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  Environmental Policy Issues

Wildfires, Fuel Loads, and Forest Management Policy Issues
(Released January 2004)

 

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  1. NORTH FORK FIRE SALVAGE PROJECT, BASS LAKE RANGER DISTRICT, SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST, MADERA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

    EPA number: 030159F, 194 pages, April 4, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a timber salvage plan in the North Fork Fire Salvage Project Area of the Bass Lake Ranger District, Sierra National Forest, Madera County, California is proposed. The area was affected by a wildland fire the burned during August 2001. As a result of the fire, there are more dead trees per acre that are required to allow restoration of ecological sustainability, recreation of old forest structure and function, and provision of snags and down woody material for wildlife requiring such habitat. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to the lack of any stipulation within the forest management plan directing timber harvest in the area; socioeconomics and government revenues; the economic viability of two saw mills in the area; potential damage to soils caused by salvage damage; the removal of trees that would not otherwise fall; and the generation of high fuel "jack-strawed" dead trees ad tree/brush regeneration that could cause future wildfires. The proposed action and a No Action Alternative are considered in this final EIS. The proposed action would result in the harvest of dead timber on approximately 530 acres via helicopter logging, using eight existing landings. The plan would include minor hand/jackpot pile and burn to allow for the planting of native ponderosa pine and followup hand release for the seedlings across 270 to 350 acres. Felling of small dead trees with trunk diameters of less than 16 inches at breast height would be conducted on 80 acres. Four of the largest snags per acre, on a 10-acre basis, would be retained. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would reduce fuel loadings in the area significantly in the near-term, thereby reducing the risk of wildland fire. In general, forest health and diversity would be enhanced, and the forest would progress toward a condition more closely resembling the historical ecosystem. Timber generated by harvest would contribute to the local economy and provide wood products for regional consumption. Harvest and other activities would employ local workers. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Fuel loadings and fuel hazard would increase over time as trees that are retained fall and become ground fuels with high resistance to control. Prescribed burning would generate smoke and exhaust from harvest machinery would add to the air pollutants generated by plan implementation. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 03-0180D, Volume 27, Number 2.

  2. QUARTZITE WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PROJECT, THREE RIVERS RANGER DISTRICT, COLVILLE NATIONAL FOREST, WASHINGTON.

    EPA number: 030170F, 331 pages, April 10, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of watershed management activities in the Thomason-Sherwood-Cottonwood Creek area of the Three Rivers Ranger District, Colville National Forest, Washington is proposed. The 23,311-acre area, known as the Quartzite Watershed, is located just east of Chewelah. Management activities in the project area would include activities to address vegetation enhancement, riparian /wetland management, and roads. Management issues identified in the forest plan include those associated with road management, the Betts Meadows Wetland Preserve, and forest health. Seven alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative A), are considered in this draft EIS. The proposed action (Alternative B) would involve 4,446 acres of timber sale activities, 6,342 acres of non-commercial thinning and prescribed fire, construction of 10.83 miles of new road, and reconstruction of 35.52 miles of existing road. Approximately 1.8 miles of open road would be closed, and road drainage would be improved at six stream crossings. Stream channel improvements would be implemented, and riparian species would be planted within 100 acres at Woodward Meadows. Mitigation measures would address water quality, soils, air quality, noxious weeds and competing vegetation, heritage sites, visual resources, fish and wildlife habitat, and mineral resource extraction. Monitoring provisions would address snag retention, visual quality objectives, soils, insect infestation and plant disease control, and water quality. The preferred alternative (Alternative J) would provide for 1,748 acres of commercial timber harvest, yielding 16.3 million board-feet, and 3,479 acres of non-commercial thinning and prescribed fire. Riparian/wetland management activities would take place in the Woodward Meadows riparian area. The plan would involve construction of 2.33 miles of road, reconstruction of 35.05 miles of road, and closure of two roads extending a total of two miles. Six stream crossings would be improved. Present net value of the preferred alternative is estimated at just over $1.5 million. Cost of implementing the plan is estimated at $4.1 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Vegetation management activities would improve ecosystem integrity by moving vegetation toward the natural range of variation; by developing forest matrix, patches, and corridors that would be consistent with fire landscapes; and by improving the landscape patterns of habitats for native and desired non-native species. Riparian and wetland management activities would improve stream channels and increase the diversity of native vegetation. In-stream fish habitat would also be enhanced. Road management activities would improve stream crossings and upgrade and maintain roads necessary for long-term land management and public access. The plan would generate $12.6 million in revenue. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest, road reconstruction, and prescribed burning would result in disturbance of vegetation, erosion, and sedimentation of receiving waters in the short-term. Wildlife habitat, including big game habitat, and fish habitat would be affected by these measures. Visual and other recreational resources would also be affected. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 02-0456D, Volume 26, Number 4.

  3. MISSIONARY RIDGE BURNED AREA TIMBER SALVAGE PROJECT, COLUMBINE RANGER DISTRICT, SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST, LA PLATA COUNTY, COLORADO.

    EPA number: 030098D, 446 pages and maps, March 10, 2003

    PURPOSE: The salvaging of timber and related activities in the Missionary Ridge burned area of the Columbine Ranger District, San Juan National Forest, La Plata County, Colorado are proposed. The 70,480-acre area suffered a fire that burned from June 9 to July 17, 2002. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to forest health, recovery of timber values, roads and the transportation system in general, and soils, erosion, and flooding. Four alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 4) would involve salvage harvest on 4,136 acres, Approximately 760 acres would be salvage harvested in the roaded portion of the Florida Roadless area. No permanent road would be constructed for the salvage operation, though approximately 3.5 miles of temporary road would be required. Timber harvest would generate 13.8 million board-feet of conifer saw timber and 2,512 cunits of aspen products. Trees would be harvested using standard ground-baed?, cable (skyline), and helicopter logging systems. Ground-based system would be utilized over 3,161 acres, skylogging over 332 acres, and helicopter logging over 643 acres. Ground-based logging would be employed on slopes of less than 40 percent, while helicopter and skyline logging would occur on slopes of up to 75 percent. Some 31 miles of existing forest road used to implement harvest would need little or no maintenance. The remaining 55 miles of existing road would need some type of pre-haul maintenance or reconstruction to make them suitable for log hauling. The bulk of timber harvest activities would be probably be completed by the fall or early winter of 2003. Present net value of the preferred alternative is estimated at $245,542. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would meet forest plan goals for vegetation and timber management in the analysis area; more specifically, the plan would provide for appropriate wood fiber production and utilization in the portion of the analysis area suited for timber production. Salvage of dead and dying trees would help meet the local and national demands for timber products. The plan would also reduce potential fuel loading due to the large quantity of heavy fuels that would become part of the fuel profile as fire-killed timber falls to the ground. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Harvest and road construction activities would result in the generation of fugitive dust, the loss of vegetation and the associated wildlife habitat, and increase in traffic and noise levels during operations. Disturbance of soils would result in a short-term increase in sediment levels in receiving surface waters. Harvest in the Florida Roadless Area would decrease its wilderness values. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  4. LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE CHEROKEE NATIONAL FOREST, TENNESSEE.

    EPA number: 030104D, Summary--29 pages, Draft EIS--562 pages, Management Plan--419 pages, Map Supplement, CD-ROM Appendices--389 pages, March 12, 2003

    PURPOSE: The revision of the land and resource management plan for the Cherokee National Forest (CNF) of Tennessee is proposed. The national forests in the Southern Appalachian area have applied several efforts to begin their revisions. A key part of that analysis, for significant portions of each forest, has been the Southern Appalachian Assessment. The 640,000-acre CNF is the largest wildlife management area and single largest tract of public land in Tennessee. The forest is within a day's drive of 20 million people. Each of the forests four ranger districts encompasses approximately 160,000 acres. Approximately 90 developed recreation sites and more than 600 miles of trails are scattered throughout the CNF. The forest also includes 66,389 acres of designated wilderness in 11 different tracts. Nine alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative F), which would perpetuate the current management regime, are considered in this draft EIS. Seven alternatives are considered in detail. The preferred alternative (Alternative I) would respond to extensive public input to address issues related to watershed health, recreation, sustainable ecosystem management, the forest road system, watershed health and water quality, habitat for wide-ranging species, habitat for threatened and endangered species, old-growth forest, semiprimitive /remote recreation opportunities, roadless areas, lands suitable for timber harvest, and the President's Health Forest Initiative. The new management plan would differ from the existing plan in the areas of forest allocations, old-growth management, watershed management, wilderness management, timber harvest, and management of roadless areas. The preferred plan would allow for 21.98 million board-feet of timber harvest. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would emphasize the restoration and maintenance of forest ecosystems to provide high-quality water and diverse, resilient, self-reproducing aquatic populations in damaged and undamaged streams. Riparian areas would be managed to retain, restore, and/or enhance the inherent ecological processes and functions of the associated aquatic, riparian, and upland components within riparian corridors. The plan would promote the sustainability of diverse ecosystems that support viable plant, wildlife, and fish populations, including habitats for those species needing large contiguous forested landscapes. A variety of old-growth communities would help meet biological and social needs. Forest health measures would help prevent insect infestations and disease outbreaks. High-quality recreational opportunities would be available, including outstandingly remarkable river values and scenic areas. Fuel loading would decrease significantly in some areas, reducing the possibility of wildland fire. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest, use of prescribed fire, recreational facility development, and trail and road construction and maintenance would result in disturbance of soils and destruction of vegetation and the associated wildlife habitat and the sedimentation of receiving surface waters in the short-term in the vicinity of sites affected by these measures. Management activities would also alter the landscape and could degrade the value of inventoried roadless areas. Habitat loss and increased recreational visitation would reduce wildlife populations in some areas. Both the extent and distribution of mature forest stands would be decreased. Fire hazard ad resistance to control would increase subsequent to the designation of more areas as either wilderness or allocations that would not be favorable to management activities; these designations would result in increased accumulation of forest residues. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  5. LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN, JEFFERSON NATIONAL FOREST, VIRGINIA.

    EPA number: 030106D, Summary--32 pages, Draft EIS--497 pages, Management Plan--507 pages, Appendices--495 pages, March 12, 2003

    PURPOSE: The revision of the 1985 land and resource management plan for the 723,000-acre Jefferson National Forest of Virginia is proposed. The new plan would be in effect for 10 years. The revised management direction would be coordinated with that of the national forests in Alabama, the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, Chattahoochee-Onconee National Forest in Georgia, and Sumter National Forest in South Carolina. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to terrestrial plants and wildlife and their associated habitats, threatened an endangered and sensitive species, old-growth forest, riparian area management, water quality and aquatic habitat, wood products, visual aesthetics, recreation opportunities, roadless areas and wilderness management, forest health, special areas and rare communities, wild and scenic rivers, access and road management, minerals, special uses, fire management, impacts on local communities, subsurface property rights, the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, air quality, and land acquisition, deposition, and exchange. Seven alternatives developed in detail, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative F) are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative I) would emphasize management of forest ecosystems through restoration and maintenance. Garden Mountain and Hunting Camp/Little Wolf Creek would be recommended to Congress for wilderness consideration, and 11 wilderness additions would be recommended. Three new areas, not inventoried as roadless would also be recommended for wilderness protection. The plan would also include recommendations for wild and scenic and recreational rivers and the Appalachian Trail corridor within the forest. Forest health improvement activities would include replacement of off-site species, thinning of overstocked stands, and restoration of fire-dependent and fire-associated communities. Timber management would generate 21.7 million board-feet of wood products. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The preferred alternative would provide for sustainable and diverse ecosystems that support viable vegetation, wildlife, and fish populations; allow for high-quality, nature-based recreation opportunities, particularly in non-motorized settings with high quality landscapes; maintain or increase habitat for species needing large, contiguous forested landscapes and species needing openings; and help to conserve and recover threatened, endangered, sensitive, and locally rare species. A spectrum of high-quality, nature-based recreation settings would be provided. All existing inventoried old-growth forest would be protected as well as future old-growth patches NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Road construction, timber management, recreation facility development, and other management activities would displace vegetation and the associated wildlife habitat temporarily and, in some cases, permanently. Management activities and increased disturbance due to increased numbers of recreations also affect vegetation and soils and result in increased sedimentation of receiving surface waters. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  6. NATIONAL FORESTS IN ALABAMA.

    EPA number: 030136D, Draft EIS--651 pages, Management Plan--401 pages, Appendices--421 pages, March 26, 2003

    PURPOSE: The revision of the land and resource management plan for the national forests in Alabama is proposed. The forests extend over four different eco-regions. The Bankhead National Forest in the northwest portion of the state is part of the Cumberland Plateau eco-region. The Talladega Division of the Talladega National Forest falls within the Ridge and Valley eco-region in the eastern portion of the state. The Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest and the Tuskegee National Forest are part of the Upper Coastal Plain eco-region in central Alabama. The Conecuh National forest lies within the Lower Coastal Plain eco-region in southern Alabama. Taken together, the forests encompass approximately 665,000 acres of federal lands. The management direction would be coordinated with other national forests in the southern Appalachians. Key issues related to all of the affected forests include those associated to terrestrial plants and wildlife and their associated habitats; threatened and endangered and sensitive /locally rare species; old growth; riparian area management, water quality, and aquatic habitats; wood products; aesthetics/scenery management; recreation opportunities; roadless areas and wilderness management; forest health; special areas and rare communities; wild and scenic rivers; and access/road management. Issues unique to the Alabama forests include those related to the role of fire and associated air quality impacts; fixed communication sites; the status of the Tuskegee National Forest as a Demonstration Forest; the status of the Bankhead National Forest as a National Recreation Area; red-cockaded woodpecker habitat; land exchange and land acquisition; and mineral resource exploitation. Eight alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative F), are considered in detail in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative I) would address each of these issues. The plan would remain in effect for 10 to 15 years. POSITIVE IMPACTS: While providing for a variety of recreational experiences and multiple-use, sustainable economic exploitation of the forests resources, the preferred alternative would protect the forests' natural and cultural resources. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Allocation decisions that would not allow for the production or use of most of the available renewable resources for relatively long periods of time would include those that provide for wilderness areas, roadless areas, scenic areas, wild and scenic rivers, recreation sites, and the construction of new roads. By contrast, areas not allocated to these uses could be degraded by exploitative uses. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.) and National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  7. NORTH KENNEDY-COTTONWOOD STEWARDSHIP PROJECT, EMMETT RANGER DISTRICT, BOISE NATIONAL FOREST, GEM AND VALLEY COUNTIES, IDAHO.

    EPA number: 030137FS, 167 pages, March 26, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of the North Kennedy-Cottonwood Stewardship Project within the Emmett Ranger District of the Boise National Forest, Gem and Valley counties, Idaho is proposed. The 8,600-acre area under consideration lies approximately seven miles northeast of Ola. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to open roads and related impacts to wildlife and road construction/closure versus decommissioning. The plan would modify the existing road system in a manner that is responsive to the diversity of public and forest management needs identified for this specific area. Elk vulnerability would be reduced and security habitat improved through a mix of seasonal and year-round road closure restrictions placed on approximately 31 miles of road and the decommissioning of six miles of road. Seven miles of road would be reconstructed to reduce erosion and sediment delivery to nearby streams. Three culverts that constitute mitigation barriers hampering fish access to usable habitat would be replaced or renovated. Commercial and noncommercial timber management methods would be applied on 3,646 acres to improve forest health. Tractor, skyline, and helicopter yarding would be employed in timber harvesting. Silvicultural activities would include harvesting softwood from 3,434 acres through commercial thinning and shelterwood entries as well as improvement, liberation, and saitatin cuts; 45 acres of precommercial thinning; and 167 acres of tree planting. A shaded fuel break would be created on 117 acres of activity fueled treated via low-intensity burning. Post-harvest, non-commercial thinning and thinning from below of sub-merchantable trees would occur on 3,480 acres of previously harvested stands. Ponderosa pine trees would be planted on 1,275 acres following mechanical site preparation. Three alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered. The preferred alternative, outlined above, is Alternative 2. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would reduce big game vulnerability and generally increase wildlife security, reduce road-related sediment contributed to streams, improve fish habitat connectivity, improvement management of motorized access, reduce forest susceptibility to severe wildfire and western spruce budworm, and increase long-term forest productivity. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Management actions, particularly prescribed burning and timber harvesting, would destroy vegetation and cause erosion and the associated sedimentation of receiving surface flows in the short-term, affecting terrestrial and aquatic habitat. Prescribed burning would degrade air quality as well in the short-term. Motorized access would be limited during harvest operations for three to five years during timber harvest activities. In the long-term, the extent of the road system open to motor vehicles would decline in the summer and fall. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  8. CROATAN NATIONAL FOREST REVISED LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN, CRAVEN, CARTERET, AND JONES COUNTIES, NORTH CAROLINA.

    EPA number: 030067F, Final EIS--531 pages; Land and Resource Management Plan--142 pages, Appendices--121 pages, Record of Decision--27 pages, Map, CD-ROM, February 19, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a revised land and resource management plan for the Croatan National Forest of Craven, Carteret, and Jones counties, North Carolina is proposed. The management plan would provide guidelines through the year 2012. The 161,000-acre national forest is located on the eastern coastal plain of North Carolina. Perhaps the most interesting topographic features of the forest are its pocosins, which occur at the upper, rather than lower end, of its drainages. The plan would include new management areas and management prescriptions. New management direction would be provided for recovering the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) population, recreational site developments, restoration of longleaf pine, fire management, and access management. Issues identified during scoping include those related to biological diversity, recreational opportunities, special land allocations, forest products and forest health, fire management, access, and local human communities. Five alternatives, including the No Action Alternative (Alternative A), which would continue the current management regime, are considered in this final EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative E) would address public concerns with respect to active longleaf pine restoration, expansion of the RCW population, more habitat for black bears, neotropical birds, and turkeys, and more intensive fuel management in wildland-urban interfaces. Alternative E would provide for restoration of natural communities using a two-aged silvicultural system.Emphasis would be placed on restoring longleaf pine to sites currently occupied by loblolly pine. Expansion of RCW populations would be actively pursued via a long-term objective of maintaining RCW clusters within a 690,000-acre RCW Habitat Management Area. RCW forage quality would be maintained by burning upland pine types on 2,000 acres each year. Fuel loadings would be reduced in wildland-urban interfaces and pocosins. Recreation would be primarily nature-based, and further recreational development would emphasize the Croatan as a unique natural setting for a variety of recreational opportunities. Boundary adjustments would be proposed for recommendation as wilderness, bringing the total wilderness within the forest to 31,912 acres. Segments of White Oak River and Brice Creek would be protected as appropriate due their eligibility for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Approximately 25,723 acres would be designated as suitable for timber production, and 161,000 acres would be treated to reduce fuel loading. Road closures would affect 15 ro 20 miles of road, seasonal access would be restricted on 15 to 20 miles, and 20 to 30 miles of off-highway-vehicle (OHV) trails would be designated for OHV use. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Habitat for RCW populations would improve substantially. Wilderness and wild and scenic river values would be preserved. The potential for wildfire would decline substantially. Timber employment and annual income would increase significantly. Annual recreation-related employment and income would increase as well, NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest and prescribed burning would result in increased erosion and sedimentation of receiving waters and would degrade visual aesthetics and displace habitat for wildlife dependent on dense forest. OHV would also contribute to erosion and sedimentation. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 00-0080D, Volume 24, Number 1.

  9. KACHINA VILLAGE FOREST HEALTH PROJECT, MORMON LAKE RANGER DISTRICT, COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST, COCONINO COUNTY, ARIZONA.

    EPA number: 030071F, 334 pages, February 20, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a plan to improve forest health and reduce wildfire potential in the 10,417-acre Kachina Village area of the Mormon Lake Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona is proposed. The project area lies adjacent to the community of Flagstaff in northern Arizona. Key issues identified during scoping include those relaetd to the impacts of management activities on old growth, wildfire potential, and impacts on soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative B), are considered in this final EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative A) would thin trees and implement broadcast burning as well as implementing improvements in recreational areas and road management activities. Thinning would occur on nearly 4,800 acres and broadcast burning would occur on 6,300 acres. In addition, the plan would involve development of several new trails, designation of dispersed camping areas, and closure of high fire risk areas to camping. Alternatives C and D would place diameter limits on the size of trees to be thinned. Alternative E would treat most of the project area without the use of mechanical equipment and treat the areas immediately adjacent to homes with a more intensive approach than the other alternatives. All alternatives treat the same areas; however, the alternatives vary by diameter limit and the intensity of treatments and the use of mechanized equipment. Cost of the preferred alternative is estimated at $981,210. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest would generate $510,090 in revenue. Thinning and prescribed burning would reduce fuel loading, thereby reducing the potential for wildfire. Management activities would improve forest health, wildlife habitat, and soil and watershed conditions in the area over the long-term. The plan would reduce road density in the area. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest and burning would result in disturbance of vegetation and soils and the associated loss of wildlife habitat and increased release of sediment into receiving surface waters. Prescribed burning would also degrade air quality temporarily in localized areas. The use of prescribed burning would present some danger of fire spreading to adjacent areas, endangering public safety. Management activities would degrade the visual quality and otherwise reduce the recreational value of the area in the short-term. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 02-0412D, Volume 26, Number 4.

  10. CLANCY-UNIONVILLE VEGETATION MANIPULATION AND TRAVEL MANAGEMENT PROJECT, HELENA RANGER DISTRICT, HELENA NATIONAL FOREST, LEWIS AND CLARK AND JEFFERSON COUNTIES, MONTANA (DRAFT SUPPLEMENT TO THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT OF FEBRUARY 2000).

    EPA number: 030073FS, 552 pages and maps, February 21, 2003

    PURPOSE: The harvesting of timber and other vegetative treatments and implementation of a travel management plan within the 64,000-acre Clancy-Unionville Implementation Area of the Helena Ranger District, Helena National Forest, Montana are proposed. The project area includes portions of Oro Fino Gulch, Dru Gulch, Grizzly Gulch, Nelson Gulch, Travis Creek, Whiteman Gulch, Little Buffalo Gulch, Go Devil Gulch, Lump Gulch, Roe Gulch, Jackson Creek, Kady Gulch, and Quartz Creek. Most treatments would occur in the Grizzly/Oro Fino/Dry Gulch, Brooklyn Bridge,Sheep Mountain, Park Lake, and Quartz Creek areas. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative B), were considered in the final EIS of February 2000. Two additional action alternatives are considered in this final supplement to the Final EIS. All action alternatives are designed to change vegetation and travel patterns to more desired conditions. Alternative A, the proposed action, was designed to improve overall forest health and sustainability through a combination of silvicultural treatments and prescribed burning. Alternative C was designed to respond to concerns expressed about risks associated with prescribed burning, air quality, and noxious weeds. Alternative D was designed to respond to concerns about wildlife and wildlife habitat. Alternative E was developed by the Clancy-Unionville Citizen Task Force. Alternative F is essentially the October 2000 Forest Service division, which was subsequently remanded on repeal due to insufficient analysis and disclosure of cumulative effects. The cumulative effects and other impacts are addressed in this draft supplement, which includes only changes that have occurred since the issuance of the final EIS, most of which pertain to the newly considered Alternative F. Under Alternative F, the Forest Service would implement prescribed burning on 1,301 acres of grasslands and 733 acres of savannah, 414 acres of forest underburning, and 853 acres of mechanical treatments on savannah units. All prescribed burn treatments would incorporate appropriate pre- and post-herbicide treatment. Timber harvest activities would include 1,577 acres of commercial thinning, 176 acres of shelterwood treatment, 70 acres of seedtree treatment, 31 acres of aspen treatment, and 109 acres of clear-cut. The alternative would require construction of five miles of new temporary road and reconstruction of nine miles of existing road. Approximately 15 miles of existing road would be closed but left in place to allow administrative access for weed management. The Spruce Hills, Brooklyn Bridge, and Lump Gulch areas would be closed to timber harvest activities from October 15th to December 1st to avert possible conflicts with big game hunters. Watershed improvement projects would include road rehabilitation, road stabilization, construction of erosion control features, culvert removal, installation of larger diameter culverts, and revegetation of cut and fill slopes. A non-motorized access system trail would link the Brooklyn Bridge, Whiteman, and Jack Mountain areas, and the Brooklyn Bridge Road would be converted to a non-motorized trail. Another non-motorized trail would be established in the Little Corral Gulch area. The Spruce Hills Road would be open to snowmobiles from December 2nd to May 14th. The present net value of Alternative F is estimated to result in a deficit of $648,000. The benefit-coat ratio is estimated at 0.62. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would provide for healthy native forest and grassland plant communities with a wide variety of native plant species, minimize the threat of large-scale wildfire, insure a variety of wildlife habitats, provide a system of roads and trails to serve the needs of a variety of forest users, produce an array of wood products on a sustainable basis, and maintain or improve water quality and watershed conditions over the short- and long-term. Elk habitat effectiveness and security would be enhanced, as would old-growth forest. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: New timber harvest would occur within wildlife corridors. Some old-growth forest would be eliminated, as would certain areas of closed-forest habitat would be converted to open-forest habitat. Potential for spreading of weeds would increase. The potential for impacts to cultural resources sites would increase. Prescribed burning would degrade air quality and aesthetics temporarily. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstracts of the draft and final EISs, see 99-0029D, Volume 23, Number 1, and 00-0192F, Volume 24, Number 2. For the abstract of the draft supplemental EIS, see 02-0147D, Volume 26, Number 2.

  11. REVISED LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN, SUMTER NATIONAL FOREST, OCONEE, CHESTER, FAIRFIELD, LAURENS, NEWBERRY, UNION, ABBEVILLE, EDGEFIELD, GREENWOOD, MCCORMICK, AND SALUDA COUNTIES, SOUTH CAROLINA.

    EPA number: 030080D, Draft EIS--832 pages, Summary--39 pages, Land and Resource Management Plan--227 pages, February 27, 2003

    PURPOSE: The revision of the general land and resource management plan for the 362,000-acre Sumter National Forest of Oconee, Chester, Fairfield, Laurens, Newberry, Union, Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, and Saluda counties, South Carolina is proposed. The forest is divided into three ranger districts. Key issues identified during scoping include those associated with terrestrial plants and animals and their associated habitats; threatened, endangered, and sensitive species; old-growth habitat; riparian area management, water quality, and aquatic habitat; wood products exploitation; aesthetics and scenery management; recreational opportunities; roadless areas and wilderness management; forest health; special areas and rare communities; wild and scenic rivers; access and road management; the Chattooga River watershed; and mineral resources exploitation. Nine alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative F), are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative I) would emphasize management of forest ecosystems through restoration and maintenance to ensure healthy watersheds; provide for sustainable and diverse ecosystems that support viable plant, wildlife, and fish populations; and provide for high-quality, nature-based recreation opportunities, particularly in non-motorized settings with high quality landscapes. Habitat conditions that are suitable for maintaining viable populations of all vertebrate species native to the planning area would be emphasized. Early successional habitats would be treated and maintained by a variety of events, conditions, treatments, and activities. All river segments eligible for consideration for inclusion in the National System of Wild and Scenic Rivers would be managed to protect their outstandingly remarkable values. The Chattoga River watershed would be managed to emphasize recreation in association with the Cattooga Wild and Scenic River corridor; maintenance of roadless values; promotion of dispersed recreation opportunities; and improved water quality. Boating would not be allowed on the Chattoga River above Highway 28. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The preferred plan would restore and maintain watersheds as associated values; diversify ecosystems for all wildlife populations, and maintain the forest's famous recreation resources, with particular emphasis on pristine resources associated with wild and scenic rivers and their watersheds. Production of wood and mineral products would contribute to the local and regional economy without significantly damaging natural resources. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Use of prescribed fire would degrade air quality, damage soils, and destroy vegetation, and the associated wildlife habitat, and result in erosion and sedimentation of receiving surface waters. Other management activities, particularly timber harvest, and recreational uses of the forest would alter the landscape in some areas and disturb and displace fish and wildlife habitat. Both the extent and distribution of mature stands would be changed. Fire hazard and resistance to fire control would increase subsequent to the designation of more areas as wilderness or due to other land allocations that would not be favorable to management activities. LEGAL MANDATES: Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1960 (P.L. 93-738), National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 (16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.).

  12. Preliminary Response of Herbaceous Plants to Biennial Burning Cycles Applied at Different Dates During the Growing Season

    Rideout, S; Rickard, JK; Wade, DD

    Natural Areas Journal [Nat. Areas J.]. Vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 38-42. Jan 2003.

    The increase in acreage treated with growing-season fire during the past decade indicates that there has been increased interest in burning to enhance southern pine forest health and diversity. Information on how burn dates within the growing season can be manipulated to vary the mix of species is of practical importance. The objective of this study was to determine the response of herbaceous and woody plants to eight, 3-week treatment application windows during a biennial growing-season burn cycle at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, USA. Early results indicate other environmental factors, particularly lack of precipitation, had a greater impact on vegetation than prescribed burning.

  13. TROUT - WEST HAZARDOUS FUELED REDUCTION PROJECT, PIKE-SAN ISABEL NATIONAL FOREST, TELLER, EL PASO, AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES, COLORADO.

    EPA number: 030002D, 277 pages, January 3, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a fuel reduction plan within the Trout and West Creek watersheds in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, Teller, El Paso, and Douglas counties, Colorado is proposed. The watersheds lie within the Upper South Platte River drainage. Overly dense forest stands in the project area are subject to damaging crown wildfires that can threaten homes and communities, mature forest stands, and the Denver municipal water supply. Key issues identified during scoping include those associated with crown fire hazard, vegetation conditions, forest pathogens, soil and water resources, fish and wildlife habitat, noxious weeds and range resources and special plant species, air quality, visual quality, recreation resources, and socioeconomic impacts. Seven alternatives, including a No Action Alternative, are considered in this draft EIS. The proposed action, which is also the preferred alternative, would include thinning and prescribed burning within approximately 20,170 acres of National Forest System lands to implement the National Fire Plan and the Pike and San Isabel National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. The plan would implement heavy thinning on over 18,000 acres, including 13,380 acres of tractor harvest, 3,890 acres of helicopter harvest, and 950 acres on which no yarding would be implemented. Approximately 1,945 acres would undergo light thinning. Prescribed burning activities would include 10,660 acres of pile burning and 6,600 acres of broadcast burning. Approximately 68 miles of system road would be maintained or reconstructed within the project area to facilitate operations. Approximately 14 miles of temporary road would be constructed and then obliterated and reclaimed when no longer needed. An additional 48 miles of existing non-system roads would be upgraded for use during project implementation and obliterated and reclaimed afterwards. Cost of plan implementation is estimated at $13.0 million. The present net value is estimated to result in a loss of $80 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would reduce the risk of wildland fire in the project area, providing protection to forest resources, residents and visitors, and the Denver municipal water supply; the latter would suffer significantly due to erosion following a wildfire. The plan would prevent potential damages estimated at $160 million due to wildfire. In general, the plan would improve forest health and the associated fish and wildlife habitat. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Harvest activities, road construction, and prescribed burning would destroy vegetation and the associated wildlife habitat and result in erosion and sedimentation of receiving waters in the short-term. Burning would also result in short-term degradation of air quality and scorch soils, resulting in a reduction in soil nutrient productivity. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  14. NORTH FORK FIRE SALVAGE PROJECT, BASS LAKE RANGER DISTRICT, SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST, MADERA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

    EPA number: 030011D, 147 pages, January 8, 2003

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a timber salvage plan in the North Fork Fire Salvage Project Area of the Bass Lake Ranger District, Sierra National Forest, Madera County, California is proposed. The area was affected by a wildland fire that burned during August 2001. As a result of the fire, there are more dead trees per acre that are required to allow restoration of ecological sustainability, recreation of old forest structure and function, and provision of snags and down woody material for wildlife requiring such habitat. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to the lack of any stipulation within the forest management plan directing timber harvest in the area; socioeconomics and government revenues; the economic viability of two saw mills in the area; potential damage to soils caused by salvage damage; the removal of trees that would not otherwise fall; and the generation of high fuel "jack-strawed" dead trees ad tree/brush regeneration that could cause future wildfires. The proposed action and a No Action Alternative are considered in this draft EIS. The proposed action would result in the harvest of dead timber on approximately 530 acres via helicopter logging, using eight existing landings. The plan would include minor hand/jackpot pile and burn to allow for the planting of native ponderosa pine and follow-up hand release for the seedlings across 270 to 350 acres. Felling of small dead trees with trunk diameters of less than 16 inches at breast height would be conducted on 80 acres. Four of the largest snags per acre, on a 10-acre basis, would be retained. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would reduce fuel loadings in the area significantly in the near-term, thereby reducing the risk of wildland fire. In general, forest health and diversity would be enhanced, and the forest would progress toward a condition more closely resembling the historical ecosystem. Timber generated by harvest would contribute to the local economy and provide wood products for regional consumption. Harvest and other activities would employ local workers. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Fuel loadings and fuel hazard would increase over time as trees that are retained fall and become ground fuels with high resistance to control. Prescribed burning would generate smoke and exhaust from harvest machinery would add to the air pollutants generated by plan implementation. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  15. Inter-hemispheric comparison of fire history: The Colorado Front Range, U.S.A., and the Northern Patagonian Andes, Argentina

    Veblen, TT; Kitzberger, T

    Plant Ecology [Plant Ecol.]. Vol. 163, no. 2, pp. 187-207. Dec 2002.

    Fire history was compared between the Colorado Front Range (U.S.A.) and northern Patagonia (Argentina) by dating fire-scars on 525 Pinus ponderosa and 418 Austrocedrus chilensis, respectively, and determining fire weather on the basis of instrumental and tree-ring proxy records of climatic variation. Years of above average moisture availability preceding fire years, rather than drought alone, is conducive to years of widespread fire in the Colorado Front Range and the northern Patagonian study areas. Above-average precipitation promotes fire by enhancing the growth of herbaceous plants which increases the quantity of fine fuels during the fire season a few years later. The short-term variability in moisture availability that is conducive to widespread burning is strongly related to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity. The warm (El Nino) phase of ENSO is associated with greater moisture availability during the spring in both regions which leads to peaks in fire occurrence several years after El Nino events. The warmer and drier springs associated with la Nina events exacerbate the drying of fuels so that fire years commonly coincide with La Nina events. In both regions, there was a dramatic decline in fire occurrence after the early 1900s due to a decline in intentionally set fires by Native Americans and European settlers, fuel reduction by livestock grazing, and increasingly effective organized fire suppression activities after the 1920s. In both regions there was a marked increase in fire frequency during the mid-and late-19th centuries which coincides with increased ignitions by Native Americans and/or European settlers. However, year-to-year variability in ring widths of Pinus ponderosa and Austrocedrus chilensis also increased from relatively low values in the late 1700s and early 1800s to peaks in the 1850s and 1860s. This implies frequent alternation of years of above and below average moisture availability during the mid-19th century when the frequencies of major fire years rise. The high correlation of tree-growth variability betweem the two regions implies a strong inter-hemispheric variation in climatic variability at a centennial time scale which closely parallels a variety of proxy records of ENSO activity. Based on the relationship of fire and ENSO events documented in the current study, this long-term trend in ENSO activity probably contributed to the mid- and late-19th century increase in fire spread in both regions. These similar trends in fire occurrence have contributed to similar patterns of forest structures, forest health, and current hazard of catastrophic wildfire in the Colorado Front Range and northern Patagonia.

  16. METOLIUS BASIN FOREST MANAGEMENT PROJECT, SISTERS RANGER DISTRICT, DESCHUTES NATIONAL FOREST, JEFFERSON COUNTY, OREGON.

    EPA number: 020515D, 488 pages, December 13, 2002

    PURPOSE: The implementation of fuel reduction and forest health management activities in the Metolius Basin on the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest in Jefferson County, Oregon is proposed. The project area, which is located in central Oregon, lies entirely within a late-successional reserve and includes a portion of the Metolius Basin Wild and Scenic River. The local community of Camp Sherman has voiced its concerns over the declining health of their surrounding ponderosa pine forest lands and other forest stands, the risk of wildfire in the area, and the degradation of water quality in the Metolius Basin. During the past 10 years, there have been 14 large wildfires within the Sisters Ranger District. Eighty years of fire exclusion practices have disrupted the historical fire regime, which resulted in smaller fires every eight to 12 years. Overly dense stands have also contributed to the area's vulnerability to insect infestation and disease outbreaks. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to management of vegetation in late-successional reserves, determination of size limits for trees to be removed, fire and fuel management; water quality and soil health, and road access. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this draft EIS. Management actions to be undertaken would include thinning of trees to reduce stand density, reduce stress on current and future lace-successional forests, and reduce the risk of wildfire; reduction of open road density to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and the spread of noxious weeds; and mowing of small vegetation and prescribed burning to reduce the amount and arrangement of fuel that could lead to wildfire. The proposed action (Alternative 4) would result in the treatment of 12,648 acres within the area, primarily involving thinning combined with burning and mowing. Approximately 7,332 acres would be treated via ground-based logging systems, and 2,078 acres would be treated by machine piling. Vegetation and fuel reduction actions would occur on 1,190 acres of riparian reserves; 80 percent of these reserves would be treated by either hand thinning or underburning, 20 percent this area would be treated by ground-based machine thinning, but this would only occur in the drier, upland soils within the riparian reserves. Approximately 50 miles of road would be inactivated or decomissioned, leaving 83 miles of open road and resulting in an average open road density of 3.1 miles per square mile. The plan would be initiated in 2003. Present net value for the preferred alternative is estimated to result in a loss of $4.2 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would significantly reduce the risk of wildfire in the area; protect people, property, and tribal and natural values; restore old-growth forest stands; and enhance water and soil quality. Habitat for species associated with more open forest conditions, including white-headed woodpecker, bald eagle, and goshawk, would be enhanced. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Over half of the project area would remain at risk for mixed and high-severity wildfire. Management actions would result in destruction of vegetation and the resulting disturbance of soil and sedimentation of receiving waters in the short-term. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  17. Ground Beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) Species Assemblage as an Indicator of Forest Condition in Northern Arizona Ponderosa Pine Forests

    Villa-Castillo, J; Wagner, MR

    Environmental Entomology [Environ. Entomol.]. Vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 242-252. Apr 2002.

    Reintroduction of fire and thinning have been suggested as the main practices to regain forest health in northern Arizona ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Lawson) forests. Criteria for assessing the impact of such management practices in the forest are based on benchmark reconstructed conditions resembling pre-European forest stand structure and on the enhancement of tree vigor. A range of forest conditions currently exists including stands that have been unmanaged, thinned only, thinned plus prescribed burned and burned by wildfire. A surrogate taxon was used to assess forest condition under criteria of maintaining habitat for native species operating at the soil level. We assessed changes occurring in ground beetle assemblages at the stand scale as related to changes that had occurred in forest stands previously treated with the above treatments. A pitfall-trapping scheme was deployed during the summer months of 1998, 1999, and 2000. A total of 4,452 specimens was caught representing 15 genera and 20 species of ground beetles. We found that species diversity increased as the level of disturbance increased. The indicator species assemblage found on the wildfire treatment was represented by species in the genera Amara and Harpalus that are characteristic of dry-open habitats. Unmanaged stands generally had the lowest diversity and the assemblage was dominated by the species Synuchus dubius (Leconte). The thinned only stands did not significantly vary from unmanaged stands in species assemblage. Cyclotrachelus constrictus (Say) was indicative of the thinning plus broadcast burned stands. Stands that were thinned plus burned were richer than both unmanaged and thinned only stands without a shift toward an open-area dominant assemblage as occurred in the stands burned by wildfire.

  18. Sampling coarse woody debris for multiple attributes in extensive resource inventories

    Waddell, KL

    Ecological Indicators [Ecol. Indicators]. Vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 139-153. Mar 2002.

    Information on the amount, distribution, and characteristics of coarse woody debris (CWD) in forest ecosystems is in high demand by wildlife biologists, fire specialists, and ecologists. In its important role in wildlife habitat, fuel loading, forest productivity, and carbon sequestration, CWD is an indicator of forest health. Because of this, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program recognized the need to collect data on CWD in their extensive resource inventories. This paper describes a sampling method, measurement protocols, and estimation procedures to collect and compile data on CWD attributes within FIA's forest inventory. The line-intersect method was used to sample CWD inside the boundaries of the standard inventory field plot. Previously published equations were customized to allow for easy calculation of per-unit-area values, such as biomass and carbon per hectare, log density per hectare, or volume per hectare, for each plot. These estimates are associated with all other information recorded or calculated for an inventory plot. This allows for indepth analysis of CWD data in relation to stand level characteristics. The data on CWD can be used to address current, relevant issues such as criteria no. 5 outlined in the 1994 Montreal process and the 1995 Santiago declaration. This criteria assesses the contribution of forests to the global carbon cycle by measuring such indicators as CWD, live plant biomass, and soil carbon.

  19. Using Forest Health Monitoring to assess aspen forest cover change in the southern Rockies ecoregion

    Rogers, P

    Forest Ecology and Management [For. Ecol. Manage.]. Vol. 155, no. 1-3, pp. 223-236. 1 Jan 2002.

    Long-term qualitative observations suggest a marked decline in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) primarily due to advancing succession and fire suppression. This study presents an ecoregional coarse-grid analysis of the current aspen situation using Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) data from Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. A unique feature of aspen forests in western North America is regeneration primarily by asexual "suckering" although rare seeding events do occur. The dominant clonal process provides the basis for this analysis. In essence, the remaining aspen stems of previously large clones provide a window to the past and possibly a view of the future. The author uses baseline observations of aspen and associated tree species regeneration, forest size and structure components, stand age, tree damage, and recent disturbance to assess regional aspen conditions. Analysis of stands where aspen is dominant (aspen forest type) and where aspen merely occurs (aspen present) are presented. Basic groupings within the aspen forest type plots were obtained by cluster analysis of 10 FHM variables derived from tree- and plot-level measurements. Stable and unstable aspen forest types were verified using principal component analysis. A further criterion of at least 25% conifer species present was placed on the unstable group to render a more conservative population estimate of instability.The unstable aspen forest types, along with the plots having only the presence of aspen, comprise the dynamic portion of the aspen community in this area. These results support the hypothesis of an aspen decline within the past 100 years. However, additional regional plots and long-term remeasurements should provide a clearer picture of the decline's extent. Altering current and future management practices may significantly affect the rate of change.

  20. OAK DECLINE AND FOREST HEALTH, POTOSI AND SALEM RANGER DISTRICTS, MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST, CRAWFORD, DENT, IRON, SHANNON, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES, MISSOURI.

    EPA number: 010528D, 256 pages, December 13, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a plan to minimize adverse impacts from insects and disease damage within the Salem and Potosi ranger districts of the Mark Twain National Forest in Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds, Shannon, and Washington counties, Missouri is proposed. The analysis area encompasses 192,638 areas. Large numbers of oaks are dying over thousands of acres within the forest, especially in the two subject ranger districts. The decline and mortality is affecting black and scarlet oak in particular. More than 16,000 acres of mortality were mapped within the districts by aerial survey in September 2000. Subsequent ground verification studies showed red oak borer was associated with the damage, along with secondary agents including Armillaria root disease, Hypoxylon cancer, and two-lined chestnut borer. From 70 to 90 percent of the scarlet and black oaks are affected by drought and insects, and approximately 20 percent of the affected trees are dead. Issues identified during scoping include those associated with visitor safety, results of area of influence environmental analyses, insect infestation and disease affecting forest health, species composition affecting forest health, hazardous fuels reduction, and commercial logging. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) would involve a combination of commercial harvesting and prescribed burning. A mix of commercial harvest, non-commercial thinning, reforestation treatments, and prescribed burns would be used to treat sites affected by declining oak stands. Prescribed burning would be used for various primary objectives, including site preparation for seedling development, restoration of open woodlands with native ground cover, and reduction of hazardous fuel buildups. Silvicultural methods would include 5,337 acres of seed tree harvest, 6,125 acres of shelterwood harvest, 4,125 acres of uneven-aged harvest, 5,758 acres of sanitation harvest and thinning, 77 acres of overstory removal, and 500 acres of final harvest. Natural regeneration would be allowed on 16,235 acres. Timber stand improvement would consist of 6,476 acres of crop tree release and 929 acres of pine release. Prescribed fire would be used for 688 acres of site preparation and 947 acres of open woodland development and for hazardous fuels reduction on 3,285 acres. The project would require construction of 8.2 miles of road. An additional 15,599 acres would be designated as old-growth habitat. Costs of harvesting timber are estimated to total $5.4 million. Present net value of the plan is estimated at $696,87. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would improve forest health, treat diseased and insect-infested stands, recover valuable timber products, promote public safety, and move the area toward the desired future condition. Prescribed burning would improve wildlife habitat over the short- and long-term. Timber sale receipts would amount to $6.09 million. Reduction of fuel loading would decrease the potential for large wildland fires. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Timber harvest, road construction, and prescribed burning would result in short-term increases in erosion and sedimentation of receiving waters, and prescribed burning would result in temporary, localized degradation of air quality. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  21. WHITE PINE CREEK PROJECT RESTORATION PROJECT AND ASSOCIATED TIMBER SALES, CABINET RANGER DISTRICT, KOOTENAI NATIONAL FOREST, SANDERA COUNTY, MONTANA.

