This is the September Update designed to keep you abreast of developments and activities concerning the implementation of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, or HFQLG.

FY 2001 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For DFPZ and Group Selection

FY2001 projects are reported as accomplished when a timber sale is advertised, a service contract is awarded or Forest Service employees perform the work. The projects that are reported as accomplished between October 1, 2000 and September 30, 2001 originated in a variety of environmental analysis (or NEPA , National Environmental Policy Act) documents released over a number of years. For example, one Environmental Assessment may have several projects proposed that will be done over several fiscal years. Also, an environmental analysis document and subsequent decision can be issued in a fiscal year and the projects under that document are not accomplished until the next fiscal year. In FY2001, between October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2001 the district rangers within the Pilot Project released 13 Decision Notices and Environmental Assessments (EAs) for DFPZs and group selection projects. Three more EAs and Decision Notices (Cone/Crater, Red Clover Group Selection, and Crystal Adams) are expected to be released before September 30, 2001. These decisions are subject to appeal to the Regional Forester and Table 1 displays the status of these documents:


Table 1. FY 2001 Projects under environmental analysis
Analysis Area Name Appeal Decision Appeal Status Name of Appellant
Lassen National Forest
Pegleg

8/20/01

AFFIRM

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

Chad Hanson, John Muir Projects of Earth Island Institute, Pasadena, CA

Blacks Ridge 10/29/01  
none received as of 9/17/01
North Coble 10/29/01  
none received as of 9/17/01
Plumas National Forest

Kingsbury Rush DFPZ

9/05/01 AFFIRM

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

Clark Pearson, Grass Valley, CA

Last Chance 10/16/01  

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

As of 9/17/01

Lower Slate DFPZ 9/06/01 AFFIRM
Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM
Poison 10/23/01  
None received as of 9/17/01
Stony Ridge 8/16/01 AFFIRM

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

John Preschutti, Plumas Forest Project Blairsden, CA

Upper Slate DFPZ 9/6/01 AFFIRM

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

Clark Pearson, Grass Valley, CA

Cold Decision withdrawn due to 7/01 Stream Fire
Waters DFPZ 8/23/01

AFFIRM/

REVERSE

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM
Tahoe National Forest
Liberty 7/7/01 AFFIRM

Bryan Bird, Forest Conservation Council and the National Forest Protection Alliance, Sante Fe, NM

Steve Benner, Forest Issues Group, Sierraville, CA

Scraps 2/23/01 5/01
Steve Benner, Forest Issues Group, Sierraville, CA

To date, there have been seven projects awarded as Service Contracts in FY2001. Additionally, fourteen projects are expected to be accomplished this year. Of these fourteen projects, five are timber sales, seven are service contracts, and two will be accomplished by Forest Service crews. Thus, a total of twenty-one projects originated from EAs completed in FY2000 or before for approximately 15,760 acres of DFPZs and 100 acres of group selection.

Twelve more projects, originating from FY2001 EAs, are expected to be accomplished in FY2001 as well. These projects total approximately 20,400 acres of DFPZs and 1955 acres of group selection. Of these twelve projects, six are timber sales, 5 are service contracts, and one project is expected to be accomplished with Forest Service crews. Table 2 summarizes the projects, project types, and acres.

 

Table 2. Predicted FY2001 Accomplishments by Project Type
Project Type Number of Projects DFPZ Acres Group Selection Acres
Service Contracts Awarded to date

7

8,200

0

Expected Timber Sale Advertisements 11
11,200
1,975
Expected Service Contract Awards 12
15,900
80
Forest Service Crew Accomplishment 3
860
0

Estimated Total Fiscal Year 2001 Accomplishment

33
36,160

2,055

FY 2001 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For Riparian Restoration

The ranger districts are working on riparian restoration projects. The work includes meadow restoration, stream rehabilitation, aspen enhancement, headcut stabilization, and a variety of road improvements, relocations, and decommissioning. We expect to complete approximately 84 miles of road work, and 253 acres of riparian work in the Pilot Project area in FY2001. For outyear planning, the districts have scheduled 1)approximately 105 acres for environmental analysis under NEPA, and 2)approximately 362,000 acres within watersheds for assessment of the current and desired conditions.


FY 2002 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For DFPZ and Group Selection

There are approximately seventeen projects: seven timber sales and ten service contracts, that are expected to be advertised and/or awarded early in FY2002, after October 1, 2001. These seventeen projects originated from the NEPA documents released in FY2001 and total approximately 19,000 acres of DFPZs and 2,000 acres of group selection.

The district interdisciplinary teams are also preparing new NEPA documents for FY2002 to analyze approximately 35,500 acres of DFPZs, and 3,000 acres of group selections. Because budget allocations for FY2002 have not been made, expected accomplishments may change.

