Klamath Falls Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

Klamath Falls Record of Decision

Klamath Falls District Resource Management Plan Table of Contents:

- Tables

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- Appendices

Record of Decision for the Klamath Falls Resource Area Resource Management Plan

Prepared by the Bureau of Land Management,

Klamath Falls Resource Area, Lakeview District, Oregon


Introduction

In this Record of Decision we adopt and approve for immediate implementation the following Klamath Falls Resource Area Resource Management Plan, based on the combination of this office's August 1992 draft environmental impact statement and the September 1994 final environmental impact statement. 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 its associated 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. The resource management plan addresses resource management on approximately 212,000 acres of federal land and 21,000 acres of reserved mineral estate administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lands and mineral estate are all located within Klamath County, Oregon.

The approved resource management plan responds to the need for a healthy forest ecosystem with habitat that will contribute toward and 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, other forest products, recreation, and livestock grazing 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-administered lands are primarily allocated to Riparian Reserves, Late-Successional/District Designated Reserves, and Matrix (General Forest Management Areas). An Aquatic Conservation Strategy will be applied to all lands and waters under BLM administration. Major land and resource allocations of the approved resource management plan are displayed in Table R-1 found at the end of this record of decision.

Alternatives Considered

Seven alternatives for management of the BLM-administered lands and resources in the resource area were analyzed in the final environmental impact statement, and nine other alternatives in the final SEIS. A brief description of each alternative analyzed in the final environmental impact statement follow below.

No Action. This alternative would not change the BLM management direction established in the current Jackson/Klamath and Lost River Management Framework Plans and associated timber and livestock grazing environmental impact statements.

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

Alternative B. This alternative would emphasize the contribution of timber and livestock production to community stability, consistent with a variety of other land uses.

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

Alternative D. This alternative would emphasize management for plant and animal habitat diversity, dispersed non-motorized recreation opportunities, and scenic resources. It would include a variety of other resource values or uses including some timber and livestock forage production.

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

The Proposed Resource Management Plan. This alternative would emphasize ecosystem management. Resources would be managed with an emphasis on retention of late-successional forest, restoration and/or maintenance of watershed conditions, protection of special status and other species requiring special attention, and a variety of other land uses.

Rationale for Decision

The proposed action responds to multiple needs, two primary ones being the need for healthy forests habitats and the need for forest products. As stated in the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, on page 1-3:

The need for forest habitat is the need for a healthy forest ecosystem with habitat that will support populations of native species and includes protection for riparian areas and waters. This need was reflected by President Clinton at the April 2, 1993, Forest Conference in Portland, Oregon.
 
The need for forest products from forest ecosystems is 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. This need also was reflected by President Clinton at the Forest Conference.

The proposed action responds to a third primary need; the importance of public rangelands in the production of livestock. This is particularly true in the western United States where livestock grazing is a long-time, legally-recognized use of public lands, and has been an integral part of the landscape and lifestyle since the late 1800s. The BLM has been challenged with providing a stable resource base for grazing livestock on public lands, while recognizing and providing for the growing social and economic importance of other resources, such as healthy riparian areas, to local communities. These demands are reflected in the recent Healthy Rangelands initiative (formerly called Rangeland Reform '94).

The Congressionally directed purposes for managing the Bureau of Land Management-administered lands include both conserving the ecosystems upon which plant and wildlife 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 adopt the alternative that will both maintain the late-successional and old-growth forest ecosystem and healthy rangeland ecosystem and provide a predictable and sustainable supply of timber and livestock grazing, recreational opportunities, and other resources at the highest level possible. The Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative best meets these criteria.

The Proposed Resource Management Plan 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, pages 12-13).

We have reviewed the alternatives discussed in the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement and their predicted environmental, economic, and social consequences, and the risks and safeguards inherent in them. The Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative in the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement 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 select Proposed Management Plan alternative as the management direction that best responds to the purpose and need for the proposed action as expressed in the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement.

We base our conclusion on a number of factors. Although management under Alternatives A, B, or the No Action alternative would provide higher levels of timber supply than the Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative, those alternatives 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 Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative would have a negative long-term impact on the northern spotted owl. The Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative would have a beneficial impact on more Special Status Animal Species than any other alternative. See Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement.