    EPA number: 010535D, 423 pages and maps, December 18, 2001

    PURPOSE: The harvesting of timber and the implementation of associated prescribed fire and watershed restoration treatments and related activities in the White Pine Creek and Little Trout Creek drainages within the Cabinet Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest, Sanders County, Montana are proposed. The 40,355-acre study area lies approximately five miles south of Trout Creek. Key issues identified during scoping include those related to transportation systems (access), scenic resources, watershed resources and fish habitat, wildlife security, and old-growth habitat. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 4) represents a modification of the proposed action (Alternative 2) developed to address issues associated with the visual impacts of timber harvest and forest health. Alternative 4 would also expand the opportunities to meet vegetation restoration and big game forage needs. The plan would include harvesting on approximately 3,087 acres to generate 23.2 million board-feet of timber, implementation of prescribed burning on 7-3 acres, treatment of larch mistletoe on 285 acres, obliteration of 34 miles of existing road to improve watershed conditions, restoration of 6.7 miles of stream channel, fish habitat improvements along four miles of stream, enlargement of two trailheads, enhancement of lynx habitat by creating forage through regeneration treatments on 262 acres, and restoration of aspen stands on five acres. Alternative 4 would include reconstruction of approximately 58 miles of existing roads, construction of approximately seven miles of new permanent system road, and construction of five miles of temporary road. Implementation of Alternative 4 would require an approval from the regional forester to exceed the 40-acre opening size constraint on timber harvest and would require forest plan amendments to allow the harvest of commercial timber in designated old-growth areas, a short-term reduction in snag habitat in one management area (MA-10), and an allowance of additional open road density in another management area (MA-12). Present net value of the preferred alternative is estimated at $3.4 million, and the benefit-cost ratio of the plan is estimated at 2.98. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would create early successional stages through regeneration in stands that are highly infected by root disease and white pine blister rust; manage selected mid-successional stands through silvicultural treatment to assist these stands to develop into late successional stands, including old growth; maintain existing old growth through management activities where old-growth characteristics currently exist but are being affected or lost due to the ingrowth of undesired species, mainly Douglas-fir and grand fir; and reduce understory vegetation and fuel characteristics through prescribed fire to maintain and enhance ponderosa pine communities, thereby increasing the sustainability of these areas. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Road density in the affected area would increase during timber sale activities. Timber harvesting, road construction, and prescribed burning would result in erosion, destruction of vegetation, and sedimentation of receiving waters in the short-term. Snag habitat would decline somewhat in the short-term. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  22. SHEEP FLATS DIVERSITY UNIT, GRAND MESA, UNCOMPAHGRE, AND GUNNISON NATIONAL FORESTS, MESA COUNTY, COLORADO (FINAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT OF JUNE 1998).

    EPA number: 010385FS, Final Supplemental EIS--42 pages, Record of Decision--26 pages and map, October 10, 2001

    PURPOSE: The harvesting of timber and the implementation of ecosystem management activities in the Sheep Flats project area of the Collbran Ranger District within the Grand Mesa National Forest, located in Mesa County, Colorado, are proposed. The 14,467-acre project area is located on the north side of the national forest and 12 miles south of the community of Collbran. Most of the spruce /fir and aspen timber stands within the project area are in mature and old-growth structural stages. The proposed action is to improve forest health and habitat diversity by removing competing trees; removing low-vigor, damaged trees that are susceptible to insects and disease; encouraging the growth of Engelmann spruce within spruce/fir stands; and increasing vertical and horizontal stand diversity. Five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), were considered in the June 1998 final EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 5) would involve the harvesting of 14.5 million board feet (MMBF) of timber from 3,441 acres. Harvesting methods would include shelterwood (1,452 acres), intermediate thinning (561 acres), group selection (834 acres), and clearcutting (594 acres). A commercial firewood sale would be offered on 93 acres, and firewood for personal use would be offered on 220 acres. Approximately 8.4 miles of new local intermittent roads and 14.6 miles of temporary road would be constructed, 3.9 miles would be reconstructed, and 6.1 miles would be reconditioned. Road construction/reconstruction and road closure/obliteration costs were estimated at $346, 918 and $14,379, respectively, at the time of the final EIS. Present net value of the preferred alternative was estimated at $547,274, and the benefit-cost ratio is estimated at 1.43. This draft supplement to the final EIS provides additional information on soils and water quality. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Timber generated by the sale would boost the local and regional economies, and harvest activities would employ local residents. Management prescriptions would increase individual tree growth rates, reestablish Engelmann spruce in the project area, replace mature and overmature tree stands with younger stands, and increase vertical and horizontal stand diversity. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: The proposed harvest activities would alter the wilderness character of two roadless areas, would adversely affect 1,232 acres of old growth, and could adversely affect habitat of the goshawk and other sensitive species dependent on old growth. Wildlife habitats would be fragmented by road construction and harvesting. Fire hazards would increase in the short term after the timber harvesting as a result of ground-level accumulation of harvest residues. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstracts of the draft and final EISs, see 97-0337D, Volume 21, Number 5, and 98-0222F, Volume 22, Number 3, respectively. For the abstract of the draft supplement see 99-0049D, Volume 23, Number 1.

  23. BIG GAME WINTER RANGE AND BURNED AREA WEED MANAGEMENT ON THE LOLO NATIONAL FOREST. MISSOULA, MINERAL, SANDERS, GRANITE, POWELL, LEWIS AND CLARK, FLATHEAD, RAVALLI, AND LAKE COUNTIES, MONTANA.

    EPA number: 010297F, Final EIS--278 pages, Record of Decision--51 pages, August 3, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a plan to control invasive weed species in the Lolo National Forest, Missoula, Mineral, Sanders, Granite, Powell, Lewis and Clark, Flathead, Ravalli, and Lake counties, Montana is proposed. The plan would address weed invasion on big game winter ranges and potential weed invasion in five areas that burned 67,300 acres in the summer of 2000. The study area encompasses 87,400 acres, including 20,100 acres of big game winter range and 67,300 acres of burned area. The analysis in this final EIS deals with weeds at the landscape scale, integrates weed and fire management practices, and examines at proposed wildlife, forest health, fire recovery, erosion control, and weed management activities in a coordinated treatment sequence. Four alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative A), are considered. The preferred alternative (Alternative D) would involve use of prescribed fire and an integrated pest management approach, which would constitute part of the larger forest wide integrated pest management approach Herbicides would be applied at the ground level and via aircraft. Invasive weeds would be controlled on a maximum of 21,750 acres. Prescribed burning would be conducted on approximately 17,400 acres of big game winter range. Small trees would be cut and left on the ground to provided fuel for prescribed burning on 2,385 acres. The plan would also include incidental mechanical treatments, reseeding, public education, biological management, and prevention components. First-year weed treatments would not be 100 percent effective, since dormant seeds in the soil can remain viable for a decade or longer. Follow-up treatments would be necessary. Cost of the initial treatment is estimated at $1.9 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The preferred alternative would restore forage production on weed-infested elk, deer, and bighorn sheep winter ranges and protect associated plants and animals from weed invasion; prevent or discourage new invaders from establishing on winter ranges and burned areas; restore historic forest structural conditions by reintroducing fire into conifer stands on weed-infested big game winter ranges and on ranges that are highly vulnerable to invasive weeds; and allow for cooperation with county and state agencies and private landowners interested in managing invasive weeds. The susceptibility of the treated areas to insect infestation would decline significantly. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Non-target plant species, most particularly wildflowers, would be destroyed in the short-term on 30 percent of the treated acreage under the preferred alternative, these species would be lost almost entirely under the No Action Alternative. Human health risks due to application of herbicides would be minimal. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 01-0266D, Volume 25, Number 3.

  24. MILL CREEK TIMBER SALES AND RELATED ACTIVITIES, PROSPECT RANGER DISTRICT, ROGUE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST. JACKSON COUNTY, OREGON.

    EPA number: 010304F, 720 pages and maps, August 10, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of ecosystem management activities, including one or more commercial timber sales involving approximately 6,300 acreS of harvest units, in the Mill Creek area of the Prospect Ranger District, Rogue River National Forest, Jackson County, Oregon is proposed. The 49,000-acre study area in the Barr Creek, Ginko Creek, Union Creek, Upper and Lower Mill Creek, Castle Creek, and Natural Bridge watersheds, all of which drain into the Upper Rogue River. Silvicultural prescriptions would include density management of overstocked stands and treatment of mature stands via small-group selection or even-aged management systems. Other associated ecosystem components would include density management of non-commercial stands for forest health and stand development, road decommissioning, prescribed burning for wildlife habitat improvement and fuels reduction, and other wildlife improvement projects. Six alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this final EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 6) would treat 5,198 acres within 110 units via a variety of silvicultural treatments, including 3,222 acres of density management in overstocked stands, 539 acres of regeneration harvest via shelterwood seed cut, 827 acres of shelterwood removal, 208 acres of partial shelterwood removal, 14 acres of sanitation harvest to treat disease pockets, and 1,903 acres of density management with respect to small-diameter trees. These treatments would yield 42.8 million board-feet (MMBF) of commercial timber to be offered via multiple timber sales. Logging systems would include 438 acres of tractor harvest, 2,472 acres of harvester/forwarder harvest, 1,413 acres of skyline harvest, a combination of tractor and skyline systems on 1,51 acres, and helicopter logging on 724 acres. Approximately 2.55 miles of new road construction and 0.6 mile of temporary road construction would be required to support timber harvest. Approximately 45.7 miles of system road would be decommissioned. Timber stand improvements would take place on 2,203 acres. Prescribed burning for natural fuel reduction would take place on 105 acres, and underburning to improve wildlife habitat would take place on 1,546 acres. The forest plan would be amended with respect to soil quality requirements. Cost of plan implementation is estimated at $13.99 million, and the benefit-cost ratio is estimated at 1.53. {IV-114} POSITIVE IMPACTS: The proposed action would improve overall forest health by stimulating natural processes that encourage more stable and resilient vegetation conditions; improve stand densities and species composition in currently overstocked sapling and pole stands; maintain or restore soil and water quality conditions and big game winter range conditions; maintain the forest road system; and provide a sustainable yield of commercial timber and other forest commodities. Removal of fuels through prescribed burning would decrease the likelihood of wildfire ignition in some areas. Thermal cover for big game would increase from 37 to 42.4 percent within the next 10 years. The plan would generate $21.2 million in net economic benefits, including wages and returns to the local government. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Harvest, road construction, and prescribed burning activities would disturb soils and result in sedimentation of receiving waters in the near-term. Shelterwood harvest would reduce summer range thermal cover substantially for over 50 years. Additional thermal cover would be lost through thinning, but this cover would recover within 10 to 20 years. Harvesting would also affect the Upper and Lower Mill Creek big game travel corridors. Thinning practices would delay future development of late seral forest habitat, including habitat for spotted owls. Activities within semiprimitive unroaded land would reduce the wilderness value of the affected areas. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 01- 0032D, Volume 25, Number 1.

  25. BIG GAME WINTER RANGE AND BURNED AREA WEED MANAGEMENT, LOLO NATIONAL FOREST; FLATHEAD, GRANITE, LAKE, LEWIS AND CLARK, MINERAL, MISSOULA, POWELL, RAVALLI, AND SANDERS COUNTIES, MONTANA.

    EPA number: 010106D, 391 pages, April 2, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a plan to control invasive weed species in the Lolo National Forest, located in western Montana, is proposed. The plan would address weed invasion on big game winter ranges and potential weed invasion in five areas that burned 67,300 acres in the summer of 2000. The study area encompasses 87,400 acres, including 20,100 acres of big game winter range and 67,300 acres of burned area. Issues include weeds at the landscape scale, integrates weed and fire management practices, and wildlife, forest health, fire recovery, erosion control, and weed management activities in a coordinated treatment sequence. Four alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative A), are considered in this draft EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative D) would involve the use of prescribed fire and an integrated pest management approach, constituting part of the larger forestwide integrated pest management approach. Herbicides would be applied at the ground level and via aircraft. Invasive weeds would be controlled on a maximum of 21,750 acres. Prescribed burning would be conducted on approximately 17,400 acres of big game winter range. Small trees would be cut and left on the ground to provided fuel for prescribed burning on 2,385 acres. The plan would also include incidental mechanical treatments, reseeding, public education, biological management, and prevention components. First-year weed treatments would not be 100 percent effective, since dormant seeds in the soil can remain viable for a decade or longer. Follow-up treatments would be necessary. The estimated cost of the initial treatment is $1.9 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The preferred alternative would restore forage production on weed-infested elk, deer, and bighorn sheep winter ranges and protect associated plants and animals from weed invasion; prevent or discourage new invaders from establishing on winter ranges and burned areas; restore historic forest structural conditions by reintroducing fire into conifer stands on weed-infested big game winter ranges and on ranges that are highly vulnerable to invasive weeds; and allow for cooperation with county and state agencies and private landowners interested in managing invasive weeds. The susceptibility of the treated areas to insect infestation would decline significantly. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Non-target plant species, most particularly wildflowers, would be destroyed in the short-term on 30 percent of the treated acreage under the preferred alternative, these species would be lost almost entirely under the No Action Alternative. The application of herbicides would result in some human health risks. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  26. UPPER BLUE STEWARDSHIP PROJECT, DILLON RANGER DISTRICT, WHITE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST, SUMMIT COUNTY, COLORADO.

    EPA number: 010075F, Final EIS--420 pages, Record of Decision--37 pages and maps, Map Supplement, March 8, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a stewardship project in the Upper Blue area of the Dillion Ranger District within the White River National Forest, located in central Colorado, is proposed. The approximately 14,000-acre area lies in the Tenmile Range between Frisco to the north and Breckenridge to the south. The area is bounded by Highway 9 to the east and the top of the Tenmile Range to the west. Issues include the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of the watershed within the project area; the improvement of long-tern forest health and timber productivity in the project area in order to maintain recreational values, and improve visual quality and fire resiliency; the impact of management activities on wildlife and wildlife habitat within the Wildlife Diversity Unit (WDU); the impact of management activities on federally listed threatened, endangered, proposed, and sensitive wildlife species within the WDU; and the impacts of varying levels and types of recreational use and development in the project area, including the effects on roads, trails, and recreation development. Six alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative A), are considered in this final EIS. The proposed action (Alternative B Modified) would use predominantly uneven-aged management and prescribed fire on 2,737 acres. It would involve the closure of 11 miles of non-system and system roads and 5.8 miles of trails. The remainder of the travelways, including 10.3 miles of roads and 32.5 miles of trails, would be retained as part of the Forest Service system. One overnight hut and the associated glading/trail would be approved for winter and summer use at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Interpretive efforts would increase to six sites. Riparian habitat would be improved by eliminating 12 dispersed campsites and building 19 designated campsites in the Miners Creek drainage and by restoring the Iron Springs meadow. The plan would include up to 450 acres of interface zone treatments, 598 acres of broadcast burns, other fuel treatments on 2,167 acres, and 2,860 acres of timber logging, glading, and other vegetation treatments. The estimated plan implementation cost is $2.39 million and the present net value of the plan is a deficit of $1.9 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: Plan implementation would improve forest health, visual quality, wildlife habitat, and fire resilience through the enhancement of species and structural diversity; promote the responsible recreational use of the area and improve watershed conditions; and implement a steward contract for pilot testing an array of new authorities for giving national forest managers greater administrative flexibility to improve forest conditions and help the needs of local communities. Susceptibility of stands to wildfire, disease, insect infestation, and dwarf-mistletoe effects would decline. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Habitat capacity for the pygmy nuthatch, red squirrel, warbling vireo, northern three-toed woodpecker, and southern red-backed vole, would decline slightly, and big game hiding cover would decline by seven percent. Plan activities would disturb soils, and increase the number of stream crossings. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 00-0365D, Volume 24, Number 4.

  27. CLEARWATER ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT AND TIMBER SALE PROJECT, SEELEY LAKE RANGER DISTRICT, LOLO NATIONAL FOREST, MISSOULA COUNTY, MONTANA.

    EPA number: 010085F, 70 pages, March 13, 2001

    PURPOSE: The implementation of an ecosystem management plan and timber sale for approximately 6,800 acres within the Clearwater Area of the Seeley Lake Ranger District within the Lolo National Forest, located in western Montana, is proposed. The project area is located approximately 12 miles northeast of Seeley Lake in the Upper and East Fork Clearwater River drainages. It lies east of Highway 83, south of the Lolo/Flathead Forest boundary, west of the tow of the Swan Face, and north of the East Fork Clearwater River. The area is relatively unfragmented by past harvest activities. Crossing a valley, it provides a linkage zone between the Bob Marshall and Mission Wildernesses for grizzly bear. Key issues identified during scoping include those related with road management, water quality and fisheries, vegetative condition and disturbance processes, wildlife security and habitat, and recreational values. Seven alternatives, including the No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this final EIS. The preferred alternative (Alternative 7A) would include the logging of approximately 2.5 million board-feet of timber on 570 acres and the prescribed burning of 310 acres. Logging activities would include 418 acres of intermediate cuts, and 152 acres of cuts designed to create openings. The preferred alternative would include the construction of 1.6 miles of temporary road and the reconstruction of 12.1 miles of permanent road. Approximately 12.8 miles of road would be obliterated. The estimated costs of the projects related to the plan are $285,190. The present net value of the plan is $126,320. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would respond to the need to reduce road densities and motorized access to protect grizzly bear, reduce sources of sediment to protect water quality and bull trout habitat, maintain forest health and disturbance processes to reduce the susceptibility of lodgepole pine stands to mountain pine beetle mortality, maintain the vigor and overall health of stands, improve wildlife habitat by reintroducing low or moderate intensity fires and ecosystem burns, create larger patch sizes and fire-killed stands on the landscape, treat noxious weeds, and enhance scenic views along the Clearwater Loop Road. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Ground disturbing activity could adversely affect undiscovered historic or prehistoric sites. Recreational visitors would experience an adversely modified forest in the near foreground, middle-ground, and background where logging and road work was implemented. The logging and prescribed burning activities would also affect cover and forage relationships in the area, though wildlife security objectives would be met. Temporary seasonal degradation air quality would result from the prescribed burning. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 00-0043D, Volume 24, Number 1.

  28. Composition, structure and dynamics of Dysart Woods, an old-growth mixed mesophytic forest of southeastern Ohio

    McCarthy, BC*; Small, CJ; Rubino, DL

    Forest Ecology and Management [For. Ecol. Manage.]. Vol. 140, no. 2-3, pp. 193-213. 15 Jan 2001.

    Dysart Woods is a 23 ha old-growth remnant of mixed mesophytic vegetation located in southeastern Ohio, USA. A designation of mixed mesophytic for this forest has historically been difficult, in part due to the abundance of white oak (Quercus alba); however, the dominance of a variety of other hardwoods prevents a simple oak forest designation. Using two 0.35 ha plots on opposing north- and south-facing slopes, we describe the structure and composition of the overstory, understory, and soils, 30 years after their first examination. In 1970, the woods was dominated by beech (Fagus grandifolia), white oak, and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) -- historically, the three most abundant species in this region. At that time, white oak was only present in the largest size classes, was not regenerating, and was predicted to decline in importance through succession. These patterns continue today suggesting that inferences made via overstory-understory relations in regards to forest succession are relatively robust over this time period. Beech and maple have increased in importance; white oak has decreased in importance due to mortality in the larger size classes and decreasing density due to regeneration failure. Coarse woody debris distributions correlated strongly with living stem species' composition and structure implying an equilibrium balance. CWD volume and frequency were dominated by Quercus spp. A detailed analysis of forest health showed that all oak species were in severe decline. The oaks are in a disease decline spiral affiliated with a variety of pre-disposing and inciting factors which include their advanced age (>300 years), their large size (> 100 cm DBH), topography, chronic air pollution, drought, and Armillaria root rot fungus. Ca:Al molar ratios in the soil are also extremely low (<1.0) and may be having an additional detrimental effect. All other canopy species appear to be healthy. One of the unusual features of this woods is its relatively diverse and high coverage (up to 90%) understory layer. The herbaceous community was sampled throughout the growing season and found to be markedly dissimilar among sample times and habitat productivity (aspect, soil quality, and light). The role of these factors has not been as well studied for herb communities as it has for tree communities. There appears to be a relatively strong linkage between the overstory regeneration and understory coverage. While a variety of woody seedlings were discovered, most were of shade tolerant species. Only a few small seedlings of white oak were discovered, with none advancing past 30 cm in height, indicating strong competition in the understory. Furthermore, this small remnant forest patch is surrounded by an agricultural and second-growth forest matrix with many non-indigenous plants -- none of which have been able to enter the woods, suggesting strong equilibrium stability of these old-growth patches. The hardwood forests of the hills region has been heavily impacted by various human cultures for thousands of years. Dendrochronological analysis of a full basal slab cut from a wind-thrown white oak revealed a fairly active period of fire following European settlement. A lack of fire during the early 1600s to mid 1700s suggests that pre-Anglo fire frequency may have been negligible. There is clearly a continued role for the preservation and study of these old-growth remnants. They remain integrally important as we attempt to understand and better manage our remaining anthropogenically disturbed landscape.

  29. Wildland Fire in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Ottmar, RD; Sandberg, DV

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 46-54. 2001.

    Wildland fire is a major disturbance agent that shapes the forest health, productivity, and ecological diversity of eastern Oregon and Washington. Fire behavior and the effects of fire on flora, fauna, soils, air, and water are in large part driven by the availability of fuels to consume and the meteorological influences during a fire. Vegetation succession, disturbance processes, and management practices have resulted in an increase of fuels and vulnerability to extreme fire behavior and detrimental fire effects. Hazards of fire are further increased by encroachment of dwellings into forests and rangelands. Prescribed fire, selective logging, and mechanical fuel treatment are being used to reduce fire hazard, but there is disagreement as to appropriate balance and efficacy of these actions. New tools to (1) characterize fuelbeds; (2) predict mesoscale meteorology, fire behavior, fire effects, smoke production, and dispersal; and (3) demonstrate tradeoffs between prescribed fire and other fuel treatment methods are continually being improved to assist with wildland fire and prescribed fire decision making in eastern Oregon and Washington.

  30. Herbivory by Wild and Domestic Ungulates in the Intermountain West

    Kie, JG; Lehmkuhl, JF

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 55-61. 2001.

    Management of wild ungulates is seldom undertaken with a focus on the effects on forest health and productivity but rather focusing on populations of the ungulates and their habitat needs. Consequently, only limited research has examined grazing and browsing by ungulates in coniferous forests as a chronic disturbance factor affecting nutrient turnovers, competitive interactions among plant species, and rates and trajectories of successional pathways. Local effects are quite variable and depend on ecosystem productivity. Grazing can have mixed effects on species richness and the spread of exotic plants at the landscape scale. Grazing also can affect nitrogen fixation and rate of nitrogen mineralization. Ungulate density relative to carrying capacity of the site largely determines the effects of herbivory. High population densities of ungulates have been shown to change plant species composition, growth of trees, and to damage regeneration. Grazing also reduces accumulation of fine fuels on the forest floor, which formerly carried low-intensity, high-frequency ground fires. Effects of wild ungulates can be controlled by hunting regulations, and in some cases, by artificial contraception. Effects of grazing by livestock can be controlled through management actions such as changes in livestock numbers, changes in timing and duration of grazing, altering livestock distribution with fencing and placement of salt and supplemental feed, and specialized rotational grazing systems such as deferred and rest rotation.

  31. Climatic Variability in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Ferguson, SA

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 62-69. 2001.

    Climate is a driving factor in forest health and productivity that limits species survival and affects disturbance processes. Complex topography and mosaics of land cover compound the variability of climate in eastern Oregon and Washington. The area is a transition zone between marine, arctic, and continental influences with associated extremes in weather. Such extremes affect insect populations, animal migration, streamflow, flooding, and wildfire potential. Additionally, human activities such as deforestation and atmospheric pollution interact with climate, and may cause changes similar in magnitude to the glacial-interglacial epoch in the next 50 to 100 years. Effects of anthropogenic climate changes are ambiguous, however, and could counter-balance each other. For example, tree populations may have more difficulty reestablishing, but growth rates could accelerate. Conversely, management actions can mitigate the effect of climate on fisheries, water resources, wildfire, and floods. Also, management actions can affect climate by modifying carbon exchange and water and energy exchange between land and atmosphere. Models are increasingly able to predict climate variability and trends in climate-related disturbances such as wildfire.

  32. Vegetative Patterns, Disturbances, and Forest Health in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Hemstrom, MA

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 91-109. 2001.

    Vegetation patterns in eastern Oregon and Washington are largely a result of environmental conditions, species distributions, plant ecology, and disturbances operating at multiple scales and in different environments. In turn, vegetative patterns strongly influence the amount, severity, and distribution of disturbances generated by various agents. This paper focuses on the latter--the relations between vegetation pattern, disturbance, and forest health and productivity. At all scales, vulnerability to disturbance appears to increase when vegetation condition and pattern differs from the historical or expected range for a given environment. Generally, forests that are older, composed of larger trees, denser, more homogeneous, or more contiguous than would be expected under natural or historical disturbance regimes are more vulnerable to mortality from insects and disease. Factors related to vulnerability include site potential, host abundance, canopy structure, host size, patch vigor, patch density, patch connectivity, topography, and logging disturbance. Mortality from insects and disease contributes to diverse habitat, but current levels of tree mortality from insects and disease are often outside the historical or expected range given site environment. High levels of mortality may continue because many forests have become more homogeneous, contiguous, and dominated by shade-tolerant species owing to fire suppression and management. Uncharacteristically severe fires will likely increase in the next 100 years even with restoration management because of changed vegetation patterns and other factors. Information at stand or site scales is relatively abundant in the scientific and management literature. Much broad-scale information is based on models and expert opinion. Research at broad scales is scanty and difficult.

  33. Old-Growth Forest Structure in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Youngblood, A

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 110-118. 2001.

    Old-growth forest structure is an important issue in managing for forest health and productivity in eastern Oregon and Washington. Old-growth forest structure is estimated to be as little as 3% of presettlement levels; what remains is in isolated patches and is at risk of loss from less frequent but more severe fires. Low-elevation ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir stands are more densely stocked with increased fuel, and often represent compositional shifts to more lodgepole pine and grand fir. The changes are attributed to changes in natural disturbance regimes as a result of management of fire, grazing, timber harvest, wildlife, insects, and disease. Treatments that can accelerate development of old-growth forest structure include thinning to accelerate growth on residual stems, returning fire to fire-dependent ecosystems, and maintaining large trees and snags. These methods have risks: prescribed fire may not mimic frequency and severity of historical fire, thinning may activate dormant stem decay, increased connectivity may increase susceptibility to stand-replacement fire, insects, and pathogens. Models for multiple species and interactions of treatments, insects, and disease are not available.

  34. Soil, Litter, and Coarse Woody Debris Habitats for Arthropods in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Niwa, CG; Peck, RW; Torgersen, TR

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 141-148. 2001.

    Arthropods within soil, litter, and coarse woody debris play vital roles in maintaining soil fertility, health, and productivity. Arthropods shred plant material, help mineralize nutrients for plants, act as predators, and serve as food for other wildlife. Some species or groups of species are potentially valuable for monitoring forest health. Natural and human-caused disturbance may immediately kill many arthropods, but changes to habitat structure are likely to cause longer-term effects on their community compositions. Fire effects on arthropods may be minimized if refugia of litter and coarse woody debris are retained. Possible effects of timber harvesting on arthropods include mechanical effects on soil and litter, microclimate changes, and the addition of organic matter to the forest floor. Soil compaction reduces pore size, which may result in loss of habitat and decreased nutrient retention, and changes the microbial and nematode communities, which can affect nutrient cycling and food resources for microarthropods. Thresholds required for healthy ecosystem function, and predictive and decision-support tools that include these components in relation to disturbances are not available.

  35. Rare Plants of Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Croft, LK

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 149-156. 2001.

    Rare plants are an important consideration for managing forest health and productivity in eastern Oregon and Washington. The floristic diversity of this area reflects the complex biophysical environment. There are many endemic vascular plants whose ranges lie entirely within this region; many are restricted to very small geographic areas or highly specialized habitats. A common element is adaptation to natural disturbance; non-natural threats include exotic plant invasion, agricultural conversion, road construction, recreation, fire suppression activities, livestock grazing, herbicide spray that reduces pollinators, and altered fire and hydrological regimes. Because various species are adapted to different successional stages, maintaining a diversity of stages would provide for a variety of these species. Restoration of the natural fire regime and reduction of grazing would benefit upland shrub communities. Mitigation of activities for rare plants is site-specific and may include altering the timing, level of intensity, or methods used.

  36. Effects of Disturbance on Birds of Conservation Concern in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Bull, EL; Wales, BC

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 166-173. 2001.

    The effects on birds of forest insects, tree diseases, wildfire, and management strategies designed to improve forest health (e.g., thinning, prescribed burns, road removal, and spraying with pesticides or biological microbial agents) are discussed. Those bird species of concern that occur in forested habitats in eastern Oregon and Washington include the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus), upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), and black rosy finch (Leucosticte arctoa). In addition, seven species of woodpeckers and nuthatches were considered because of their rare status. Forest disturbances that create dead trees and logs are critical to cavity-nesting birds because the dead trees with their subsequent decay provide nesting and roosting habitat. The insects associated with outbreaks or dead trees provide prey for the woodpeckers and nuthatches. The loss of nest or roost trees as a result of disturbance could be detrimental to bald eagles, goshawks, or ferruginous hawks, while the loss of canopy cover could be detrimental to harlequin ducks and goshawks or to prey of some of the raptors. The more open canopies created by thinning may be beneficial to a species like the black rosy finch, yet detrimental to some woodpeckers due to a decrease in cover. Prescribed burning may be beneficial to those woodpeckers primarily associated with ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stands and detrimental to other woodpeckers because of the loss of coarse woody debris. Removal of roads is likely to benefit most of these species because of the subsequent decrease in human activity. Recovery plans for bald eagles and peregrine falcons are available for managers to use in managing habitat for these species.

  37. Effects of Disturbance on Forest Carnivores of Conservation Concern in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Bull, EL; Aubry, KB; Wales, BC

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 180-184. 2001.

    The effects on forest carnivores of forest insects, tree diseases, wildfire, and management strategies designed to improve forest health (e.g., thinning, salvage operations, prescribed burns, and road removal) are discussed. Forest carnivores of conservation concern in eastern Oregon and Washington include the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), wolverine (Gulo gulo), and fisher (Martes pennanti). All three species depend to some degree on forest structures, stands, and landscapes created by insects, disease, and fire. Wildfire and insect outbreaks maintain a mosaic of structural stages across the landscape that are used by lynx. Thinning of dense lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) stands that result largely from wildfire and insect outbreaks is detrimental to snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), which are the primary prey of lynx. Fishers use large stands of mature forest and snags, hollow live trees, logs, stumps, witches-brooms, and other structures for rest and den sites. Salvage harvesting, thinning, and conversion from predominantly fir stands to ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) may adversely affect habitat conditions for fishers. Use of roads is perhaps most detrimental to wolverines because they are easily trapped and avoid humans.

  38. Improving Forest Health and Productivity in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Quigley, TM; Hayes, JL; Starr, L; Daterman, GE

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 234-251. 2001.

    Forest health and productivity decline in eastern Oregon and Washington has resulted in risks to products, economies, and amenities that are deemed unacceptable to many residents and non-residents. Information and management tools exist that will assist managers in improving conditions, but what is needed is a framework for integrating the available models and information. Steps in developing such a framework include: establishing goals consistent across scales, assessing current conditions and risks, developing management options, describing outcomes of options, selecting an option, establishing priorities for action, implementing those priority activities, and monitoring and evaluating the results of actions. Research projects undertaken by the Forest Health and Productivity Initiative of the Pacific Northwest Research Station include collaboration with managers to develop options for managing insect, disease, and fire disturbances in order to improve ecosystem integrity, to integrate biophysical and socioeconomic considerations, to identify linkages across scales, and to fill significant knowledge gaps at the mid or broad scale. Science can contribute basic understanding of resource conditions and interactions, models to assess risk and opportunities, models that predict future conditions, and options regarding future management actions. The ability to implement actions to achieve improved forest health and productivity depends on the availability of resources to plan and implement actions, the financial feasibility of individual practices on individual sites, the motivation of resource specialists and the public to undertake the actions, and acceptance by the public, interest groups, agencies, and policy makers of the mix of management actions proposed.

  39. Effects of Disturbance and Management of Forest Health on Fish and Fish Habitat in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Howell, PJ

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 157-164. 2001.

    Effects of fire, forest insects and diseases, grazing, and forest health treatments on fish populations and habitat are reviewed. Fire, insects, and disease affect fish habitat by their influence on the rate and volume of woody debris recruitment to streams, canopy cover and water temperature, stream flow, channel erosion, sedimentation, nutrients, and residual vegetation. Physical effects from fire vary greatly depending on fire severity and extent, geology, soil, topography, and orientation of the site, and subsequent precipitation. Most effects moderate within a decade. Post-fire erosion and wood recruitment are also influenced by fire lines, road construction, and timber harvest. Although some disturbances, such as severe fire and subsequent floods, appear catastrophic, and effects may last decades or centuries, natural disturbances help create and maintain diverse, productive aquatic habitats. Recolonization of fish populations following wildfires can be rapid and is related to occurrence of local refugia, life history patterns, access for migratory forms, and distribution of the species. In most livestock studies, grazing negatively affected fish habitat and populations, but results may vary depending on sites and specific grazing management. Effective approaches to grazing management similarly depend on the specific application and the commitment of operators and managers. Restoration of the structure, function, and processes of watersheds more similar to those with which native species evolved may favor those species; however, there is little documentation of the aquatic effects of those activities. Risk from vegetative treatments may be minimized by experimenting outside of critical areas (i.e., conserving key habitats and populations, focusing intensive treatments on upland sites). Use of more benign techniques (e.g., lower-impact logging systems) and pulsed treatments consistent with characteristics of natural disturbance regimes are other considerations for achieving both terrestrial and aquatic objectives.

  40. Effects of Disturbance on Amphibians of Conservation Concern in Eastern Oregon and Washington

    Bull, EL; Wales, BC

    Northwest Science [Northwest Sci.]. Vol. 75, suppl., pp. 174-179. 2001.

    The effects on amphibians of forest insects, tree diseases, wildfire, and management strategies designed to improve forest health (e.g., thinning, prescribed burns, road removal, and spraying with pesticides or biological microbial agents) are discussed. Those species that occur in forested habitats in eastern Oregon and Washington that are considered of concern include the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), Columbia spotted frog (R. luteiventris), northern leopard frog (R. pipiens), Cascades frog (R. cascadae), tailed frog (Ascaphus truei), Larch Mountain salamander (Plethodon larselli), and Cope's giant salamander (Dicamptodon copei). Little is known regarding the effects of forest health on amphibians, although tree mortality resulting from insects and disease is unlikely to dramatically affect these species, except for the tailed frog and larch mountain salamander. Both these species depend on overstory canopy to maintain temperature and moisture conditions; timber harvest in their habitats has rendered them unsuitable. Wildfire and prescribed burning to a lesser extent, may alter the abundance of prey, coarse woody debris, and vegetation, which could influence movements and survival of dispersing amphibians. Spraying with pesticides could negatively affect these species if the abundance of their prey is decreased. Spraying with biological microbial agents is unlikely to affect prey abundance. Additional research is needed to determine if these disturbance agents are contributing to the decline of many of these amphibians.

  41. COLVILLE INDIAN RESERVATION INTEGRATED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN, FERRY AND OKANOGAN COUNTIES, WASHINGTON.

    EPA number: 000434F, Final EIS--402 pages, Summary--26 pages, December 7, 2000

    PURPOSE: The implementation of a 15-year integrated resource management plan for the 1.4-million-acre Colville Indian Reservation, located in northwestern Washington, is proposed. The reservation is bounded on the east and south by the Columbia River, on the west by the Okanogan River, and on the north by the line separating townships 34 and 35 of the Willamette Meridian. Major land uses include 24,500 acres of agricultural land, 673,025 acres of commercial forest, 128,348 acres of non-productive forest, 92,852 acres of non-operable forest, 8,397 acres of wilderness, 455,276 acres of rangeland, 1,195 acres of residential land, and 7,672 acres of surface waters. The reservation is home to the Lakes, Colville, San Poil, Nespelem, southern Okanogan, Moses/Columbia, Palus, Nez Perce, Methow, Chelan, Entiat, and Wenatchi bands. Just less than 50 percent of the membership lives off-reservation. The tribes currently include over 8,500 members, with the majority being under 10 years of age or between the ages of 30 and 39 years. Approximately 55 percent of the membership is of working age; the unemployment level is near 45 percent. Timber revenues have historically contributed 80 to 90 percent of the tribal budget. Gaming revenue first became a source of tribal program funding in 1996. Key issues addressed during scoping include those related to holistic resource management, short- and long-term value of the tribal timber resources, timber production practices, forest health, late successional forest, habitat diversity, threatened and endangered species, special management areas, visual resources, watershed health, recreational resources, livestock use of rangeland, the organization of the tribal Natural Resource Department, and tribal membership values, expectations, and awareness. Seven alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this final EIS. Under the proposed action (Alternative 2), the plan would involve the logging of 953.1 million board-feet (MMBF) of timber from 156,989 acres from the year 2000 to 2014, prescribed burning for non-logging fuels management on 6,400 acres, non-logging stocking control (thinning) on 3,100 acres, and the reduction in range forage use from 60,924 animal unit months (AUMs) to 51,785 AUMs. The present net value of the proposed plan is $92.7 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would allow the economic development of tribal lands while preserving ecosystem values. Large areas of wilderness would remain untouched. Insect and disease vulnerability of forested lands would be reduced. Air quality within the reservation would improve significantly. Cultural resources would be protected. Big game security habitat would increase slightly. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Wildfire potential would remain at a moderate level. Management activities would disturb 13,086 acres. A reduction in the area available for livestock use would place economic burdens on some ranchers. Net revenues would decline from $221.5 million to $197.7 million. Big game forage would decline slightly. The aesthetic value of visual resources would be adversely affected. LEGAL MANDATES: Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.). PRIOR REFERENCES: For the abstract of the draft EIS, see 00-0203D, Volume 24, Number 2.

  42. Softwood Forest Thinnings as a Biomass Source for Ethanol Production: A Feasibility Study for California

    Kadam, KL; Wooley, RJ; Aden, A; Nguyen, QA; Yancey, MA; Ferraro, FM

    Biotechnology Progress [Biotechnol. Prog.]. Vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 947-957. Nov-Dec 2000.

    A plan has been put forth to strategically thin northern California forests to reduce fire danger and improve forest health. The resulting biomass residue, instead of being open burned, can be converted into ethanol that can be used as a fuel oxygenate or an octane enhancer. Economic potential for a biomass-to-ethanol facility using this softwood biomass was evaluated for two cases: stand-alone and co-located. The co-located case refers to a specific site with an existing biomass power facility near Martell, California. A two-stage dilute acid hydrolysis process is used for the production of ethanol from softwoods, and the residual lignin is used to generate steam and electricity. For a plant processing 800 dry tonnes per day of feedstock, the co-located case is an economically attractive concept. Total estimated capital investment is approximately $70 million for the co-located plant, and the resulting internal rate of return (IRR) is about 24% using 25% equity financing. A sensitivity analysis showed that ethanol selling price and fixed capital investment have a substantial effect on the IRR. It can be concluded that such a biomass-to-ethanol plant seems to be an appealing proposition for California, if ethanol replaces methyl tert-butyl ether, which is slated for a phaseout.

  43. Assessing the Impacts of Deer Browsing, Prescribed Burns, Visitor Use, and Trails on an Oak-Pine Forest: Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

    Patel, A; Rapport, DJ

    Natural Areas Journal [Nat. Areas J.]. no. 3, pp. 250-260. Jul 2000.

    An effective approach to increase forest health is to identify and validate a suite of indicators for monitoring forest conditions. We sought indicators of impacts due to deer browsing, prescribed burn, visitor use, and trails on understory plants beside trails in an oak-pine savanna in Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Six commonly used ecological indicators were studied in 216 1-m x 1-m quadrats located 0, 3, and 15 m from nine trails: plant species richness, stem density, species cover, proportion of native species, median height of selected tree seedlings, and proportion of foliar damage (insect herbivory) on leaves of neighboring trees. Three levels of visitor use, two of deer densities, and two of prescribed burns were used in analysis. Plant stem density and cover per quadrat were sensitive to the effects of deer density, prescribed burn, and visitor use. The proportion of native species per quadrat was affected by prescribed burn, distance from trail edge, and visitor use. The number of nonnative species increased along trail edges, but numbers of native species were similar throughout. Plant species richness, median seedling height, and proportion of foliar herbivory per quadrat were only sensitive to deer density. Higher deer densities led to significant declines in species richness, stem density, cover, and median seedling height. Prescribed burns proved to be beneficial to the forest, with stem density and cover increasing in burned areas, although the proportion of exotic species also increased in burned areas. Surprisingly, high visitor use had a moderately positive impact on the forest, with density and cover increasing on trails with high visitor use, and proportion of native species highest on trails with moderate visitor use. Of the indicators studied in the park, stem density, cover, and the proportion of native species responded strongly to browsing, fire, visitor use, and trail impacts. Similar studies at other parks would help managers to focus long-term monitoring efforts on the most sensitive site-specific indicators.

  44. AIRPORT FOREST HEALTH PROJECT, PACIFIC RANGER DISTRICT, ELDORADO NATIONAL FOREST, ELDORADO AND PLACER COUNTIES, CALIFORNIA.

    EPA number: 000244D, 267 pages, July 12, 2000

    PURPOSE: The implementation of understory thinning and fuels reduction within the Airport Project Area of the Pacific Ranger District within the Eldorado National Forest, located in eastern California, is proposed. The area, which lies approximately 20 miles northeast of the community of Pollock Pines, has been identified as a moderate to high fire risk area containing values in the form of improvements and intrinsic forest resources. Extreme fire behavior affecting adjacent lands and the large, local wildland fires emphasize the desirability and urgency of managing the vegetation to reduce the likelihood that wildfire conflagrations will determine the future landscape and threaten lives and property. The project area has a higher than average incidence of wildfire starts compared to the rest of the Eldorado National Forest. Current vegetation conditions in the area differ markedly from the desired historic condition and the current stands exceed the historical range of variability in terms of higher proportions of shade tolerant white fir and incense cedar, increased densities of trees, unusually high levels of insect-related tree mortality, and an accumulation of ground and ladder fuels. Issues include the risk of developed camping areas and area improvements being destroyed by wildfire, the risk of high-quality recreational experiences for visitors in the Crystal Basin from catastrophic fire as well as the selected treatments, the impact of wildfire and selected treatments on watershed conditions, the effect of catastrophic fire on the socioeconomic well-being and vitality of local communities, the concern that the project may not generate sufficient revenues to cover project costs, the effect of project activities and wildfire on late seral (old-growth) habitat conditions, the deterioration of air quality from smoke and project-generated dust, impacts to cultural (heritage) resources from project activities or from wildfire, the effects of herbicide use, the threats to meadows by lodgepole pine encroachment and by wildfire, and the biological, physical, and socioeconomic effects of constructing, maintaining, and decommissioning roads. Four alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1), are considered in this draft EIS. Alternative 2 would involve logging by understory thinning on approximately 180 acres and follow-up fuels reduction immediately around public use developments and public use areas using ground-based equipment. Alternative 3 (the proposed action and the preferred alternative) would involve logging by understory thinning on approximately 2,200 acres and follow-up fuels reduction around public use developments and public use areas and other selected areas using ground-based equipment. The logging would involve tractor thinning of plantations on 267 acres to generate 410,000 board-feet of timber, helicopter thinning of 654 acres of natural stands to generate 3.37 million board-feet (MMBF) of timber, and tractor logging on 1,981 acres to generate 10.8 MMBF of timber, for a total of 2,902 acres of logging to generate 14.5 MMBF. Total biomass removed from natural plantations would amount to 39,525 tons, representing 15 tons per acre. The plan would require the construction of 2.2 miles of road and the reconstruction of 18.2 miles of existing road. Post-logging activities would include machine piling of slash on 449 acres, logging-related prescribed burns on 2,453 acres, non-logging-related prescribed burns on 340 acres, planting on 180 acres, and herbicide application on 180 acres. Alternative 4 would involve logging by understory thinning on approximately 2,900 acres and follow-up fuels reduction around public use developments and public use areas and other selected areas using ground-based and helicopter equipment. Plan implementation could begin in late 2000 or 2001. The estimated cost of plan implementation is $1.88 million, while the estimated receipts from the timber sale is $2.25 million. POSITIVE IMPACTS: The plan would directly reduce the threat of stand-destroying fires, protect improvements, decrease the susceptibility of timber stands to insect and disease attack, and promote general forest health. Indirect benefits to wildlife, watershed, recreation values, and commodity production would also be achieved due to the reduced likelihood of widespread tree mortality caused by wildfire or insects. NEGATIVE IMPACTS: Road construction and timber logging activities would result in short-term erosion and sedimentation of receiving waters. Incidental removal of non-target vegetation would inevitably result. Losses of individuals of three sensitive plant species could occur, but these losses would not affect the status of any population. Smoke from prescribed burning and dust from road construction would adversely affect air quality temporarily. The use of ground-based logging equipment would involve some risk of accidental forest fire. LEGAL MANDATES: National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).

  45. Solution of forest health problems with prescribed fire: are forest productivity and wildlife at risk?

    Tiedemann, AR*; O. Klemmedson, J; Bull, EL

    Forest Ecology and Management [For. Ecol. Manage.]. no. 1-3, pp. 1-18. 1 Mar 2000.

    Advanced forest succession and associated accumulations of forest biomass in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington and Intermountain area have led to increased vulnerability of these forests to insects, diseases, and wildfire. One proposed solution is large-scale conversion of these forests to seral conditions that emulate those assumed to exist before European settlement: open-spaced stands (ca. 50 trees per ha), consisting primarily of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) and western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.). We question how well presettlement forest conditions are understood and the feasibility and desirability of conversion to a seral state that represents those conditions. Current and future expectations of forest outputs and values are far different from those at presettlement times. Emphasis on prescribed fire for achieving and maintaining this conversion raises questions about how well we understand fire effects on forest resources and values. We consider here potential effects of prescribed fire on two key aspects of forest management--productivity and wildlife. Use of large-scale prescribed fire presents complex problems with potential long-term effects on forest resources. Before implementing prescribed fire widely, we need to understand the range of its effects on all resources and values. Rather than attempting to convert forests to poorly described and understood presettlement seral conditions, it would seem prudent to examine present forest conditions and assess their potential to provide desired resource outputs and values. Once this is achieved, the full complement of forest management tools and strategies, including prescribed fire, should be used to accomplish the desired objectives. We suggest a more conservative approach until prescribed fire effects are better understood.