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Most scoping comments support retaining the reserves identified in the Northwest Forest Plan consistent with the existing RMPs, and some suggest enlarging the reserves or strengthening their protection. However, many comments supporting the Northwest Forest Plan also suggested no more cutting of old-growth forest stands. Some scoping comments support the alternative required by the Settlement Agreement (minimize reserves except those necessary to avoid jeopardy under the Endangered Species Act), but many favor an alternative that provides for recovery of endangered species rather than just "avoiding jeopardy."
Several alternatives were provided in the comments received:
- A Community Conservation Alternative (as described by the Oregon Natural Resources Council) suggests managing within the historic range of viability. It also suggested protecting mature and old-growth stands, harvesting small diameter trees, focusing on restoration, maintaining protections of the Northwest Forest Plan, and reducing fuels.
- An alternative for two phases of management was proposed. The focus for the early years would be on recovery and restoration of habitat for threatened species. After species recover and are de-listed, the plan could then focus on appropriate harvest levels.
- A Natural Selection Alternative was proposed by the Deer Creek Valley Natural Resources Conservation Association and others from Josephine County. This alternative lists "14 Criteria for Sustainability" that include emphasizing ecosystem health and community health over timber production, removing only "weaker trees" to be replaced by "stronger dominants", separating timber harvesting contracts from timber purchasers, and emphasizing contracts that can be performed by local, small contractors.
Other alternative ideas mentioned are: Long-term rotation (150-200 years); no logging on public lands; and, transfer of all forested lands to the USDA Forest Service.
Some comments included suggestions that could be incorporated into one or more of the alternatives:
- Maintain connectivity corridors.
- Increase buffers for threatened and endangered species.
- Set standards for canopy closure and harvest diameter limitations.
- Protect habitat for species to avoid future ESA listing.
- Strive for recovery of listed species, not just avoiding jeopardy.
- Plan for management activities following major wildfire events.
BLM managers and staff forwarded all of these suggestions, along with ideas from cooperators, to the Interdisciplinary Planning Team. They used this information, along with implementation experience gained over the last ten years, to develop a range of alternatives presented in the Proposed Planning Criteria and State Director Guidance document.