Vegetation Treatment Final PEIS and Programmatic Environmental Review
Frequently Asked Questions

What reports has the BLM published?
The BLM has published two reports: the Final Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management Lands in 17 Western States Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and the Final Vegetation Treatments on Bureau of Land Management Lands in 17 Western States Programmatic Environmental Report (PER). Supporting documentation is included with the reports.

What is the purpose of these two reports?
They consolidate, update and evaluate information on vegetation treatments and methods of treatment. The PEIS and PER update and replace analyses contained in four existing BLM vegetation treatment EISs completed between 1986 and 1992. They also analyze vegetation treatments on BLM-administered lands in Alaska that were not included in earlier EISs.

Together, these reports:
• consider reasonably foreseeable activities, particularly hazardous fuels reduction treatments, emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts, and noxious weed and invasive terrestrial plant species management.
• address human health and ecological risk for proposed use of chemical herbicides on public lands.
• provide a cumulative impact analysis of the use of chemical herbicides in conjunction with other treatment methods.

Does the Final PEIS amend BLM land use plans?
The PEIS is not a land use plan and is not an amendment to land use plans. (Land use plans are documents comprised of management decisions for use of public lands.) 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 in hazardous fuels reduction, noxious weed and invasive terrestrial plant species management, and resource rehabilitation following catastrophic fires and other disturbances. The Final PEIS also contains detailed responses to public comments received on the Draft PEIS, including additional analyses and clarifications.

What does the national Final Programmatic Environmental Report (PER) do?
The PER provides an assessment of the expected impacts of the use of other vegetation treatment methods (fire, mechanical, manual, and biological), in addition to herbicides.

Which areas will the BLM consider for the vegetation treatment methods analyzed in these documents?
The analysis area includes only surface estate public lands in 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.

What decisions are implemented in the Record of Decision (ROD)?
The ROD specifies the herbicides that are approved for use on public lands based on the analysis contained in the PEIS and identifies which herbicides will no longer be used without further toxicological studies. The ROD also outlines a scientific protocol to be used in assessing herbicides in the future to ensure that future risk analyses represent the best possible “state of the science” among the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Does the Record of Decision mandate the number of acres of public lands that will be treated with herbicides?
No.  The PEIS analyzed the proportion of acres that could be treated with herbicides across the range of alternatives. However, as explained in the PEIS and ROD, acres actually treated will derive from approved land use plans. Nothing in the PEIS or the ROD supersedes or modifies allocations made in these approved land use plans.  The number of acres treated are expected to remain similar to those being today, increasing gradually over the long-term within the constraints imposed by approved land use plans and as BLM capabilities, staff resources, and funding allow.

Did the BLM coordinate with other agencies and with local groups on these reports?
Yes. The BLM’s interdisciplinary project team coordinated closely with Tribal, local and State governments, as well as the Western Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, and other stakeholder groups.

Did the BLM consult under the Endangered Species Act on the use of herbicides with regard to endangered and threatened species?
Yes. The BLM consulted informally with the US Fish & Wildlife and received concurrence that the proposed action was not likely to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species under FWS jurisdiction.  The BLM also completed formal consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and received a biological opinion 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.  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.

Did BLM consult and consider the effects of herbicide use on Native American or traditional subsistence practices?
Yes.  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.

When and how were public comments taken?
All comment periods for the PEIS are now closed. The Final PEIS and PER were available for public review for thirty days following publication and release of the Final PEIS on June 29, 2007.  

How were comments used?
Comments on the Final PEIS and the PER were considered in the development of the Record of Decision (ROD), which was signed on September _, 2007. Signing of the ROD implements the decisions in the PEIS.

How can I obtain the final documents?
Copies of the two documents and associated reports, or the Record of Decision may be downloaded from the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/veg_eis.html.  Printed copies are available for public review in each BLM office, and CD-ROM copies are also available.  Printed copies or CDs can also be obtained on request from Brian C. Amme, Project Manager, BLM Nevada State Office, P.O. Box 12000, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89520-0006. Phone (775) 861-6645 or email Brian_Amme@blm.gov.

What are hazardous fuels?
Hazardous fuels are highly flammable forest and rangeland fuels, such as dead and downed woody materials. In the West, these comprise mostly juniper and pinyon trees, sagebrush, mesquite, and other types of brush, as well as cheatgrass and other plants that become tinder-dry. These accumulate and become fuel for wildfires, and in many cases increase the frequency and magnitude of wildland fires.