UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
November 13, 2007
In Reply Refer To:
1793 (220) P

EMS TRANSMISSION 11/20/2007
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-030
Expires:  09/30/2009

 

To:
All State Directors (except ESO) and Center Directors
 
 
From:
Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
 
 
Subject:
Instructions for Implementing the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Final PEIS) Record of Decision
 
 
Program Area: Vegetation Treatments, Fire and Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Emergency Stabilization and Restoration, Threatened and Endangered Species, Wildlife Habitat and Noxious Weeds/Invasive Species.
 
Purpose:  The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to provide guidance to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Field/State Offices on how to implement the Record of Decision (ROD)for the National Vegetation Treatments Final Programmatic EIS (PEIS) as well as the Programmatic Environmental Report (PER).  
 
Background:  In June 2007, the BLM published two documents:  1) the Final Vegetation Treatments Herbicides Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), and 2) the Final Vegetation Treatments Programmatic Environmental Report (PER).  The first document addresses the use of herbicides to manage vegetation on all surface estate public lands within 17 states administered by 11 BLM state offices:  Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana (North Dakota/South Dakota), New Mexico (Oklahoma/Texas/Nebraska), Nevada, Oregon (Washington), Utah and Wyoming).  The second document provides an assessment of the expected impacts when using of other vegetation treatment methods (fire, mechanical, manual, and biological).
 
Both the PEIS and PER considered activities, including noxious weed and invasive terrestrial plant species management, hazardous fuels reduction treatments, emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts.  The PEIS addressed human health and ecological risk for the proposed use of chemical herbicides on public lands and provided a cumulative impact analysis addressing the use of chemical herbicides in conjunction with other treatment methods.  The PEIS updates and consolidates four vegetation treatment EIS analysis documents dating between 1986 and 1991. Both the PEIS and PER analyze vegetation treatments on BLM-administered lands in Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska, that were not included in the earlier EISs.  The Final PEIS and PER was released to the public on June 29, 2007.  The Record of Decision for the PEIS was signed September 29, 2007. The PER did not require a record of decision.
 
Policy/Action: 
The Record of Decision (ROD) outlines the herbicides that are approved for use on public lands. It approves the use of four additional herbicide EPA registered active ingredients in all 17 states assessed in the PEIS:  diquat, diflufenzopyr (in formulation with dicamba and known as Overdrive®), fluridone, and imazapic.  The BLM will only use diflufenzopyr as a stand-alone active ingredient when and if the active ingredient becomes registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (Attachment 1-2 List of Approved Herbicide Formulation and Approved Adjuvants).
 
The ROD approves the continued use of fourteen herbicides with the following EPA registered active ingredients:  2, 4-D, bromacil, chlorsulfuron, clopyralid, dicamba, diuron, glyphosate, hexazinone, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl, picloram, sulfometuron methyl, tebuthiuron, and triclopyr identifies the states where the active ingredients are approved (Attachment 1).
 
The ROD also discontinued the use of six herbicide active ingredients approved in the prior EIS ROD’s:  2, 4-DP, asulam, atrazine, fosamine, mefluidide, and simazine.  These active ingredients will no longer be used on BLM lands unless a need is shown by the BLM and updated risk assessments for human health and ecological risks are assessed.
 
Appendix A of the ROD identifies a protocol that can be used to add new EPA-registered chemical formulations to the BLM list of approved herbicides.  Additional herbicides proposed for future use and/or current herbicides needing evaluation for continued use will follow a scientific protocol identified in Attachment A of the ROD.  This protocol will be used to assess herbicides in the future to ensure that future risk analyses represents the best possible “state of the science” within the regulatory agencies of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish &Wildlife Service (USF&WS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
 
The protocol states that the BLM will be able to use herbicide active ingredients if:  1) they are registered by the USEPA under FIFRA for use on one or more land types (e.g., rangeland, aquatic, etc.) managed by the BLM; 2) the BLM determines that the benefits of use on public lands outweigh the risks to human health and the environment; and 3) they meet evaluation criteria to ensure that the decision to use the active ingredient is supported by scientific evaluation and NEPA documentation.  The evaluation criterion is outlined in more detail in Appendix A of the ROD http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/veg_eis.html/.
 
The ROD also identifies which standard operating procedures must be used with all applications of herbicides.  The BLM will follow these standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure that risks to human health and the environment from herbicide treatment actions are kept to a minimum.  Standard operating procedures are the management controls and performance standards intended to protect and enhance natural resources that could be affected by vegetation treatments involving the use of herbicides and are found in Appendix B of the ROD.  
 
The Biological Assessment developed for the PEIS outlined conservation measures for species, or groups of species, that react similarly to the proposed vegetation treatments. It provided a protocol to ensure that consultations are done at the local level, when needed. Since the PEIS is programmatic in nature, it does not authorize site specific use.  Therefore, any proposed site-specific activity will require a site-specific NEPA evaluation and if necessary, coordination between the local BLM field office and the Services. The BLM field offices must review the conservation measures in the PEIS, PER and include them in local land use plans. (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/veg_eis.html/).
 