All alternatives follow current BLM policies, initiatives, and emphasis on restoration and maintenance of resource conditions, including riparian and aquatic conditions, that perpetuate fully functioning ecosystems while still providing for societal needs. Alternatives No Action, A, and B would make achieving these objectives more difficult. Alternatives C, D, E, and the Proposed Resource Management Plan make it easier to accomplish. The Proposed Resource Management Plan for grazing provides a high level of riparian protection through its goal of restoring or maintaining riparian-wetland areas so that 75 percent or more are in proper functioning condition, as outlined in the Riparian-Wetlands Initiative for the 1990s. It also provides a high level of riparian-wetland protection through its Aquatic Conservation Strategy. This level of protection is comparable to what could be provided in Alternative E (see Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement pages 4-43 and 44). The Proposed Resource Management Plan also allows rangeland ecosystems to continue improving (see Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement page 4-34) towards an advanced ecological status with a 5 percent cut in use levels (Proposed Resource Management Plan) rather than a 29 percent cut (Alternative E). Thus a better balance of resource protection and livestock commodity production is achieved in the Proposed Resource Management Plan than in Alternative E.

As to the No Action alternative, that alternative is based on plans that existed prior to the listing of the northern spotted owl, and it makes no specific provision for the recovery of this specie. In addition, it reflects a relatively low level of riparian habitat protection. In view of these factors, 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.

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 Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement. Based upon the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement and all of the information in the record, we have determined that Proposed Resource Management Plan 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 uses, 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.

Moreover, the Proposed Resource Management Plan alternative allows silvicultural activities, such as thinning young stands in late-successional reserves, when those activities will enhance late-successional conditions. Even when compared to Alternative E (which in the short-term protects more old growth than the Proposed Resource Management Plan Alternative), the Proposed Resource Management Plan Alternative may in the future provide a better connected network of old-growth forests. Furthermore, when compared to Alternative E, the Proposed Resource Management Plan Alternative provides nearly six times as much timber harvest to contribute to the long-term stability of the local and regional economies.

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 on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The 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 which 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 Section 101 establishes the following goals:
    Fulfills the responsibility of this generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations NEPA 101(b)(1)),
Assures for all Americans productive and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings (NEPA 101(b)(2)),
Attains the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation or other undesirable and unintended consequences (NEPA 101(b)(3)),
Preserves important natural aspects of our national heritage and maintains an environment which supports diversity and variety of individual choice (NEPA 101(b)(4)),
Achieves a balance between population and resource use, which permits high standards of living and a wide sharing of life's amenities (NEPA 101(b)(5)), and
Enhances the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources (NEPA 101(b)(6)).

Alternative E would allow for the smallest amount of directly human-induced effects on the physical environment. It would exclude timber management activity from all old growth forest stands, preserving them from human management actions. It would set aside more existing older forest acres than any other alternative — 20,800 acres on both the west and east sides of the resource area (See Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, Table S-1, pages Summary-22 and 23). Alternative E has more positive estimated effects on more wildlife habitat than any other alternative (See Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, Tables 4-6 through 4-19 and 4-24 through 4-29). In the long-term, the percentage of acres in riparian zones in good condition on BLM lands is expected to increase more under Alternative E, compared to the existing condition (See Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, page 4-43). Based on the probable sale quantity estimates, Bureau of Land Management forests in the planning area would produce about 0.182 million cubic feet on the west side (1.0 million board feet) and 0.084 million cubic feet on the east side (0.021 million board feet) of timber annually under Alternative E. (See Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, Table S-1, pages Summary-24 through 27.) Alternative E would reduce total livestock animal unit month levels by about 29 percent across the resource area (See the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement, page 4-135), as compared with current levels. Based on these factors, we conclude that Alternative E 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 geographical subunits or for individual programs or projects will be established, in large part, after local watershed analyses and further environmental analysis are completed, as appropriate. Those priorities will be reviewed annually to help develop work plan commitments for the coming years. Although the Resource Management Plan implementing actions are described by individual resources, most activities will be consolidated and considered in interdisciplinary, multi-resource activity plans and based on watershed analyses.

