/Crataegus douglasii thickets occupy 30 acres; an open forest dominated by old growth Abies amabilis/Abies grandis occupies 74 acres; and a closed old growth forest dominated by Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) occupies approximately 66 acres. In addition, there is a cutover area and a very small nonforested site (Curtis, 1986).
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern/Outstanding Natural Areas
Heceta Sand Dunes ACEC/ONA (218 Acres)
Heceta Sand Dunes ACEC/ONA contains several plant communities representative of the Coastal Province of Oregon. Different stages of dune stabilization and vegetation succession are present. A portion of the tract is made up of dynamic dune formations. Here plant species adapted to shifting sand can be found. Species that are more tolerant of sand burial can be observed, including BLM Tracking species Abronia latifolia (yellow sand verbena). More heavily vegetated areas occur on stabilized areas such as deflation plains, where tree and shrub communities have become established.
A large portion of the tract is dominated by wetlands, both permanent and ephemeral. The site offers excellent opportunities for studying various aspects of dune ecology. BLM Assessment species, Campylopus schmidii (moss), also can be found on the ACEC/ONA.
Various wildlife, scenic, and recreational values have been identified on the tract.
Lake Creek Falls ACEC/ONA (58 Acres)
The Lake Creek Falls ACEC/ONA was designated an ACEC in 1984. The area contains important recreational and scenic values. It is also the location of a natural hazard area along and within Lake Creek for which the area was designated. The area is visually appealing with the canyon walls rising from Lake Creek. Riparian vegetation and cascading water flowing over this boulder strewn stream course have been identified as key visual resources.
Water play and sunbathing activities are popular activities in the area. Swimming hazards, including unseen boulders in pools, were identified as serious public hazards needing special management attention through ACEC designation.
A fish ladder has been constructed in the area to provide upstream anadromous fish passage, making the area a popular attraction and interpretive facility.
Environmental Education Areas
McGowan Creek EEA (79 Acres)
McGowan Creek EEA is an excellent example of low-elevation old growth adjacent to and similar to Mohawk ACEC/RNA (see description for Mohawk ACEC/RNA). The area is adjacent to McGowan Creek and provides outstanding environmental education opportunities.
Potential Special Areas
The following nominations were received between the draft and final RMP. They have gone through BLM's internal review process and qualify for Special Area status. Because these areas have not gone through the required public review period, the areas will not be designated during this planning process but will be carried forward as Potential Special Areas. Interim management of these areas will be provided, where necessary, to protect the relevant and important values for which the areas were nominated.
Cottage Grove Old Growth Potential EEA (80 Acres)
The Cottage Grove Old Growth potential EEA represents a predominantly Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) old growth stand separated by a small area of Columbus Day Storm blow down. Multiple canopy layers represent the late-successional stage of mesic Douglas-fir plant community with some existing older trees representing ages of 500 years old or more. The understory vegetation is a composite of a number of species including, moss, lichens, fungi, and flowering plants such as Federal Candidate plant species Cimicifuga elata. Large woody debris is numerous at this site. The Cottage Grove School system has indicated a strong interest in developing the area for environmental education purposes.
Dorena Prairie Potential ACEC (8 Acres)
Dorena Prairie potential ACEC is considered a small remnant of native Festuca rubra (red fescue) bottomland habitat. The area has been classified as an Agropyron caninum/Festuca rubra/Koeleria valley grassland. It is thought that only a handful of sites remain today in what was once a grassland community that covered over 200,000 acres of bottomland and hillslope habitat within the Willamette Valley.
The site is dominated by Festuca rubra (red fescue) and other native grasses including, Danthonia californica (California oat grass), Koeleria cristata (June grass) and Poa scabrella (rough bluegrass). Native forbs and shrubs are also present on the site (The Nature Conservancy, 1987).
Research is on-going to determine the quality of this grassland. Genetic information on the origin of the Festuca rubra (red fescue) at this site is being collected.
Lorane Ponderosa Pine Potential ACEC (106 Acres)
The Lorane Ponderosa Pine potential ACEC was identified for the remnant population of native ponderosa pine within the Willamette Valley Physiographic Province. The Willamette Valley population of Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) is considered a separate and distinct population from other ponderosa pine populations within Oregon. Historical logging of low elevation forests along the Valley margins and subsequent elimination of much of the Valley pine have pointed to the need to maintain and manage remaining naturally occurring populations of ponderosa pine within this mixed coniferous forest community.
The area will provide excellent baseline information to describe this type of plant community, not yet classified on the District; to study historic fire frequency of the area; and to implement experimental prescribed fires and other adaptive management techniques to enhance the native pine on the site.
Low Elevation Headwaters of the McKenzie River Potential ACEC (7650 Acres)
The Low Elevation Headwaters of the McKenzie River potential ACEC is a large block of minimally disturbed forests in late and mature seral stages with small, scattered patches of old growth islands. The area supports habitat essential for maintaining endangered, threatened, and sensitive fish and wildlife species. The area also includes the intact low elevation Bear Martin Key Watershed, representing excellent conditions for water quality and other riparian values.
All previously designated Special Areas will be retained (1,511 acres). Additions to 4 existing Special Areas (Camas Swale ACEC/RNA, Upper Elk Meadows ACEC/RNA, Horse Rock Ridge ACEC, and Lake Creek Falls ACEC/ONA) will be implemented, totaling an additional 292 acres. Horse Rock Ridge ACEC, which is proposed for RNA status, will be designated as such. McGowan Creek EEA will be reduced to 79 acres to better define the primary values of the area. Seven new Special Areas will be designated (1,344 acres), including Coburg Hills RFI (Relic Forest Island) ACEC; Cottage Grove Reservoir RFI ACEC; Cougar Mountain Yew Grove ACEC; Dorena Reservoir RFI ACEC; Grassy Mountain ACEC; Heceta Sand Dunes ACEC; and Hult Marsh ACEC. The Cougar Mountain Yew Grove ACEC will be adjusted to 10 acres and the boundaries of the Relict Forest Islands will be adjusted to better define the relevant and important values.
Four potential Special Areas (Cottage Grove Old Growth EEA; Lorane Ponderosa Pine ACEC; Low Elevation Headwaters of the McKenzie River ACEC; and Dorena Prairie ACEC) will not be designated in this planning process. They will be carried forward as potential Special Areas until a plan amendment is implemented or until a new planning process is initiated. Interim management will be provided for these areas, where necessary, to protect the relevant and important values for which the areas were nominated. This includes, but is not limited to, actions outlined in Table 9, Management of Proposed Special Areas. Where needed, interim management plans will be developed to provide guidelines for resource protection and management.
Proposed Bald Eagle Habitat Areas ACEC will not be designated under the RMP but will be managed in accordance with the Bald Eagle Recovery Plan (See Special Status Species/Wildlife). Row River EEA will be managed for special status plants. Vik Road EEA (58 acres) will be dropped from EEA consideration. Cannery Dunes will be considered for transfer to the City of Florence, Oregon. Fawn Creek, Coburg Hill, and Bunker Hill did not qualify for ACEC status and were dropped from Special Area consideration.
Areas dropped from further consideration as Special Areas will be managed under various land use allocation(s).
All previously designated Special Areas will be managed in accordance with approved management plans and, where obsolete, new management plans will be prepared to more accurately reflect the management needs of these areas. All designated ACEC will be managed to maintain and/or enhance the primary resource value(s) for which the area has been designated. Management plans specific to ACEC that have been nominated as hazard areas will be developed or revised, where necessary, identifying specific actions to protect human health and safety. If management plans have not been prepared for previously designated areas, management will be in accordance with the guidelines in Table 9, Management of Proposed Special Areas. Additional interim management measures will also be implemented, where necessary, to protect the relevant and important values for which the areas were designated until new management plans are prepared.
Special Area management plans will be developed for new Special Areas as needed. Resource values will be protected in new Special Areas pending completion of management plans, including, but not limited to, implementation of those actions outlined in Table 9, Management of Proposed Special Areas.
Plans will identify where prescribed fire could enhance or maintain Special Area values. Fire suppression plans will be developed where it is determined that natural fire would diminish the resource values for which the area was designated, identifying the use and restrictions for fire suppression equipment within the Special Area.
Monitoring plans will be developed that address ecological, compliance, defensibility and management treatment monitoring where needed to track, protect, and manage for Special Area values.
Research needs will be identified for the management of Special Area values, and site-specific inventory needs will be identified and implemented where such inventories are incomplete to provide baseline information from which to monitor changes within these areas.
Public access will be regulated, where necessary, to maintain primary values within Special Areas. Gate closures, road closures or limits, and road decommissioning will be identified, implemented, and maintained to protect Special Area values. Public visits into Special Areas will be regulated if Special Area values are being negatively impacted.
Negotiations will be pursued with willing private parties involved in existing reciprocal right-of-way agreements to protect Special Areas by removing public lands with these sites from existing permits or by adding language to the agreements. Language protecting these areas will be added to new reciprocal agreements.
Public outreach opportunities will be addressed, focusing on educating the public on the importance of these areas for research and education; as genetic reserves for native species, and as baseline areas against which other human influenced landscapes can be compared.
Opportunities for research and education will be made available within Research Natural Areas. Education will be defined as primarily those activities associated with secondary/college-level projects. Other public uses within RNA will in general be considered incompatible with the primary mandate for research and education unless such uses are otherwise shown not to degrade RNA values through site-specific monitoring designed to quantify these activities.
Noxious weed or other nonnative pest plants will be controlled to maintain or restore Special Area values.
Restoration of Special Area values will be implemented where needed, and genetically adapted native plant materials will be used.
Future potential for land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, or donations to enhance or add to Special Area habitat/values will be identified and pursued where possible.
Collection of seed or other plant materials within Special Areas for use in restoration activities by BLM on Eugene District lands will be restricted and/or regulated where necessary to maintain primary values. Where collection is permitted, guidelines for collection will be developed so special area values will not be degraded.
Special Forest Products removal will not be permitted within RNA. Collection of Special Forest Products within other special areas will be prohibited where vegetation and plant communities have been identified as relevant and important values.
Grazing and the use of herbicides would be prohibited in RNA. Grazing and herbicide use in other special areas would not be permitted unless such activities were being used to maintain or enhance identified special area values. Emphasis would first be on using nonchemical and other natural processes, including fire and manual removal methods, to control exotic or competing vegetation, etc.
Off Highway Vehicle, mineral withdrawals, and timber harvest will be consistent with Table 9. Plans will identify where adaptive management techniques will enhance or maintain special area values; no salvage logging will be permitted in special areas.
Special status plant or animal species that occur within special areas, will be managed consistently with BLM's Special Status Species Policy. Management of special area values will also be considered when identifying management actions needed for special status species so the primary values for which the special area was designated will not be degraded.
Inventories will be implemented to identify additional special areas where such values warrant special area protection/management. This includes Research Natural Areas, which will meet objectives for identifying representative examples of Oregon's ecosystem listed in the Oregon Natural Heritage Plan.
Existing special areas will be identified in the watershed analysis process for protection and management of the primary values for which the area was designated.
Coordination with other agencies in the protection and management of Research Natural Areas will continue.