Coordinating HFQLG activities with Framework direction

The Regional Forester signed the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (Framework) on January 12, 2001. The appeal period ended April 17, and the Chief of the Forest Service has received 234 appeals. The Chief is expected to issue decisions on these appeals in October.

The Framework developed a conservation strategy for the California spotted owl that replaces both the CASPO (California spotted owl) Interim Direction and the mitigation measure of the HFQLG Record of Decision.

HFQLG projects comply with the standards and guidelines of this new owl strategy. The strategy includes canopy closure and large tree retention requirements. Ranger districts will implement as much of the pilot project as possible, although the new owl strategy will change the extent of treatments. Group selections currently being planned for FY 01 in non-suitable owl habitat are expected to continue without modification.

As directed by the Regional Forester, an administrative study is currently being planned that will investigate how owls and features of their habitat respond to certain silvicultural treatments. Group selections within suitable owl habitat are expected to be one of the silvicultural treatments investigated. In February, a team of scientists led by Dr. Peter Stine from the Pacific Southwest Research Station, began development of the study, which will include portions of the HFQLG Pilot Project. The draft study plan was sent to interested parties seeking input for the next stage of the draft. In September, Peter Stine and the Administrative Study Plan team released another draft and which is available to anyone interested in this document. A webpage version of the Draft Administrative Study is currently being developed and will be posted on the HFQLG webpage as soon as possible.


Litigation

On June 12, 2001 Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled on the Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs) lawsuit. In resolving the case the court dismissed several of the CATs claims, but did uphold the claim that the Forest Service failed to consider the environmental effects of maintaining DFPZs in the future. The court held that, in relation to DFPZ construction, maintenance was both a connected action and a cumulative action, and therefore had to be analyzed within the HFQLG FEIS.

The court ordered that the Forest Service draft a Supplemental EIS on the issue of DFPZ maintenance. Ongoing Pilot Project activities are allowed to continue provided a draft Supplemental EIS is released for public comment within 120 days.

In response to the Judge's order, a Forest Service inter-disciplinary team (IDT) assembled in late June. The team includes a land management planner who is serving as the IDT leader, a NEPA writer/editor, a fuels management specialist, and a forest vegetation management specialist.

The Federal Register notice regarding the intent to prepare a Supplemental EIS analyzing the need for and environmental effects of DFPZ maintenance was published on August 15, 2001. A draft supplemental EIS will be published by October 10, in compliance with the Judge's order. This will avoid delay in implementation of HFQLG projects.

This Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) evaluates options for maintaining these DFPZs and provides an analysis of the likely environmental impacts associated with DFPZ maintenance.

The Forest Service preferred alternative presents a management scenario that relies on a mixture of methods to maintain DFPZs (including prescribed fire, herbicide, hand, and mechanical treatments). In designing this alternative, the interdisciplinary team used local vegetation conditions, growth models, and management direction for land allocations to predict likely DFPZ maintenance treatments in the Pilot Project Area. The preferred alternative analyzes herbicide use only in the vegetation type where herbicides are the most effective maintenance method. This includes stands with tanoak, black oak and live oak.

All proposed DFPZ maintenance will undergo a site-specific analysis to determine actual maintenance treatments. Under the preferred alternative, herbicide use would be avoided in some DFPZ locations. Portions of DFPZs could be identified as herbicide-avoidance areas based on consultation with American Indian Tribes during the site-specific analysis. Herbicide use would be avoided in traditional gathering areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, perennial streams, and amphibian buffers.

All people who are interested in reviewing the document may receive a copy by contacting the HFQLG Supplemental EIS Team, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 11500, Quincy, CA 9597 or contacting Merri Carol Martens at the following e-mail: mmurray@fs.fed.us, or by calling (530) 283-7769. Informational meetings, designed to assist people in understanding the contents of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Pilot Project will be provided upon request. Electronic comments may also be received at: mmurray@fs.fed.us.

While comments are welcome at any time during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, comments on the SDEIS should be received by November 19, 2001.

HFQLG Pilot Project Monitoring Plan

Details of this plan are available from Monitoring Team Leader Wayne Johannson (530-283-7881).


Updating the Full Implementation Plan

The HFQLG Implementation Plan is a working document and subject to frequent updates based on funding and project planning. Because final budget allocations have not been made, and the pending release of the Administrative Study plan, the revision of the HFQLG Implementation Plan has been postponed. The current version, which is based on full funding and does not yet incorporate the new California owl strategy identified in the Framework, is available upon request. Questions about this plan should be directed to Assistant Project Manager Phil Tuma (530-283-7721).

Where to get more information: