Cabezon Creek WSA, NM
BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Range Recreation Sage Grouse Strutting, Wyoming Energy Vegetation
BLM>Div. of Decision Support, Planning, and NEPA>NEPA>NEPA Web Guide>Techniques for Documenting a No Action Alternative in an EA
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Techniques for Documenting a No Action Alternative in an EA

 
Example 1
 
Description of the No Action Alternative (for context)
The no action alternative would be to not complete the North Cove Vegetation Treatment and not complete rangeland restoration for the allotments. The North Cove Mountain and Bear Valley allotments would be managed with current vegetative resources.    The rangeland would continue to remain devoid of desirable, perennial vegetation, thus allowing wind and water erosion, soil loss and overland flow to continue, and even accelerate. Pinyon and juniper trees would continue to encroach and thrive and replace desirable, perennial vegetation. The sagebrush productivity of the untreated area would continue to decline and therefore the overall wildlife carrying capacity would be reduced. Vegetative composition, cover and diversity would remain at its present level, which is far below potential for the area, thus minimizing big game (deer & elk) and livestock (cattle & sheep) carrying capacity. The allotments would continue to lose soil and produce sediment, thus negatively affecting the water quality of the nearby Sevier River. Overall watershed condition would continue to decline. Based on actual use, utilization and suitability information, the forage allocations for both big game and livestock would probably be reduced.  A hazardous fuel problem would remain and hence the possibility of a catastrophic wildfire would exist.
 
No Action Alternative - Direct/Indirect Impacts 
Fish and Wildlife
Crucial deer intermediate/summer range and elk yearlong habitat would not be improved. The pinyon/juniper woodland and it’s continued expansion, along with the tall, decadent big sagebrush would dominate and continue to out-compete existing desirable grasses and forbs. There would be an over abundance of heavy, thermal cover. The tall, decadent big sagebrush and pinyon/juniper woodland would not be replaced by young palatable grasses, forbs and browse (forage kochia, bitterbrush, big sagebrush). Sagebrush and pinyon/juniper competition would be a significant, negative factor from a forage diversity standpoint. The sagebrush and pinyon/juniper woodland would continue to out-compete other vegetation for water and nutrients. Big game forage production would remain the same or even decrease. This could result in decreased viability and eventually decreased populations.
 
A diversified wildlife habitat would not be established. The monocultures of big sagebrush and pinyon/juniper woodland, and the lack of a viable, seeding, would not provide for a variety of wildlife species. The closed, dense stand of pinyon/juniper and big sagebrush, limits the hunting success of raptor species. Prey species such as rodents and lagomorphs would not increase, because of static, unimproved habitat. This would negatively affect predator populations. Overall wildlife habitat would remain stagnant and unchanged.
 
Fuels/Fire Management
Reduction of hazardous fuels (pinyon/juniper and tall, decadent big sagebrush) would not occur and therefore the area would be subject to a catastrophic fire event, especially during extreme drought periods. Depending on the timing of fire, it will either kill or significantly set-back the existing antelope bitterbrush and Vasey big sagebrush and therefore this important vegetation would be lost for many years. The proposed chaining project would rejuvenate sagebrush and bitterbrush and converts old, decadent stands to young productive stands that are valuable from a multiple use standpoint, especially with regards to fuels and overall vegetative health. The chaining would also eliminate unwanted, sterile stands of pinyon/juniper, and would significantly reduce this hazardous fuel concern.
 
Livestock Grazing/Range
There would be no proposed treatment, and therefore the monocultures of sterile pinyon/juniper and decadent big sagebrush would not be converted to a diverse rangeland, consisting of young, productive, perennial grasses, forbs and browse (big sagebrush, antelope bitterbrush, forage kochia). A tall, decadent, unpalatable stand of big sagebrush would remain, and would be the dominant forage available for livestock. The big sagebrush and pinyon/juniper percent composition combined would remain at the current estimated 75 percent, and would continue to out-compete existing, desirable native plant species for water and nutrients. Forage production for the allotment would remain the same or even decrease, due to the encroaching pinyon/juniper and dominance of the big sagebrush.
 
