Addressing Hunting, Fishing, Shooting Sports, and Big Game Habitats, and Incorporating Fish and Wildlife Conservation Plans and Information from Tribes, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Other Federal Agencies in Bureau of Land Management
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
June 11, 2018
In Reply Refer To:
6500, 8300 (210/230/250) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 07/13/2018
Instruction Memorandum No. 2018-062
To: All Field Officials
Attn: State Office Program Leads for Recreation, Wildlife, and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; State Planning and Environmental Coordinators; District and Field Office Outdoor Recreation Planners, Wildlife Biologists, Fisheries Biologists, and Planning and Environmental Coordinators
From: Assistant Director, Resources and Planning
Subject: Addressing Hunting, Fishing, Shooting Sports, and Big Game Habitats, and Incorporating Fish and Wildlife Conservation Plans and Information from Tribes, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Other Federal Agencies in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Processes
Program Areas: Wildlife; Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Recreation and Visitor Services; Decision Support, Planning, and NEPA.
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance for implementing closely related sections of two recent Secretarial Orders:
- Secretarial Order 3356: Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting and Wildlife Conservation Opportunities and Coordination with States, Tribes and Territories
- Section 4.b (6) “incorporate analysis of the impacts of Federal land and water management actions on hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting access in planning and decision-making.”
- Secretarial Order 3362: Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors
- Section 4.a. (3) “develop an Action Plan that…establishes a clear direction forward with each State, and includes:
- Habitat management goals and associated actions as they are associated with big game winter range and migration corridors;
- Measurable outcomes; and
- Budgets necessary to complete respective action(s).”
- Section 4.b. (2) “evaluate how land under each bureau’s management responsibility can contribute to State or other efforts to improve the quality and condition of priority big game winter and migration corridor habitat.”
- Section 4.d. (3) “consult with State wildlife agencies and bureaus to ensure land use plans are consistent and complementary to one another along the entire wildlife corridor in common instances where winter range or migration corridors span jurisdictional boundaries.”
A shared goal of both Secretarial Orders is to improve coordination of BLM NEPA processes with state, state association, Tribal, and Federal agency fish and wildlife partners by better identifying and reviewing partner data and conservation plans in support of cooperative goals, objectives, and policies. This includes coordination of BLM land use and resource management planning efforts. This IM clarifies BLM requirements for coordinating with these partners and addressing fish and wildlife resources as we analyze the impacts of BLM actions.
Administrative or Mission Related: Mission
Using an issue-based analysis, determine if hunting, fishing or shooting sports access issues are germane to the decision-maker, of interest to the public, or otherwise central to the proposed decision. If hunting, or fishing, or shooting sports access are identified as issues in scoping, incorporate analysis of impacts in the NEPA document as described below. In the development of planning and decision-making documents, various techniques should be used to help meet the page limit directive in Secretarial Order 3355, Streamlining National Environmental Policy Act Reviews and Implementation of Executive Order 13807 Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects. Use techniques such as issue-based analysis, tiering, and incorporation of referenced documents (e.g., analysis from reasonably foreseeable development used previously in a permitting NEPA analysis).
- Recreational Shooting Access
Offices must incorporate analysis of the impacts of Federal land and water management actions on recreational shooting access in planning and decision-making using the process described below:
- Describe effects to shooting sport access
Follow guidance in H-8320-1 Planning for Recreation and Visitor Services, Chapter III-5 “Effects Analysis” to describe the qualitative and quantitative direct, indirect, and cumulative effects. The level of detail must be sufficient to support reasoned conclusions by comparing the amount and degree of change (impact) caused by the proposed action and alternatives.
- Identify impacts and alternatives
Use a collaborative process, including members of the Shooting Sports Roundtable and the local communities to resolve conflicts, identify potential impacts to shooting sports opportunities and alternatives to decrease impacts to, or identify replacement opportunities for, shooting sports activities. If a reasonable alternative that would result in fewer impacts to shooting sports is identified, the alternative should be considered (it does not have to be selected).
- Analyze limitations and closures
If an alternative includes a limitation on shooting or a closure of lands to shooting, quantitatively analyze the impacts by number of acres where shooting sports would be limited or prohibited, and provide clear, concise, and well-documented analysis. If shooting sports will be prohibited in certain areas, follow the guidance in IM 2014-131 “Implementation of the Federal Lands Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Sports Roundtable Memorandum of Understanding” and IM 2015-157 “Advanced Congressional Notification for Proposed Closures Related to Recreational Shooting, Hunting, or Fishing.”
2. Hunting and Fishing Access, Opportunities, and Game Species Habitat and Population Management Directives
Offices must incorporate state, state association, Tribal, and other Federal agency fish and wildlife conservation plans and information into land use plans and NEPA analyses, if appropriate and consistent with the scope and nature of the NEPA action. Additionally, offices must incorporate analysis of the impacts of Federal land and water management actions on habitats, populations, and hunting and fishing opportunities using the process described below:
2.1 Gather Information
Coordinate with state fish and wildlife agencies, Tribes, and other Federal agencies to obtain information and data on:
- Access needs for hunting and fishing;
- Population and habitat management objectives;
- Population trends;
- Crucial habitat designations and migration corridors.
- Examples of these documents and data include, but are not limited to:
- Federal fish and wildlife conservation plans;
- State comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies;
- State wildlife action plans (SWAPs) ;
- Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT);
- Tribe and agency maps of occupied habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, wild sheep, wild turkey, and other species;
- Tribe and agency geospatial information describing or delineating priority big game winter range and other crucial seasonal habitats and crucial migration corridors;
- Species-specific management plans for big game and other species;
- Tribe and agency (including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service) migratory game bird and anadromous game fish population and habitat management objectives, and crucial habitat and migration corridors; and
- Annual wildlife population survey and harvest data.
2.2 Analyze and Apply the Information and Data in BLM Land Use Planning (skip to section 2.3 if not undergoing Land Use Planning)
When preparing, amending, or revising a land use plan and consistent with the scope and nature of the planning effort BLM offices shall:
- Consider the data and information acquired in Section 2.1 to develop at least one alternative for detailed analysis that incorporates Tribal, state, state association, and other Federal agency fish and wildlife conservation plan goals and measurable objectives and priority access needs for hunting and fishing.
- Assess land management planning alternatives’ impacts on access to hunting and fishing, the quality of priority big game winter range habitats, and availability of crucial migration corridors.
- Where winter range and migration corridors span jurisdictional boundaries, consult or coordinate with states, Tribes, and other Federal agencies to establish consistent and complementary land use plans along entire wildlife corridors and winter ranges to the extent possible.
- Throughout plan implementation, evaluate and appropriately apply site-specific management activities that conserve or restore habitats necessary to sustain local and regional fish and wildlife populations.
- Incorporate appropriately-scaled metrics in monitoring plans that clearly indicate if landscape and habitat conditions are trending toward, or away from, desired outcomes. Those metrics may include or refer to species-specific monitoring methodologies developed by Tribes and state wildlife agencies.
2.3 Analyze and Apply the Data, Information, and Decisions from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 (or existing Land Use Plan if not updated in Section 2.2)
When making implementation level NEPA Decisions:
- Evaluate how alternatives contribute to access and conservation goals and objectives for fish and wildlife habitat, and hunting and fishing opportunities.
- Using the data, goals and objectives, and land use plan decisions from previous efforts, analyze the effects of implementation actions – including restoration actions and resource use.
- Complete a preliminary evaluation of effects to wildlife habitats, hunting and fishing access, and recreational setting from the proposed action.
- If the proposed action would potentially have a negative effect on fish and wildlife distribution, population numbers or health, wildlife and fish habitat or migration corridors, or access to hunting and fishing, determine if a reasonable alternative could be developed that would result in fewer impacts. If so, that alternative should be included for detailed analysis (it does not have to be selected).
- After the range of alternatives has been identified, analyze how each alternative would affect state, tribal, Federal or other efforts to improve the quality and condition of wildlife habitats and migration corridors.
- Follow guidance in H-8320-1 Planning for Recreation and Visitor Services, Chapter III-5 “Effects Analysis” to describe qualitative and quantitative direct, indirect, and cumulative effects to the recreational setting, including access to hunting and fishing. The level of detail must be sufficient to support reasoned conclusions by comparing the amount and degree of change (impact) caused by the proposed action and alternatives.
Timeframe: Effective Immediately
Budget Impact: None.
Background: Secretarial Orders 3356 and 3362 provide closely related and complementary direction. Secretarial Order 3356 focuses on hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting access, and Secretarial Order 3362 focuses on big-game winter habitat and migration corridors. Both call for increasing coordination with tribes and state fish and wildlife agencies, and using data from these partners pertinent to managing fish and wildlife habitat (including big-game winter range and migration corridors), as well as increasing hunting, fishing, and shooting sports access. Both also provide direction for addressing these resources through NEPA processes. This IM incorporates direction from both orders, consistent with governing laws, regulations, and principles of responsible stewardship. It provides guidance to coordinate with the relevant agencies and to complete a thorough NEPA analysis of the potential impacts to these resources.
Coordination, as required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (Section 202(c)(9)), involves ongoing communication between BLM managers and state, local, and Tribal governments to ensure that the BLM considers pertinent provisions of non-BLM plans in managing public lands. Active engagement and consideration of partners’ fish and wildlife conservation plans and management goals promote the Department of the Interior policy on state-Federal relationships, as detailed in 43 CFR Part 24, and support implementation of Secretarial Orders 3356 and 3362.
For more than 20 years, the BLM has actively partnered in, and contributed resource conservation expertise to, developing and reviewing other Federal agency fish and wildlife conservation planning efforts; state comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies; action plans; and other conservation plans. These external partner planning and reference documents provide relevant data and management information when the BLM is developing, reviewing, and implementing fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation actions.
Manual/ Handbook Sections Affected: 6500.
Coordination: Guidance in this IM was developed among the Decision Support, Planning and NEPA Division (WO-210), the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Division (WO-230), and the Recreation and Visitor Services Division (WO-250).
Contact: If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Ryan Hathaway, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, (202) 912-7289, firstname.lastname@example.org; Frank Quamen, Wildlife Program Lead, (202) 912-7274, email@example.com; Geoff Walsh, Wildlife Biologist, (202) 912-7271, firstname.lastname@example.org; or, Dorothy Morgan, Outdoor Recreation Planner, (202) 912-7412, email@example.com.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Kristin Bail Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director Division of IT Policy and Planning,WO-870
Resources and Planning