In addition to using the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), the BLM must also implement additional measures to mitigate potential adverse environmental effects of using herbicides as appropriate from site specific assessments.  These SOP and mitigation measures ensure that all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been adopted by the BLM.  All BLM District and Field Offices must adhere to the mitigation measures listed in Appendix C of the ROD.  These mitigation measures must apply to plants, animals, and other resources at the programmatic level in all 17 western states by local BLM field offices.
 
To prevent the spread of noxious weeds and invasive plants, the BLM will also follow prevention measures to minimize the amount of existing non-target vegetation that is disturbed during project planning. Preventions measures are found in Table 2-7, on page 2-24                                of the Final PEIS.
 
 
Land Use Planning Consistency reviews:  
 
The Final EIS provides a comprehensive analysis of the BLM’s use of chemical herbicides in its various vegetation treatment programs throughout the western states and Alaska related to:  noxious weed and invasive terrestrial plant species management; hazardous fuels reduction; and emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts.  The BLM policy requires the application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods therefore, implementation of the PEIS Record of Decision should already be consistent with current land use plans.  In the rare exception that a land use plan contains explicit direction or decisions precluding the use of herbicides or any specific vegetation treatment method under integrated pest management, a plan amendment would be required prior to using those methods. The PEIS and the Record of Decision is not a local land use-planning document nor does it amend land use planning decisions.  It does not set the number of acres that will be treated with herbicides. The PEIS is a NEPA analysis document and is appropriate tiering to subsequent step-down analyses as described below. The PER is an environmental report and is not a NEPA analysis document, but it supports the NEPA analysis presented in the PEIS, especially in terms of assessing cumulative impacts. The information contained in the PER can be used to, “Incorporation by Reference”. It is not appropriate to tier to the PER.
 
Step down NEPA level analysis:
Prior to project implementation, site-specific environmental analyses must be conducted to evaluate treatment project impacts on the local area.  The PEIS presents a national-level programmatic analysis and contains broad regional descriptions of resources, broad environmental impact analysis, cumulative impacts, and provides the BLM the flexibility to make wide decisions on specific herbicide use.  Additionally, it provides a programmatic Section 7 consultation under Endangered Species Act for the broad range of activities described in the PEIS.
 
Other scales of analysis between this PEIS and the site-specific level NEPA may be considered. For example, a regional, statewide, or field office wide analysis might be the most efficient means for managing NEPA and ESA. The analysis would be tiered to the higher scales of analysis and focus on impacts, methods, and options for the narrower scaled evaluation.  
 
The site-specific project analysis should be tiered to any or all of the above scales of analysis.  The analysis focuses on site-specific impacts of implementing a single management project as identified through local planning. Focus toward section 7 consultation under the ESA on this level of analysis may be necessary if listed species are affected by the project. The environmental analysis of site–specific projects will be conducted at the BLM field office level. The PEIS should be used to facilitate the analysis process at any level by providing the BLM treatment design features, impact assessment data for herbicides, and an overall uniformity of analysis.  All additional analysis will be based on the PEIS, information incorporated by reference from the PER and other applicable FEISs and RODs. If analysis reveals the potential for significant impacts not already described in the PEIS or another existing FEIS, a supplement or another EIS may be required.
 
Consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on the use of herbicides with regard to Endangered and Threatened species:
 
The BLM completed informal consultation with the USFWS and received concurrence September 1, 2006, that the proposed action was not likely to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species under their jurisdiction. The BLM also completed formal consultation with NMFS, and received a biological opinion June 26, 2007, that the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened salmon and trout, threatened green sturgeon, and threatened southern resident killer whales (Appendix C Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service- Conservation Measures).  The BLM also submitted an Essential Fish Habitat Report to NMFS to comply with the consultation requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  All consultation was done at the programmatic level and Field Offices/States are still responsible for ensuring compliance with the endangered Species Act at the project level.
Native American consultation:  The BLM initiated consultation with federally recognized tribes and completed a Section 810 subsistence analysis as required under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). In addition, the toxicological analyses presented in the PEIS included specific human health risk assessment analyses for Native Americans populations.
Monitoring:  Pages 2-6 of the ROD identify monitoring requirements for implementing projects.
Timeframe:  This IM is effective upon receipt.
Budget Impact:  The effect of this IM on the budget is minimal.  This IM does not have budget implication.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  9011, 9015.
Coordination:  Preparation of this IM was coordinated with WO-210, WO-220, WO-230, and the Office of Fire and Aviation.
Contact:  If you have any questions regarding this IM, please contact the EIS co-team leads, Brian Amme (NS0), Project Manager at (775) 861-6645, or Gina Ramos, Co-Team Lead (WO-220) at (202) 452-5084.
 
Signed by:                                                                   
Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      
Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
 
 
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