Erosion pavement interspaces and bare ground, within the pinyon/juniper and sagebrush areas would continue to be void of vegetation, thus causing the overall vegetative cover to remain constant and not improve. 
 
Migratory Birds
The monocultures of pinyon/juniper woodland and decadent big sagebrush would not be converted to a diverse habitat consisting of young, productive big sagebrush, perennial forbs and perennial grasses. Nesting habitat and thermal cover, provided by the untreated pinyon/juniper and big sagebrush, would remain the same and would be maximized. There would not be an excellent food source for a variety of migratory birds. Migratory birds would have to rely on existing seed sources for their food. Insect diversity and number would not increase. The “no action” alternative would result in a negative impact, because many migratory bird species rely on insects as a major source of food for their young fledglings. 
 
Soils/Watersheds
There would not be a short term increase in wind and water erosion due to the loss of vegetative ground cover during the treatment process.
           
Vegetative ground cover would remain the same (estimated 25 percent). There would still be numerous erosion pavement interspaces scattered throughout the allotments. Existing gullies would continue to deepen and carry water away from the vegetative resource. Surface runoff, soil erosion, soil movement and rain drop impact would continue to be substantial negative factors. Overall watershed condition would continue to degrade.
 
The monoculture of pinyon/juniper trees and tall, decadent, big sagebrush (heavy fuels) would remain unmodified and would continue to be a hazardous fuel concern.
 
Special Status Plant and Animal Species other than FWS Candidate or Listed Species
The sage grouse habitat would not be expanded and improved through pinyon/juniper reduction. The habitat would continue to degrade because of the decadent monoculture of big sagebrush. Big sagebrush would continue to be lost because of it's age. The habitat would not be diversified and improved and it is expected that the sage grouse population would start to decline because of loss of desirable habitat due to sagebrush loss and pinyon/juniper encroachment.
The pygmy rabbit habitat would remain unchanged and unimproved. Populations would probably remain constant and not potentially increase due to improved spring/summer forage conditions. 
 
Vegetation
Sagebrush steppe habitat would not be expanded and improved through the conversion of pinyon/juniper woodland. The loss of big sagebrush, due to it's decadence, would continue. A diversified vegetation type would not occur and the monoculture of big sagebrush would remain as is. Succession would continue and the encroaching pinyon/juniper would eventually take over a large portion of the site, resulting in loss of an important sagebrush steppe area.
 
Visual Resources
The Visual Resource Class IV objectives would be met in both the short and long term.
 
 
Example 2
 
Description of Alternatives (for context)
 
Proposed Action
The BLM Salt Lake Field Office proposes a closure of motor vehicle travel on BLM lands within a portion of the Big Pole wildland fire burn area in Tooele County, Utah. Motor vehicle travel would be temporarily prohibited for a period of 2 years from date of decision within an affected area of 27,100 acres of public land for the purposes of protecting soil, watershed, vegetation, wildlife, and cultural resources at risk due to a serious wildland fire incident in August 2009. Notice of public motor vehicle travel restrictions would be posted at major access points within the affected area, at the BLM Salt Lake Field Office, and on the BLM website. Signing and motor vehicle barriers will be installed at appropriate locations. The effectiveness of the closure would be monitored regularly and evaluated by the BLM to determine overall effectiveness of emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments. Officials and employees of the BLM and any other Federal, state, and local government agencies tasked with land management, wildlife management, law enforcement, emergency response, search & rescue, and fire protection are exempt from this restriction while operating within the scope of their official duties. Motor vehicle access by other parties may be allowed, but must be approved in advance in writing by the BLM Salt Lake Field Office Manager. This closure does not restrict public activities or access to the affected area by means other than motorized vehicles.
 
No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would be to continue to allow motorized access and travel on BLM lands within the affected area. OHV designations for the area are limited to existing roads and trails. Within the North Stansbury Mtns WSA, OHV travel would continue to be limited to the open cherrystem route in Muskrat Canyon.
 
Proposed Action - Direct/Indirect Impacts
This section analyzes the impacts of the proposed action to those potentially impacted resources described in the affected environment (chapter 3). In addition, the potential impacts to resources that may occur as a result of not implementing the proposed action are also discussed. 
 
Recreation
Motor vehicle access and motorized recreational opportunities would be temporarily restricted within the project area for a minimum of 2 years. Pursuant to 43 CFR 8341.2, the temporary closure may be extended beyond the initial closure period by subsequent NEPA actions until the BLM Salt Lake Field Office has determined emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments have been successful and the threat of resource damage from motorized vehicle travel no longer exists.
 
This temporary closure does not restrict public activities or access within the project area by means other than motorized vehicles. Within a very short distance of the project area, ample opportunities for motorized recreation would continue to exist throughout the temporary closure, unless unforeseeable circumstances necessitate otherwise.
Target shooting within the project area would not be restricted.
 
Areas normally not accessible to motor vehicles due to thick stands of trees and other vegetation are now much more easily traversable due to heavy wildland fire damage. In the absence of the proposed closure, it is expected that uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would increase due to the reduction in visual and physical barriers.
 
Wilderness/WSA
Motor vehicle access and recreation would be temporarily restricted on the vehicle route within Muskrat Canyon for a minimum of 2 years. Pursuant to 43 CFR 8341.2, the temporary closure may be extended beyond the initial closure period by subsequent NEPA actions until the BLM Salt Lake Field Office has determined emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments have been successful and the threat of resource damage from motorized vehicle travel no longer exists.
 
The threat of uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would be prevented by the temporary closure. Wilderness character within the WSA would be enhanced by promoting the best possible chance for successful implementation of emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments within the Big Pole wildland fire burn area.
 
Areas normally not accessible to motor vehicles due to thick stands of trees and other vegetation are now much more easily traversable due to heavy wildland fire damage. In the absence of the proposed closure, it is expected that uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would increase due to the reduction in visual and physical barriers. Adverse impacts to wilderness character would result from cross-country motor vehicle travel off existing routes within the WSA. Adverse impacts to wilderness character may require rehabilitation treatments and increased costs to manage the WSA. Diminished wilderness character may impair WSA eligibility for future wilderness designation by Congress.
 
Soils
Without implementation of the proposed action, wind and water erosion rates may increase with unrestricted motor vehicle travel. The threat of uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would be prevented by the temporary closure. Reduction or elimination of this activity would improve the likelihood of success of BLM’s wildland fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments while not negatively impacting soil stability.
 
Areas normally not accessible to motor vehicles due to thick stands of trees and other vegetation are now much more easily traversable due to heavy wildland fire damage. In the absence of the proposed closure, it is expected that uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would increase due to the reduction in visual and physical barriers from wildland fire. Cross-country vehicle travel would adversely impact soil stability and BLM success rates for wildland fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments. Wind and water erosion rates may also increase with unrestricted motor vehicle travel.
 
Vegetation
The threat of uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would be reduced or prevented by the temporary closure. Reduction or elimination of this activity would improve the likelihood of success of the BLM’s wildland fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments which include efforts to re-establish vegetation in the burn area.Potential for uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would decrease, therefore allowing seeded and natural vegetation to become established in the burn area.
 

Areas normally not accessible to motor vehicles due to thick stands of trees and other vegetation are now much more easily traversable due to heavy wildland fire damage. In the absence of the proposed closure, it is expected that uncontrolled cross-country motor vehicle travel would increase due to the reduction in visual and physical barriers from wildland fire damage. Cross-country vehicle travel would adversely impact vegetation mortality and the BLM’s success rates for wildland fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments.