Roseburg Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

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Roseburg Record of Decision

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Record of Decision For The Roseburg District Resource Management Plan

Prepared By Bureau of Land Management, Roseburg District, Roseburg, Oregon


Introduction

In this Record of Decision we adopt and approve for immediate implementation the following Roseburg District Resource Management Plan (RMP), based on the combination of this office's August 1992 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the October 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 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 (ROD). The RMP addresses resource management on 425,588 acres of Federal land and 1,717 acres of reserved mineral estate administered by Bureau of Land Management in the Roseburg District, which is primarily in Douglas 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 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 Areas, Connectivity/Diversity Blocks, and 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, which is located at the end of this Record of Decision.

Alternatives Considered And Rationale For Decision

Seven alternatives for management of BLM-administered lands and resources in the Roseburg District were analyzed in the final EIS, and nine other alternatives in the final SEIS.

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

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 lands to community stability, consistent with a variety of other land uses. Public domain lands with non-timber values and uses of greater importance than timber production would be managed primarily for those non-timber 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 non-motorized 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, non-motorized recreation activities and scenic resources.

The 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.

Rationale

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 Roseburg District PRMP/EIS, on p. 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 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 adopt 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-administered 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-managed 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/EIS and their predicted environmental, economic, and social consequences, and the risks and safeguards inherent in them. PRMP Alternative in the PRMP/EIS 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 PRMP Alternative as the management direction that best responds to the purpose and need for the proposed action as expressed in the PRMP/EIS.

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 PRMP 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 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/EIS, pp. 4-50 through 4-66. 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/EIS pp. 4-17 through 4-21.

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, we think it is unlikely that Alternatives A and B and the No-Action Alternative would 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 PRMP/EIS. Based upon the PRMP/EIS and all of the information in the record, we have determined that 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 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.

In addition, PRMP Alternative offers one advantage that the other alternatives do not -- its 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, which may be used to develop and test new management approaches to achieve the desired ecological, economic, and other social objectives. This Adaptive Management Area offers the opportunity for creative, voluntary participation in forest management activities. 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. Our 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 (which in the short-term protects more old-growth than the PRMP Alternative), the PRMP Alternative may provide a better connected network of old-growth forests in the future. Furthermore, when compared to Alternative E, the PRMP Alternative provides over twice as much timber harvest to contribute to the long-term stability of the local and regional economies. (See Table R-2, Summary of Environmental Consequences, Comparison of Alternatives.)

The Environmentally Preferable Alternative

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 -- 115,500 acres. Alternative E would reserve for retention and development of older forest 343,700 acres of land, the most of any of the alternatives. (See PRMP/EIS, Table 2-1, p. 2-111) Alternative E has more positive estimated effects on wildlife habitat than any other alternative (See PRMP/EIS, Chapter 4). Based on the probable sale quantity estimates, Bureau of Land Management forests in the planning area would produce about 3.2 million cubic feet (i.e. 18 MMBF) of timber annually under Alternative E. (See PRMP/EIS, Table 2-1, p. 2-113). 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 geographic sub-units or for individual programs or projects will be established, in large part, after local watershed analysis, Late-Successional Reserve assessments, Adaptive Management Area plans, and further environmental analysis are completed, 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 on a decision-by-decision basis.

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, 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 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 Roseburg District RMP planning process was published in the Federal Register in September 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 Roseburg District planning effort.

In February 1991, copies of the Roseburg 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 five 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 a 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 approximately 1200 individuals, organizations, and agencies. Over 400 persons attended the meetings held by the Roseburg District to help explain the RMP. A total of 1348 comment letters were received by the end of the 120 day 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.

In December 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 over 1300 individuals, organizations, and agencies. A total of 14 letters were received by the Roseburg 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 Indian tribes.

The official period to protest the proposed plan closed on December 27, 1994. A total of eight valid protests on the proposed Roseburg District PRMP were received, reviewed, and resolved by the Director. As a result of the protests and 14 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 Roseburg District Resource Management Plan.

______________________________________________________________________________________
Cary Osterhaus
District Manager, Roseburg District
Date

State Director Approval

I approve the Roseburg District Resource Management Plan as recommended and hereby declare that, effective October 1, 1994, the annual productive capacity (allowable harvest level) of the South Umpqua and Douglas Master Units is 7.0 million cubic feet.

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

______________________________________________________________________________________
Elaine Zielinski
State Director, Oregon/Washington
Bureau of Land Management
Date