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 be held by other federal, state or local government agencies or by private individuals or companies. Valid existing rights may pertain to mining claims; mineral or energy leases; and rights-of-way; reciprocal rights-of-way 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; and 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 landowner 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

Scoping of the Klamath Falls Resource Area Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement began in September 1986, when a mailer was sent to a mailing list of some approximately 2,100 parties, inviting them to identify issues and concerns for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to consider in the planning process. At that time the lands now managed by the Klamath Falls Resource Area west of U.S. Highway 97 in Klamath County were managed by the Medford District. Ten open houses were held by the Medford District BLM during the comment period, to help interested parties focus on the questions.

In September 1987, the boundary between the Lakeview and Medford Districts was moved to the Jackson/Klamath County line and the Klamath Falls Resource Area assumed management of BLM lands west of U.S. Highway 97 in Klamath County.

In 1989 the decision was made to broaden the scope of the resource management plan to include all of the lands managed by the Klamath Falls Resource Area. At that time the responsibility for the resource management plan/environmental impact statement was transferred from the Medford District office to the Klamath Falls Resource Area. In May of that year a mailer was sent to a list of approximately 550 people to identify any additional issues or concerns associated with the management of all the lands within the resource area. The Klamath Falls Resource Area held two open houses to help interested parties focus on their concerns. A 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 planning effort.

In January 1991, approximately 1,500 copies of the resource area summary of the analysis of the management situation 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 five BLM western Oregon resource management plan/environmental impact statements.

In August 1992, a Notice of Availability of the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement was published in the Federal Register by the BLM, in addition to a Notice of Availability by the Environmental Protection Agency. Newspaper and other media were also notified of the document availability, the length of the comment period, and the dates, times, and locations of public meetings. The Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement was sent to a list of approximately 2,000 individuals, organizations, and agencies.

A total of approximately 50 people attended four meetings which were held in Klamath Falls, Keno, and Bonanza, Oregon. In addition, the Klamath Falls Resource Area staff held several other meetings and discussions with interested people, groups, and organizations. A total of 977 letters, form letters, petitions, etc., were received by the end of the extended comment period.

A summary of the public involvement associated with the July 1993 Draft and February 1994 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 is included on pages 58 through 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 Norther Spotted Owl and is hereby incorporated by reference.

On November 25, 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, which initiated the official protest and public comment period for the Klamath Falls Resource Area Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement. In addition, on December 2, 1994, a Notice of Availability was also published in the Federal Register by the BLM. Newspaper and other media were also notified of the document availability, the length of the protest period, and the date, time, and location of public meetings. The Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement or summary were sent to a list of approximately 1,700 individuals, organizations, and agencies. Approximately 25 people attended meetings. The district manager received 6 comment letters. There were no objections or recommendations by the Governor on behalf of any state or local government entity. There are no known inconsistencies with officially approved or adopted natural resource related plans, policies, or programs of applicable state or local governments or Indian tribes.

The official period to protest the proposed plan closed on December 27, 1994. Nine valid protests were received, reviewed, and resolved by the director. As a result of the protests and comment letters, a number of non-substantive 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.

Recommendation

With full knowledge of the commitment to resource and ecosystem management represented by the plan, I recommend the adoption of the Klamath Falls Resource Area Resource Management Plan.

/S/________________________________________   5/22/95
Edwin J. Singleton
District Manager, Lakeview District, Lakeview, Oregon
  Date

State Director Approval

I approve the Klamath Falls Resource Area Resource Management Plan as recommended and hereby declare that, effective October 1, 1994, the annual productive capacity (allowable harvest level) of that portion of the Klamath Master Unit in the Klamath Falls Resource Area of the Lakeview District (west side) is 1.03 million cubic feet: and, on the east side of the resource area the annual productive capacity (allowable harvest level) is 0.08 million cubic feet.

This document meets the requirements for a Record of Decision as provided in 40 Code of Federal Regulations 1505.2.

/S/________________________________________   June 2, 1995
Elaine Zielinski

State Director, Oregon/Washington
Bureau of Land Management
  Date