Salem Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

Salem Record of Decision

Salem District Resource Management Plan Table of Contents:

- Tables

- Maps

- Appendices

Record of Decision for the
Salem District
Resource Management Plan

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


Introduction

In this record of decision we adopt and approve for immediate implementation the Salem District Resource Management Plan. The resource management plan addresses resource management on 398,100 acres of federal land and 27,800 acres of reserved mineral estate administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lands and mineral estate are scattered in twelve counties of northwest Oregon. The resource management plan is based on a 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 the 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 was slightly modified in response to public comments and protests.

The 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-administered lands are primarily allocated to Riparian Reserves, Late-Successional Reserves, and Adaptive Management Area, 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 1, which may be found at the end of this record of decision.

Alternatives Considered for Decision

Seven alternatives for management of the BLM-administered lands and resources in the district 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 follows:

No Action. This alternative would not change the BLM management direction established in the current Westside Salem and Eastside Salem Management Framework Plans and associated timber management environmental impact statements.

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 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 uses 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.

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 and to produce commodities.

Rationale for Decision

The congressionally-directed purposes for managing BLM-administered lands include conserving 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, the Salem District adopts 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 best meets these criteria.

The proposed resource management plan alternative, unlike all of the other alternatives, applies the same criteria for management of habitat on 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-administered land have been noted in previous analyses. For example, in the Report of the Scientific Analysis Team, the team found that BLM 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 Scientific Analysis Team 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 (Scientific Analysis Team Report, pages 12-13).

The Salem District Manager and area managers have reviewed the alternatives discussed in the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, 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. The proposed resource management plan alternative is therefore selected 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.

This conclusion is based on a number of factors. Although management under alternatives A, B, or no action 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. Alternatives A, B, and no action would have negative long-term impacts 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 the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, table 4-15, page 4-55). The proposed resource management plan 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 the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, page 4-28).

As to the no action alternative, it 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, alternatives A, B, and no action are deemed unlikely to satisfy the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

Compared to the proposed resource management plan, all other alternatives would provide considerably less protection for riparian-dependent species and consequently less connectivity between reserves that aid in the dispersal of terrestrial species. Of particular importance under the proposed resource management plan is protection of riparian zones along first and second order streams. Riparian zones provide connectivity between blocks of suitable habitat when the uplands have been harvested.

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, the district has determined that the proposed resource management plan alternative will continue to meet the needs of species influenced by federal land management activities. The proposed resource management plan alternative 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, the proposed resource management plan 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 proposed resource management plan 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. The adaptive management area offers an opportunity for creative, voluntary participation in forest management activities by willing participants. 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 by seeking to encourage and support the broadest possible participation.

Moreover, the proposed resource management plan alternative allows silvicultural activities, such as thinning young forest stands in late-successional reserves when those activities will enhance late-successional conditions. Compared to the other alternatives, the proposed resource management plan alternative will in the future provide the best network of old-growth forests.

The Environmentally Preferable Alternative

Environmental preferability is judged using the criteria suggested in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 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 the National Environmental Policy Act, 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 Code of Federal Regulations 1500-1598), Federal Register, vol. 46, no. 55, 18026-18038, March 23, 1981: question 6a.)

Section 101 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) establishes the following goals:

• Fulfill the responsibility of this generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations (NEPA 101(b)(1));

• Assure for all Americans productive and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings (NEPA 101(b)(2));

• Attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation or other undesirable and unintended consequences (NEPA 101(b)(3));

• Preserve important natural aspects of our national heritage and maintains an environment which supports diversity and variety of individual choice (NEPA 101(b)(4));

• Achieve 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

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

The proposed resource management plan would allow for the smallest amount of directly human-induced effects on the physical environment. It would provide approximately 220,000 acres managed for retention and development of older forest (Late-Successional Reserves) and approximately 24,000 acres managed for maintenance of older forest characteristics (Connectivity/Diversity Blocks). Approximately 220,000 acres would be managed as Riparian Reserves. The proposed resource management plan alternative would have more positive estimated effects on wildlife habitat than any other alternative (see the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, table 4-3, page 4-20). In the long term, conditions of riparian zones on BLM-administered lands are expected to improve under the proposed resource management plan more than any other alternative (see the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, page 4-28). Based on the probable sale quantity estimates, Bureau of Land Management forests in the planning area would produce about 5.7 million cubic feet (or 34.8 million board feet) of timber annually under the proposed resource management plan (see the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement, table S-1, page S-20). Based on these factors, the proposed resource management plan is considered 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 subunits or for individual programs or projects will be established, in large part, after local watershed analysis, Late-Successional Reserve assessments, an Adaptive Management Area plan, and further environmental analysis are completed, as appropriate. Those priorities will be reviewed annually to help develop 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 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, rights-of-way, reciprocal rights-of-way, 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; 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 district resource management plan process, was published in the Federal Register August 28, 1986, in the local news media, and through a mass mailer to all known interested parties. 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, 800 copies of the district 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 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 700 individuals, organizations and agencies.

A total of 135 people attended 16 meetings. A total of 783 letters, form letters, petitions, etc., 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 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 and is hereby incorporated by reference.

On November 23, 1994, a Notice of Availability of the proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement 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 date, time, and location of a public meeting. The proposed resource management plan/final environmental impact statement or summary were sent to a list of 800 individuals, organizations, and agencies. A total of 27 people attended the meetings. Eleven letters were received by the district manager. 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. Eight valid protests were received, reviewed, and resolved by the director. As a result of the protests and 11 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.

District Manager Recommendation

I recommend the adoption of the Salem District Resource Management Plan.

/s/ 5/3/95

Van Manning

District Manager, Salem District, Salem, Oregon

State Director Approval

I approve the Salem District Resource Management Plan as recommended and hereby declare that, effective October 1, 1994, the annual productive capacity (allowable harvest level) of the Columbia, Alsea-Rickreall, Clackamas-Molalla, and Santiam River master units is 5.72 million cubic feet.

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

/s/ 5/12/95

Elaine Zielinski

State Director, Oregon/Washington

Bureau of Land Management